Greg and I came home from a long day of work and decided to take out two teams. There was enough snow to attempt to do the “4 mile loop” (a loop through the trails and back to our house). The plan was, I’d start off with my team (Darla, Levi, Buckwheat, Nutok, Storm, Sugar, Asa and Higgs) and Greg would follow me with his team (Duke, Frankie, Red, Stubby, Peetie, Chez, Monkey-Tail and Pumpkin). Since there was minimal snow on the ground and the temperature was warm (around 20 degrees Fahrenheit), the trail conditions were slick– meaning the dogs were going to go fast.
Soon after I took off I knew that I needed the dogs to turn left (Haw). I went fairly slowly and saw the left turn, I yelled “Haw.” Darla and Levi, my lead dogs, made the left turn. I had a feeling that Greg was going to have a little bit of difficulty getting Duke and Frankie (his leaders) to make the turn.
Immediately after turning left, I stopped the sled to untangle some dogs. I didn’t see Greg behind me. I continued on for 1/4 a mile and stopped again because my drag pad fell off. A drag pad is a piece of rubber that lays on the ground behind the sled; it’s used to slow the sled down. I tied off to a tree because my snow hooks weren’t hooking into the snow (there wasn’t enough snow). I fiddled around with the drag pad and still didn’t see Greg. I figured Duke and Frankie didn’t turn left and they went around the block. I got to the next left turn and heard my radio beep. Greg and I use walkie-talkies to communicate when on the trail. I had tried to radio him on my previous stops, but he didn’t respond. This time, I was able to get in touch with Greg. Indeed, he missed the left turn and Frankie and Duke ran the team around the block. Since Greg had no extra weight in his sled, immediately upon leaving the dog yard Greg’s sled tipped over and he was dragged around the block. When I spoke with him on the radio he said has was okay, and that as soon as he put the dogs away, he come on the 4 wheeler to follow me in case I got into trouble. I told him I was okay– no need to come. Right after I said that, my team was pulling and pulling and eventually broke the gang line– my dogs were no longer attached to the sled! The team took off and I was left alone, around 2 miles from my house, with just a sled. I radioed Greg and told him the news.
I decided to walk in the direction that the team was headed. Greg was going to catch up with me at some point in time. All of a sudden I saw 16 eyes running at me. Darla and Levi brought the team back! They were a ball of dogs, all tangled up. I unclipped Buckwheat because he was getting growly with his neighbors. My goal was to tie the team off to a tree, get the sled, and tie them onto the sled. However, I couldn’t get enough slack in the gang line and all of a sudden, the team took off heading in the direction from where we came. I radioed Greg and told him the news.
Buckwheat and I began walking home. We got to a “Y” in the trail. Home was to the right, however Buckwheat wanted to go straight. I said to Bucky, “Buckaloo, why do you want to go straight– you know that isn’t the way home.” Buckwheat didn’t listen to me and began walking in the wrong direction. All of a sudden, I saw 16 eyes running at me. Buckwheat knew the team went the wrong way! I caught the team and began unclipping everyone from the tangled gang line. I knew Greg was on his way with the 4-wheeler and I knew that this time the dogs would run home. The only two dogs I didn’t want to unclip were Higgs and Asa (Hasa) — I haven’t had them for too long and I’ve never taken them for runs without a leash.
I couldn’t get Hasa untangled and they were tugging hard. I let them go– with the gang line attached. Eventually they caught up to Greg, who tied them off to a tree. Greg escorted everyone home (he was on the 4-wheeler), while Buckwheat and I walked home. When Bucky and I got up to where Hasa was tied off we waited for Greg to return. When Greg returned, we hooked up Hasa to the 4-wheeler and let Buckwheat run behind us.
We all made it home safely. Ate dinner. And dreamed of bunny rabbits.