This year’s trip to Denali (pics are on Flickr) (Route in .pdf file)was much shorter in miles than last year. For starters, it was extremely warm for the stinkypups. We left Fairbanks at 1pm, Friday March 7th. When we got to Healy, we noticed the lack of snow and wondered how we were going to go mushing without snow. The temperature was 40 degrees (above, NOT below).
We arrived at the park headquarters after hours, so left the rangers a note. The snow amount increased as we headed up hill– this was a good sign. We parked at the kennels, packed up our sleds, and headed out at around 6pm. We had two sleds, 2 mushers, and 16 of our best friends. The temperature was around 30.
The first overflow section was much easier to cross this year than last, however, we both dumped our sleds and slid across the ice; the dogs did well. The trail was visible, but slow going. We mushed for 3.5 hours and only traveled 3.5 miles! We set up camp on the hillside and by the time we were done with feeding the dogs and ourselves it was 1am.
Sam, Bruno, and Chester slept in the tent with us. Frankie didn’t want to be on a tie-out, so he slept under a tree which was next to the tent. Roo wouldn’t stop yelling at Storm, so eventually I switched her with Rattles. When that didn’t help I brought her into the tent, but at some point in the night when I got up to pee she slipped her collar and bolted from the tent. I just let her be since she’s a good girl and wasn’t going run away. I’m really impressed that most of my dogs won’t venture off anywhere without their mom.
I don’t recall what time we got up, but we didn’t leave camp until 1pm. We were on a trail for a short amount of time. Between the 4 inches of snow we received overnight and the wind blown areas the trail disappeared, so we bushwhacked. I snowshoed up ahead and Greg shuttled the sleds. At times, I sledded with snow shoes on—which is a little tricky, but made a nice trail for Greg and his team to follow. We didn’t travel very far on day two; my guess is around 1.5 miles, including the shuttling back and forth. We set up camp and managed to go to bed at a decent time– 9:30pm. Sam, Bruno and Monkey slept in the tent with us. Monkey always seems to get a little sick or depressed on long trips. I can tell because she doesn’t want to eat, she doesn’t lay down, and she gives me her sad Monkey eyes.
On day three we decided to mush out instead of continuing on. Since we already put a trail in, it took us a little over an hour to get to the dog truck. The dogs were happy to be headed home.
I didn’t take trip planning too seriously; meaning I didn’t measure dog food and guestimated people food. Last year I brought just the right amount of people food and too little dog food. I think this year I brought the right amount of both– it’s difficult to tell since we got out a day early.
For dog food we brought one 40lb bag of kibble (RedPaw 32) and 20 salmon. Greg cut up the Salmon before we left, so we had bite size chunks for trail snacks and bigger pieces for appetizers. We also brought a scoop-full (around 6 cups) of Energy Pack. Feeding the dogs kibble entails melting snow and mixing the kibble, energy pack, and water in a bucket. The idea is to get the dogs to drink so they don’t get dehydrated. Some of our dogs drink while camping, but many dump their bowls and just eat the kibble, or they don’t eat at all.
Breakfast: Muesli; Oatmeal with some sugar. Greg threw in the oatmeal at the last minute and it’s a good thing he did. If we had stayed another morning we would have been short on breakfast. I didn’t bring a lot of Muesli because last year we didn’t really eat breakfast (I think it was too cold and we just wanted to have hot drinks and go). This year it was super warm and we didn’t mind hanging around to eat breakfast.
Lunch: 10 homemade power bars and a small bag of homemade gorp.
Dinner: For dinner I tried something different this time. Instead of cooking dinner in the field, I cooked at home and seal-a-mealed it. Dinners were chili, stew, and pasta. We didn’t eat the pasta since we left one night early
Drinks/Spices: Tang and tea. Greg forgot his coffee :( 1 small bag of brown sugar; 1 small bag of pepper; 1 small bag of dry soymilk.