Friday 1 o’clock I just finished third hour in school and Daddy should be waiting in the office to pick me up. We will have to leave as quickly as possible in order to make the drivers meeting later that nigh. Sure enough there he is, talking to the principal none the less, we say good bye and then head out to the van. On the drive home from school we make a list of the things that we need to toss in the van before we go. Sleeping bag, first aid kit, dog booties, all that good stuff has to come with us. We get home and I go and change cloths, pack my bag, and get dog food ready. Meanwhile Daddy starts loading the van. Once we have everything in the van, we pull the trailer out of the shed, and start loading up dogs. Panda and Cloud have to ride together because we are short a box. Once everyone is loaded we run down the check list one last time, and we are off. Well almost, we still have to stop in Green Bay and pick up Carlleen who is coming with us. Once we pick up Carlleen, about an hour or so of driving goes by and then we go "oh shoot." Turns out there is a time difference from WI to MI, and they are on hour ahead of us. This means there is no way we are going to make the drivers meeting. Oh well, I guess there is nothing we can do about that. We stop once to drop dogs and grab a bite to eat but other than that it was a straight long 7 hour drive up to Newberry. When we finally arrived it was 10 o’clock at night, and we still had to feed the dogs. We checked into our hotel, fed the dogs, and then went to bed. It was a good thing I was really tired because I fell asleep right away.
Now because Michigan is an hour ahead of us we got up at 6 am their time. It felt like we were getting up at 5 am, talk about early. We have to be at the race site around 8 a.m. so there was no time to dilly dally. We ate breakfast at the hotel and then went out into the -6 degree air and dropped the dogs again. The people around us were starting to leave, so we packed up and headed out. It was still dark out and just our luck, we missed the turn. Where on earth are you going to turn around a van pulling a trailer in the middle of the north woods? Why, on a logging road of course and that only took us about 20 minutes out of our way. When we did finally make it to the race site and get our parking spot I was relived just to be there. We dropped and fed the dogs their breakfast and then went to get me checked in because I had missed the drivers meeting. Once I was checked in the next two or so hours went relatively smoothly. We walked around, help the ten and eight dog teams out, had our dogs go through vet check, and then dropped my dogs again so that they were ready for my class. When the six dog teams started going out I was in no hurry to hook up my dogs, the last thing I needed was for them to be sitting there for ten minutes harness banging. When we did finally bring my dogs up to the line, I still had to wait a few minutes; I am telling you I am always early. Once in the shoot, Carlleen came up to hold the leaders and I petted each dog on my way back to the sled, they were ready.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO… and we were off and running. Oh the joy of being out on the trail, a few smooth turns and we were out on the open trail. I was soon passed by the teams that left after me, but that was okay. My dogs and I are more used to running by ourselves anyways. Most of the 30 miles on the trail kind of blurred together, other than the one hill that I am nick naming The Devils Slide. It feeling like you are falling off the world when you go over it. I do remember the feeling of accomplishment once we were back on the big trail heading toward the truck and out of the woods. I have to stop once and check for snowballs in the dogs feet, but other than that the dogs ran straight through. I was the very last team to come in, the lot that had been full of dog trucks when I left now only contained two. Even with being last the volunteers, Daddy, and Carlleen all gave me a warm welcome. Once I was in we did the final preps then put the dogs in their boxes and started home.
I don’t remember the drive home. I slept most of the way because running up hills is hard work. And that is how my first mid-distance race went, I hope there will be many more. I now have my base line, so the goal is to go a little faster at the next race. However, the main goal is to always finish with happy, healthy dogs. I am one step closer to working my way towards the Jr. Iditarod.
A young women attempting to navigate the world. She is guided by her love and passion for dogs.