Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thinking Of Summer

Sometimes, despite the fun of skiing, dog mushing, snowshoeing, etc, my thoughts turn to summer. Bare ground, open water, green grass, trips in the park ... you get the idea.

This picture is of my friend Tom Blair in a picturesque high mountain lake in Montana.
This is Wade Lake, which is near the continental divide and less than twenty miles from Alaska Basin.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Alaska Basin

The valley shown below is known as Alaska Basin. It is called this because of the extreme cold temperatures and wind chills that it gets in the winter. During my first winter here, I ran my dogs through Alaska Basin quite frequently, and I encountered a few blizzards. The winds can be ferocious.

I vividly remember one night when the sled and I were tipped over sideways by the wind despite the perfectly flat terrain. A little later, I was standing by the leaders to reassure them during a particularly strong gust when they suddenly moved several yards ahead. I thought they had pulled the snowhook out, but I discovered that despite my flat-footed stance and heavy boots, the wind was sliding me backwards down the trail while the dogs were standing still. This was in soft snow which was not the least bit icy! The sheer force of the wind was less of a problem for the dogs than for me, but they could not see a thing with all the blowing snow.

The photos below were taken from the floor of Alaska Basin during a very dry November, and it shows more typical weather for the area. Alaska Basin is part of the larger Centennial Valley in Montana. Snowfall is minimal in the area, and the fierce winds often blow the snow off the road, leaving the dirt exposed. For this reason, I have not done much running there the past couple winters.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spiderweb In The Snow

This is an old photo which I took to show the traffic backed up on the highway due to an accident. It was a snowy day, just like today. I like the perfect spiderweb overlooking the dogyard.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Barking Blog

Friday, January 23, 2009

Skijoring In The Sun

After an unprecedented week of sunny weather, the forecast now shows snow for the next five days (or longer). However, after a couple inches of snowfall yesterday, today was inexplicably sunny again. Come join me on an outing with Meadowlark.

Are you ready?

Let's go.

And we're off.

Zipping along.

That was fun. Can we go again?

Give me some lovin!

While I cannot get a picture of myself with the dog, I can capture my shadow skijoring. Here I am with Sox next to a trail marker (the tall pole).

This open field gives us a good view of Two Top, a popular playground for snowmobilers.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Tribute To Switch

Today is the one year anniversary of a very tragic event. At the time it was just too painful to blog about, and even now, a year later, I still cannot write about this without tears. During a training run, my team was struck by a car while crossing a road. High snowbanks which reduced visibility, and a very icy road surface were contributing factors. My team was stretched completely across the road, and although the car struck square in the middle, only one dog was injured, my dear, sweet Switch, who died at the scene. The driver did stop to help and transported Switch back home for me.

Here are some photos from previous years. This first series of shots from a 60 mile run show Switch at the back of the team. I sometimes put her there because she was small and agile and able to handle the tight turns and steeper tugline angle at the wheel position. Switch is the white dog on the right. She is running next to her best friend and sister, Breaker.

The next photo shows her in lead on a different day, again with her sister Breaker beside her. She was a good command leader, and I usually ran her in lead or swing. As a swing dog (right behind the leaders) she had the rather nice trait of never trying to overrun the leaders if they slacked up. Swing dogs who are too eager are continually getting tangled as they jump across the lines of the leaders whenever they slack up to take a turn or to poop or whatever. Switch was always my first choice for a swing dog because she would avoid stepping over the lines and would stay in her position. As a leader, Switch could really string the team out as she was the fastest dog in the kennel, and she never got distracted by loose dogs or people. She was also my choice for training puppies since she was never bothered by their antics behind her.
This next shot shows Switch leading at the start of a 350 mile race. My fantastic leader Fresca is having to work hard to keep up with Switch.
Finally, here is Switch as a puppy back in 2001. She was one of the brightest, liveliest pups in the litter, always the first one out of the box. As an adult, she was still sweet and playful. I miss her terribly.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Two In A Row

Two glorious sunny days in a row! Here is a view of Sawtelle Peak from just inside the tree line, about a mile and a half west of my house.
The next views are looking to the northeast.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sunny Day

We finally had a sunny day! I went out skijoring with Sox. I did not want to take my camera since I wanted to concentrate all my attention on Sox, so here is another scenery shot of some hills to the northwest.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

December Harvest

Our growing season is too short - just 30 consecutive frost-free days last summer. Soooo, I have a few things in pots. Here is a hybrid bell pepper which is purple when "green" and turns red when ripe. It is pretty small, but that is only a three inch pot that the poor plant is in.
This is another type of sweet pepper, a cubanelle.
I put the ripening bell pepper and cubanelle in a delicious egg and sausage scramble that my husband and I enjoyed during the Christmas holidays. Nothing like fresh, homegrown produce!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


This past weekend was Island Park's annual Winterfest. They started it out on Friday night with an outstanding fireworks display. This was staged at the Hungry Bear Market, which is directly across the road from my house. The dogs, of course, were terrified and hid in their houses, but I enjoyed the show.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Warm Heads

Every summer they hold something called the Mountain Man Rendezvous in West Yellowstone. They have events like tomahawk throwing, archery, etc. I have not been to see any of these events, but they also feature vendors with all sorts of folksy mountain man stuff like knives, guns, beaded stuff, jewelry, and lots of furs and leather products. It is not that I am so fascinated by this sort of "nostalgia" (I am, but only moderately so), but rather that I am interested in the practical aspects of stuff that can help me in my chosen sport where I am forced to be outside in the intense cold. Forced, I say, though some would dispute that ... but I digress. Suffice it to say that I squandered, er I mean invested, some of my precious savings in buying a couple fur hats. One was for my husband who I knew coveted a buffalo hat to go with the buffalo overmitts he had bought the year before. Here he is in his facial debut in this blog - my husband Mike Kane.

I made him smile for the photo. Here is how he really looks:
I also got a beaver hat for myself to go with the beaver overmitts I got the year before.

I wore those beaver mitts at 45 below in the Canadian Challenge last year, and I was still cold, but I know I would have been a lot warmer with a beaver hat over my dog hair hat.

In retrospect, the photos would be a lot better if we had stood outside with the snow as a backdrop. Go out in the cold and the wind just for a photo? Not likely!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Warm House

I keep my house cool in order to conserve energy, but if I really want to be warm, I fire up the wood stove. This sits in the corner of the living room and was our only means of heat - besides electric space heaters - for our first two years.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Aspen Trees and Mountains

The sun came out for, oh, maybe half an hour this week.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Two Pups

In spite of the extremely late start to winter (six weeks late), the snow level has reached the normal height for this time of year. Three years ago I had the seven puppies in the puppy pen, and they were climbing over the remaining one foot of fence and coming up to the house. Here are Smoke and Soot.
Not being let into the house right away, they ran round and round on the deck. Our deck goes all the way around the house, so they could just keep going round and round and round until someone opened the door.
Smoke had loads of personality. Unfortunately he died of parvo a few months after this picture. I named him Smoke because he was the same color as the smoke from our chimney. We were heating exclusively with wood that winter.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Hmmm, well, doing a picture a day not only depends on getting on the computer every day, it also depends on the blogger site and the software working every day. Not always gonna happen, but I will do my best. This is just a general scenery shot taken out in the woods. We have not had much sun, but there were a couple days last weekend with minimal clouds.

The second shot is a picture of the Centennial Mountains, running west into Montana. I love the shallow hole in the clouds.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cold Hands

It is very cold here. Last night got down to minus 29F. While feeding the dogs today, my fingers got numb even though I was wearing wrist gaitors under my gloves. These wrist gaitors are made of dog hair from my own dogs, and I wore them last year during the minus 40 temps at the Canadian Challenge.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Staying Indoors

This picture pretty much tells the story of what I have been doing for the past two weeks ... looking out the window at the blowing snow. We have had a tremendous amount of snow and wind, starting with a terrible blizzard three weeks ago. There are now a couple drifts that go all the way to the top of the kennel fencing (five feet).

Friday, January 02, 2009

Seven Puppies

This picture is from three years ago. The three black pups in the photo still reside at this kennel. From left to right, they are Soot, Cinder, and Sox. The two white pups were Kindling and Smoke, and the two brown pups were Spark and Flame. Sox is unrelated to the other six. She was born four days before they were.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Picture A Day

A picture a day drives the doldrums away. To start the new year off, I am posting a picture a day. Some will be new, and some will be old. This one is my cat Egg Nog. Very appropriate for this time of year, I think. (Yummy drink not available the rest of the year.)

Egg Nog is about eight years old. We got her as an adult from the pound about six years ago. She is very sweet and snuggly.