Articles from December 2006
Hard to believe, but 2007 is almost here.Â Time sure flies when you are having fun.Â With the new year approaching it makes meÂ think about everything that has happened in the last twelve months and for us it has been quite the ride.Â For those of you that know, the last couple of years have been a challenge for Black Magic Kennels and we are so greatful to feel we that we “are on the other side”.Â Thank you to everyone that has hung in there with us and given us words of encouragement along the way.Â
We are still hoping for some snow, and so are the organizers of the Beargrease.Â There is an article in today’s Duluth News TribuneÂ about the possibility of a postponement of the Beargrease.Â Hopefully by talking about postponing, it won’t happen…we’ll see what Mother Nature brings.Â There is up to an inch of snow in today’s forecast on MPR, we will keep our fingers crossed.
Today is a day off for both dog teams as they have had long runs three days in a row.Â Mark says his butt was sore after sitting on the ATV all afternoon, but all the dogs did awesome.Â We have been letting dogs come in the cabin at night to sleep and in the photo at right Roxy is pleading with him to leave them out.Â The inside of the cabin is “her” terrritory and when we let the others in she gives us the look, sighs deeply and stakes a claim onÂ the couch.Â Last night it was Hercules and Hutch that had the honors of sleeping in kennels in the entry and of course, Tucson and Zena on the loveseat.Â As the sign in our rock garden says “spoiled rotten dogs live here”.Â
Today is my last day of work until January 8th.Â As I mentioned on Wednesday, I took next week off to train hard for the White Oak race.Â The organizers of that race will run the trail on Monday and make an assessment as to whether they can hold the race on January 13th.Â According to their website, they think they could hold the race right now, so we will see.Â The photo below is the line-up of the two teams.Â Â The left side is the Varsity Team and the right is the JV.Â The last two days DevilÂ ran with the Varsity Team and Mark said she did good, but they are just a little too fast for the little squirt so she has been moved back to the JV team.Â The dogs on the bottom of the list are one’s that aren’t going to be racing.Â Willie is 11 years old, Brown and Blue are nursing injuries and Esther might be pregnant so they have been put on “light duty”.Â If Esther is “with children” she will be due the week before Valentine’s Day.Â We are a little scared about what her puppies will be like since the NOOOOODLE is the father.Â We have already been discussing a theme and ifÂ she does haveÂ puppies she will have the “Pasta” litter…Rotini, Macaroni, etc. etc.Â It should be interesting and we will let you know if and when the blessed event happens.Â
We hope you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.Â Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (please).Â
Daylight watch: Tomorrow will be 44 seconds longer than today.
Even though there is very little snow on the trails Off The Beaten Path, we are already seeing some snowmobile traffic.Â We are amazed that anyone would want to take their sled out yet as there is maybe a 2″ base, which can be rough on the snowomobile skis.Â Yesterday morning as T and Mark were getting the dogs ready for their run, three machines went flying by our driveway.Â Mark said it did seem like they slowed down some when they got closer as we posted “CAUTION SLED DOG ENTRANCE” signs 100′ on either side of the driveway.Â
As mentioned in a previous post, there are some snowmobilers who feel that us dogsledders shouldn’t be on their trails.Â What these people forget is that many of the trails are multi-use.Â Also what most of them don’t realize is that we too have snowmobiles.Â We have had many discussions with snowmobilers in the past that our dog sleds don’t pay registration for trail maintenance, but they don’t see the snowmobiles in the yard that do.Â
In cooperation with the Arrowhead Coalition for Multiple Use (for which we are members),Â there are over a dozen signs like the one at left posted on the trails in our area that Mark and Ridge Riders Snowmobile ClubÂ member, Dick Parker have put up over the last couple of weeks to hopefully cut down on the possibility of a run-in between a dog team and a snowmobile.Â In the last couple of years, there have been a few of us that have had some pretty close calls.Â Part of the problem is how fast the machines can go these days and the mentality of some when they get the helmet on, they think they are invincible and fly down a trail at Mach 1 speed, that they wouldn’t even think about taking their car that fast on.Â Why is that?
Most of the time when we pass snowmobilers on the trail, they are courteous and slow down when they go by.Â That’s all we ask.Â Some will even pull over and shut their machines off and if they have a camera with, will even snap a photo.Â Last year that’s how Mark met ACMU member and Ophir’s BLACKlub adopter, Myron Bursheim.Â Myron and a friend of his were at the Arrowhead Trail and Esther Lake Road intersection and even guided Mark across the Arrowhead.Â Now that’s trail courtesy.
Some tips for trail courtesy when passing a dog team or other users (snowshoers, cross country skiiers, etc.)
1. Don’t drink and snowmobile.Â If you wouldn’t drive your car impaired, don’t do it on the trail either.Â
2. Slow down.Â You never know if one of the dogs is going to get spooked by the machine and jump out.Â Most of our dogs are used to passing trucks, but when someone goes flying by at 60+ MPH (which we have had happen), even I get jumpy.
3.Â When stopping out on the trail, don’t block the trail or intersection.Â There have been many times we have come across a group with sleds all over the place (not only snowmachines, but dog sleds as well).Â It isn’t always easy to try to snake a 60+ foot string of dogs though an obstacle course.
4.Â Take your trash with you.Â
5.Â Remember, even though you might think you are in the middle of nowhere, you never know what might be around the next turn.Â We have seen many tracks going back and forth around blind corners.Â Also, you never know when a moose will be sharing the trail with you.Â
6.Â Stay on the trail.Â In our area there is only one route that isÂ maintained by a real trail groomer.Â The rest are groomed by local people with their own snomobiles and drags.Â Nothing is more irritating than using a tank or two of gas (especially at today’s prices) to groom a decent trail to run on, and someone will come along and ride back and forth off and on the trail.Â
We all can co-exist.Â We all love winter and the trails as we have some of the best scenery in the state.Â Let’s all enjoy it.
Daylight watch:Â Tomorrow will be 40 seconds longer!
Update 7:20 a.m.Â Arrangements for the memorial service for Hungry Jack Resort owner, Jerry Parson are in today’s Duluth News-Tribune.
“This is the best Christmas ever”.Â Quoting Mark Black while looking at electric lights on the ceiling of the cabin December 21, 2006.
We have moved one step closer to living like the rest of civilization…we have electricity.Â As our friend Clay said “you are on the grid man”…albeit, our own power grid.Â On Thursday night I came home to our off-grid batteries hooked upÂ thanks to Jerry Lilyerd of Sun Energy of Mora, MN (actually, we think he is the real Santa Claus).Â Jerry brought us an inverter and solar panel and within a couple of hours we had power!Â Most people take turning on a switch for light for granted, but we think it is awesome to come home from a training run and not have to fill and pump up Coleman lanterns for light!Â After three years of living without power, the light is the best Christmas present we have ever gotten.Â Thank you Jerry!
We spent the long holiday weekend training the dogs.Â The photo at right is of the JV Team on Christmas Eve.Â We have gotten the JV Team down to 18 dogs, so T or I am now running a 16-dog string and Mark is running 18 in front of the ATV.Â The teams are really coming together so now we are just hoping that Mother Nature will give us more snow so we can switch to sled and have some races to run.Â In the photo below, I was hoping to capture the essence of how long our “strings” of dogs are.Â The mainline of the gangline is eight feet for each two dog section.Â If you do the math, in a sixteen-dog string, our leaders are 64 feet in front of us.Â In
Mother wasn’t very nice to us again last Friday as it misted or rained most of the day.Â By the time we fed the dogs on Friday night, our yard was a white skating rink.Â Fortunately overnight on Friday Mother was kind enough to turn the rain into snow and we received about a half of an inch of snow to cover up the ice.Â We had a couple of flurries yesterday, but I don’t think it amounted to even a dusting…keep doing your snow dance!
On Saturday night, we were blessed with this awesome sunset.Â We had just finished putting away our gear after a run when I turned around and saw this awesome view.Â I really wanted to get up on the roof of the cabin, but since it’s still a little snow-covered, I settled for taking the picture safely from the ground.Â It was still pretty awesome from this vantage point.Â
Well, it’s back to work for me for the next three days and then a week of vacation.Â I had planned on taking the week off to train hard for the White Oak Race, so hopefully we will get some snow so T and I will have a race to run!Â T made it back from Nebraska last night and said she’s glad to be back…she needs the rest.Â Sounds like she had a good time back home and is excited to be back as Santa Mark put light in the bunk barn for her on Christmas Day.Â She is as much in awe of light as we are.Â
Hope you all had a great holiday!
Daylight watch: Tomorrow will be 33 seconds longer!!!
7:45 a.m.Â Update: With a heavy heart I am sad to report that Cook County had a tremedous loss over the weekend.Â Long-time Gunflint Trail resort owner, Jerry Parsons died on Christmas Eve at home.Â Jerry and his son, Forrest, own Hungry Jack Lodge.Â Jerry has been an armchair quarterback for our kennel and we will miss the “way to go” cards he sent every year after the Beargrease.Â Our sympathies go out to Forrest and the Parson’s family.
At 7:22 EST tonight will be the official winter solstice which marks the longest night of the year, and of course the shortest day of the year.Â I look forward to this day as from now until the middle of June I know the daylight hours will be getting longer.Â I usually will track the additional daylight on the Weather Underground website.Â According to the astronomy box on their homepage, tomorrow will be 1 second longer than today!!!Â
Today is the last day of my workweek so we wanted to pass along Happy Holiday wishes to everyone.Â Roxy has even been dressed for the holiday.Â In yesterday’s post I mentioned that T went home to Nebraska for the holiday…we hope she made it OK.Â Looking at the weather radar, it might have been an interesting drive for her.Â T we hope you made it OK!Â (By the way T, when I got home last night Mark said he already misses your help and after feeding, I made sure I gave Matty his “hug”.)
Forecast here for the next couple of days is calling for a winter storm watch tomorrow and tomorrow night but according to the National Weather Service’s area forecast discussion page (that’s a mouthful) on the NWS website, “a continuation of unseasonably warm and extremely dry weather is expected” for the next couple of weeks.Â That statement is making dog mushers and sled dog race organizers all over the upper Midwest nervous.Â T and I’s first race is scheduled the weekend of January 12th so we hope we get some snow so we have a race to run.Â We have been in contact with a couple of mushers from the St. Cloud area this week and they have no snow whatsoever to run on.Â At least here Off The Beaten Path, we have a 1-2″ base to cushion the dogs’ feet.Â Maybe with the official start of winter today, Mother Nature will do her part and give winter to the mushing world as a Christmas present.
We would like to wish you all a great holiday and hope you all haven’t been naughty so Santa will bring you what you wish for.Â Mark will have to wait until Monday morning to see if Santa will fill his Christmas stocking.Â Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, etc. etc. etc.Â Â We will be enjoying the holidays at home, running dogs and keeping our fingers crossed for snow.Â Â
HAPPY “HOWL”-idaysÂ from all of us at Black Magic Kennels!
Mark, Hercules, Roxy, Mary and the Little Devil
and the rest of the gang…
Tucson, Zena, Hutch, Olive, Cleopatra, Esther, Starsky, Athena, Carstenz, Ranger, Deuce, Scooter, Noodle, Johnny, Denali, Studwell, Amber, Emma, Budweiser, Michelob, Elbrus, Matty, Indi, Ophir, Kilimanjaro, Redcoat, Trout, Brown, Olga, Wally, Fuzzy, Foreman, PJ, Willie, Erin and Bluegill
After over a month and a half of living Off The Beaten Path, Teresa is taking the beaten path home to Nebraska for the holidays for some well-deserved time off.Â We just hope that she will want to come back next week!Â Her help has been tremendous since early November and we along with the team she has been training (especially Kili and Matty) will miss her for the week she is gone.
Yesterday T took out her crew of the JV team for a run and tried Olga in lead for the first time.Â Â T saidÂ Olga did pretty good.Â Olga’s mother, Olive, is one of Mark’s leaders on the Varsity Team.Â The Varsity Team got their first practice run at a checkpoint yesterday.Â He took them out on their normal run, came back to the cabin, watered them, switched some dogs around and took off again for a shorter run.Â Most of his team are veterans and are used to checkpoints, but there are a couple of them who have never done that before.Â He said Foreman wasn’t quite sure about leaving again, but once they were out of the yard he got into the swing of it.Â With the Beargrease just over five weeks away, it’s time to “shake down” the sixteen in trainingÂ to see which twelve will make the cut.Â What’s amazing to all of us, is the Noodle is still hanging in there.Â As you can see by the photo on the right, Noodle is quite the screwball.Â You have to meet him to understand.Â For those of you who don’t know, two years ago after a run, Mark said he was “never going to run that dog again“.Â Â As they say, never say never…it will be a riotÂ if he makes the cut so I, and Noodle’s friend Geoff, can say “we told you so”.Â Â Stranger things haveÂ happened!Â Stay tuned…
10:20 A.M…just received an e-mail from one of my DORK softball cronies…turns out it is the leader of the DORK’s birthday.Â Happy Birthday to my Pink Paddles/BL.A.C.Klub partner Sue Prom!Â How many candles are needed this year Sue???