Junior dog mushing

The Alaska Dog Mushers Association annual International Sled Dog Symposium is this weekend. This afternoon was the freight pull exhibition. It started at noon. I was planning to go then but the fire was being stubborn lighting this morning so it was after 1 when we got there. The kids had a good time watching the dogs pull. Richard posted himself by the gate and was the unofficial dog greeter. As the dogs left after their pull he would ask the owner then give them each (the dogs that is) a pat.

This was the first time I’d been to a pull. What happens is they have a carpet (so they aren’t sliding on the icy parking lot). The dogs have a minute to try to pull a weighted cart 25 feet. Weight is added after each round. A dog is eliminated if unable to finish the pull within the minute. When that happens, the owner helps the dog pull then leaves so the dogs still have a sense of accomplishment for the next time. Eventually it gets too heavy until the dog who can pull the most weight is left.

The symposium has workshops you have to pay to attend and a free trade fair selling all things mushing related including designer dog foods, sleds, harnesses and other gear, winter clothing, fur mitts and hats, distance race souvineers and information. My sisters in law usually attend and sell their fur hats, mitts, crafts, and books (Trapline Twins and Dog Driver: A guide for the serious musher). However, the weather was too bad for them to get to town this year.

The kids have mentioned that they would like to try mushing this winter. There was also a booth by the Fairbanks Junior Mushing Association. We don’t have any dogs or plans to get them. I asked if this would be a problem and was told no. One woman even offered to let my kids borrow their kids’ old equipment and a dog. The entry fee is only $4/child for the season except the Junior North American Championship race which is $25. So for $8 my kids could try out mushing this winter. They will both be (rookies) in the one dog class which goes 200 yards around a track. If they like it and do good we may enter the JNAC as well. It is a big deal since kids come from all over the US and even the world for this race.

We went to the race grounds and walked around 1 mile of trail on the way home so they could see the area where they will be racing. It’s pretty flat and open. It may be a good place for him to practice skiing as well.

Races are every other Saturday afternoon starting in December. They are canceled if it is colder than -15F. The last few years has been a problem of first not enough snow then too cold so the races have been rescheduled. I hope that doesn’t happen again this year.

It has been warm this weekend. We had 3 inches of snow on the ground but it has melted so there is only about an inch. It actually rained a little yesterday afternoon so I was glad I had covered the wood pile again. We’re supposed to cool back down this week. Snow is forecast starting tonight with a total of 3 inches by tomorrow evening. I wasn’t planning to go back into town but Richard lost his mittens. I think he left them at the symposium since he didn’t have them on our walk. I know he had them at the symposium because we talked about him needing another pair for racing.

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