7 Miles… And So It Starts! Wed 11-7-12

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This was our first officially serious training run, as we are fast approaching the race!  Planned on doing a 10 mile run, but things from the beginning didn’t go according to my plans!  We launched from the truck and quickly found a tree was blocking the trail, so had to convince 6 crazy dogs to Gee around and take a different path.  Wanted to start out by some water to get the dogs wet so they’d be cooler, as the temps aren’t quite as cold as we’d like.  Because of my fewer runs last season, I am having to re-learn some of these forest trails and since we only run at night, it’s always a bit challenging for me, especially given I’m already geographically challenged!  So, yes, we got lost! 

Found ourselves on a narrow trail with barely enough room to pass.  Thankfully I was paying attention because the team was zooming and there was a stump that would have stopped us very suddenly that I had to avoid.  Got to the other end of this rabbit trail and was still turned around… I knew where I was but couldn’t get back on to “our trails”.  Couple more Gee arounds, one a mere 4’ from splashing into a 3’ pond with the ATV.  At least we found our water… but it was a bit “stanky”!  Anyway, found “our trails” and we really enjoyed getting down them.  I was having to really hang on because they were so amped up!  This is a new experience for me because never before has my team been in a real hurry to get anywhere after the first 100’ or so.  As I said, this season is definitely different!

The trails we run on are not wide open logging roads, but instead twist and turn through the forests with ruts and “ponds” and puddles and limbs and stumps and all sorts of things you have to pay attention to.  Of course none of these things are there in the daytime, but at night they all come out to get ya!  LOL!  That’s one reason we run at night…it’s much more exciting!  The other reason is all the loose dogs and especially snack dogs who try to commit suicide by running towards my team are hopefully at home tucked safely into their beds!  This is a small island and people are certainly not prepared to meet a sled dog team on these trails!  I try hard and not scare anyone.

This is the first time I’ve had a 6 dog team, so I’m unsure if it’s the additional dogs (much different than my 5 dog team was) or if it’s these particular dogs (with their youth and exuberance) that’s making us go faster, but I admit I like it… not that I’m considering moving to the dark side (Alaskans!), but it is fun to fly…and fly we did.  There was a deer right in front of the team who led us down the trail (we were on a gravel road at this point) and I was AMAZED at my leaders who stormed right past it when it dove off into some grass.  Man, my leaders are really doing great!  A nice woman stopped when driving past us when we were pulled over waiting for Shelby, our training partner, and commented on how pretty my dogs were.  I thanked her and said “they’re really sweet too”, because I hate that Siberians get so much attention for what they look like on the outside.  It leads to over-breeding and full shelters when people fall in love with their looks.  Anyway, I got a phone call from Shelby saying one of her 4 had escaped and was touring around town on her own and they were hunting for her.  I told her I’d finish my run and go help if still needed, and continued down the trail.  I decided to tackle our Big Hill (it really is big… coming up from Roche Harbor) and commanded my Great, Sweet leaders to go “straight ahead.”  We start up the hill and BOOM, they’re off the trail to the right, where there’s a stand of trees about 4” off the road.  I shine my headlamp over to them and in my horror I see a big dumb (suicidal?) raccoon coming DOWN the tree right by the dogs who instantly went UP the tree, snatched it and began to do what dogs do… UGH.  I was very glad it was dark so I didn’t see much, but I have a LOT of respect for raccoons and know they can be very dangerous to dogs.  I heard lots of noise and wasn’t sure who was getting who, but I had just several minutes earlier noticed my second ATV brake (bungee loop) had fallen off, so I had to hold the second brake with my hand while grabbing a bungee off my essentials bag behind me and tie off the ATV so the whole team didn’t get to the coon.  THANKFULLY, I was able to stop it so only my SWEET leaders could reach it.  I thought, well, I’ll just go up and grab their tugs and PULL REALLY REALLY HARD and get them off the coon and back onto the trail.  Yeah, Right!

“But what is the first thing to be done in time of trouble? We must pray.  Like Job, we must fall down and worship.  Like Hezekiah, we must spread our matters before the Lord.       The first one we must turn to for help, must be our God.”    JC Ryle, The Gospel of Matthew” 1856

It became very clear very quickly that this situation was completely out of my control!  These dogs were totally controlled by their nature to hunt, and no amount of training was going to be able to break through to them at this particular point.  I was just not strong enough to stop them.  I realized that I was at the mercy of the Lord and that that was the best place I could be.  He has taught me a lot about not panicking but instead to remember that He is with me and He will guide me and things will be okay.  This sense of calm came over me last season when watching my leaders running down the trail without me, after our gangline broke.  There was nothing else I could do but trust the Lord and ask Him to be with us.  I have MUCH MORE to learn about this, and tonight’s reminder was a vibrant lesson to be remembered for a long time!  It’s too bad that only when things are completely out of control do I grasp the complete trustworthiness of my Lord.

So, I “calmly” set out to do what I could to get these dogs back on the trail.  I moved Lance and Cicely on to the picket line I had quickly dumped on the ground and attached  to the back of the ATV and then PULLED REALLY HARD some more and the girls finally gave up their prize.  I FINALLY got them back onto the road.  Racoon evidently isn’t very tasty and when it stopped moving, the fun factor decreased for them.  Did I say how thankful I am that Racoon evidently isn’t very tasty?  As it was they both had blood on their faces and Tana had a little (1/2”) wound on her ear that was bleeding a bit, but other than that I couldn’t see that there were any injuries.  I re-hooked everyone up (minus one chewed tug line) and re-packed my bag and we marched up the hill.  Funny, when I got my SWEET leaders back onto the road they held the team out perfectly… I’m sure they knew I was NOT happy with them!  I couldn’t really blame them for killing the thing (although they would have on-by’d it in a perfect world!) but I did not enjoy seeing my SWEET little girls with blood on their faces!  Yikes!  I will never trust another Siberian with a cat no matter what!  We made it back to the truck, I cleaned off Tana’s ear and their faces and hastily loaded them up to go help Shelby find Sukka.  Her night hadn’t exactly gone according to her plans either!  Thankfully, Sukka came running down the road towards us and we both flew to the ground and pretended to dig (a trick we learned from Connie), she opened up some food she had and when she came close enough, we both GRABBED HER!  We were exhausted, but the dogs were exhilarated!  What fun they had!  I must admit, I haven’t kissed either of my leaders’ SWEET faces since seeing ‘coon blood on them!  I’m needing another few days for that memory (and the remnants) to fade from their fur and my brain!

James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city (or wooded trail!), spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit (or  have a great 10 mile run with the pups tonight!)”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow…Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Tonight I saw how little our plans count!  The Lord’s plans are SURE and PERFECT for bringing all things together just exactly as He desires, in exactly the very best way, and He weaves them together not only for His Glory, but for our good!  He is SUCH a GOOD GOD!

Proverbs 16:9A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.

Proverbs 19:21Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand.

Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

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