Llamas and Sled Dogs - Allegan SGA

From Allegan State Game Area
We've been sledding at Allegan State Game Area a few more times over the last week
From Allegan State Game Area
I've found two places that seem pretty good, for us. The first couple runs we went on we parked near 115th Ave off of 44th St. We ran north down a powerline corridor that parallels 44th St for about 1/4 mile then east on 115th Ave (on both the snowmobile "trail" and road) for about 4 miles turning around near a llama farm
From Allegan State Game Area
(which made turning my dogs around really challenging). 

On Saturday I also ran them north of 115th Ave. and 44th St. on a two-track that heads north on the west side of 44th St for about 2 miles. Much of these trails were either sand or leaves churned up by snowmobiles - hard work, but still fun.  

We also went back today and did about an 8 mile run on the trails around Ely Lake and the campground coming out onto a snowmobile trail along 116th Ave for awhile. A lot of the trail around Ely Lake was flooded out and frozen over
From Allegan State Game Area
From Allegan State Game Area
which made for real interesting going.


First Sled Run!

After work I loaded up the dogs and sled and went looking for some snow. 
We headed to the Allegan State Game Area. The Lake Shore got the first heavy snow yesterday, when we arrived in Allegan there were about 8"-10" on the ground!

This was also Cello's first time actually pulling a sled.

We ran a little over 5 miles down some snowmobile trail and two-tracks.  The off-road trail was really soft and hard going.  The on-road sections were fast but rough and added some more damage to my runner plastic - which is in pretty bad shape from last year.

The dogs ran great.  I started out with them all in single file Cello in lead Paikea in point and Jasper in wheel.  
From Allegan State Game Area

This worked pretty well, but Pai was spreading the line out across the road and this made me kind of nervous in case we had to pass a snowmobiler or hunters.
I moved Paikea back to wheel with Jasper and this worked out well.  
From Allegan State Game Area

Cello kept the line straight and tight the whole way back to the car.  Paikea seems to really like the slightly slower speed of the sled vs. bikejoring - she ran really well.  It's nice having her out on the trail because she knows commands the best and helps to turn the other dogs around, etc.  Jasper was perfect as usual running hard and steady.  Cello, the natural ran great her first time pulling a sled and in solo lead in the dark no less.  She took all the turns I called out and followed our trail back to the car exactly.     


Fort Custer Rig Session

Today we went to our first dog sledding event - a rig training session at Fort Custer State Park. The event was put on by the Mid-Union Sled Haulers (MUSH)

We were helped out by Mary, one of the organizers of the event. She let me take her three dogs and Cello out on her training rig. We made it about half way down the short run when her dog Hanna decided, she wasn't into this and sat down. We ended up in a big tangle with dog teams coming at us from both directions. I pulled the dogs off the trail and untangled the team - which wasn't easy. Not really sure what to do (Hanna wasn't moving) I decided to put cello, who was really wanting to run up front next to Mary's Alaskan Husky Naabo. I turned the team around and headed back. The other two dogs decided to follow and we made it back with out incident. I guess this was about the best training experience I could have had. I'm looking forward to running my dogs some more with this group, especially over the winter.


Sturgeon Bay

Oh Sturgeon Bay! Covered completely in sand and covered in sun...
From Wilderness State Park - 10/31/2008

Wilderness State Park

Wilderness State Park - 10/31/2008
From Wilderness State Park - 10/31/2008
Brigid and I camped overnight and went on a short hike
From Wilderness State Park - 10/31/2008
in Wilderness State Park this weekend. The sky was clear and the stars were out,
From Wilderness State Park - 10/31/2008
a cold wind off of Lake Michigan helped keep our fire stoked.
From Wilderness State Park - 10/31/2008

From Wilderness State Park - 10/31/2008


Hawk Island Dog Park - Lansing, MI

Group trip to the Lansing dog park for Jane's early B-day party.
photos by Eric from Man at Arms


6 mile bikejoring run

I took Jasper and Cello for their first "big" run today - 6 miles.
Cello's pretty amazing, she really out ran Jasper - but he did his best to hang with her.



Brigid and I bought two used Mountain Bikes from a bike co-op in Grand Rapids.
This is what we're gonna do with them:
From Bikejoring

From Bikejoring


Muskegon State Park

Hung out with Jeremy at Muskegon State Park - hiking, swimming and fishing. It's a real nice place, found a huge blueberry patch, but the berries were mostly dried up.

From (mi)outdoors


Lake Leelanau

Hanging out with the Kewin Family (minus Brendan).
Brigid's parents rented a cottage and pontoon boat on Lake Leelanau.
We camped with Tim and Brigette across the lake.

Got in some fishing and some swimming. Tim (senior) showed me how to catch some (one) walleye.


New York - NCTA Conference

We spent a week in central New York (land of Donna the Buffalo) for the annual North Country Trail Association Conference. Most of my time (and Brigid's) was spent working, but we did get out on one hike.



Happened to run into Spiritualized at a rest area along the Ohio turnpike!
From (mi)outdoors


'07-08 Dog Sledding Re-cap

My first sled run this season was on November 30th. This was also my first run with Jasper full grown. We did a couple of miles of trail in the Lowell State Game Area. I was blown away by the faster speed Jasper brought us up to. I also quickly remembered why I didn't really do much skijoring or sledding in the game area last year, to many hills with sharp turns and big trees at the bottom! We finished the run with a pretty big wipe-out, on a long steep downhill, that left me with a nice bruise on my hip. Perfect Start!

We Continued to run almost daily at the Wittenbach Center with a couple nice runs at Ionia Rec. area and Aman park.

In December we headed north! We were in the UP from December 17th - 23rd. Our first stop was at Tahquamenon Falls SP. We arrived really late at night (which seems to be our custom), found a camping spot easy enough, as we were the only people in the park. The temps got down around 15 deg. which allowed us to try out our new Marmot 0 deg. Sleeping Bags. Combined with two huskies they worked great, I woke up in the middle of the night sweating.

Shortly after starting down a
unbroken trail with Brigid in front of us on skis, I decided the dogs and I should go in front, as I was having trouble holding them back. We shot off ahead of Brigid, down hills and around curves, then snap - I twisted up over something and broke the runner on our kicksled! I was bummed, I had hopped to do a lot of sledding on this trip (which had just really started), but we both had skis and skijoring equipment, so we were ok.

After Tahquamenon we headed west stopping in Newberry for lunch. We had reserved a cabin in the west unit of the Hiawatha Nation Forest at the Hiawatha Resort and Country Store near Wetmore/Munising.

In Wetmore our goal was to meet up with Fred Powers and Jennifer Lackie who run Wilderness Trail Outfitters. Their place is located in the middle of the Hiawatha National Forest. Our first day there we met Jennifer and she let us access their grommed trails and set us up with a route we could skijour on. It was real hard going - they had at least two feet of snow on the ground. They had used snowmobiles to groom the trails, so we were in and out of the ruts created by the runners. Besides the difficult trail I was on a little on edge, as I knew Fred had three teams of dogs out on the trail and he had no idea that we where out there! The day ended well, we had alot of fun and never ran into any other dog teams on the trail.
For the next couple of day we bummed around Munising and Marquette. We checked out Pictured Rocks, looked at a couple sections of the North Country Trial as well as the Valley Spur and Bay de Noc - Grand Island Trails. Eventually, we got a chance to meet up with Fred, he showed us around his dog yard and shared some of his insights on life, dogs and mushing with us. Fred and Jenifer live a really interesting life, we were real glad to have met them. Aditionally, Fred came through for us by letting us borrow an old sled to run the dogs on. We ended up buying this from him for $50 (which I had won the majority of the night before at a casino in the town of Christmas Michigan).

So ended 2007...


New Puppy


Cello, our new female Alaskan husky from Nature's Kennel in McMillan, Michigan.

Cello was born December 23, 2007 from (Ladybird (Mother) x Ero (Father))

Cello's father, Ero finished this years (2008) Iditarod on the Nature's Kennel "B-team". The dogs were driven by Jake Berkowitz (21 year old, rookie) and finsihed 65th.