Friday, September 19, 2008

Early Morning Training Runs

Sled dog, Sobo, enjoys his "breakfast of champions." Eagle Pack Power!

The weather has finally taken a turn for the cooler and Eric and I have been able to get out twice this week for some dryland dog sled training of the Maryland Sled Dog Adventures team.

Thursday's, training run began from the Parkton, Maryland station stop along the Northern Central Rail (NCR) Trail (recently renamed the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail). We set out at approximately 6:30 am and reached the trail by 7:00 am and were out by about 7:30. For once, there were no loose dogs roaming the Parkton station.

Coming down the trail

After harnessing the dogs and hooking up, we began by running north towards Bentley Springs at a brisk clip. Along the way, we stopped for water and to watch the Gunpowder river meander through the forest. The dogs had several opportunities to practice their "on bys" as a number of suicidal squirrels decided to run right under their noses. Zoe, showed great restraint, did not chase down the little critters, and helped to take the entire team past these distractions. On the way back, we over took Eric and Acadia who were out for a walk and to do some photography. Again, the dogs got to practice going "on by" their favorite sled dog dad, Eric. Meanwhile, Acadia demonstrated the power of the Siberian Husky Death Scream as she caterwauled to join the team in harness.

Sled puppy, Acadia

Lead dog, Zoe

All told, our training run was 5.5 miles round trip, our maximum speed was 13.7 MPH and our cruising speed (moving average) was 7.9 MPH. Weight for this run was 350 lbs.

Friday's training run began at the White Hall, Maryland station along the NCR trail. After hooking up, we headed north towards the Falls. As we approached the Falls (a frequent stopping place for us), I decided to give Zoe the on by command that would take us past the falls. Like the experienced sled dog that she is, she easily lead the team past the Falls and continued down the trail. After going a short distance further down the trail, we stopped for a water break and rested listening to the relaxing sound of the water and it rushed over the rocks. After a brief respite, I gave the "hike" command. Unclear on what this command meant, Sobo began to "come haw" instead. Giving a forceful line out command, he stopped mid turn, however, and lined out. "Hike, hike" and off we went. Going a short bit further, we again stopped and did a "come haw" turning around and heading back towards the station. About a mile out from the station we encounter a jogger, jogging north (towards us) with her off leash Chihuahua. Deciding that this might be a temptation too great for the sled dogs to pass up, I stopped the team, told them to line out, and waited as the jogger went by. Surprisingly, the sled dogs, especially T-Bone, were far better behaved during their line out than I expected.

Mileage marker along the trail

Pausing to water the sled dogs

Okemo enjoys his post dog sledding breakfast

Returning to the station, I unharnessed the dogs, fed everyone, and loaded the dogs in the truck. After a brief visit by Acadia to her favorite Park Service employees, we headed home. All told, today's run, was 3 miles with a cruising speed of approximately 7.9 MPH and a maximum speed of 15.8 MPH. Weight for this run was 350 lbs.

If all of this sounds like fun to you, check out the dog sledding and dryland dog sledding tours and programs we offer along the NCR trail.