Friday, September 18, 2009

Traveling Again: Another Up North Adventure

Clouds over Fishermans' terminal

Eric and I are once again traveling. Yes, it's another "Up North" Adventure although this time "up north" refers to the Pacific Northwest, specifically Bellevue and Issaquah, Washington. This time, however, it is without the Maryland Sled Dog Adventures sled dogs or as we like to think of them, the sled pets. We've traded in our Carhartts, denim and polar fleece for tuxes, suits and silk bridesmaids' dresses and we're in Bellevue, Washington for my sister, Jenny's, wedding . The sled pets are spending some time back in Baltimore with their "grand parents."

Eric at Lake Sammamish State Park

Here, fishy, fishy. A "fish eye" view of fishing boats and Fishermans' terminalin Seattle

As some of you might remember, we were in Seattle (and its surrounding suburbs) back in early July for Eric's American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) conference, my sister's wedding shower, and a boat trip on MV Kiawah to Desolation Sound with my parents. While in Seattle in July, I even got to do some dog scootering.

In law school they said: If it walks like a duck, and talks like a is probably a duck

Don't worry, though, we'll be back to Maryland in time for plenty of dryland dog sledding, dog scootering, and our canicross hike and winery excursion.

Below are a few photographs that Eric took after our walk yesterday at Lake Sammamish State Park (even without the sled dogs along, we like to explore parks and trails) and Eric's jaunt to Fisherman's terminal in Seattle to pick up the MV Kiawah crew. And for good wedding karma, I've included a couple of photos of the Maryland Sled Dog Adventures' sled dogs participating in our wedding back in June 2005.

MV Kiawah arriving at Fisherman's terminal in Seattle

Para-sailer at Lake Sammamish State Park

Up, up and away

Clowning around

A lucky horse shoe?

Lead dog, Sobo, and Dorothy (his escort) at our wedding

Honorary best man, T-Bone, and our friend, Twiggy, come down the aisle
Veteran lead dog, Zoe, and our friend, Tara

Sobo sniffs my bouquet

Monday, September 14, 2009

Canicross Club Hike at Gunpowder Falls State Park

Wolfie and Anna canicross along side Acadia and me

Despite a somewhat wet and gray morning, our canicross hike Saturday morning was a nice and easy 3.5 mile ramble through the woods and along the Gunpowder River. Along for the hike was Anna and her Siberian Husky, Wolfie. Maryland Sled Dog Adventures veteran lead dog Alaskan Husky, Zoe and our leader in training Siberian Husky, Acadia, joined in. Both Zoe and Acadia were spot on with their "gees" and "haws." Along the way, we stopped several times to let the dogs swim and wade in the Gunpowder.

Acadia and Zoe work side by side

Our final Canicross Club Hike of the season is Saturday, September 26, 2009 at Sugarloaf Mountain in central Maryland (convenient to both Maryland and DC). Unlike our other hikes, this five mile hike begins at 9 am. An optional post hike excursion to the Sugarloaf Mountain Winery is planned for snacks and beverages. Cost for the hike is $10 per person, one dog per person please. For information and directions visit our Canicross Hike Schedule (scroll down until you see the Sugarloaf Mountain hike). Hiking boots, water for you and your dog, and a snack for you are recommended.

Wolfie and Acadia cool off in the Gunpowder River

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dog Powered Sports Clinic: October 17, 2009

Dog Scootering with one dog

Does your dog love to run? Does your dog love to pull? Do you have a high energy dog, medium size (30 lbs) or larger dog? Are you looking for a way to exercise with your dog? Tire your dog out? Are walks around the block just not cutting it? Have you always wanted to try dog sledding with your dog?

If so, consider coming to Maryland Sled Dog Adventures LLC's Dog Powered Sports clinic. This clinic will focus on training you and your dog for dog powered sports that are suitable for one to three dog teams including dog scootering, bikejoring, skijoring, and canicross. Not sure what these new and exciting sports are? Read on!

The clinic will be held on October 17, 2009 on the Northern Central Rail trail in northern Baltimore County. Cost is $100 per person. Limit one dog per person, please. Space is limited. Contact to register or for more details.

Pawtrekker dog scooter

What are dog scootering, bikejoring, skijoring, and canicross?

Dog Scootering: Dog scootering is scootering while one to three dogs pull you while you ride on a non motorized scooter. It is similar to mushing and dog sledding but is done in when there is no snow on the ground (perfect for Maryland), usually with fewer dogs. Your dog must learn basic dog sledding commands including, "gee," "haw," "on by," and "line out."

Dog Scootering with two dogs

Dog scootering in a race with two dogs

Dog scootering

Bikejoring: Bikejoring (literally meaning bike driving) is biking while being pulled by a dog. Bikejoring can be done with one to three dogs and is a shared adventure between you and your dogs. Bikejoring allows you to go further (and faster) than might otherwise go by yourself and is great way to get out and explore new trails while exercising you and your dog.

Bikejoring with one dog

Bikejoring with one dog

Skijoring: Skijoring is cross country skiing while a dog pulls you. It is an exhilarating and fast growing winter sport which combines dog sledding and cross country skiing. Literally meaning ski driving in Norwegian, skijoring allows a dog and owner to exercise together while enjoying the outdoors.

Skijoring with two dogs

Skijoring with one dog

Canicross: Canicross is cross country running or hiking while a dog pulls you. It's more than just jogging with your dog on leash and it requires, as all dog powered sports do, that your dog understand basic commands, including "gee," haw," "on by," and "line out." Canicross is an excellent way to get out and explore new trails with your canine companion.

Canicross Hiking

Canicross hiking with Zoe

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Test Driving Dog Scooters: DSK and Pawtrekker

Dog scootering with Sobo and Acadia

This morning, Eric and I along with Maryland Sled Dog Adventures sled dogs, Sobo and Acadia, met up with Dave Ryan of at Fair Hill NRMA in Elkton, Maryland to test drive a couple of dog scooters. Temps were in the mid to upper 50s to begin our run, with low humidity, partly cloudy skies and a brisk breeze.

Dave and Chester

Acadia and Sobo on their drop lines

Eric getting ready to go

Specifically, we were trying out the Pawtrekker Freetrail Full Suspension and the Diggler DSK. Both of these scooters have 20 inch tires and disk brakes, both are approximately $600, and both are available through Note: the Pawtrekker was run without the brush bow.

Setting off Acadia and I headed out on the Pawtrekker while Eric and Sobo followed on the Diggler. Dave and Chester, bikejoring brought up the rear. Midway through our run, Eric and I swapped and I rode the Diggler scooter with Sobo and Eric road the Pawtrekker scooter with Acadia.

All lined out and ready to go

The Pawtrekker Freetrail Full Suspension

The purpose of today's test drive was to see how each scooter handled the variety of terrain that Fair Hill has ranging from wide open fields, to graveled roads to narrow, rutted single track.

Wide open field

Water break on the trail

The results. Both scooters performed very well. The Freetrail has a full suspension meaning that it has both a front and rear suspension. The DSK does not have a full suspension only a suspension on the front fork. (Note: Diggler does make a full suspension scooter (retails for approximately $800) that was not test driven).

The Pawtrekker's suspension made riding the rutted, rough trails quite a bit more comfortable. The suspension gives the scooter an almost "bouncy" "springy" type feel. Eric also felt that the suspension helped him to feel more in control on the Pawtrekker than the DSK. I felt the suspension made it a bit harder to pedal the Freetrail up the steepest of hills as some of the momentum is being transferred down and into the suspension instead of forward.

The suspension on the Pawtrekker

Per the manufactuers' information, both scooters have a 6.5 inch ground clearance. The Diggler comes with and a skid plate to help it more easily slide over the largest of ruts while the Pawtrekker does not.

Both scooters "hung up" when we went over a large (6-8 inch) exposed culvert. Other than that one instance, both scooters passed over the ruts, rocks, and other obstacles just fine.

Both were easy to balance on, had nice stter, and responsive to leaning.

Both scooters come equipped with disc brakes and both scooters were capable of fully locking the front and rear wheels including after running through some serious mud holes.

Sobo (hooked to the Diggler) demonstrates an excellent line out

While we began with one dog per scooter, we eventually hooked two of our sled dogs to the Pawtrekker. The Pawtrekker had no problem stopping two dogs. Note: Scooters cannot be locked in place and are far too light to be left unattended with strong sled dogs hooked to them. At one point during a water break, the dogs surged ahead and pulled the back of the foot board into the back of my leg leaving me with a nasty cut.

Neither scooter has fenders. Fenders might be a nice add on as I looked like a skunk after running through the aforementioned mud holes.

The Pawtrekker does have a slightly narrower foot board than the DSK. I had anticipated after trying out an Alpha Dawg and DSK earlier in the summer (for information on that run, click here), that this might be an issue. As a former down hill ski racer, I tend to like to have my feet more side by side than back and front (think snow board). This was not nearly as much of an issue as I had thought it was going to be. Neither footboard is really wide enough for me to put both my good sized (size 9 ladies, thank you) feet side by side.

More importantly, however, on technical trails, side by side is neither the most stable nor the most functional position. Until I climbed on the scooter, I had forgotten what my old ski coaches had taught me all those years ago when I was racing: Butt into the hill, feet and skis pointed side ways across the hill, shoulders squared up and pointed down hill...strongest position on the mountain. Applying this technique, I really did not have many opportunities where I wanted my feed side by side as that position tended to leave me unbalanced on some of the rough terrain we were covering.

Both scooters have quick release wheels and the Pawtrekker's brush bow is also quick release. While quick release wheels do make loading the scooter in a vehicle much easier, we did have one small glitch with the DSK's quick release wheels (and it could easily have happened with the Pawtrekker). As Eric was riding the DSK on a very narrow stretch of single track (it was almost 1/2 track) trail, the quick release tab caught and released the rear wheel. After that incident, we realized it was important to have the tabs pointed backwards such that they were not susceptible to being caught on vegetation along the trail.

Ultimately, both scooters performed admirably. We gave a slight edge to the Pawtrekker and thus purchased the Pawtrekker Freetrail instead of the Diggler DSK.

Want to learn more about dog scootering? Consider attending the Maryland Sled Dog Adventures LLC Dog Powered Sports Clinic on October 17, 2009. Space is limited to 8 participants so check it out and then email to register.

Chester and Dave bikejoring over the covered bridge

Sobo and Acadia dog scootering over the covered bridge

Bikejoring up the hill with Chester

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Camp Out at Green Ridge State Forest

Man, all this camping stuff is exhausting thinks T-Bone

Eric and I along with all of the Maryland Sled Dog Adventures sled dogs and our friend and fellow musher, Katie and her Siberian, Sadie spent the past Labor Day weekend camping at Green Ridge State Forest in western Maryland. While the weather was dry and gorgeous with highs in the upper 70s to low 80s and lows in the low 50s to upper 40s (perfect), it was disappointing to find that all of the streams, rivers and creeks we so enjoyed swimming in last time we camped at Green Ridge had completely dried up. Most of the weekend was spent "talking dogs" and relaxing with a couple of short bikejor runs and hikes mixed in to exercise the dogs and people.

The "Taj Mahal" of tents (aka Casa Benson)

Katie's tent attached to the back of her Element

Acadia, Sobo and Okemo hanging out on their drop lines

Weenie roast

Sadie hides out

Camp fire

T-Bone hangs out in the kitchen

Hanging out around the camp fire

Sleeping Sobo

Talkin' dogs and cameras