OK technically “warm up” might not be the best description, since Alaska is having an epic cold snap with temperatures across the state at -40F and colder, but these pre-Iditarod races we have planned for the next 2 weekends are going to give me and the younger race dogs a chance to get our acts together and practice before the big race in March.
This weekend I will be taking a 12 dog team to the Two Rivers 200. The Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association, TRDMA, always puts on fun events. And this is a race that I have not done in quite some time, so I am really looking forward to it. Except for the cold, but they tell me it is going to warm up to -30, so that will be nice. Not sure if there will be spot trackers for the race, but you can check out the Race’s Event Page on Facebook for more info.
Then next weekend I take a 14 dog team down to Big Lake for the Northern Lights 300. This is a race I have run the last 2 years, and have really enjoyed. The volunteer organizers and trail crew do a first rate job. And since it is further South of us typically they have warmer weather. In addition to the race website I already linked to you might want to go visit the Northern Lights 300 Facebook for additional info and photos.
So in addition to giving the team valuable practice for camping, passing, and staying focused with multiple other teams and super happy people around these races give me a chance to get myself tuned up. And the first task is… drumroll please… every mushers *favorite* task… DROP BAGS.
If you have been following Dew Claw for awhile you know I have previously written quite a bit about drop bags. If not you can see some of my drop bag posts here. They are such a critical part of racing, and over the years I like to flatter myself and think that I have gotten better at them. But they still entail a large amount of planning, time, and money. In the past we have been very fortunate to have supporters pitch in to help cover some of the expenses through our “Holiday Wish List”.
This year Dew Claw was experiencing some technical difficulty (which is really just a nice way of saying our internet died) over the holidays and I was unable to get online and post our annual wish list. But now as I am putting together 2 sets of drop bags it is become very clear to me there are a few areas where we could really benefit from some help for the big production of putting together drop bags for the Iditarod. After these upcoming races my major focus will be training, of course! And Iditarod Drop Bag!! Drop bags have to be turned in by Feb 13, that deadline is firm and unrelenting. Everything, every little thing, I need must be organized, packaged, and shipped out in those bags by that date. But with a plan in hand and a lot of hard work I know this is not impossible.
If you are interested in being a part of the drop bag extravaganza that will be going on the first week of February, then let me present my “Post Holiday Wish List” for your consideration. As well as a few photos I snapped as I was putting together the Two Rivers 200 drop bags for this weekend.
Here are a few things that would be most helpful to have for Iditarod:
Many of the items can be ordered online and I can pick them up locally in Fairbanks.
- Sled plastic – can be purchased in Fairbanks from Cold Spot Feeds. We use the Fast Trax plastic in a variety of colors, depending on conditions. Dew Claw has an account at Cold Spot under Dan Kaduce.
- There are 2 items we use a LOT of from Alaska Industrial Hardware.
They have great insulated fleece and deerskin gloves size medium (Item # MJC1664M) that I use for camping and chores when I am not mushing. Ideally I would be able to send out a new pair to each checkpoint, saving drying time or just in case any get lost of damaged.
They also sell the poly bags (Item# FISSB1426) I use to pack all the dogs snacks and meals. Since they are reusable I use them not only for the race, but in training all winter as well. But with all the use they do eventually need to be replaced, and my supply has grown very low. Looking to get 200 for packing up this years race supplies.
- It would be wonderful to also have various sizes of ziplock freezer bags, quart, gallon and hardest to find and yet ever so useful 2 gallon size.
- As always I will be using a Lot of chemical hand warmers inside my mitts to keep my hands warm and dry on the trail.
- And since my night mushing is made possible by battery powered LED headlamps, we will be needing a large amount of AA Lithium Batteries. Regular alkaline batteries do not do well in the cold, to be honest they get cold and die. Whereas lithium batteries do not, they will work quite well even on those bone chilling nights.
- Over the years friends have sent us a wonderful variety of trail treats. And a majority of my trail food is purchased in bulk at Sam’s Club.
We are very fortunate to have most of what we will need already on hand, meat and fats were ordered by the ton this fall. We have buckets of Dr. Carson’s All Natural Supplements for the dogs. My personal gear is all in good condition this year. So the Wish List is short and sweet, but in no way unimportant, and we would be most grateful for the assistance with the task of preparing Iditarod Drop Bags.
A peek at early season drop bag preparations:
Now just imagine all this, but for 1000 miles!
Lucky I have a few early races to get warmed up before tackling the big task.