Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Transitioning from Fall to Winter

Winter is arriving here a little earlier than usual.  We've had significant snowfall and temperatures falling to single digits at night.  Usually this comes in December which is typically our coldest month.  We often get heavy snowfall in late December followed by a couple of weeks of high pressure and warmer temperatures in early January.  Skiers up at Mammoth, about 40 miles north, love this, but sometimes we can see our December snows melt away to almost nothing during this time. Mammoth sits apart on the Sierra crest and due to this geography tends to get about twice as much snow as we do just a few miles east of the crest. 

Gary and I went snowshoeing this weekend.  We left the house and walked up to North Lake, which at 9200 feet, is about 700 feet above us.  As we started up, snow began falling.  Up at the lake, we did need to put our snowshoes on and we had a nice hike up to the North Lake campground.
Gary headed toward the campground

 I run dogs on a cart up here in the fall.  There is great snow up here now - almost a foot - and if I could get my sled up to the lake I'd love to run the dogs here in the winter too.  Unfortunately, the road that takes us up here is windblown and south facing so it is often snow free even when there is a lot of snow elsewhere.  

North Lake is a favorite for fall color photographers who show up by the hundreds in September.  They are very nice however quite oblivious to what is going on around them as they stand in the middle of the road with their cameras and tripods.  We almost took a few out when we were carting here in the fall.  Here's a then and now look at a often photographed site above the lake:

September 2010
November 2010
Dog training:  I started running the dogs with a cart in September. We started with short distances and have been building up ever since.  I can't increase distances too quickly partly because we have limited trails we can use that are cool enough and these aren't too long.  We started out with 2 miles and we're up to about 5-6 now for the younger dogs.  The older dogs are at 4 miles.  With the early arrival of winter, our usual trails are now covered with a few inches of snow - too much for the cart and nowhere near enough for the sled.  I lost a team last year when I tried to take the sled out on insufficient snow.  The hook didn't hold when I turned them around and off they went without me.  I can laugh now at the memory of running after them in the twilight with down feathers flying all around me.  My jacket was ripped when I tried unsuccessfully to grab the snow hook as they went by.  At the time though, I was very alarmed at what could happen to a loose team and was relieved when I caught up to them and they were all okay.  Now I'm happy to wait for a bit more snow!

In the last few days I have taken them to some longer trails that are now cold enough to run on.  Yesterday we ran in the Buttermilks, a favorite bouldering area for local climbers. 
We're looking at Mt. Tom, 13,658'.  These roads wind for miles and are more challenging as they trend uphill toward the mountains.  I'm hoping to get the teams up to 8 miles on dirt before we transition to snow.  My goal in this early training is to build strength and stamina.  Then when we transition to the much lighter sled on snow, we can start working on speed.  I use an Arctis cart (arctis-carts.com) which weighs about 80 lbs for our dirt training.  Sometimes I add an additional 40 to 80 lbs for the stronger team. 

That's it for now.  Next week, I'll start introducing the team!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely shots, Sheryl! I would love for you to talk about your training philosophy ;-)