UKTOUSA and The Valley Snow Dogz

TRADITIONAL ALASKAN HUSKIES


At Valley Snow Dogz, we offer Fall Wheeled Sled Dog Rides, along with Winter Sled Tours.

An authentic, memorable sled dog experience based right in the heart of The White Mountains. Please call 603-340-2390 for more information. Valley Snow Dogz....Creating memories for families, groups and anyone who has a burning desire to experience a sled dog adventure and learn about our dedicated life with our furry families


Valley Snow Dogz CALL 603-340-2390
www.ValleySnowDogz.com

Live Free And MUSH!

Live Free And MUSH!
Valley Snow Dogz Kidz Event at Loon Mountain Resort

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Early Season Run With Kim and Kelly

Taking A Run With Kim and Kelly Earlier In The Season

Just enjoying browsing through some photos at long last from this past winter season. Though looking outside right now, it still looks and feels like winter.  We had a crazy run together, dogs were so excited to run with Kim and Kelly's dogs. We did lots of passes and took it in turn to lead.  The girls used their GPS to track our distance and speed, I was almost too scared to ask how fast we were traveling at as I could feel it!  The trail was fast, but the conditions were good, no ice and it wasn't rock hard. It was a really enjoyable run together.

Heading Up The Trail

Stopping on the trail boot camp style.  3 teams side by side.

Taking A Break

Lovely girlies!  Nellie and Hana.  Both have worked so hard this season and will move into lead next season.  Nellie is a workhorse, she is so driven.  Hana matches Nellie's drive and pulling power and has been in lead a number of times.  I love these two girls.  Both have matured well and work anywhere on the team.  Soulful and attentive, very affectionate and devoted. They also happen to be gorgeous!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Can-Am 60,Fort Kent 2011


We were as ready as we could be. Despite a long bout of bronchitis and missing some training, we got back on track and gave it our all. Here's Rosie and Cookqiz, ready to lead the team down main street and into the mountains. I love my dogs so very much. I gave thought for a short while to Biffa who had just passed away in February and of course, to my other furry family members. We wouldn't be where we are if it were not for each and every one of my dogs who have been a part of this crazy hobby.
Dogs were snacked and watered, loved and rubbed down and adorned with their usual red bandannas. They were pretty calm despite the chaos around us. It's just such a wonderful experience to be among some pretty awesome people, many we know and many just come to offer you their support.
Bag check was done, the vet check was excellent and so, we were ready to go. Peg had been a great help with the dogs and the gear and also dealing with the snow and parking area. I knew she would have a good time during my absence and it would be a fun experience for her too.
As we ventured to the start with many hands on the gangline, we were asked if we would carry one of the vets, Cindy, down Main Street with us. "Sure" I said. She wanted the experience and I guess figured my big guys would not object to the extra load. I love being counted down and having the officials stand on my bar break as I get chance to nip down the line and hug the dogs and connect with my leaders. Before you know it, you are off! The crowds seem like a blurr, the noise fills your head and your heart. For that moment, all eyes are on the dogs and they are the best team ever. After dropping down below the bridge we then get a chance to stretch out on the railbed but given the upcoming conditions, I certainly didn't want to burn them out so early in the race so we took a good pace until we reached the turn that takes you into the heart of the 60.
If conditions had been a little different I had hoped for a finish in under 8 hrs, I knew we were capable, but as is typical with Can-am, you never know what you are going to get until you get it and so, the best of plans need to be adaptable. We snacked a couple of times along the way, a quick hug, snacks for me and we just kept making our way through the mixed conditions we encountered. We passed 4 teams, passed by 2, passed a team again and so it would go on for a few miles. Sometimes teams can be just a short distance infront or behind but often, you just can't see them so you can feel quite alone for a very long time.
We went through heavy snowfall, low visibility and rain and back to snow again. A good mix of everything, plus high humidity. But I was in heaven.... I don't use an Ipod or anything, I enjoy the silence. The ability to put everything to one side and to let go of thoughts and just be in the moment with my dogs. It's priceless.
As the last few miles come upon us, I was behind two teams I had passed earlier. We crossed the potato fields and I caught up with the team infront of me and so we passed. I'd had some great conversations and chatter along the way with a couple of mushers and here we were, now just a few miles from the finish. Sandwiched between two teams, we flew into the last three miles of bottomless snowpits, twists and turns, steepish chutes and then the ski area trail which brings us to the finish line. The dogs had picked up the pace and were having a great run back.
It was lovely to see familiar faces and hear the cheering. 8hrs 40 mins. I had wanted to break into the top 20 in the 60 mile race and we came in 19th place, so I couldn't have been prouder.
The dogs finished strong, no injuries, no problems. They looked great at the finish.
The team was -
Cookqiz and Rosie
Yahboo and Tumac
Hana and Nellie
Lilly and Bobby

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Rigel Bag

My wonderful bag which was the envy of a few mushers. Great, custom bag made for me by Andy Bartleet and Caroline Blair-Smith. As it was gifted to me following their adoption of Rigel, I now so name my bag, my 'Rigel' bag. Love my bag as did others !!!!

At the bag check, as always, my bag is filled to the brim. Train like you race, race like you train. Take with you all that you need so that you have it, so that's what I always do and with the weather being the way it was and not knowing what was ahead of us, I had enough food and water to feed an army!

We're Ready!

Bring it on !!!!

Peg and Mr Hollywood

Okay, so Peg has a favorite, but it turned out that Bobby was quite a 'favorite' anyway as it would seem that he has quite a following at the Can-am. I don't know how many people came up to us and asked if Bobby was with us! What awesome people to take so much interest in my dogs and in Bobby in particular. He had his photo taken numerous times, was hugged and cuddled and then suitably re-named by his fan club members..... "Mr Hollywood"

All Hands On The Gangline Please!


Trying to keep the team from smashing into the parked car which wasn't there earlier. Helpers did a great job... Hugh, Judy, Louise, Peg, Ruth.... thanks so much for getting us to the start safely.

At the Start!


I always love how Bobby Stands ready to fire down the trail. Such an awesome wheel dog.
I had decided to run Cookqiz with Rosie in lead. It was hard for me to not have Yahboo up there, but as you can see from the picture, she is slightly leaning out behind Cookqiz and leading from behind. She does a great job in guiding Cookqiz. Anyway, Cookqiz was ready and I wanted to proof the work we had done all season long. She's still got a ways to go, but goodness... she's been fabulous. She did an epic job given the conditions. Never a bad moment, never a slack tugline... she kept good pace through some tough stuff alongside Rosie. Love my leadpair.
Tumac has been leading a lot too, but I wanted this year to be all about Cookqiz. I've spent a lot of time nurturing this little star so the day was hers!

Cindy The Vet At the Start... On My Sled Bag!

We were asked if we would take Cindy down main street from the start so she could experience being behind a team of dogs. Geez, with all the fine work these vets do for us, how could I say no! It was an honor and my big guys didn't mind the extra load. My sled bag was loaded on the inside and outside!

Passing Teams

You get used to riding alone over much of the 60 miles and with being the last team out of the start shute and a 4 minute gap between me and the team before me, I wasn't expecting to catch anyone for some time. But we soon came upon a team but enjoyed the woodsy trail for a while before finding a suitable place to make a safe pass. We actually passed 4 teams along the way.

Heading Nicely Down The Trail


Dogs were doing just great. I was thankful for the many times we had trained in inclement weather and for dragging Richard around as an added 220lb weight. Dogs were very strong and healthy.

Enjoying Some Time With Ann Stead

as we wait for the 250 teams to come in. It was so nice to see Ann and Jamie doing what they love to do. It was a treat to see them both as I haven't seen them for a few years. They still look great!

Catching A Moment With Jamie Nelson

Just minutes after she crossed the finish line in 3rd place. What a gruelling time this weekend for many whether on the trail or off the trail, dealing with the heavy snowfall, the pouring rain and then the icing and then... more snow.

Time To Venture Out!


Enough cabin fever... time to run dogs. So I had to shovel off the roof first and then basically dig the truck out.

Digging Out Space For The dogs

Thank goodness I brough a shovel with me!

Getting Ready For Peg's Birthday Run

Peg's been a real trooper this season and has enjoyed time on the trail in the sled. I've really enjoyed her company as have all the dogs. It's been wonderful to have some company from time to time and have her ride in my sled and enjoy the silence of being behind a dog team andnot just doing the prep and post work involved in running a dog team, though she's scooped her fair share of dog poop!

Seeing as we were stranded at the cabin and waiting for the storm to pass, we shoveled out the parking area around the truck and dropped dogs in preparation of taking Peg out for her birthday mush as a thank-you for her help and support. The snow was very deep and of course it was going to be hard going, but the dogs are fit and in great shape and so with the race now behind us, off we would go!

Nik hooked up a team also and we ran right from the cabin in pretty deep snow. We didn't venture too far, but it was enough to just get the dogs back out there and give Peg something special on her birthday. We took it in turns to break trail, it was so incredibly beautiful.

When we returned to the cabin, I did something I've been yearning to do..... goodness, I hooked up Lilly and Mr Hollywood (aka) Bobby, to my sled and took a two-dog team out! Memories from the past, it was so fun to be out there with just my two Malamutes.

Good Company Makes The Trip Even More Special

Cozy cabin with a few good friends. Anastasia, Nik, Peg and the lovely Ms Prime. We had a lovely potluck dinner for us and our neighbors following 250 race. A smorgasbord of everything left over and some pretty large steaks provided by Christine. Despite all being a bit on the tired side, we have a great evening.

Thank you Nik, Anastasia and Peg!

Frozen Trees Along I95 As We Headed Home


When we saw the state of the trees for a good length of I95, I was grateful we decided to stay in Fort Kent and not drive home in what could have been another series situation. It was spectacular to look at though.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Puppies are 3.5 Months Old Already!!


Lovely boy TJ, just the spitting image of his papa, Tumac. Hard to believe that so much time has passed already, but I'm really trying so much to be with them as much as I possibly can. Raising 4 pups is no easy task but I have to say, it's all coming together, the routine, the training, the together time.... Daisy has been a good mom and Rosie has been a very good surrogate mom. Daisy is finally back in harness and loving it! She's been pulling like a crazy sled dog the last few nights. I'm so happy for her and happy for me as I've missed her all season. I really wanted her on my Can-am team but it wasn't going to be. She needed the time to recover, heal and get her strength back. She was pretty lame after giving birth and was sore for a long time.
We've had updates from Linda on Illy and Aise who are settling in just great and Linda and Neil are just loving their two pups. Updates and photos can be accessed via Linda's blog -
We've also had some lovely photos of Rigel (aka Pepper or Mr Pepito as we used to call him). He's settling in nicely to with Caroline and Andy in Maine. He now has his own page on their website - http://www.sledpets.com/

Auntie Nellie and Honey

Honey is so like her Auntie Nellie, just as robust, just as funny and no doubt... will be just as strong!

Honey In Full Chase!


What does she look like?

Pear's Stunning Eyes


Just what color are they?

Honey, Wishbone and Daisy


Hana and Honey


Pear Enjoying Some New Snow!

She's a good sized female, taller than the boys so far!

Handsome TJ

..he's so like his papa

Lovely Honey

Well, she's stunningly gorgeous, huge and extremely funny.

My Cutie Boy 'Wishbone' aka Mr. Wishy


He's a big 'love'... and look at his eyes!

Ever So Gorgeous 'Pear'

Look at those eyes!

Sandwich Notch 20 Miler, Feb 2011


This was a last minute decision, literally. I sent my entry just a day or two prior to the closing date. The dogs were in good shape, but I was still recovering from a very long bout of Bronchitis and not feeling 100% at all. But we had invested all we could in our training and the dogs deserved to race and I so wanted Hana and Tumac to have this race experience prior to going to the Can-am which was the main event of the season.
Peg said she would come along and help me and keep me fed! She's such a wonderful, nurturing soul. So it was good to have her company and of course, her help getting the gear together and the dogs dropped as I spent much of my time coughing and clearing my chest and lungs. Ick!
Here we are, waiting to race. Well, a little extra snow would have been great. It seemed pretty hard and icy out there at the beginning of the course. With the road crossing right at the beginning too, a few of us remained a tad concerned and wondered how the rest of the course might be. We had strong winds and very fast conditions. A little bit of everything actually which always makes this race an adrenalin run. There's something about the SN race that just gets into your blood, but then, that's how I feel about Sandwich Notch, period. It was fast, twisty, turny, scary, fun, crazy and extremely gnarly. A lot of 'bang' for your 'buck' hey!
This was going to be Cookqiz's first race in lead. She's been leading a lot all season alongside either Yahboo or Rosie so I knew she was ready. Her passes are good, she takes commands well and is turning out to be a great trustworthy leader. The plan was to keep Yahboo infront for the most technical part which is at the start and then switch Yahboo for Cookqiz half way through the race. We stopped just after the checkpoint, after battling through the strong wind and I switched the girls. Yahboo took it well and co-lead from the rear anyway. She's gotten used to training Cookqiz and switching places, I think it was harder for me than her as she almost always been upfront. I checked feet, bootied those who needed them and off we went. Cookqiz has an efficient gate which hides just how fast she is traveling. Such a graceful and elegant dog to watch with a gate that covers a lot of ground. We were moving well.
I couldn't believe the wind. At times as we traveled across the open fields, it was a battle to stay on the runners, the whole team was being blown off the trail. I could barely see infront of me as I battled to keep my cap and hood on. It really was crazy.
The head on passes were excellent and the dogs were clearly enjoying the race and fully aware that we were racing. It always warms my heart when I see that they 'get it' and it's as much fun for them as it is for me. When this happens, it just feels right. We've come together as one, as a team and it really doesn't get much better!

My Fab Six-Dog Team


Yahboo and Rosie lead on the way out and then I switched and placed Cookqiz infront with Rosie for the return journey. Tumac and Hana were at wheel and then there was Nellie of course who has earned her way to the front of the team next season, actually, starting this spring when the ATV comes out. She has been a driving force and a gas pedal from within the team.
I had no idea just how fast we were going but, clearly, much faster than I had anticipated. I had told Richard to get to the race around 12:15'ish anticipating coming in around then or later...... when I crossed the finish line, Richard was nowhere to be seen. He was bringing a puppy with him so I wondered if he had gone for a hike instead with Pear. I asked Peg if she had seen Richard !!! She said "No" .... "You told him to get her after midday". She then said "Do you know what time it is" (as I crossed the finish line and came to a halt for a bag check). I said "No, I have no idea what time it is" Peg said " It's only 11:30" "You are over 40 minutes faster than you thought you would be". "Oh" I said. Feeling a little surprised but knowing we had experienced some pretty decent training runs, we placed 8th overall which was an astonishing finish. Richard arrived on time and was quite bummed to have missed us crossing over the finish, oh well.... Pear was with him. She is so gorgeous. We had a fun day with friends, Caroline and Andy were there and so were Hugh and Judy from Scotland, always a treat to be in their company. Kim, Kelly and Rob and Louise. Such a great day. We stayed all afternoon to support the other racers who had yet to finish and of course, the 45 milers who came in after the 20 milers. Then off to the awards ceremony with Kim and Kelly. We had a fun time sitting in the front of their truck waiting for the doors to open, chatting about the trail, the course and of course, the dogs.
OH !! And the biggest joy was receiving my gorgeous custom made and gifted sled bag from Andy Bartleet and Caroline Blair-Smith. Wow, is it gorgeous. I can tell ya... that bag turns a few heads!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Uncle Biffa


Biffa, my dear beautiful boy. Miss you terribly. Always happy, always sweet, always giving... never a mean moment. Biffa left the physical world on February 2nd 2011 at age 11. He gave life 100%, loved all the dogs in his furry family, helped raise puppies, was always happy, joyful. He would be the first to howl, always knew when I was awake in the morning..... he would look up at my bedroom window waiting for me to look back at him and then the morning howl would begin. I miss him. Love you Biffy!

Where Did The Last Few Weeks Go!!

As I start to catch up a little with life around here, I have so much in my head that I want to write and share. I've been carrying with me the grief of losing Biffa on February 2nd. No words describe how much he meant to us. During this time of loss we were also training hard for the Can-am 60. In honor of Biffa and my dogs who have crossed the rainbow bridge, we carried on, taking their spirit with us each time we trained.

The pups are growing, goodness... they couldn't get any cuter could they? Honey and Pear suitably qualify as the second generation Mitten Twins. For those of you who had the pleasure of enjoying the first generation Mitten Twins aka Nellie and Daisy, you are in for a treat with these two girls. Then there's TJ and Wishbone. TJ is all is papa, leggy, handsome and a sweetheart. Wishbone, well... he's a heart breaker. His piercing blue eyes and his chunky body are just so gorgeous.

Just a quick update for now. Photos and trail tales to follow.... Mush On!