Mushing with the
|Gary, Jan, Elinor, and Greg.|
What we hope will become a family tradition - the first annual ( OK, maybe bi-annual if we have to go all the way to Inuvik, NWT) Morrissey Family Dogsled Races happened on April 15th.
The over-all winner in all catagories was...
Just check out the smiles and you will know it had to be Elinor.
First over-all, Master Musher Elinor,and her team.
Four 1st place and one 2nd place finish...
Mushing - Dogsled driving, is one of those sports that is lost to most of the world. Our unanimous advice - if you ever get a chance - do it!
The learning curve is a little steep but since it doesn't take long to figure what you're doing wrong you soon are having a good time.
What you need to know;
1 - (a)The dogs always want to go, leave the sled unattended or the brake or anchor not firmly set and you will be running after a quickly disappearing sled. (b) The dogs somehow sense when your attention wanders (ie. taking pictures on the fly) and will try to pull the sled out from under you. In every case they can run a lot faster then you can!
2 - To turn left you yell Chaw or Haw. To turn right you yell Chee or Hee. If the dogs don't want to go that way they suddenly become very deaf..
3 - Going down-hill the sled will go faster then the dogs so you have to slow it down - but not enough that they notice.
4 - Going uphill they suddenly have no energy unless you get off and run along. Caution though - see number one above...
5 - If you stop for even a second the dogs on the right will try to switch places with the dogs on the left. This switch only takes about a micro-second but untangling the harness takes at least ten minutes.
6 - The dogs will always run around corners so that their shoulders touch the tree or what ever they are rounding. The sled (1) always wants to turn inside the turning radius of the dogs, (2) it is considerably wider then their shoulders and (3) you are usually leaning into the corner a little as well... see number one above...
7 - The dogs know their stuff and if you don't give the right command or if you do something stupid they will stop, turn around and give you the most disparaging "how can you be so stupid" look, then take off. - see number one above...
We raced in three categories.
Open in which you shout insults at the other mushers and encourage your dogs by telling them about all the treats they will get when you win. Someone tried to invent a rule that you couldn't shout direction names out as other teams came to corners , but it wasn't enforced regularly.
Cross country. A single trail with whoever got into the lead trying not to let others pass while traveling through the forest and hills.
Sprint. Short and fast, everyone lines up at the starting line and goes as fast as they can across the lakes.
The winner in each case is the team with the first dog over the finish line, unless the driver is not with the sled... Remember, number one above!
Elinor giving advice to her lead dogs prior to the start of one of the sprint races .
Jan enjoying smooth going on the cross-country race.
Greg giving a helping foot on a slight up-hill during the cross-country race.
The sunshine may look warm!
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