Tuesday, December 30, 2008
While the sled dogs were being well cared for back at the Gunflint Lodge dog yard, Neil and I took the little dogs for a Christmas adventure to the Points Unknown cabin to begin the trail breaking process in preparation for the Points Unknown Women's Winter Adventure in February. With already nearly 2 feet of snow on the ground it was imperative that the trail breaking took place when it did, otherwise it would have been far more difficult.
We arrived at the end of the mile long, unplowed driveway at 9PM. Neil, never having worn snowshoes before, got a crash course as we loaded up two utility sleds with the items we would need for our first night in, which included the little dogs, together in a small crate, and began our long journey, 20 paces at a time. After the first 40 paces and numerous stops to adjust the constantly tipping dog crate with little dogs inside, we decided that it would be best to let the little guys trudge along with us in our tracks rather then be force fed snow inside their kennel every time the thing toppled over.
There we were, head lamps on, full sleds behind us, walking 20 paces at a time in the dark, trying to make certain not to step on the little dogs with our mammoth snowshoes. Each time they jumped off the newly made trail to investigate something they would disappear in the white fluffy sea only to burst out again a little further along the trail with wide eyes and happy smiles. Copper and Blueberry provided the comic relief necessary with their antics along the trail to keep our spirits up for the 2 1/2 hour snowshoe hike into the cabin.
The cabin was a balmy 20 degrees when we arrived so we quickly started a fire in the woodstove and lit many of the propane lights to help heat up the place. Having decided about 400 paces earlier that we would not even attempt to get the snowmobile going to retrieve the remainder of the items at the truck for fear of getting the snowmobile stuck in the fresh fluffy snow leading to total exhaustion, we waited patiently for the heat to rise in the cabin while we sat thankful we were no longer trudging down the driveway. Copper was happy to be wrapped in a fleece blanket and placed in a chair right next to the woodstove while Blue curled up in a small dog bed on the floor next to the woodstove
At 2AM the temperature reached 40 degrees which made it easier for us to doze off a bit. We took turns getting up throughout the night to stoke the fire. By morning, it was nearly 55 degrees in the cabin. We had hoped to get up early and do some exploring on snowshoes around the area, maybe even do some trail packing with the snowmobile but after our strenuous 2 1/2 hour snowshoe adventure the night before, we opted to make one run out to the road with the snomo for our food supply and stay in the cabin the remainder of the day to rest our weary bones and then cook a nice Christmas Eve dinner. The little dogs didn't leave the couch most of the day as well, having covered more ground than we did the previous day with their running back and forth in our tracks and diving in and out of the snow.
Christmas day was glorious with blue skies and temps in the low teens. Needing to get back to the lodge to do some trail grooming, we packed up in the late morning, made a couple runs out to the truck with the snomo to bring out our gear and then we snowshoed out on a now very compacted trail with the little dogs now sailing ahead in front of us rather than trudging along behind us. It wasn't quite the mini vacation we had anticipated , however it was very rejuvenating and gave us a break from the work we had been doing to prepare the trails and dog yard back at the lodge the previous week.