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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Journey Turns 2 Years Old Today!

Journey at 2 years old.

Journey, a female Hedlund Husky, turns 2 years old today! She has found her place in the Points Unknown pack at the very bottom, however this doesn't translate to her place in the team. Journey is a phenomenal young leader! Showing great promise as a 10 month old pup doing some open country leading during her first winter, she exceeded our expectations this past season and ran lead much of the season.

Journey is very attentive, sweet and sensitive which are common traits of a Hedlund Husky. Showing consistent signs of aggression to dogs outside of the Points Unknown kennel and extreme hyper sensitivity to people she doesn't know, which are not common traits within the line, she was spayed this spring.

I'm sure Journey will continue to amaze us with her leader abilities as she matures. Until Fall training begins, she spends her days with per pals running and playing freely in our back yard enclosures. Agility class is also in her summer plans. This will not only build her confidence for encountering obstacles on the trail but will also introduce her to dogs she doesn't know in hopes of improving her tolerance.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tuloon; Pregnancy Update

The "helicopter head" tells the story. "This is such an inconvenient time for a photo shoot!"

"I can't see you so you aren't there."

"Alright, I'll just submit and maybe you'll go away with that thing."

"Maybe if I pretend I'm asleep...."

"I can't believe I'm being put through all of this!"

"Whew, I think she's done. I wonder who saw all of that."

We are fairly certain that the breeding between McKenzie and Tuloon was successful based upon the recent loss of a slender and well defined physique on Tuloon's part. Tuloon was bred three days in a row beginning on April 26th. If we stick to the 63 day rule, this means she should whelp on or around June 28th so she is about 5 weeks into it and 4 weeks away from her first whelping date.

Tuloon is the queen of the kennel and beginning to act more and more the part with the changing of her hormones. Although she now resides entirely in the house, she does go out to socialize with the others daily to remain up to date on the goings-on in the kennel. Making sure to closely monitor the group so that no one gets overly assertive in their play, Tuloon barrels in, putting an immediate stop to the activity. Some think she's just a party pooper these days, so to make it fair to the others, after a fair amount of socialization, she heads back into the house.

She also is losing her patience with my photo shoots, making it very apparent by her expressions.

Belated Birthday Wishes!

Tukisi at 10 years old

Tukisi, a Canadian Inuit Dog, turned 10 years old on April 4th, 2009. This was the day we made the final trek up to Gunflint Lodge to retrieve the remainder of our dog yard gear from our winter adventures. Since it was such a long day of travel and hard work, we didn't get a chance to properly wish this handsome boy a Happy Birthday!

Tukisi is retired but did do some pulling over the winter when he ran in a leader pair with Isis on some shorter excursions at our Points Unknown Women's Winter Adventures.

Belated birthday wishes to our handsome "Tukimonster!"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Canicross Hikes 2009; Lake Maria State Park

Sweet Pea, Zala and Katsu help us up the hill

Lilly and Frankie aren't far behind

The lime green freshness of spring

The Big Woods trail

Beautiful swamps and bogs dot the area

Lilly and Frankie take a water break

Up the look-out hill

Dragon flies over head

Break time at the look-out

Vast beauty

The universe provided us with some good weather for this weekend's canicross hike. It was in the upper 60s and low 70s with blue skies filled with wispy clouds. Hailey, our ever-so-appreciated dog helper came along for the very first time so two Points Unknown sled dogs got to enjoy the hike.

Zala and Sweet Pea were the chosen ones. This would be Sweet Pea's first hike. She never seems to like the harnessing part of being a sled dog so she froze as usual, anticipating the ensuing chaos that can happen at hook up that she also does not like; dogs shouting at the top of their lungs, "pick me! pick me!" Instead, she seemed amazed to find that she was the only dog being hooked to the line and there wasn't a sound but the wind in the trees and the chirping of the birds. "What in the world am I supposed to do?", she must have thought as I gave the "ready, let's go" command. It took a gentle bump in the rump to remind her that "ready, let's go" means we start moving. She startled and ran forward as if to say, "oh ya, right". She then noticed the other dogs, singly attached to their people and she spotted Hailey with Zala. It was then the chase instinct began and off she went, pulling with all her might, to catch up with her pack member. There was no way she was going to let Zala lead! How strange it was to hear noises that we've never heard come out of Sweet Pea as she protested at her position in line. She whined and shouted at Zala to wait for us. Based upon her performance, I think Sweet Pea has found a new hobby.

This year we explored different parts of the park and in the end went close to six miles instead of the three to four we did last season. It seemed to be the year of the dragon fly. They greeted us at the park entrance and we came upon what seemed like hundreds of them in a lowland sumac grove at the base of a look-out hill. Dragon Flies are our friends because they eat those pesky mosquitoes we Minnesotans call our state bird so we hoped they would follow us on our entire journey. The mosquitoes did seem worst than last season but all in all weren't bad enough to dampen the mood on our hike. Once near the lake the mosquitoes seemed to disappear into the woods as the dogs took a dip and watched with anticipation as young fisher people reeled in tempting snacks.

Our next Canicross Hike is on Saturday, June 6th at Carver Park. I hope you'll join us! You don't have to be a northern breed sled dog to learn how to pull and join the fun!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Apple orchard in full bloom

One from the Pelican pair

In hopes of finding morel mushrooms along the trail, I set out on my bicycle around the lake to see what I could find. The sled dogs have had their fun today, running around the yard with their pals and were just fed. The little house dogs have been walked through the apple orchard, now in full bloom. Now it was my turn for some time to myself.

My trip around Oake Lake adventure uncovered no morels today. My guess is that it has been too cold. They need a few good days of heat to help them sprout up. Maybe later this week. I didn't return from my ride empty handed. I spotted a Pelican pair lazily paddling along and snapped a couple photos. An egret pair has also made our little lake their home this spring. In years past we've had as many as 4 pairs and as few as none. It depends upon the winter fish kill. This lake is not spring fed so, at times, it freezes out. Years ago, a neighbor on this private 500 acre wildlife lake, stocked it with 140,000 walleye fry. The number of ice houses on the lake in the winter tells the winter fish tale as does the return, or lack thereof, of the water fowl.

The red-winged blackbirds are the first to arrive, even before the ice goes out. Theirs is the first call of spring. Now, we are awakened at 5AM by the honking of the geese and the chirping of the song birds. Too bad they don't like to sleep in. Throughout the day we are updated of the goings on in the meadow just beyond the dog yard by the techno talk of the boblink. In the evening, we are lulled to rest by the soft cooing of the morning doves. If we're lucky after dark, along with the yips of the coyotes, we hear the owls conversing. Then it's time to make sure little Copper is safely inside as he would make a nice 12lb snack for some very large and hungry owl. This isn't as likely as when I see our neighborhood Eagle fly over head. He can't be missed, flying majestically over the lake, landing in the same Oak tree directly across the lake on most occasions. He comes to fish, every now and again, for his family living on a nearby lake in a nest high in a box elder tree. Copper isn't allowed outside to roam the back yard without a sled dog body guard or two. My hope is that with a couple menacing looking sled dogs about, the eagle will stay clear of the back yard.

The baby birds will soon be hatching from the dozens of nests in the blue spruce trees behind the house. When this time comes, I am very careful to make certain they don't all fall prey to a curious sled dog. Some years are better then others. I'm sure that the dogs can't wait for this spring adventure to begin!

The barn swallows have begun making a mud nest under the overhang on the back deck. We allowed this to happen one year and spent the entire season being dive bombed every time we walked out on the deck. So today, I made sure to give them the notice to vacate by removing the beginnings of their nest. They'll soon find a new spot where we can all live in peace.

Springtime on Oake Lake!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dog Fun and Musher Work

Wood privacy fence complete!

Ilu and Icoa peeking in through the kitchen window and they're all smiles!

Isis waits for a drink after play time

Zodiak loves to climb up and on just about anything. Here, he can visit nose to nose with the little house dogs through the window.

McKenzie sniffs his way around the back yard.

Crazy "air dog" Oken!

Sweet Zala with her huge fluffy tail

Tuloon supervises the play

They are becoming all too familiar with my photo taking. This, after I just had said, "now everyone stay still for this photo".

More fun and games

The dogs spent another sunny spring day running and playing in the yard while I tended to some dog yard chores. Tukisi and Isis are becoming more grumpy in their older age and this musher became tired of their grumpiness affected others in the dog yard. A wood privacy fence had to be installed between their kennel and the adjoining kennel so they didn't need to worry about guarding their bones from others on the opposing side and they could get the privacy that they apparently needed because ever since the fence went up, the grumpiness has been minimal. Thank goodness for that!

Time Passes So Quickly!

Another amazing sunrise over Oake Lake

New life begins just outside the porch door

Haven't found that pot of gold yet

As the storm moves east

Wild violets

Tuloon investigates the Bleeding Heart plant

One of the few remaining mini Iris blooms


The end of the Magnolia bloom

I feel as though I stepped on a moving train the minute we returned with the dogs from our northwoods winter adventures. Time is just zooming by. Just yesterday I noticed that the Canadian Geese have little yellow fuzzy chicks already. The mini Iris are almost done blooming as are the Magnolia bush flowers. Last year, it seems I caught all of these things well before they happened and waited in anticipation of them.

The real estate appraisal market is booming with the lower interest rates which is good for me and the dogs as it will keep us all afloat until next winter. In addition, the beeswax candle business is in the growth stage and that is demanding of my time. This is an exciting time for us here on Oake Lake as we forge forward with the blossoming of a new business and prepare for the new path Points Unknown will be taking next winter.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Many Thanks

Photo by Don Deckert
Gunflint Lodge

Photo by Don Deckert
Points Unknown at Gunflint Lodge


Liz and team

Chris, Frankie and Lily

Sandy and Team


Sandy and Team


Photo by Don Deckert
Jon and Team




Karen and Team

Last but certainly not least, Don and Team

Here it is spring and I find myself reminiscing about the winter adventures with the sled dogs that ended a short time ago as warm and rainy days replaced frigid and flurry filled ones.

This past winter, Points Unknown grew significantly and there are many, many people to thank for their efforts in making the season a success. Without them it would not have gone as smoothly as it did, we would not have been able to provide quality adventures to as many people as we did, we would not have had as clean and organized a dog yard as we did and we would not have had as many beautiful and quality photos and videos of our adventures with the dogs as we did. This post is dedicated to all of those people. Words can not describe how thankful I am for the excellent jobs you all did. You all (and your dog teams) put so much effort into the Points Unknown program and it was better because of each and every one of you.

Thank you!

It's also important to thank Lee and Sarah, formerly of Gunflint Lodge, for giving us the opportunity to provide our program to the guests of Gunflint Lodge beginning in 2007. We are excited to announce that Points Unknown will be taking another path beginning next season. Although we are sad to say good bye to Gunflint Lodge, it has been an unforgettable experience for us and for the dogs and we take with us some very powerful memories and experiences. We will no longer be providing adventures for Gunflint Lodge guests but will, instead, be focusing on our women's programs that include remote wilderness adventures and our new Metro Adventures in the Minneapolis Metropolitan area where there has been a high demand for what we have to offer. Adventure details will be posted on the website by this summer so please check back.

Again, my sincere thanks to all and a BIG thanks goes out to all of you who spent time with us out on the trail. I hope you'll join us again soon!