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Thursday, February 11, 2010

PUWAWA 2010 Part I; Arrival and Preparation

The snow came down upon our little cabin in the wilderness.

This would soon be the dog mushing trail

Scott tackles the tree that had fallen in our path

Back at the cabin, the atmosphere glowed with the warm light of our Scent from Nature; 100% Pure Beeswax Candles.

On Tuesday of last week, Chris, our Points Unknown handler, and I loaded up the dogs and headed up north to the Points Unknown cabin in early preparation for our upcoming Points Unknown's Women's Advanced Winter Adventure (PUWAWA). We met Scott, owner of Corner Table Restaurant, en route and arrived around 5:30PM which was just before dark.

Getting all of the dogs and gear into the cabin is a grand event in itself. Dog sleds were loaded up and three teams were run in the mile to the cabin. Our trusty snowmobile and tow-behind Otter sled would carry in the remainder of the gear while the dogs were settling in and being fed. Among the items to be hauled in were all of Scott's carefully prepared fixins for our adventure's table. When we finally sat down for the evening, we were amazed to read the numbers on the clock. 11PM. Every muscle in our bodies ached as we sipped hot chocolate waiting for the temperature in the cabin to move up from its original 10 degrees. By the time we all finally went to bed the temperature had gone up to a balmy 45 degrees. When our guests arrive, the cabin will be far from chilly and at times we will have to open windows just to keep the temperature below 70 in the evening when all of the propane lights are on and the stove and oven are in use.

The following morning we allowed ourselves to sleep in, resting those aching muscles, until at least 9AM. There was a lot of work still ahead and we needed to get moving before dark. Trails needed to be groomed and with no working headlight on the snowmobile, we needed to be back before dark because our headlamps would not provide the light needed to do a proper job. There had been an ice storm followed by a wind storm early in the season and although the trail had been previously open, it still had numerous nasty "sweepers" that would not be safe for our new mushers to encounter. "Sweepers" are those branches that hang over the trail and can either smack an unsuspecting musher or "sweep" them completely off the sled runners.

Scott and I began our trail breaking adventure with the tow behind sled filled with gear while Chris remained back at the cabin tackling that list of items that needed to be completed. Our sled contained a chainsaw and safety gear, a bow saw, a couple of hand saws, two sets of heavy duty pruners, a first aid kit, gas for the snomo and the chainsaw, some extra clothing and gloves and some water and snacks.

About a foot of new snow had fallen since the trail had been used last. This was no problem for our snowmobile which is a long and wide track, and with the weight of the two of us, we knew we would be able to pack a pretty nice trail.

Our sweeper trimming grew comical at times, as I tried to place the snowmobile in the appropriate place so that Scott could just reach up and tackle it from the sled. All too often, one of the two of us ended up with a face full of snow. Laughter and the beauty of the wilderness made our four hour trail grooming trip seem to pass by all too quickly. We would have much rather been out with the dog teams grooming this trail, however we knew we had very little time before our guests arrived and had to rely on the mechanical sled this time.

Thursday morning arrived and again, we allowed ourselves to catch up on some much needed sleep before the dogs were run. Both Scott and Chris took out a small team. This would be Scott's second solo run. Having participated the past couple of years and having the level of dog knowledge he has, I knew there would be no issues giving him a powerful four dog team.

Our participants were to arrive at 2PM so we made certain all teams were in by 1PM. We harnessed up the team that would meet the women at the beginning of the driveway to haul their gear in and off we went. Since those attending joined us last year for a beginning adventure, we knew the amount of gear we might be in for so Scott also brought the snowmobile, anticipating that one dog sled would not hold all of the gear. While we waited for our returning guests, we enjoyed the quiet beauty of the woods, the company of the dogs and various conversations that contemplated life.

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