"Railbelt Complex" Fire - July 2009
One common question that I am asked is: When will you start training again?
My response is usually "It depends upon the rain and the smoke."
Much of the summer, Interior Alaska is a warm, dry desert. This week, day time temperatures have been in the upper 70s and even into the 80s. We have received very little rain the last few months with only an occasaional light shower in the evening. This, as well as thousands of daily lightening strikes, ignites the fire season. Currently, we have several nearby wild land forest fires that funnel smoke and ash into our valley depending upon the wind direction.
Needless to say, our furry coated huskys look for the nearest shade for most of the day and nap. It is, literally, the dogs' days of summer.
I have run some small teams late at night only after wetting each dog down with a watering can. But the trails are dust ladden and bone dry hard. When we stop for a break the dogs roll in dust and inhale smoke. The benefits of running a dog team the end of July do not seem to outweigh the negatives.
So ...... When will we start training?
Training begins when summer ends. The summer will end when the rain begins. Soon there will be cooler temperatures, no fires (or smoke) and huge puddles for the dogs. This has happened as soon as August 1st and as late as mid September.
It will all happen quickly and quietly and I will be left standing there saying "Where did summer go?"
Plumes of smoke and ash from a nearby Wildland Fire