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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sheep Mountain 150

It's finally here:
the 2011-2012 RACE SEASON!

To start off the season, the SPK Red Team and the SPK Red and Black Team will be competing in the Sheep Mountain 150 in a competitive field totaling 51 mushers.

Sheep Mountain Lodge is located on the Glenn Highway between Palmer and Glennallen in the middle of, as the name suggests, MOUNTAINS. I capitalized the word to emphasize the immense size and ruggedness of the peaks surrounding the lodge. And unlike many races that follow rivers or the lowlands, the Sheep Mountain 150 traverses the steep terrain, crosses sections of glaciation, and crests the summits.

The race consists of three 50-mile legs with five hour rests at Eureka Lodge between each leg. The first leg goes from Sheep Mountain Lodge to Eureka Lodge; the second is a large loop that returns to Eureka Lodge; and the third leg returns back to Sheep Mountain Lodge. Zack Steer, owner of Sheep Mountain Lodge and race director, has been putting in the trail the past couple of weekends. Here is a trail update for the first 50-mile leg:

We took 3 snowmachines and a 4 foot groomer over the first loop again yesterday (sat 12/10). The trail was in better shape than last week with only a few sections worth noting: There are 2 sections of glaciation that will need to be negotiated: The first is right at the intersection of Martin Road and Squaw Creek (mile 15/135). There is snow on the low side which is easy to navigate at this time. Looks worse than it is. The other section of glaciation is a short valley about halfway between Squaw creek and Alfred Creek (mile 30/120
). We built a bypass trail around it, but the glacier is growing and I suspect that by next weekend it will be ice again. It is less than 50 feet, you just don't see it till the last minute. There are 6-8 ice bridges across Alfred creek as you work your way through the mining district. They are all "moving" and about half had collapsed since last week. We built new ones, but I suspect that some of those will also fall, and new routes will need to be made. It is not dangerous, as the ice shelfs are low, and the water is always less than 6 inches. Just expect to get your dogs feet wet at some point. There was a small avalanch across the very top of the Belanger Pass trail. There is a temporary route down the middle of the valley (good base, just a little steeper). I'll try to get out this week and put the original trail back in on the road.
We saw 50+ moose along the trail, most in a 20 mile section - lots of small herds of 10-15 animals. Pay attention, especially down the Squaw Creek trail and the return up Alfred creek. There is not so much snow that they won;t give up the trail, but I wouldn't want to surprise them comming around a corner. Somehow, the hunters missed two nice 55 and 65 inch bulls...
All-in all I would say the trail is really good. Last weeks wind and snow storm on Sunday night helped fill in the snow gaps. Now if I could just get the darn moose to stop knocking over my trail markers.
I'll be out today re-marking the middle loop.


Whatever the condition of the trail, it promises to be an exciting race!

As I'm sure many folks noticed, Allen Moore is not on the list of mushers. Unfortunately, Allen will not be competing in this year's Sheep Mountain. Earlier this season, Allen strained his lower calf muscle while working out. The past few weeks, he's been busy rehabbing and will be back and competing in no time.


Linda Toth said...


Jeff Buddington said...

Ouch Allen! Sounds like you have the 4-6 week variety of calf/Achilles injury. I was playing football with my boys one game, picked up a fumble, pushed off to accelerate and there went the calf! Walked on the balls on my right foot for a couple of weeks till I was capable of stretching it again gradually.

Mom in pa said...

Good luck with the race. Hope both of my dogs get to participate and make you proud.

Pia Eaves said...

Good Luck on your first race and a speedy recovery for Allen.

Katalen d-w said...

race question lol any thought on participating in the Denali Doubles sled dog race again this year ?

Linda Toth said...

I just went through the Sheep Mountain Musher List again and I don't know how I overlooked William Kleendehn and 7 other Canadian mushers. Good times!