Sunday, April 28, 2013

Iditarod 2013: "Aliy Cam" Blueberry Hills

The Blueberry Hills are nestled in between a frozen lagoon just north of the town of Unalakleet and a slough off to the southeast of the village of Shaktoolik. They lie along the coastline of Norton Sound in the Bering Sea. The ocean is visible when a dog team climbs to the top of one of the numerous steep hills.

The scenery is breathtaking most of the time, but was utterly amazing at sunset on a gorgeous winter evening such as this one:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Iditarod 2013: "Aliy Cam" The Western Coast

The wind is a constant companion on the Western Coast of Alaska. As a dog team travels across this land there is a "music" that is created by the wind, the rustling of the sled runners and the rhythm of the dogs.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Iditarod Article on ESPN

Here is a fantastic article by Brian Phillips from the ESPN Grantland website about his experiences following the 2013 Iditarod. There's some great pictures and graphics, including this awesome one of the SP Kennel Red Team!

Click picture to link to the story:

Iditarod 2013: "Aliy Cam" Traveling on the Yukon

The mighty Yukon River is always a challenge during the Iditarod. In 2013, the challenge was different than the normal bitter cold. With temperatures hovering in the 30's and 40's (above zero), this brought water - lots of it. It was in the form of rain, sleet and snow, as well as overflow and open creeks. But, when the clouds cleared away and the bright blue sky appeared, the afternoon warmth made for perfect camping! Not too many dog teams camp directly in the middle of the Yukon River. It is certainly a unique spot. But, it was so inviting this year, why not?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Puppies in Harness

At a little over eight months of age Olivia and Nacho's puppies Lydia, Junior, Dutch and Kodiak today went out for the first time in harness.

Ranger (who you can clearly hear barking), Beemer, Chemo and Schmoe guided the way around a couple of miles of easy trails. I think you will agree: they are naturals! It's really exciting to see the future of SP Kennel take their first steps. How long 'til winter?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Iditarod 2013: "Aliy Cam" Cozy Iditarod Camp Spot

While traveling 1,000 miles across the arctic, teams often camp in the wilderness. This "Aliy Cam" video shows a peaceful resting dog team in a gorgeous area of Alaska. It also shows the Iditarod Trail's rugged and untamed nature. Despite it's fame and history, the trail is not a "super highway" - actually it is not very different from how it was hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Iditarod 2013: "Aliy Cam" Mushing into Rohn Checkpoint

After summiting Rainy Pass, Iditarod dog teams travel downhill along Pass Fork Creek. This small high mountainous creek is thick with willows and windy curves. After several miles, Pass Fork converges with the slightly larger Dalzell Creek. This creek is still high up in the mountains. The Dalzell Gorge is a section of the creek that has high cliffs on either side. It creates a seemingly "ice canyon" roller coaster for the dog teams because they still have good speed traveling downhill. The Gorge continues to funnel dog teams even farther downhill and eventually the trail pops out onto the Tatina River. The wind blown and icy Tatina is a larger river. The mountain terrain is visible from every direction as the team travels along the Tatina. Rohn Checkpoint lies at the confluence of the Tatina and the Kuskokwim.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Iditarod 2013: "Aliy Cam" Mushing thru Rainy Pass

"Aliy Cam" was back on the Iditarod Trail in 2013. After sorting through many shaky video clips and segments with no sound or too much sound, we have finally produced a few quality films.

So, here is the first video taken from the 2013 "Aliy Cam".

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Quesadilla is Going to Virginia!

Thanks for your entries into the Quesadilla competition, we had 152! Congratulations to Janice from Virginia, Quesadilla is on her way to you this week!

We will admit we did have to start the draw again and stuff poor Quesadilla back into her ziplock; we originally were trying to involve Tig but that didn't quite go according to plan... do you want to see the out-takes?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Catching Up With Bonita

Bonita is one of the sassiest dogs in the yard!

Bonita is truly a sled dog, she likes to work and to run. She always races as hard as she can, every time she runs. She does enjoy pats and attention but would rather be on the trail.

Iditarod? Yukon Quest? She doesn't care as long as she gets to run.

(This video was taken earlier in the season; since then Bonita raced in the Yukon Quest 300 with Aliy and the Iditarod with Allen.)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring Carnival...?

We received Aliy and Allen's return drop bags from the Iditarod the other day and here are just a few of the booties that came back off the trail.

Meghan has spent hours sorting and drying them ready for training next season. She sifted out any that have holes or are no longer usable and will package the rest up, in sets of four, for next season. Doesn't it look festive?

Friday, April 12, 2013

It's always a challenge!

Getting to the Koyukuk River Championship Race in Allakaket was not an easy task. It took two days, a dog truck, two humans, fourteen dogs, a dog sled and a snow machine to reach the starting line. Getting there was truly an Alaskan Adventure in itself.

Here is a quick video documenting only some of the adventure.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Quesadilla" Finished The Iditarod

"Quesadilla", one of Taco's siblings, completed the Iditarod in Aliy's sled! At the Meet and Greet at Clarion Suites in Anchorage prior to the Iditarod, Aliy introduced the crowd to Quesadilla and now is your chance to win her!

We wanted everyone who followed along to have chance to win so now that things have settled down a little we thought now was a good time.

Simply email your name and address to by midnight (Alaska time) on April 16 2013. Please write "Quesadilla competition" in the subject line.

We will draw five names, the first drawn name wins Quesadilla plus an Iditarod Race Guide signed by Aliy and Allen, the next four names drawn will win a signed Race Guide.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Last Race of the Season

Allen and Aliy just came home from the last race of the season: The 34th Annual Koyukuk River Championship.

The race was a two day sprint race held during Spring Carnival in a village just north of the Arctic Circle. Two villages hosted the event. Allakaket, which is an Athabascan Indian village on the Koyukuk River (population 100) and Alatna, a smaller Eskimo village, on the other side of the river (population 35.)

Aliy spent many of her formative years of dog mushing in and around this area nearly 20 years ago. In fact, her first dog race ever was an Allakaket Christmas Race. Many of the dogs in the kennel today are related to a dog named "Fats" who originally came from Steven Bergman of Allakaket.

The Koyukuk River Championship or KRC is held annually in different villages along the Koyukuk River. The dog teams, race marshall, time keepers and handlers come from villages as far as 300 miles away for the event. Transportation is all by snow machine or airplane and accommodations are the cozy, friendly cabins of the locals. Hot coffee, caribou stew and beaver meat were on the stove in every home for visitors.

The KRC was in memory of three great men who passed recently. One of those men was a dear friend to Aliy and Allen. Harvey Williams. He will be missed. Aliy raced the KRC in his honor.

The KRC is a sprint race. SP Kennel has DISTANCE dogs. The two do not usually go hand in hand! The race was a two day event running an 18 mile course each day. The course was hard packed except for several miles of wind blown river trail. Aliy borrowed a sprint sled and hooked up a 14 dog team: Olivia, Quito, Nacho, Beemer, Scout, Scruggs, Chica, Mac, IV, Ranger, Willie, Sissy, Fang and Biscuit and averaged over 15 mph. Aliy and Allen were shocked at how fast they raced. The team came in 5th place out of 9 teams.

Race Times

Aliy and her "Indian Mama" 84 year old Lydia Bergman

All the race sleds were waxed!

Wall Tents set up to warm race spectators.

Steven Bergman waters his dogs before the race start.

Pollack Simon Sr has had a dog team for 61 years in this spot.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

You've Got Mail

We've had fun this week answering some letters from school children that arrived during and since the Iditarod.

It is great to hear from a bunch of new fans of the race from all over the country and we are honored to be the recipients of so many great letters.

We are sending replies this week along with a dog trading card to introduce the children to one of our wonderful dogs. You never know; we might just inspire some future Iditarod mushers out there!

Thanks for all the letters!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Catching Up With Nacho

Nacho Nacho Man!

Nacho is an All-Star who likes to run, run run! He really is a super star!

He has a huge heart, a happy attitude and always has a big smile on his face.

Nacho became a father earlier this year to the newest members of the SPK family: Kodiak, Dutch, Junior and Lydia so we're hoping for big things from his offspring.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Let's Talk About Harnesses

A few of you have been asking about the "half-harness" and line system we use here at SP Kennel so here is a video Aliy made just before the Iditarod where she explains about the system we use and why it works for us:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Golf Litter Comes of Age

At this time of the season our focus shifts from racing to training puppies! It is such a fun time of year and we are always so excited to see the new generation of SP Kennel athletes take the first step to becoming "real" sled dogs.

Earlier this week we took the Golf Litter pups out in two groups with some adults to show the way. Rose and Honda led the team with Boris in Swing and Lester and Schmoe following. Behind them we ran three pups, starting with Sandy, Iron and Driver then Wedgy, Chipper and Woody. We ran them for about a mile and a half with frequent stops to "congratulate" them and tell them all, adults included, that they were doing a great job.

You will notice a more traditional harness and line set-up for the puppies, the traditional full-body harness and necklines set them up to succeed until they get the hang of it. Then they will graduate into the half harness and no-neckline system the rest of the team run in.

They all did so well! It always amazes us how they never have to be "taught" how to do this; it is inherent in their breeding and these guys were great!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sheep Mountain 300 Videos

Sorry for the delay folks but now you can follow Meghan and the R&Bs' journey through the Sheep Mountain 300 race in video.

Two hours after setting off from the Sheep Mountain Lodge the R&Bs pass through Eureka Lodge on their way to Lake Louise Lodge checkpoint.

The team come in to Lake Louise Lodge checkpoint for the first time.

After five hours of rest Meghan feeds and booties the team then they head towards Tolsona Resort Checkpoint...

...and blow through Tolsona Resort a few hours later, at sunset, on their way out to Crosswind Lake and back.

The team go through Eureka Lodge and arrive at the finish line for a total time of two days, four hours and 31 minutes! Great job team!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Quick Clip from the Valley Funale

The Two Rivers Dog Mushing Association was great at incorporating the community youngsters into this weekend's Valley Funale.

Meghan was able to capture this rather quick video clip of Sam and ChaCha racing in the One Dog Class.

Who is having more fun? Sam or ChaCha?