Saturday, June 27, 2015

Iditarod 2016 Sign-Ups

Today was the first day for mushers to sign-up for the 2016 Iditarod. Each year the Iditarod Trail Committee holds a picnic to celebrate this event and to thank all the volunteers who give their time to make the race what it is. This year also, they took donations for mushers that were affected by the Sockeye fire earlier in June.

Although Aliy and Allen were unable to attend the picnic they submitted their entries by post prior to the day so SP Kennel will have two teams in the 2016 Iditarod!

The Iditarod couldn't exist without volunteers. From flying drop bags to checkpoints to manning communications, selling merchandise to caring for dropped dogs, start-line security to raking up checkpoint straw and everything in between. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all for what you do for the race we love.

Check out the Iditarod Trail Facebook page to see all the other mushers that have signed up today and some pictures from the volunteer appreciation picnic. We can't wait - can you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Update on Alaskan Fires

If you have been following the Alaskan news recently you will know that right now there are over 250 separate fires burning and being tracked around the state. The fire crews from Alaska and the Lower 48, plus their support staff are doing an amazing job and are working hard to protect lives, homes and businesses. These men and women are truly "giving it their all." And we thank them for their perseverance, knowledge and professionalism. We'd like to quote something we read from one of the Seaveys on Facebook: "Firefighters make Iditarod Mushers look like Cupcakes!

Current map from the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center

The closest fire to the kennel is The Anaconda Creek Fire (#439), on the north side of Chena Hot Springs Road. This fire started on June 20th by a lightening strike. Currently the fire is about 10 miles north of the kennel with a favorable wind currently blowing away from any built up areas. It is in an area we train in during the winter so we're familiar with the trails and terrain. It actually is burning just a few miles north of one of our common winter training trails that we ironically call "the Fire Break" trail. It is a wide trail cut along the top of a ridge by a bull dozer years ago to try and keep a fire north of Two Rivers. We hope that its previously intended goal is still valid!

Ray and Aliy took ATVs to the Fire Break Trail on Sunday afternoon and photographed the fire. It is reported to be 600 acres in size. Currently the wind is blowing the fire away from the kennel and away from the town of Two Rivers.

A view of the Anaconda Creek Fire from the Fire Break Trail.

An Alaska Type II Green Team has been stationed at the Pleasant Valley Store and Community Centre to attend the fire and they're keeping everyone well abreast of the situation with updates and information as needed. The situation can alter quickly with a change in the wind or a lightning strike. We have loaded three trucks and two trailers with gear and dog supplies. There is a dog truck standing ready and a trailer for dog kennels. We could evacuate on a moment's notice.

The Willow (Sockeye) Fire that burned many mushers (and non mushers) homes in the Southcentral Alaska earlier in June has now been predominately contained. People are moving back to their property and assessing damages: some minimal some catastrophic. Our thoughts go out to our friends who lost so much.

Several Alaskan villages have also been evacuated as wildfires. Musher Brent Sass has evacuated his kennel in Eureka and both the towns of Nulato and Tanana (checkpoints on the Iditarod this year) have evacuated. A small community south of Nenana has lost homes as well. But, there are many, many more fires threatening cabins, structures and livelihoods.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Alaska Zoo: Wildlife Diaries

Tuesday nights at the Alaska Zoo are "Wildlife Diaries" which feature stories and information about Alaska: the wild lands and animals. Aliy has been invited to speak at the Zoo this Tuesday evening.

"Mushing Alaska: Fiercely Incredible Stories"
Aliy Zirkle has traveled across Alaska by dog team for over 20 years. It has been these amazing lands and the wildlife that calls them home that have captured her heart. But, the last few years, the extreme arctic weather conditions -- incredible cold and fierce winds -- have made traveling by dog team incredibly challenging. Come hear Aliy's stories about staying warm and enduring blizzard conditions as she dog mushes across Alaska.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Eagle Pack Pet Food donates to Fire Victims

Please alert all SOCKEYE FIRE displaced DOG MUSHERS, complimentary Eagle Pack Natural Pet Food is available for pick up at Martin Buser's Happy Trails Kennel in Big Lake, Alaska. WellPet and Eagle are committed to helping those in need.
No need to call, just come to Happy Trails Visitor Center. HERE are directions to get to Happy Trails Kennel.
Martin's website is and here is Martin's Facebook Page.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Alaska Fire Update

The state of Alaska was moved to PL-4 (Preparedness Level 4) yesterday due to the current statewide fire situation. For detailed info on fire maps, lightening strikes, fire weather and outlook reports we often refer to the AICC (Alaska Interagency Coordination Center) Website.

These are Alaska fire maps from the AICC website as of June 18, 2015.
Left: the Parks Highway corridor; Right: a statewide map.

The Sockeye Fire in Willow has been the most devastating to the dog mushing community thus far. AICC lists 422 personnel fighting the 7,000+ acre fire as of June 17th. There are quite a few other dangerous fires in the state; including the Kenai Peninsula/Card Street fire near fellow Iditarod musher, Mitch Seavey's home.

There are many personal stories about fires in and around Alaska. Many of us want to help. Remember that many people who were displaced by fires have not been allowed back on their property yet - it is too dangerous. Their true state of affairs is not entirely known. There are ways to help now - here is an article by the Alaska Dispatch News: 'How to Help'. I am sure there will be many more ways to help in the near future when the actual process of rebuilding lives can begin. Until that time many people are still hoping for the best as firefighters continue to amaze the affected communities.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Willow, Alaska Fire Update

The community of Willow, Alaska (approximately 275 miles south of SP Kennel in Two Rivers) has been evacuated due to a fast moving fire. As far as we know, all dogs and mushers are safely camped out at various shelters in and around Southcentral Alaska. Martin Buser and Scott Jansen have evacuation areas for sled dogs as well as other camp spots and safety areas. The Parks Highway -- which connects Willow to those of us farther north -- is closed periodically near the fire area.

We were told that quite a few of our friends, sadly have lost their homes and all possessions. Otherwise, we know very little of the details except that Alaska Fire Service, as well as every other agency in Alaska and soon from the Lower 48, are trying their very best.

There are several current updates in the Alaska Dispatch News.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

If we forgot to mention…

As time marches on, we need to remember to thank Verizon Wireless for becoming such a great addition to the SP Kennel team. We were reminded of their awesome contributions to the kennel just last week when the pre race "Good Luck" banner was returned to the kennel. We hadn't seen that banner since before the Iditarod started. Pretty neat to look through the names of folks in Alaska who rooted us on with smiley faces and cheers. It really means a lot to be supported by a super community and an enthusiastic company.

Verizon also donated the 8 X 10 color photo sheets that I was able to personalize to each Girl Scout that I met last week. Pretty neat!

Friday, June 12, 2015

FBF: Winding Through The Trees

Are you missing the snow and cool winter temperatures? Craving the view from the back of a dog sled? Well, sit back, relax and enjoy today's Flash Back Friday as it takes us back to the middle of winter in January 2012.

As Aliy said: "Our training runs are always exciting.

Some of the trails that we travel on are fit predominately for dog teams (and a few hardy cross country skiers.) As you will see in this video, the narrow winding trail would be difficult for a snow machine or any other motorized vehicle to maneuver.

You will notice, with a team of 14 sled dogs, it is challenging to see the entire string. But, with Beemer and Scruggs up front, and Dingle and Pud in swing, the team was confident we would get where we needed to go. As we wind through the forest, you can see the leaders already turning around the next bend!

I watched this footage in regular speed, then fast and then slow. I thought it was pretty neat at all speeds..... so, enjoy!"

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Where is the Pot of Gold?

A gorgeous summer rainbow curved above the SP Kennel dog yard this afternoon.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Thank you Girl Scouts

"Girl Scouts build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place."

On Friday, Aliy was the keynote speaker at the 2015 Alaska Girl Scout Encampment evening program. Over 800 girls and nearly 400 adults gathered at the Alaska State Fairgrounds for the 3-day biennial event. Troops from all over the state came to attend the event which had a theme of “Super Heroes in the making”.

One hundred girls were selected to attend an Aliy “Meet & Greet” Friday early evening. They all received a personalized autographed photo of Aliy and Junior the sled dog.

Later that night, Aliy spoke to all 800 girls during the evening program about following her dreams from a very young age and enduring many of life's everyday challenges to become the woman that she is today. She said that she knows that everyone -- including every girl in that audience -- has challenges and difficulties in her life: whether in school, at camp, in relationships, at home ... everyone has them!

As far as Super Powers go, Aliy believes that her Power (and it is a Super Power that everyone can have) helps her tremendously with these challenges. Her Super Power is her smile! That’s right... the power to keep smiling throughout all of the incredible challenges in life. She feels that her smile keeps her and her team upbeat and positively motivated regardless of the situation. A smile tends to make everything better. Aliy talked about smiling when she's tired and smiling when she's upset and even smiling when she feels intimidated. Then she played the girls a fun video with an upbeat pop song that showed Aliy in 40 below zero temperatures… smiling, in ridiculous blizzard conditions… smiling and coming across the Iditarod finish line in a very close 2nd place… still smiling. So, smile on Girls!

Aliy said that this was one of the best motivational presentations she has ever done. And to quote Aliy when she got back to SP Kennel: “I went to to 2015 Girl Scout Encampment to try and inspire and encourage those girls and I left the Fairgrounds more motivated and inspired than I have been in years! I give those girls my sincere and heartfelt thanks!”

The girls lined up to ask Aliy questions after the presentation.

Aliy said she felt a little bit like a 'Rock Star' while on stage because of the incredible positive excitement from all the girls!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wind Back Wednesday: 2013 Yukon Quest Champions

On February 11, 2013 Allen, Quito, Scout, Beemer, Olivia, I.V., Scooter, Chica, Scruggs, Puppet, Nacho, Willie, Waylon, Tatfish and Biscuit became the 2013 Yukon Quest Champions.

They completed the race in 8 days, 18 hours, 39 minutes.

In this Wind Back Wednesday we relive their achievements and follow their journey from Whitehorse to Fairbanks in this video.

My favourite part is when we first caught sight of Allen's headlight on the Chena River as the team came home. What's yours?

Music: Stanhope by Scotty MacLeod
using YouTube's "music sharing" feature

And, in this post Allen gives a wrap-up of his Champion team.