Consider installing industrial carpeting free of pad underneath very simple to vacuum and steam-clean.
I normally pride myself on keeping up with the blog, but the month of April was too fast. I truly value everyone's commitment and support, so I'll try to keep everyone better informed!
Our last expedition ended on the 5th of April. For the final night of the expedition, we stayed in our Mongolian Yurt on Trapline Mountain. The winds were HOWLING. Since this is our first year with a structure on Trapline Mountain, we don't have barriers to keep the dogs out of the wind. While the dogs are more than capable of surviving a night in 30F and 20-40mph winds, it's the end of season. Even the dogs like to enjoy some relaxation and fun mushing. Camping for 16 hours in 40 mph wind is not necessarily the most fun. Our options were to mush back down into the Chena Valley or bring every single dog in the yurt. Well, can you guess which option won? Haha- yep! All the dogs came into the yurt. It was so much fun to bond and cuddle with them all; however, the only issue is that the yurt is truly an authentic Mongolian yurt. The felt surrounding the framework is made from animal fur, and horse hide binds the lattice together....
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Spring has been an absolute blast. We've begun the move to the new property, soaked up the sun on our longer days, and met lots of new folks on our tours and expeditions.
Over the course of the next 10 days, we'll move all the dogs over to the new property. Derek and I will live in the handler cabin while we finish construction on the main house. Liz will be moving on to start her Graduate Program with the University of Miami. She'll be studying ducks in Alaska, and over the course of five years, she'll earn her doctorate. Tyler will be returning to the Denver Glacier in Skagway, Alaska accompanied by 35 dogs from Wayne and Scarlett Hall from Bush Alaska Expeditions. He'll be giving tours up on the glacier, so if you have a trip planned for Alaska, be sure to swing up there and say hi! We've had such an incredible crew this year, so a big thank you to Tyler and Liz!!
Olga and Irna being good sports.
A night in the Mongolian Yurt...
The crew at the ice cave.
To help distract ourselves from clicking the refresh button on the Iditarod tracker (ok, ok this trip was actually planned for more than that), Derek, the pups, and I took a couple folks on a wonderful Denali Highway trip! The weather was perfect. We had everything- picturesque clear days, occasional low hanging clouds, fresh snow. It was fantastic. On these longer trips, I like to bring the youngsters so that they get extra camping experience. The canine crew consisted of Cooke, Lefty, Flash, Crunch, CJ, Jana, Cartel, Coot, Fish, Vanessa, King Louie, Goblin, Perm, Katy, Boone, Elmer, and Badger.
We mushed 15 miles in and stayed in an arctic oven tent. Then we mushed another 25 miles to Maclaren River Lodge. We stayed there for two nights, spending one day mushing up to the Maclaren Glacier Ice Cave. We had such a blast with our guests, Kibba and Peter, and love using these trips as a way to top off a season!
Camp site on the Denali Highway...
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We don't know the details of the tracker malfunction, but the team has crossed the finish line in 4th Place!!
Writing this, Ryne and her amazing team are at mile marker 278. Finish is 311.5.
Go Ryno Kennel Go!!!
Sun broke out, skies cleared a bit. Ryne is working hard to support her amazing team.
Yesterday I dropped off the Yukon Quest drop bags at Summit Logistics with the Quest logistics team. This is always a huge relief. We had almost 35 separate 40-lb bags labelled by checkpoint. Transporting those supplies is a massive undertaking, so a BIG thank you to all the Yukon Quest volunteers who make sure that all the bags arrive safely (and frozen) to their respective locations and are ready upon our arrival during the race.
What's in all the drop bags?
Meat, meat and more meat- Liz cut up and bagged almost 100 snacks of various meats such as beef, liver, BLT (beef, liver and tripe), and fish. This is one of the not-so-enjoyable jobs of handling, so thank you Liz!
Dog kibble- We prepackaged meal sized portions of kibble to be sent out to each checkpoint. There is always extra in case an unplanned layover is necessary.
Supplies- dog booties, human gloves, dog blankets, batteries, runner plastics (different colors for different temperatures, just like ski wax).
Human food- I did a short video about the kinds of human food I send out on the trail. Enjoy!
Vet bags- Included in the vet bags are supplements, wrist wraps, massage oils, foot ointment, handwarmers and other supplies...
Tyler with his leaders Niagra and Ham
Tyler and team finished at 5:48 this morning at Pleasant Valley Store with a team full of happy, charging youngsters! A big congrats to Tyler on finishing his first race, as well as all the yearlings- it was their first race also! Once Tyler has a chance to catch up on sleep, I'll get more info on each dog's performance. Until then, enjoy this short video from the halfway point at Two Rivers Checkpoint.
Tyler and team are on the trail! They left this afternoon around 1:00 and are on their way to Two Rivers Lodge, approximately 45-50 miles down the trail. Leading the charge are Ham and Niagra followed by Nile and Cooke, Badger and Amelia, Vanessa and Elmer, CJ running by herself, and King Louie and Flash in wheel. We're expecting Tyler to arrive at Two Rivers Lodge in about 5-6:30 hours. Reports from the trail is that the going is slow, so we'll just be patiently waiting at the Lodge!
The racing season continues with the Two Rivers 100 starting tomorrow at noon! This is a local race put on by the Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association. It begins at Chatanika Lodge, runs 50 miles to Two Rivers Lodge, then loops around another 50 miles to Pleasant Valley Store. The first 50 miles is full of steep climbs and plummeting drops while the second 50 miles is relatively flat and through the lowlands of the Chena River Valley.
Tyler will be running in the Two Rivers 100 with a rambunctious team of youngsters! Joining Tyler on the race will be: Ham and Niagra in lead, CJ, and then the eight yearlings- Cooke, Flash, Amelia, Badger, King Louie, Nile, Elmer, and Vanessa. This will be Tyler's first race, as well as all the yearlings!
Tyler drew bib #28 at the start banquet this evening, which means he'll start as #8 for the 100 mile competitors. The Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association also organizes a 200 mile race that runs at the same time as the 100 mile race. The first 100 miles are the same, and the 200-mile races continue on to Angel Creek Lodge, then back to Pleasant Valley Store. For most of the...
Niagra, Ham, and Liz at the finish.
I have to say, the Copper Basin was a pretty crazy, intense, and
incredible experience. I don't think I've ever been so tired in my
life when we crossed the finish line after our final 11 hour
run from Mendeltna. The dogs were absolutely incredible throughout the
race, and the
best part of the entire experience was watching my team power through
the tough conditions. Big thanks to Ryno Kennel for letting me run
this race and get the true mushing experience! And also thanks to my
family for coming up and supporting me. It was great to see them
cheering all along the trail.
I'd definitely classify racing as type II fun, where you're not always
enjoying the struggles in the moment, but looking back it was the best
thing ever and you have tons of stories. One of my biggest struggles
was the really long runs in the dark. I had two night runs that were
ten hours or more, and I found it really hard to stay positive eight
hours in when all I wanted was to sleep. When I would get down, the
thing that really kept me going was thinking about how the dogs were
absolutely crushing it. A really great part of this...
We arrived last night in 4th Place! Liz is currently still on the trail and about 20 miles out, so we’re very excited to see her and the dogs and congratulate her on her very first race!
Before I talk more about the dogs, I have a few thank you’s. Thank you Derek for handling for me and raking up my messes. Thanks for sharing in my joy when I’d arrive into a checkpoint in a good mood and listening to me whine when I’d arrive in a checkpoint in a not so great mood. Thank you Tom for handling for Liz, driving the truck, and always being a positive, smiling person. You have Dad’s ability to meet new people everywhere you go and become instant friends. I think you now know far more people in the mushing world and Glennallen area than I do. Thank you Mom! Updating the website, especially from Durango, can be a real challenge. Thanks for being awake at all times of the day and night to keep everyone informed. And to the Schell family (Liz’s family), thanks so much for all the great photos and big smiles. I’m so glad you were able to travel up here and be a part of this race with us! Finally, I would say thank you to the dogs and write a long paragraph about how wonderful they are, but...
Hi Ryno Kennel Fans,
I know you all are wondering what is going on and why the team scratched, but please be patient. Ryne will blog shortly to explain in detail what led to her scratching the team. Please know that all the athletes are safe at home now after a busy night last night getting them off the trail. They have all been fed, stretched, massaged and tucked in for a long nap in the warmer temperatures of Two Rivers.
In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the pictures we had been collecting as the race progressed. Out on this first part of the trail, WiFi was very limited, and we had no cell coverage, so we had been stockpiling our pictures to share. Hope you get a little flavor for life on the Yukon Trail.
Ryno Kennel arriving at Milepost 101 checkpoint 7:48 Sunday morning. There is a video here:
Liz talking to Ryne's Quest rider, Jim, while Derek, Ryne, and Tyler prepare the sled.
Allan, a Quest volunteer, mounting the trackers on the sled.
The tracker in the black bag is just to track, while the tracker in the pink bag has the "SOS" button, also.
Each dog has a microchip inserted at the Vet check allowing the Vets to scan a dog at checkpoints to verify their identity. Wingman's chip had fallen out since the Vet checks, so he is having a new one inserted.
VIP Ryno Kennel fans at the start led by 80 year old Ardene! Thank you for braving those sub zero temps Ardene!...
And the final 14 are.....
This crew is a mixture of experience and youthful energy! Yukon Quest finishers include Coot, Drake, Supai, Goblin, Katy, Cartel, Lefty, and Perm. Belle has started, but not yet finished the Quest. For Boone, Wombat, Wingman, Uno, and Ewok, this will be their first 1000-miler, and for Ewok, this will be her first race over 100 miles! We can't wait to hit the trail. My mother will be posting updates on the blog and Ryno Facebook Page. The Yukon Quest will be updating on their Facebook page, and of course, follow that addicting little tracker on the Yukon Quest webiste: http://www.yukonquest.com/
After preparing for 4 previous 1000 mile races and many more mid-distance races, one might think Ryno Kennel has these final days down to a science. Or at least an organized chaos. And though Ryne has run the Yukon Quest twice before (opposite direction), the weather, composition of dogs chosen for the team, and last minute race strategy always lend to last minute purchases and packing. As Derek spotted another musher in town yesterday purchasing snowshoes and a warm sleeping bag, Katy ran into town today to buy various supplies including replacement runner plastic, more gang lines, and surprise treats! (Did you all remember Ryne celebrates her birthday while out on the trail!)
After a full week -- Musher's meetings, handler meeting, "Meet the Musher" open house, meet the "Quest Rider" luncheon, "Start & Draw Banquet", many trips to town, -- RYNO KENNEL is ready to rumble!! As you know, Ryne drew #8 for the team's start position, so that puts the Ryno Kennel on the trail at 11:21 AKST. Go Ryno Kennel GO!!!
Please enjoy the following pictures from the week of preparation.
Official Yukon Quest poster...
The mushers took to the stage tonight to draw the dog tag corresponding with the order they will start on Saturday at 11:00 am! Ryne drew lucky #8 for the Ryno Kennel Team.
Ryno Kennel fans -- get ready to rumble!
Good work everyone! We have our two winners! Congrats to Mia and Justine! The answers to the 16 athletes are:
Athlete 1: Ewok
Athlete 2: Supai
Athlete 3: Drake
Athlete 4: Perm
Athlete 5: Boone
Athlete 6: Wingman
Athlete 7: Lefty
Athlete 8: Gringa
Athlete 9: Coot
Athlete 10: Katy
Athlete 11: Cartel
Athlete 12: Wombat
Athlete 13: Goblin
Athlete 14: Uno
Athlete 15: Belle
Athlete 16: Niagra
Thanks for playing everyone!
Today, we took the 16 potential Yukon Quest athletes to Summit Logistics for the official Quest Vet Checks. This means, we had to make the final cut for 16! The Yukon Quest allows 14 dogs per team, so we are allowed a couple extras before deciding the final team for next Saturday. It was a very hard decision with lots of incredible canine athletes. A few traits that we consider are:
1- Good Appetite/Weight: With all the exercise, these guys are burning lots of calories. On the race, the dogs can burn anywhere from 10,000-12,000 calories a day. If a dog is at all picky, they can quickly loose weight. A good appetite is a must. It's also helpful for the dogs to have great weight going into the race, so that they have a nice base of fat reserves should we run into weather, extreme cold, or any other challenges. Some youngsters are still such high burners (particularly if they are not spayed or neutered), so even if they are good eaters, they don't hold their weight too well yet.
2- Experience: Having a dog who has finished a 1000-mile race (especially the Yukon Quest) is a huge advantage. The dogs remember the trail and know how to pace themselves over such a long distance. If they...
We did it! The yearlings and I finished our first race in the morning hours on Saturday. Again I'd like to thank all the Ryno kennel sponsors as well as Alaska Icefield Expeditions because without them we most likely wouldn't have been in this race. Also, a huge shout-out to Liz Schell, my handler for the race (Ryne's other handler). I know handling isn't the most fun thing in the word, especially when you have to stand outside in the cold for multiple hours throughout the night, but I couldn't have done the race without you behind the scenes so thank you very much!!!! As for the race itself, it went as smooth as it could've for the team and I.
At the start of the race, the team immediately had the poise and calmness of an experienced team. As we waited for our start time, the dogs sat calmly by the truck, not even a little bit phased by the new experience of being in a new location with hundreds of other barking dogs in sight. It wasn't until we started hooking up, that they couldn't hold they're excitement anymore. We left Chatanika Lodge around 12:40 pm on Friday and immediately started hill climbing. The first hill took all of us (especially me) by surprise, it was a...
With the Iditarod about to begin, the Ryno athletes have been keeping busy exploring Interior Alaska. The snow is falling non-stop, making for some incredible scenery and memorable trail breaking. Tomorrow, we hit the trails for the Denali Highway and guess what- it's snowing! Luckily, we have just the mode of transportation for such conditions.
Colorado Creek Trail on the one sunny day.
Climbing mountains and breaking trail.
We made it to the top of Trapline Mountain!
This will be our third spring leading expeditions, and I feel so fortunate to be able to explore Alaska and visit incredible places with incredible people! Of course, rarely do trips go as planned...
It's starting to look like a cabin!
Construction continues on our new home! Derek and Dave have spent nearly every day building and framing the second story and roof. Dave is the owner of Alaska Commercial Rentals, one of our biggest sponsors. He's supposed to be "retired," but we roped him into our little project. It sure has been nice having a professional carpenter around to assist! My favorite features are all the large windows looking out onto the dog yard. I can't wait to move in!
When not helping with the cabin, we've been giving tours with the Mushing Coop, running dogs, or working with the pups. Terrell ran in harness for the first time and did fantastic!! Mako also had a turn....which didn't go so well. Even though he's as big as Stormy now, he's not quite mentally ready. Instead, he free ran next to the team with his harness on and had a great time! Typically, I don't put pups in harness until they're six or seven months old, but I couldn't help myself with 5 month old Mako- he's just so big! We'll give Mako and his siblings another shot in a few weeks.
All the puppies have officially moved out of the pens, and...
Even though our Quest ended early, I was so PUMPED by the success and adventures of all our friends and neighbors. Congrats to Allen and SP Kennel for their third, 1st place finish! Way to go Matt, Amanda, and Smokin' Ace Kennels for their 2nd place finish! Congrats to Vebjorn- 4th place in your first 1000-mile race. And seeing Ewok's brother leading your team, very cool. Way to go Riley and Dark Horse Racing as they're about to finish their first 1000-mile race! And congrats to all the mushers! The Quest will forever be one of my favorite races. The volunteers, camaraderie among mushers, and wonderful people involved make it a special event.
Here are some videos and photos of our Eagle Summit ascent. It was an incredible day with spectacular views!
Well, this is a challenging blog post to write. But first, I want to say thank you, thank you to Derek, my mother Katy, Liz, Tyler, and all the Ryno Kennel fans and sponsors for giving us this chance and supporting us through thick and thin. Thank you to the Yukon Quest race officials and to my fellow competitors for your positive attitudes and support. Thank you to everyone who has reached out with a kind word or note. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the mushing community and can’t wait to get back out on the trail.
I never thought I’d be here, sitting at home, after only 250 miles. We hadn’t even traveled the length of Copper Basin. We hadn’t even reached the true remoteness of 150-200 miles of unsupported travel. We really shouldn’t be here. Every detail of the race is on a continuous loop in my head. Every decision from the weeks leading up to the race to the second I made the call to scratch- I’m dissecting each one. Where exactly did it go wrong? What were the contributing factors? What could I have done to change the outcome? Was there a specific moment when we should have done something different? I’d love to have a simple and concise reason for scratching. I’d love...
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