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  1. #1
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    MUSH! Beargrease!

    2009 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon was Sunday through Wednesday this week so I spent a couple of days out in the cold following the mushers on the trail and at checkpoints.

    This mushing stuff ain't for sissies, I can say that much...and this year merely being a race fan and spectator took some fortitude as the temps barely got above zero and some days the high temp was -5F. That's -20.5 for you on the other side of the border! Normally, this is not the weather I prefer to go joy riding in, or taking a walk down a trail in the woods only to stand sometimes for hours, but I've waited all year for this event and it's my winter mile marker. Once Beargrease is here, it's a downhill slide to warmer weather and longer days and we've made it this far so the rest of winter is a piece of cake. I stay contentedly cooped up in December & January in hibernating mode and going to Beargrease is a re-birth. A new season within a season arrives and the feeling is like a butterfly coming out of it's cocoon. I'm going to make it through this winter after all, and heck...I'm not gonna let a little bit of cold stop me!

  2. #2
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    Re: MUSH! Beargrease!

    Sunday's high was around -5 below zero. I really did try to talk myself out of going this year. I looked at the forecast and saw a warm up coming for the next weekend. I told myself I could go to the Apostle island Sled Dog Races instead, but then I had a reality check and decided I should do both!

    Before I knew it I was putting on layer upon layer of clothes on my body and moose hide mukluks on my feet and a big warm hat and scarf and thick mittens. I was thankful that I sorta knew I'd end up going so I charged all of my camera batteries. They don't last long in that kind of cold.

    My first stop was Billy's bar outside Duluth which is the first checkpoint. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be so busy at Billy's. I didn't stay long even though there was the bar there where you can go inside and warm up. I didn't drive all that way to stand inside and not see the dogs!

    So outside I went.

    At Billy's the same volunteers are there each year so the checkpoint goes orderly even though the mushers are coming in every couple minutes or less. One minute they are standing and chatting...



    And then someone shouts out a team is coming so they spring into action to help steer the dogs to the lanes which make up the first checkpoint in the 371 mile long marathon..








    It's kind of fun to watch the mushers at Billy's as it's pretty soon after the race start and you see a lot of adjusting being made there. Better there than to have to stop out on the trail in the dark and do it!

    Anyway, I get enough of people and take a little drive up the trail to my favorite musher watching spot where I rarely see another spectator.




  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Feb 2007
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    Re: MUSH! Beargrease!



    wikkid
    And he will slay any Dragon for me [img]<<GRAEMLIN_URL>>/inlove1.gif[/img]


  4. #4
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    Re: MUSH! Beargrease!

    you are very adventerous

  5. #5
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    Re: MUSH! Beargrease!

    o. those furs are to die for!!!!
    When Miley Cyrus gets naked and licks a hammer it's *art* and *music* - when I do it I'm *wasted* and *have to leave the hardware store*.

  6. #6
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    Re: MUSH! Beargrease!

    Hey Nylah, there you are I was hoping to take you along this years ride!

    Hi Sukuna! I'm not as adventurous as these mushers that stay out on the trail for 40 some hours in below zero but I do have a bit of a adventuring spirit.

    Hey Sue! I knew you would like the furs! I saw a lot of fur in the past few days both on paws and on people!


  7. #7
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    Re: MUSH! Beargrease!

    I beat the first mushers to my favorite spot on the trail by about a half hour, but I didn't have to stand out in the cold and wait. At each road crossing and all the checkpoints they have volunteers from the ham radio club taking notes and marking off mushers as they go by so they can pretty much tell you. This is a good time to have something to read in the car. There is no form of communication out here save the guy with the ham radio. No cell phone no internet, no nuttin.

    It was too cold to stand still so I walked up the trail scoping out a good spot to take pictures. When the mushers arrive, one will come along every few minutes since we're still at the race beginning.


    I remembered the couple I met on this trail last year. Lucky us, the husband stood ahead and watched so we'd know when to be camera ready. The spot I found on Sunday was hilly and curvy so you didn't get any warning. For this reason the picture taking gets very tricky. You can't hear the dogs or the sleds coming up the trail, they just appear.



    The streaks in the shots are part sun pillar and lens flare. When the sun starts setting and the skies are that clear when it's so cold, ice crystals bounce light from the suns rays. You can see the colorful beams of light through the trees but the camera lens enhances it.



    The teams in this post from Sunday wearing red bibs are the half marathoners. There were 40 some half marathoners that would be out on the trail until around 2pm the next day. It was 20 below soon after dark!

    The dogs were running hard. This is the perfect weather for a sled dog they love it!


    The sun was going down fast and it was time to hit the road. I would enjoy this fun a lot more on Wednesday when the mushers come to the finish. I'm glad I went in spite of the cold but for the most part my Sunday photos all sucked. My poor camera was so cold and my frozen hands maybe not as steady.




    The next time I would see the mushers was about 40 hours later, early on Wednesday morning. I spent a lot of time on the Beargrease website calculating my moves according to what was going on with the race.

    21 teams started out in the main marathon and only 6 were left by Wednesday. It was brutal out there this year for both the dogs and the mushers.

  8. #8
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    Re: MUSH! Beargrease!

    When I checked the Beargrease site 1st thing Wednesday morning I learned that Jason Barron from Montana had just pulled in to the Two Harbors checkpoint for a mandatory 6 hour rest. This was music to my ears! Two Harbors checkpoint is only about 50 miles from home so I had plenty of time to get there.

    Jason won Beargrease last year and was in the lead now with the race all but sewed up. Anything can happen though, it ain't over till it's over.

    I was out of the house by 7:30 and on my way to Two Harbors, past the famed two harbors chicken.


  9. #9
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    Re: MUSH! Beargrease!

    I've ever been able to get a straight answer about the Two harbors chicken but it disappears every few years as college fraternity pranks and the like and makes the news. Somehow they always get it back though, but I imagine it's pretty hard to hide a 15 to 20 foot tall fake bird for long.

    Second place musher John Stetson was at the checkpoint sleeping but I saw his truck broke down on the highway. John is having a run of not so great days as his wife just passed away from cancer two weeks before race day.

    Veteran mushers Jenn and Blake Freking and their dogs were all peacefully sleeping in the lap of luxury. They have just about everything in their arsenal to make the trail like home. Both Blake and Jenn had a team in the marathon. Blake finished 3rd and Jenn 5th.

    Yep there's smoke coming out of that stack! They had heat in their little house on wheels.



    The couple's sleds.




    The dogs and the gear had their own trailer...



    The dogs bedroom was the snowbank on the straw with blankets on each. Everyone was resting up for the last leg of the race.By now these dogs know exactly where they are as they do this race every year.




    Not every musher travels in the lap of luxury. This is 4th place finisher Peter McClelland. He is sleeping out in the open air on a bed of straw, with no blanket. It's around 9:00am so maybe just hitting the -5 to zero mark. One of his handlers tends to his sleeping dogs while he catches a few winks.


  10. #10
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    Re: MUSH! Beargrease!

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Nanook</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> The next time I would see the mushers was about 40 hours later, early on Wednesday morning. I spent a lot of time on the Beargrease website calculating my moves according to what was going on with the race.

    21 teams started out in the main marathon and only 6 were left by Wednesday. It was brutal out there this year for both the dogs and the mushers.

    </div></div>
    Fun to see, glad you make the effort for us
    Only 6 teams left!
    Keep the faith . .

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