21ST ANNUAL APOSTLE ISLAND SLED DOG RACE – BAYFIELD, WI | #AISDR

According to the Smithsonian website, exactly how long canines have provided companionship just got a revision: Instead of pinning domestication at about 11,000 to 16,000 years ago, new genetic evidence shows that man’s best friend may have split from wolves 27,000 to 40,000 years ago. This new evidence proves dog power has been used for hunting and travel for quite sometime and the human-animal bond travels beyond anything we can measure.

Yearly, we make the trip to photograph the Annual Apostle Island Dog Sled Races in Bayfield WI. The excitement seen and heard during this event is exhilarating, specially at the start of the race. To watch the bond between the dog sled team and musher is beyond any words I can say.

Assembling a dog sled team involves picking leader dogs, point dogs, swing dogs, and wheel dogs. The lead dog is crucial, as this fearless leader will lead its team to the success of completing the task. Powerful wheel dogs are also just as important since they are needed to pull the sled out from the snow. Point dogs (optional) are located behind the leader dogs, swing dogs are located between the point and wheel dogs, and team dogs are all other dogs in between. The wheel and swing dogs are selected for their endurance, strength and speed as part of the team.

A team of sled dogs has as many different personalities as a team of co-workers in any business. The musher must know and respect each personality of its team; placing each one in a position where they will give 100% during a race or outing. There are many different factors that go into picking the right sled dog and for what position they will play as part of the team. Qualities include, but are not limited to the following:

Pulling ability
Speed: The right pace at the right time
Endurance
Attitude or determination: a desirable specimen displays a positive mental and emotional attitude towards his work. Attitude is contagious!
Intelligence and Trainability: Responding quickly and positively to a driver’s efforts to teach him commands or procedures and to be aware of encountered obstacles.
Co-operation
Docility: a desirable specimen is easy to handle, manageable and docile. He does not pick fights with other dogs and even turns aside from other dogs’ aggression.
Bonding: A bond to musher and team needs to be strong.
Movement: Both speed and endurance are negatively affected when a sled dog has an inefficient movement.
Courage: They will display awareness of danger on the trail without being fearful.
Temperament: Stability is important; they are neither nervous nor aggressive, but just right.
Climate Hardiness
Health, Viability and Longevity
Leader quality: Once you have a good lead, everyone wants to follow.

Before I go, I thought I would share the story of one musher and his team, “Racey’s Rescues”. This team is a favorite among the crowd, not because they are the best team and win every race, but because these “underdogs” were brought together because they were in need of rescue. All dogs on this team was rescued from poor situations and were trained to work together, maybe not to win, but to live a life filled with fun runs and excitement. I give credit to pack leaders, Sally Hedges and Jim Lynch, as it took patience and a lot of hard work so that these four-legged wonders could overcome whatever situation they came from – enough to enjoy life and come together as a team to push through obstacles that would have otherwise stopped them in their tracks.

I highly recommend this event no matter if you are a spectator, a volunteer, or a participant.  I know we will be there year after year, cheering each team along.

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Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race, 2015 #AISDR

The excitement of the dogs grew as each dog was hooked up to their sled and the vocalization was heard for some distance.  A chill rushed through my body as the sound of the dog’s cries hit us down the track.  I knew right then and there, they were close to starting the races.

Friends of ours, Dave Semerad and Julie Mooney, invited us to join them as they volunteered for the Apostle Island Sled Dog races in Bayfield, WI, and we joyfully accepted.  They were volunteering their time helping groom the trails and handling the dogs for the mushers and their teams; we were photographing the event.

I was even lucky enough to ride on the back of the sled as one team finished – I am sure I had and extremely LARGE smile on my face 🙂

Got the fever

Got the fever

The event: 

Date February 78, 2015
Race Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race
Location Bayfield, Wisconsin, USA
Purse $3,000
Organizers Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau
Distance 60 mile & 80 mile; 40 mile Sportsman’s Race; and a 6-8 mile Family Rec Run

Dave and Julie both can recall how energetic, strong, and focused these dogs were; sometimes even pulling the handlers across the parking lot to the starting shoot 🙂  They told stories of each team and how they work together, each one as incredible as the last.  The mushers really need to understand and know each dogs personality for placement on the team for placement of the lead dogs, the point dogs, the swing dogs, and the power behind it all- the wheel dogs.

According to Wikipedia:

Dog sledding has been used for hunting and travel for over a thousand years, even as far back as the 10th century.

Assembling a dog sled team involves picking leader dogs, point dogs, swing dogs, and wheel dogs. The lead dog is crucial so mushers take particular care of these dogs. Important too is to have powerful wheel dogs to pull the sled out from the snow. Point dogs (optional) are located behind the leader dogs, swing dogs between the point and wheel dogs, and team dogs are all other dogs in between the wheel and swing dogs and are selected for their endurance, strength and speed as part of the team

Viewing the power of each team as they raced past us on the the trail was beyond words.  Looking back on the images, I relived the excitement of the team and noticed how proudly the mushers gaze was as they looked upon their dogs.  Sled dog racing shows great team work; I was completely impressed.

We will be making this a yearly visit and next year, I will be volunteering to help handle the dogs!

Winter Wonderland

According to Wikipedia,

The song, Winter Wonderland, was originally written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyrics). Throughout the years, it has been recorded by over 150 different artist!

When it snows, ain’t it thrillin’?
Tho’ your nose, gets a chillin’
We’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland.

Please enjoy some of the frolicking we have done in our little Winter Wonderland.

A Family Affair

This particular day, we were itching to get out of the house and so were the girls. We forget sometimes that the furry little ones go stir crazy in the winter as well when they can’t go outside to chase “Chippy” or “Bun-Bun”. They will often sit on the bed and look out the window searching the woods for four-legged vermin.   As we were packing the car with the camera gear, the girls were bouncing off the walls. Take me, Take me, TAKE ME!

With their cute little faces, they win every time. We decided to travel around close to home and drove into the Hay Creek area; a small town just south of Red Wing on Hwy 58.   A campground, an old western saloon, the Goodhue Pioneer State Trail, Hay Creek Stables, 15 miles of equestrian trails, and a blue ribbon trout stream. The beautiful valley’s that make up the Hay Creek day-use area is beautiful in every season.

After photographing some enthralling horses in the Hay Creek area, we then moved on to Bay City Wisconsin; a small town east of Red Wing on the shores of Lake Pepin. If ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping in for a bite to eat at “The Chef Shack” a delightful restaurant with the best service ever and mouth-watering food! We decided to drive out onto Lake Pepin (that felt weird) to gain a different perspective of the landscape. Maneuvering around the ice heaves and listening to the ice crack was unnerving and we didn’t travel too far onto the frozen lake… Call me chicken 🙂

All in all, the Traun Family enjoyed our time together.  Please enjoy the images from this little, close-to-home adventure.

 

A Sticky Situation, but no Earth Day Reoccurrence.

This trip brought us through the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest which is located in Southeastern Minnesota.  The Zumbro River twists and turns as it flows through the lower Zumbro River Valley and right through this beautiful state forest..

When it comes to backroading, we have come across some “sticky” situations- The first that comes to mind is a trip we took that celebrated Earth Day literally, or take a peak at Dan’s post on our “Sticky” situation that one Earth Day as we made a Mud Pie. That, truly was a “sticky” situation that really got us stuck!

This day we were not stuck per say, it was the hope that the car keeps moving in the direction we wanted it to.  Driving through the beautiful area of Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest  and the Zumbro River bottoms after a winter ice storm may not have been the best idea ever, but we were enjoying the day.  We stopped at the information area to view a map so that we may actually travel on a paved road.  The shortest route was the path we chose, the road was flat and our Chevy Equinox was plowing through the fresh ice and snow perfectly.  Well, the road (or one lane path) started heading up the side of a bluff.  With no way to turn around, we had to move forward and finish our trek.  One quick look out my passenger window and I noticed the step drop off, which caused a slight whimper noise to escape out of my mouth.  We both knew that if we stopped, we were in some deep doo-doo.  We look at each other and saw the worry in each other’s eyes.  “I think we might be using up a ninth life right now”, said Dan.  We held our breath and eventually made it to the top… WE MADE IT!   With steamy windows we moved on down a safer path, giving thanks to both of our guardian angels.

Please enjoy the images from this particular trip in and around the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest in Winter.

The Architect of the Snow Flake

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter…. In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.

~John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,” 1866

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.

~John Burroughs, “Winter Sunshine”

A birthday trip and a leaky faucet, Part 1

This gallery contains 14 photos.

February… Dan’s birthday month.  A surprise trip was planned in early March of this year to celebrate the day that this amazing man in my life first opened his eyes to the world.  We started out our trip by dropping the “girls” (Audrey and Tindra a.k.a. Weiner Wondergirls) off at a friends house and headed […]