Saturday, May 06, 2006
For Glory and Bullet's first time pulling and backpacking it was an amazing success. The first few minutes I had my doubts as both Bullet and Glory were doing their Tasmanian devil spinning (Glory especially :), but they quickly settled down and loved every minute of it. By the fifth day all four of us were nearly experts!
I got to try both styles of skijoring belts, and I changed lines each trail to find the best length and bungie for me and Bullet. My biggest discovery was that too much bungie wasn't a good thing. When the dog is pulling well it feels like you are about to ricochet off your feet. Not something that's really noticeable at the start of a walk, but by day three after a difficult trail you really feel it. Length of line was also important on the types of trails we hiked. Too long and it would get caught up on branches and bark around corners. Too short and you're too close to the dog.
The hardest part was going downhills. As the dogs picked up speed it became dangerous with the rocky terrain. The trails haven't been cleared from the winter so there were many trees blocking the paths. Some were massive. At these points we had to let the dogs off to pick their own way through the debris and we met on the other side.
Bullet was the main lead dog and he took the job seriously. There were a few times I swore we were still on the trail but he was telling me otherwise by his hesitation. Once back on the trail he put his nose to the ground and went forward with confidence. Yes, he was actively finding his way with his nose and making decisions even when the trail wasn't clearly defined. Very cool. Even the moose & wolf scat didn't distract him.
In total we earned 9 badges for each of the dog packs; One for a Haliburton trail, one Algonquin Park patch and then eight for each trail we hiked in Alqonquin. We all came out with war wounds of blisters, scrapes and bruises but couldn't have asked for better weather.