We're excited to announce- puppies are in the future for Ryno Kennel! If all goes well, Goblin will be the father of two litters out of sisters Yam and Ace. Yam (from Riley Dyche's Dark Horse Racing Kennel) and Ace (from Matt Hall and Amanda Brooks's Smokin' Ace Kennels) are both expecting a litter in the next two to three weeks! We will keep half of each litter, so we're thrilled to welcome some new additions. Both Yam and Ace have impressive race resumes as well as leadership skills. And Goblin, as Ryno fans know, has been a leader on our Yukon Quest and Iditarod teams. We can't wait!!
Sorry for the radio silence this summer, but the team and I have had limited internet and cell phone access up on the glacier! The dogs have all been doing really well and are enjoying the extra attention from all the tour guests. Here’s a brief Q&A to give everyone an idea about our glacier summer:
How are the tours structured?
Guests arrive by helicopter to Dog Camp atop the Denver Glacier. After unloading, everyone listens to a brief safety talk and then walks to their respective musher’s yard. Prior to the guest’s arrival, I have selected the 8-10 dogs that will be on the tour and staged them on a picket line next to the gangline. I greet the guests as they arrive at my yard and then introduce them to all the dogs in the team. As I’m introducing each dog, the guests get to pet and greet the team. After all the dogs get some extra TLC, we head back to the sled. The guests (2-4 people) load onto either the main sled or the tag sled. I give a brief safety talk and then hook up the team with the help of my handler, a fellow named Matt from Texas. From there, we mush around a 1.5 to 2 mile loop, stopping for photos and more time with the dogs. When we arrive back at camp, I leave my team and walk with the guests to a puppy pen where they get to hold six-week-old pups. (Sidenote: the pups belong to Jessie Royer. I’m hoping to have puppies in a couple months, fingers crossed! I’ll be sure to share more info when the time comes closer!) After puppy time, I leave my guests and head back to my yard to prep for the next tour.
How many tours per day?
I can give anywhere from zero to eleven hour-long tours per day. The first part of the summer, the weather held out and we gave tours every day; however, the last week, we’ve had several “weathered days,” meaning low clouds prevented helicopters from reaching camp and causing us to cancel tours. Each dog runs only 2-3 tours per day assuming we’re giving tours. Anytime I have a day off, the dogs also have the day off.
What is the living situation?
The dogs and I will be living on the glacier through August (weather dependent). I fly down to Skagway once a week for either 36 or 48 hours off, during which time I can take a shower, do laundry, and update the blog! On the glacier, there are several different sizes of weather ports. The weather port that I live in is partitioned off into two sections. I live in one section with my tent mate, MacKenzie, from Kansas.
What amenities are on the glacier?
We have a lounge tent with a TV, DVD player, and Nintendo 64. That being said, I mostly read, play cards, chitchat, or workout. There’s a bench with an impressive amount of weights, especially considering we’re on a glacier! We also have a full time cook, Virginia, who prepares three delicious meals per day and always has tasty snacks sitting out. Stormy’s favorite place is the kitchen tent with Virginia. She has her own chair in the middle of the kitchen where she spends most of her day. There’s a cell booster; however, cell connection is very spotty and unreliable.
I’ve LOVED having the opportunity to work with the dogs every single day, especially the youngsters who seem to have limitless energy. The African Litter, Amelia, Cooke, and Flash have been maturing so fast, and I can’t wait to work with them more this upcoming winter.
Feel free to write more questions in the comments below, and I’ll answer them in the next blog post!
Enjoy the flight to dog camp!
We have some exciting news! If you recall from an earlier post, Derek and I purchased a large parcel of land in Two Rivers and subdivided it with our friends/fellow mushers Chase Tingle, Matt Hall, and Amanda Brooks. Not only do we get to live next to other dog lovers, but we have recently combined our tourism expertise and created the Last Frontier Mushing Coop!
By joining forces, we can continue to focus on racing throughout the winter but also expand our tourism to create even more mushing fanatics. Derek and I will spearhead the spring Adventure Trips, and we'll have even more options throughout the winter. Bring on the winter!!
Check it out!
The dogs and I have been up on the Denver Glacier in Skagway, Alaska for about 10 days, and the dogs are loving it! The first several days, the entire yard barked and played late into the night, enjoying the change from mud to snow. At first their enthusiasm was adorable, but it soon lost its appeal as the dogs barked at 3:00 and 4:00 AM. Now that we've started tours, the dogs have settled down a bit and keep playtime between 5:30 AM and 10:00 PM, thankfully.
Tours are a "walk in the park" for the dogs, with each tour averaging between 1.5 and 2 miles. I've been trying different youngsters in lead and have been particularly excited about King Louie. He's a tank! Even if the team is hauling 5 people through soft rotten snow, Louie puts his head down and propels forward, motivating the whole team behind him! I hope to continue working with Louie and other pups and yearlings through the summer to build their confidence and turn them into incredible leaders next year!
You'll notice from the pictures, all the structures are white. The sun is exceptionally bright on the glacier, so to keep the structures from attracting sunlight and causing the snow to melt faster, everything is white. My lodging consists of a tent, which I share with three other employees. In addition to sleeping tents, we have a cook tent, lounge, and communication tent in our little glacier city. Helicopters fly up to the glacier, drop off tourists from the cruise ships, and then return later to pick them up after they've had a sled dog ride. There are almost 230 dogs on the glacier! The ride itself is only approximately 20-30 minutes, so the rest of the time the dogs are getting extra love and snuggles!