Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Conconully Super Mush 2012

Musher Roy Etnire of Seeley Lake, Montana finishes a 23-mile race.

On Saturday (Jan. 21) I explored the world of Northwest sled dog racing in Conconully, Wash. with fellow Methow Valley News reporter Marcy Stamper. It was the first time either of us had been to the Conconully Super Mush, which is now in its 11th year. We were thrilled to be there, and I would recommend it as an unusual addition to the many snow sport events available around here.

The three-day event attracted mushers and their teams from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana in four events: the 32-mile 12-dog sled race; the 23-mile (mid) six-dog sled race; the 12-mile (sporting) six-dog sled race; and the nine-mile one-or two-dog skijor.

The Okanogan National Forest terrain is forested and hilly with the highest point of the race being Scheiner Creek at 4400 feet elevation. The steepest section gains 1000 feet in three miles.
Alaskan huskies (a mutt breed to be sure) alert to the possibility of treats while recovering from their exertions.
Matt Hamel of Seattle and his team come in strong after a 12-mile run.
Thad McCracken and his huskies traveled to the race from Hood River, Oregon.
McCracken prepares a hot meal for his team in the parking lot shortly after the race.
Kimberly Blanchard of Seattle came in smiling along with her happy dog after the solo nine-mile skijor.
Mikki Douglas gives her labs some love after the skijor.
Kevin Creager of the French Creek neighborhood in the lower Methow Valley, finishes the skijor.

Kevin Creager was the only Methow Valley contender. This was his third year in the Super Mush and his first time in the skijor event. The last two years he entered a six-dog sled team.

Creager described the conditions as "really mushy and super slow with six inches of fresh snow on top of the groomed trail."

Creager is a fisheries biologist working on salmon recovery on the Entiat River near Chelan. He got into sled dog racing eight years ago. The dogs he raced on Saturday (pictured) were rescue dogs from Idaho, he said.

"The coolest thing is to take a dog from a bad situation and let it do what it was meant to do," Creager said.
Resting up under the truck after a day of racing. 

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