Hello and welcome to our blog. We have been getting many requests to join in on blogging so here we go. I hope you all enjoy the "view". Be sure to check us out at www.earthsonglodge.com for detailed information.

EarthSong Lodge in pictures

EarthSong Lodge in pictures

The view of a lifetime

The view of a lifetime
Denali in March 2012

Caribou and Sled Dogs

Caribou and Sled Dogs

two minutes of sunshine at -16 below

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Season is near end, and an expedition to Wonder Lake is successful

The sun is back in force.  We are now seeing clear bright skies in the day, long daylight, moderate daytime temperatures, all pointing towards an end of the dog sledding season.  There are a few more overnight trips left, but soon the snow will go.  Late winter has seen cooler than normal temperatures around the lodge and the park, the exact opposite to what's been going on in the Lower 48.  But now things are getting back to "normal".

Our ten day trip finished up a bit over a week ago, successfully taking out Frank from California, Gill from Calgary/Colorado/UK, and Kevin from Wisconsin.  To date, Kevin has now mushed with us for 38 days, which means that we cannot think of him as anything but an assistant guide for future trips!  The ten day trip went to Slate Lake Cabin, Sushana Cabin, Lower Toklat Cabin, up Clearwater Fork to Moose Creek via Awesome Pass, and on to Wonder Lake.  Trip then took the interior route to Upper Toklat, and then downriver to Lower Toklat and back out Stampede to the lodge.  Most days we had little or no trail, so going was fairly slow.  By far the most memorable day was the trip over Awesome Pass.  With much of the trail recently blown in, going was slow to the top.  I made an error in judgement, and we mushed over a snow wall with crashes at the bottom.  A few dogs were run over by sleds, and Gill and Frank sustained some colorful leg bruising.  We followed a trail on the bench until it was lost, and then thrashed down Spruce Creek to Moose Creek, only to deal with moving water on Glen Creek, and dogs that wished they had some Labrador Retriever in their lines.  With wet boots and clothes, we got to Parker Cabin, and spent the night there drying out.  Dogs ended up fed at 1030pm, a very long day indeed.

With excellent skies, we mushed to Wonder Lake, picked up supplies, and headed out the next day.  Denali was in full view the rest of the trip, along with excellent northern lights at night.  This is the best aurora year for a very long time.  The trail disappeared before Thorofare Bar, where we camped below Eielson Visitor Center.  After snowshoeing up Gorge Creek to Thorofare Pass, intrepid Frodo was able to break trail to Upper Toklat Cabin, where we camped at -25F temperatures while the Denali Park kennel staff enjoyed a warm cabin...the perks of government service!

All in all, an excellent trip.  While the wildlife viewing was low (best sighting was a snowy owl near Awesome Pass), the scenery was great.  All the guests had dog sledding experience, so we were able to push things a bit harder than usual.  The best news was waking up the day after the trip, and seeing that Frank hadn't sneaked out Strider, Gill hadn't taken Remus, and Kevin left Kira in the yard.  Some mushers do get attached to their favorite dogs...

We took out a family from Fairbanks over the weekend, mushing a couple with a two year old and four month old to Slate Cabin.  Today we take out a group of five for the day, then two more multi-day trips.  When the season is done, Karin and I will head Outside to visit family for a week and a half, and then back to get ready for the summer.  We're looking at a busy summer again.  Earl will be back at the coffeehouse, working his culinary magic.  Still looking for two housekeepers, they should be hired within a few weeks.  Big project this summer will be landscaping and a dog barn, to keep the dogs cool in the shade during hot summer days, and protected by blasting winds and snow drifts during winter blizzards.  I'll need to head to Lancaster, PA, to get a hex sign to put up on the barn when done. 

Last night I got a phone call from our US Senator, Mark Begich.  Reminds me how Alaska is different from other states.  About a month ago, I sent him an angry and articulate email about his support of the Keystone Pipeline end-run being orchestrated mostly by Republicans.  I felt he compromised his environmental standards, not letting the environmental assessment process go forward.  He wanted me to know that his support was actually the lesser of two evils...if Keystone didn't go through, tar-sands oil would flow west to Puget Sound, and tankers.  As all Alaskans will tell you, we feel a bit wary about oil and big ships and sensitive waterways.  Something was going to pass, so he wanted a modified Keystone as a safer alternative.  Never mind the discussion merits, what is surprising is a sitting Senator will personally call up a constituent, and talk for more than a few seconds about an issue.  I imagine most other states would see a Senator's aid send an email response.  The personalized nature of Alaskan politics mostly works in our favor...although having a state capitol that you cannot drive to does insulate state politicians a bit.  On that note, about six weeks ago our local representative and senator for our state district stopped by unannounced, and visited for about a half-hour discussing local issues...Stampede State Recreation Area, and Coal Bed Methane (Shallow Gas) development in our front yard.  That's nice also.  Try that in California or New Jersey, without a large campaign contribution!

That's all for now, time to work in the dogyard.  See you all on the trail.

Happy trails,


our visitors from around the world