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Friday, December 17, 2010

Well life at Team Tsuga has had a few challenges including no internet access at home. The weather has been very cold lately and we have not been able to get the dogs out as much as we would like. Mike continues to do all the training and dog chores. Yesterday I got cleared to walk without crutches and I will soon be able to do more around the dog yard. The dogs are in good shape so the few days off won't be too hard on them.
We are looking forward to the race season with Gin Gin starting us off on December 27th. Then we are heading to Copper Basin the first week in January. Our friend TJ is coming up to help with the race and also help prepare drop bag for Quest, and probably a few other things too. So happy he will be joining us soon. Then the focus will be on Quest. We are so happy that our good friend Phil Cook will be joining Team Tsuga for the race. He is our Tsuper Phan and will be a huge help this year. Thanks Tphil!
It feels like life is creeping up on us. Quest is not that far away. The house is littered with dog gear, drop bag contents and a variety of other things. We are working daily to get everything done in time. Drop bags are due January 22nd. Just over a month to get it all in a few bags. Needless to say we are pretty busy and loving every minute off it.
Hope to keep posting as much as possible.
And the rest of
Team Tsuga

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


'Bad weather' to most, is fun to me. I like blizzards. I like windstorms. I like the bitter cold. I like the challenge of moving comfortably through the country in any weather with my dogteam, well, almost any weather. There's nothing I dislike more in the realm of our glorious natural world than rain in winter. Nothing ruins a good snowy trail like rain. After several straight days of snow last week that had our trails approaching mid-winter conditions, Alaska has just had a 100-year weather event in the way of 3 straight days of winter rain. The powder has turned to slush. The streams and rivers and ponds are overflowed with water that had nowhere to go on the frozen ground. Any plowed or trampled surfaces are glare ice as the frozen ground held it's cold. It's been dubbed the 'Icepocalypse.' Most of Interior Alaska has been shut down since Monday. We haven't run dogs since Sunday and will need at least a couple inches of snow before we can safely take them out, even with the atv. Some grooming has already started as things froze up yesterday afternoon and we've gotten a skiff of snow overnight, with more in the forecast. We'll take today off too, in hopes of some accumulating snow, while we share the day with friends and think of all our friends and family that are so far away. We wish you all the best and are forever grateful to you that help us do what we do. This season looks to have some serious challenges in store for us, but it's not what happens to you in life that makes you who you are, it's how you deal with what happens to you...

All our best to you and yours for a fantastic Thanksgiving. Be well, our friends-

Sunday, November 21, 2010

When the going gets tough-

It's been a bit of a roller-coaster around here this week...

After a little over 1000 miles of atv training this fall, I started riding the sled last Saturday, November 13. (Coincidentally, that was the same date I first rode the sled last year, as well.) The sheer joy I feel on the runners with my pals is hard to explain, but there is nothing like it!! I started slow with 8 dogs and short runs as the dogs got their 'sled legs.' As the snow kept coming throughout the week, I worked up to running 14 dogs as we broke trail and then broke it again on the way home. We did some long runs and some back to backs, with the race team doing our first 100-mile day of the season. The team is going strong, staying happy, and working hard. That's the good news!

In the challenging news of the week, Sue has been dealing with a bum knee since she crashed the atv out with a team of dogs earlier this year. On Wednesday, she went in for arthroscopic surgery on her left knee, her fourth surgery on this knee. Well, the good Doctor found more problems than he thought he would and a quick little 'scope and scrape' with Sue on her legs the next day, turned in to a micro-fracturing procedure on the end of her femur and an big ACL scrape. This means she is on crutches for a while and is looking at having to keep the leg braced essentially straight for 6 weeks. Maybe she'll be back to running dogs by January. This is a big blow to how things work around here and will force some new challenges on us both. If it was easy, everybody'd be doin' it-


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Waiting for snow

Training miles are adding up and the team is doing great.
Here's another video, from today's run-

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Today's run

Fall in Fairbanks has been pretty warm so far, but we have been steadily running teams every morning, when temperatures are coolest. Last year at this time we already had our first snow. Today it was another sunny and 65 degree day, after a frosty start. We're waiting for the door to slam shut on summer very soon and will be glad when it does. Here's a video from today's run-

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26, 2010


We're off and running, well walking actually. We've run 8 of the last 9 days and already see big changes in the dogs. Today we ran two teams, both 5 miles. Although the Quest pool is much smaller (realistically around 18), we are training 29 dogs right now, including several retired-from-racing dogs. I consider all the Quest finishers from last year and Stump to be our best 12 race dogs. After that, there are a lot of question marks in our team for this year. Hopefully Ambler and Cassin will be back from their injuries, with force. Jay and Ivy certainly have the potential to make the team. The yearlings are full of youthful energy and excitement, but only time will tell how quickly they mature. Esther and Isis look great this time of year and we wonder if this will be the year they finally want to keep up come February. Boom and Togo are both still lurking on the sidelines, too. We hope they may decide to get in the game this season. So many questions... For now, it's just slow, controlled runs with lots of different leader pairs. We'll mix up the turns and trails as much as possible and really look forward to distances increasing as tempertures allow. It's great to be back doing what everyone here loves to do!!

Let's go-

Saturday, July 24, 2010


We have a new dog food sponsor!! We have joined some of the best mushers in the world on Team Momentum and are glad to have a deal on such a great food for our team. After trying to negotiate the web of corporate-America with our last food company, it's so refreshing to be able to call up the owner of the company (an Iditarod finisher) and talk directly about the food and business. Dr. Tim Hunt has worked hard to overcome some early problems with production of his foods, and now has it dialed-in and is producing a high quality, consistent feed. It comes highly reccomended from our friends Brent and Sonny and our dogs have made an easy transition to Momentum. As a friend noted, it's the perfect time for our team to keep our momentum rolling, after a great season last year and we're glad to make the change just before training begins in a week or two. So thanks, Dr. Tim, for helping us help our team!!

Yukon Quest sign-ups are just around the corner, on August 7th. Anybody out there got an entry-fee sponsorship?? We'd gladly promote your business, give you a dogsled ride, and/or just be forever grateful...

In some other recent news around here, we will be featured in the July/August 'Mushing' magazine, in an article entitled "Smoking Sibes." Although I haven't read the article yet, I've heard it's pretty good. Thanks to Joseph Robertia who wrote it after an email-interview with me this spring. And for the third year in a row, our team is featured in the Mushing Alaska calendar, that just became availble for 2011. It's a nice shot of Reba and Eliza leading the team into the Quest finishline wearing smiles!! Maybe we should sell some from here? Anybody interested?

all for now. Thanks for checking in- Mike.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quest video, part 2

part two, Dawson to Whitehorse.
Ohh, and all photos and videos are by Sue and Mike Ellis, Peggy Grass, and Bill McKee.
'Run Like an Antelope' by Phish.

TeamTsuga 2010 Yukon Quest video, part one

Well, I've spent WAY too much time trying to get this thing put togther and then processed to get it online, but here's a rough version of our trip down the Yukon Quest trail in 2010. I really had to degrade the quality to make this work, but hope you'll enjoy anyway.
Second half coming soon-

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summertime in Alaska

Howdy all. Summertime is here is Alaska and we are just as busy as ever. Sue is taking on more time at the vet clinic and I've been balancing a couple building projects with some trips to the Brooks Range doing remote camp set-up for a mining operation. Ya gotta make hay while the sun shines!

Sue and I are loving our first summer here under the midnight sun. I am looking forward to seeing some stars again, but I guess that's still at least a month away... Good thing Sue made those really dark curtains for our bedroom-

Exciting news from the dog yard here is that two dogs have joined our team for the year to come. We have taken on Jay and Ivy, from our friends Loranne and Rich, back in New Hampshire. They run Snowstar Siberians and owned Jack, who is the father of our great dogs bred by Moe Boksa, Stump, Mugs, Hawkeye, Gila, and Gecko. Jay and Ivy are out of a litter Jack produced after he went to Snowstar. We hope they will fall in to the team here and be able to run in the Quest pool next year. (Ivy also has a date with Stump when she comes in to heat.) Ohh, well there's some other news too, I guess. We definitely are trying to make it to the Yukon Quest start line again this year! It's an expensive proposition to continue to do this, but we are so deeply attached to this race, we can't really imagine not running it at this point. It's time to make the next step forward!

Our team just took a big financial blow as the distributor for our former food sponsor decided it was too much trouble to handle 8 bags of dogfood a month for us. So Alaska Feed here in Fairbanks has cost us our sponsorship because Loyall won't stand up to a big customer, like Alaska Feed. The good news is that we really needed to be feeding a better food and we hope we can find some sponsorship through a company that is interested in mushing and knows the demands of distance racing. We will never walk through the doors of Alaska Feed again and hope others will avoid this very musher-UN-friendly store. We do thank the folks that helped us back east to get the sponsorship (Mitch Ingerson, Peter Burhans, and Brian Fitch), and are grateful for the help we recieved for the last two years, but now it's time to move forward to better things. Onward!!

Here's a little video I took in the kennel this morning after being away for a week of work a couple hundred miles north of here-

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Leg? Four is preferred.

Here's a link to an interview I did shortly after the Quest this year...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two Rivers 200

This past weekend Team Tsuga entered the Two Rivers 200. Tsue was going to be riding the runners and Mike and Zirkle would make up the handling team. Once Quest was finished and the dogs had some time off, I jumped on the runners and started to make the team mine. Mike can generally get more out of the dogs than I can, but I was going to do my best and hope the dogs trusted me to run their best. With 11 Quest finishing dogs and Boom, I had a pretty stacked team. I was really looking forward to this race and was able to keep my nerves under control. With much help from Mike the checkpoint bags got packed and ready. I drew bib number 11 which was a good place for me to start the race. The morning of the race start, at the Chatanika Lodge, was a nice temperature of -15 degrees, but getting sunny... The team was Mugs and Merlin in lead, Eliza and Moon, Gila and Reba, Wilson and Lotus, Trip and Logan, and Hood and Boom in wheel... Mugs is not our fastest leader, but with passing and big hills to start she was the one to pick, Merlin is still working on his leading skills and throughout the race he showed me just what he is made of. The plan was to slow them down the first half of the 105 mile run and then speed them up for the last half. We were able to do just that. On each leg of the race, I would stop for a few minutes each hour and snack every 2 hours. The dogs know the routine and enjoy the consistency. Almost immediately after leaving the start line, the hills begin. These are some pretty serious hills, but the dogs just chugged on up them. I was probably the weakest link on the hills, but I managed to do my part. Just ask my legs right now! We caught a couple of teams on the way up and got passed by a team as well. The views up on top were fabulous. What goes up must come down. The down hills were just as serious as the up hills. Standing on my break with all my might was fun. At the bottom of the hill we were told about an overflow glacier that was side hilled with trees to the left. Stay Right! Ok sound easy enough, yeah right! I saw it coming and hoped for the best. Well we ended up exactly where we weren't supposed to be, in the willows. Prior to hitting bottom, I tipped my sled on its side so the runners would hit the willows and not just drive my sled into the trees. The dogs did a great job extracting us from the situation. Once back on snow, I stopped to let the doggies know that they just did good. I also needed to calm some nerves. Overall the trail was in great condition. A few inches of new snow prior to the race really made the difference.
For those who know me well, you know that I am pretty good at getting lost. Well not in this race, the trail marking was outstanding and being familiar with the "home" trails made it impossible for me to get lost. I don't really like to be lost so this was a good thing to have the confidence to know that the ones putting in the markers really knew what they were doing. Thanks to all the volunteer who put on this great race.
About 40 miles into the race there was a dog drop if you needed to drop an injured or tired dog at. Well the team was doing great so we ran right on by. The temps were starting to drop and Mugs did exactly what I needed her to do in the first half so after snacking, changing booties, passing out some love, I put Wilson up front with Merlin for the 65 miles into Pleasant Valley Store. The race course followed some familiar trail for us, but almost every turn we made on the race is opposite of what we normally do in training. The dogs made all the right turns as I called them. I was so proud of how they were doing. We had passed a couple more teams back and forth, but I ended up being by myself for most of the race and that was just fine. Over the next several hours the team just got faster and faster. The cooler temps and getting dark really helped. The dogs just love to run at night. I reviewed that plan of what to do when we got to PVS and was eager to start that layover. We arrived at 12:44 on Saturday morning. The run was 12 hours and 24 minutes. The dogs were looking good, I was a bit tired, but feeling good. Time to take care of the dogs and then myself. Mike had picked a good spot to park the dogs against a snow bank. Under the cover of darkness and alone, I went about taking care of bedding the dogs down and getting food to them. I was relaxed and enjoying the time with the dogs. With chores done, I went inside to dry some gear, eat some food and get some sleep. The gear got mostly dry, listened to some good snoring, gave Mike my meatball sub... After 6 hours and my 6 minute start differential we hit the trail at 6:50 in the morning with enough light to run without a headlamp. The team was now in the paws of Reba and Eliza. These two dogs just love to run together and love to run fast. Helping to push the pace was Lotus and Gila, Wilson and Moon, Mugs and Merlin, Trip and Logan, Hood and Boom. The run over to Angel Creek was 32 miles and the cool morning (-25) made for a great run over. The trails up to Angel Creek was in great shape, no bad overflow and well marked. With the iPod on and dancing away we made it into the checkpoint in 3 1/2 hours. Wow the dogs did great! Look at all the people and a couple of horses. My routine in Angel Creek was not the best. I was a bit distracted and disorganized. I should have thought more about what I was doing. Live and learn. Mike was doing his best to not yell helpful hints to me as I went along taking care of the team. Although it took me a while, I did get the team bedded down, fed and tucked into the straw for a nap. Well the nap didn't start off great. Again too many distractions. The dogs were pretty interested in looking at the horses and then the 3 teams in front of us were getting ready to leave. Mike spent some time outside watching the team and I went inside to hang out. Since the rest was only 4 hours long, I decided to just relax in the lodge instead of sleeping... I don't always wake up happy so staying up was the best option. With the next musher behind me a few hours, I was confident that I could keep my position and have a relaxed run back to PVS.
The trail back followed the same trail out to Angel Creek and then did another 20 miles on the south side of Chena Hot Springs Road. I left Angel Creek at 2:19 in the afternoon under bright clear sunny skies... Yuke! The dogs started off pretty slow in the blazing sun and the temps had reached 25 degrees. The excitement for the first half of the run consisted of passing about 6 teams head-on. All the passes went well and the dogs were eager to run around the next corner to see if another team was coming. As the temperature dropped, the team picked up speed. After we cross back over the road the trail turns left into the woods and off the common trail. So we were now about 20 miles from the finish line. These weren't going to be a physically hard 20 miles but more mentally challenging for the dogs. We had to run past the turn to go home! Well the dogs really picked up speed as we got closer and closer to the home turn. Oh boy, how are they going to like running past home? I called the straight ahead (home is a gee) and they really didn't want to listen, but without getting off the sled, the dogs went straight. They were pretty ticked off at me at this point. The team dropped down to walking, a few were looking at the snowbank to see if they could just take a break and some were looking over their shoulder thinking we just passed home. I was pretty worried, but gave them some encouraging words and snacked shortly after to cheer them up. I am sure they thought I had lost my mind. They must have thought we were going all the way back to the start line. When I made the call to turn up the Beer Can Trail, they took off with amazing speed. They knew that we were heading home. Right they were and the last 15 miles of the run was just incredible. I had to hang on pretty tight to not have them drop me somewhere on the trail.
We pulled into the finish line at 8:02 pm Saturday. The dogs were happy with tails wagging. We received many complements on how awesome the dogs looked after running almost 200 miles. We came in 4th place with all 12 dogs and an overall time of 31 hours and 42 minutes. The highlight of the race was being recognized for outstanding dog care and winning the Vet's Choice Award.
This was my first Alaskan race and the race organization did a fabulous job with putting this race together. I had so much fun!
Thanks to Mike for giving me an outstanding team of dogs to run and supporting me throughout the race and before.
Most Valuable Dog Award goes to Merlin. He led the first 105 miles and when I really wanted to pick up speed in the second half of the race, he did just that from swing dog position.
Tightest Tug Award goes to Reba! She really loves to run.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Home Sweet Home

Well we are now home and enjoying time to regroup. Mike will be writing something up on the race, but for now he is still catching up on sleep and food. Thanks for all of the interest, cheers, and love we have received throughout the race season. We had a blast during the Quest.
So I know that many of you are dying to know which dogs won the most valuable dog and tightest tug awards. Well I won't make you wait any longer. The MVD goes to REBA... She is such an incredible dog. She wants to please and is always ready to go. I love to see her pull a whole team off the straw when it is time to leave a checkpoint. We are very proud of her..
The tightest tug award goes to the dog that pulled the hardest throughout the entire race.. In Braeburn Mike mentioned that Moon was in the running.. Moon? Tiny little puny Moonie.. Although she worked real hard to win this prestigious award, there was another dog who wanted it more. ELIZA wins the TTA for the 2010 Yukon Quest! She really is a hard working dog... Reba and Eliza are not the only special dogs on the team.. Thanks to Mugs and Gila, Logan and Moon, Merlin and Trip, Lotus and Wilson, and Hood..

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hi all.
After getting up early to go in to Whitehorse to see Pierre finish with his siberians, I bumped in to Lance and Tonya and went to have breakfast with them. Zach Steer joined us as well.
Tonight is the mandatory Meet the Mushers event. Last night we were down at Hugh and Tamara's for a bonfire party. I am going to get caught up on sleep here sometime... I've been watching some Olympics in between dog drops and walks and going through some of the videos I took out on the trail. Here's one of my favorites from our crossing of American Summit just out of Eagle, Alaska. I'll process my thoughts and get some more stories, photos, and videos posted when we get back home.
We're looking forward to the Finishers Banquet tomorrow night!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quest Finish 2010

We did it!! Team Tsuga crossed the finish line in Whitehorse at 9:38am Wednesday.. Overall time is 10 days 20 hours and 29 minutes.. The team looked just fabulous.. We are very proud of the dogs and the rest of the team.. Crossing the finish line were Eliza and Reba, Mugs and Gila, Logan and Moon, Trip and Merlin, Wilson and Lotus and Hood in single wheel.. Stump, Hawkeye and Cassin also had a big part of this team and should not be forgotten.. The dogs enjoyed a nice steak in the chute and got lots of love from the crowd.. We will stay in Whitehorse through the rest of the week, enjoying the hospitality of Judy Beaumont, and catching up on some sleep and food.. Thanks to you all for watching and cheering on Team Tsuga.. Once Mike gets some sleep, I'm sure he will share some tails from the trail...
Respect your doGs..
Tsue, Mike, Peggy and the Tstars of Team Tsuga..

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Into Braeburn

Team Tsuga is almost there... The team looks real good and Mike will be leaving with 11 dogs.. He is feeling much better and is really enjoying the hospitality of the Braeburn Lodge... The food here is real big.. Video of the team coming into the checkpoint.. See you soon.
Tsue and Peggy

In Braeburn

We are sitting in Braeburn waiting for Team Tsuga to arrive at the last checkpoint.. Mike and the team left Carmacks at 2:07am after a 6 hour rest.. The team is looking good and they left the checkpoint without any problem.. We slept for a few hours in Carmacks and drove down this morning.. Time to get excited.. After an 8 hour mandatory rest it is 100 miles to the finish.. Mike is still not feeling to well, but he is plugging on... So proud of him and the dog team.. He was telling me who he thought would get MVD (most valuable dog) and TTA (tightest tug award) but I won't spoil the surprise.. What do you think? Which dog would you pick for each?
Tsue and Tpeggy
Ok we are getting a bit silly :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

On the trail again

The team left McCabe Creek at 2:50pm and is heading to Carmacks.. Mike expects the run to take about 6 hours.. Hoping for a cool night and fast trails, maybe some Northern Lights..

Team in McCabe Creek 2010

The team arrived into McCabe Creek at 8:46am on Monday.. Boy do they look good.. Happy, waggy doggies... The team is bedded down and will rest for 6 hours before hitting the trail again.. Mike is now able to eat some food and keep it down.. He looks pretty good overall.. Hope the temperature drops and the team has a good run out of McCabe into Carmacks.. Here is a video of what the team looked like in McCabe.. Enjoy..

The team pulled into Pelly Crossing at 4:50am on Monday.. They trotted off the river into the checkpoint looking great.. Since the temperature is around 27 degrees and getting warmer, Mike decided to keep on trucking.. He packed his sled and left 11 minutes later.. There is a warm breeze blowing and it feels pretty strange.. I guess that is better than no breeze at all.. Not sure if Mike will be stopping in McCabe Creek or not, but will find out soon enough.. He is still running the 11 dogs that he left Dawson with. Any injury or soreness getting into Dawson doesn't seem to be a problem after the 36 hour rest.. Mike is in good spirits, but I am sure he is not too happy with the warm weather.. We are in McCabe enjoying the hospitality. I'll keep you posted.
Tsue and Handler Peggy

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spot is back on the team

The tracking device that Mike lost in the beginning of the race is back and working.. Leaving Dawson the team was: Mugs and Reba in lead, Eliza and Gila, Moon and Wilson, Merlin and Trip, Lotus and Logan and in single wheel Logan..
Go Team Tsuga

Back on the trail

Team Tsuga is back on the trail after a successful stay in Dawson.. While in Dawson the dogs got a lot of rest, food, massages, and love.. I enjoy the opportunity to work with the dogs.. When the team came in, they were wagging their tales and seemed happy.. Mike was not in the best shape and needed to sleep.. I guess the trail over was very tough and Mike ended up breaking his nose in a fall in the jumble ice.. After a few hours of sleep, he was feeling better.. In camp the dogs were in overall good shape and ate well.. Throughout the 36 hours stay the team was fed 5 times.. After each feeding the dogs were walked, massaged and put back to bed and each time they let out a group howl. They were the loudest team in camp! Lotus and Trip had minor shoulder issues and we were able to work on them and both left in good shape. Wilson had a split between his toes and it didn't look like he would be continuing on.. We worked on it and by morning he was ready to go with the team.. Besides taking care of the dogs and catching up on some sleep (not the handlers), Mike also needed to fix his sled.. In the first 50 miles of the race, Mike broke his handle bar on the sled. The pictures will show you the severity of the break.. Tough to drive a sled without a handle bar. The handle bar was taped so it was still attached to the sled, but not really working.. He took the handle bar off my sled and put it on his.. Hopefully this one holds up.. The team was eager to go and looked great..
We will spend the night here and then head down the road to Pelly. Pelly is about 200 miles from Dawson so we will enjoy the evening Dawson style. Hope you are having as much fun as we are.. See you soon.
Tsue and Handler Peggy

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stump love

Stump really enjoyed the hotel.. Looking forward to seeing my babies today..

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ready in Dawson

Today has been a very busy day for the handlers.. We spent all day setting up the camp for the dogs.. We are really excited to work with the team when they arrive.. While setting up we saw the plane fly in with all the dropped dogs.. I got to the vet shack as soon as the dogs arrived.. When I saw Stump I burst into tears.. Not because he looked bad, but because his race was over and he wasn't himself.. He hurt his back.. He was happy to see me, but I think he knew that he shouldn't have been flying on a plane.. After feeding him, I will sneak him into the hotel for some love and a good rubbing.. He should be feeling better in a couple of days.. The team is on their way to Dawson.. Time to get some sleep... The runs from Eagle have been taking over 25 hours and I think the team will be here sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening..


We are still setting up camp.. Came to find out some updates and if the team has left Eagle.. Plan is to rest 8 hours and then hit the trail.. Unfortunately Stump was dropped in Slaven's.. Stump is our best leader and I am sure that it has been difficult for Mike to see him go.. I did hear that Mike is still in good spirits. Since Slaven's is a remote dog drop the dogs are flown ahead and will arrive in Dawson later today.. Stump was flown from Slaven's to Eagle and Mike was able to give him lots of love there. Sure he was happy to see him again.. I am still in shock... Hoping for the best.. See you later.
Sue and Handler Peggy

Some pics from Circle

In Dawson

Good Morning,
Well we made the drive safely! After the team left Circle we cleaned up and headed to Two Rivers. Although we were quite tired we decided to leave Two Rivers after changing over the gear. We hit the road at 10pm and got to Tok around 3am. The check engine light came on earlier in the race and the heat was working in the truck, but not very well. We slept in the truck next to the garage for a few hours and had them check out the problem when they opened. The thermostat was shot and they were able to find the part and get the truck into the garage. By 10:30 am we were back on the road.. We arrived into Dawson on Tuesday night.. We now have a few hours of sleep and are heading over to camp to set up.. Not sure what is going on, but I do know that a dog was dropped in Slaven's. Don't know who it is, but will get the dog as soon as they are flown to Dawson.. I'll try to post some pictures of camp when we finish.. Hope everyone is enjoying the trip..
Sue and Handler Peggy

Monday, February 8, 2010

In Circle

Hi Everybody,
The team has arrived in Circle. I am now able to upload some video from Mile 101 and Circle. First video is Mike getting ready to go over Eagle Summit and second one is of the team in Circle. Cassin will be heading home with us today with a hurt shoulder. She will heal up soon and did a great job at her first Yukon Quest. Once Mike and the team leave here, Peggy and I will clean up, drop gear off at home, gather the things for Dawson and then drive, drive and drive. Hawkeye is doing well and is just a bit sore. We will miss both of them on the team... Mike is in good spirits, but tired... Good thoughts to Team Tsuga... See you in Dawson..
Sue and Handler Peggy

Howdy from Circle

Well the race has been very exciting so far.. Some good and some not so good.. Mike finally got his wish and got to run the team over Rosebud, and it went well.. Although there has been less snow than usual, Mike and the team navigated the trail without any major problems.. On his way to Mile 101 the tracking device came off the sled and he will no longer be tracked for the rest of the race.. I was really enjoying being able to "see" where the team was. I was expecting him to come into One-O-One within the hour, but he arrived 5 minutes later. The plan was to rest for 6 hours, but the teams parking spot was less than ideal and all the teams leaving had to run past them. Peggy and I shared the responsibility of sitting with the team throughout the rest. Needless to say the team did not rest very well. Mugs had a minor encounter with another sled, but is still on the team and doing well. Mike got up before his alarm (no big surprise) and got ready to leave. While filling his fuel bottle he got sprayed in the face with the fuel. Luckily he was able to close his eyes and avoid serious injury. Very scary moment for both of us.. Eagle Summit was in the best shape it has ever been.. The last 16 miles into Central were terrible. Going through very tight and twisty trail Hawkeye hit a tree and is now on the truck with Peggy and I. He is very sore, but is doing ok. We will be watching him very closely over the next few days. He is a very stoic dog..Mike stayed in Central about 6 hours and is on his way to Circle. Hopefully the rest to the ride is uneventful.. Group howl leaving Central makes me proud.. So Peggy and I have been awake for the last 24 hours and need some sleep. Internet access right now does not allow me to upload images, but there are some good pictures to come... Happy thoughts to Team Tsuga..
See you soon.
Sue and Handler Peggy

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Heading to 101

Well after feeding the dogs that are hanging at home, Peggy and I got a few hours of sleep.. it is 2am and we are heading out the door to go to Mile 101... Love the Live Tracker on the Quest site.. See you soon. I many not have internet access until Central. Safe driving and good mushing..
Sue and Handler Peggy

Saturday, February 6, 2010

HI Everybody,
The 2010 Yukon Quest is underway. The team really looked great getting to the starting line and also getting prepared. We receive many complements on how the team handled themselves getting dressed to race. Once the team got to the starting line, they were jumping up and down, screaming to go and really pulling hard. Our friend Bill McKee rode down to the start line on the sled and Mike walked in front of the team. Peggy and I walked with the team too. The dogs looked just amazing.. Here is a little clip of the team leaving the start line.. We have the truck loaded for the first part and will be heading to Twin Bears checkpoint is just a bit.. Will be back home after the team goes through... Thanks to everyone for sharing in our adventure..
See you later.. Feeling great...

Sue and Handler Peggy

Friday, February 5, 2010

Here We GO!

Well, we are only hours from the start of the 2010 Yukon Quest!!
The last few days have been full of all the pre-race meetings, banquet and bib draw, media and fan events, etc. It's been really nice having the dogs all at home and comfortable during this week and we've even had a little time to run the team.

We've had to make one change to the team and it's kind of a big one. The strongest single dog on the team, Ambler, hasn't been able to completely get over a bit of a sore shoulder despite our best therapeutic efforts. So, Cassin gets her big chance! I'll miss Ambler's great strength and exuberant energy, but look forward to seeing what Cassin can do on her first Quest!!

We're very happy to have Peggy here from NH to handle the whole trip with Sue.

The trail report sounds pretty good this year, and they say it'll get better as we go.
The temperatures are forecast to be pretty moderate and the long range looks too warm, if anything.
We'll deal with whatever comes and do our best to get through it with a happy, healthy team.

Stump and Mugs are going to lead us out tomorrow. They're earned the honor.
Mugs has 6 of her 7 kids on the team. (Logan, Merlin, Lotus, Trip, Cassin, and Moon.)
Gila is coming along with 4 of her 5 kids. (Hood, Wilson, Eliza, and Reba.)
Hawkeye joins his littermates Mugs and Stump.
These guys are ready to go and so am I!!

Thanks for all the good wishes and look for updates here during the race. Sue will update whenever she can.
Ready?, let's go!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thanks Cody and Dog Paddle Designs!!

Yesterday I took my sled over to Cody's shop to give it the once over before Quest. We found a few more problems than I had anticipated, but thanks to his know-how and very functional shop, my sled is again ready to hit the Quest trail.
Brent was over there working through his Dog Paddle Design sled he's been riding all year and will be bringing on Quest.
I'm really grateful Cody could find the time and offer his help. Thanks!!!
Check out his website at www.dogpaddlegear.com

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Having Fun..

With Mike out training the Quest race team, I decided to have some fun. Everyone one needs leaders and there is only one way to get them... Training... Esther got a try today and did very well. Who's next?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Born to Run!!

The race dogs had the day off, and before I got started on chopping more meat, we each ran a puppy team. Stinson already wants to lead and got her wish yesterday. There is absolutely no harness breaking to do with these pups. They know exactly what to do and are desperate to GO!! How do we ever force these poor things to run???? HA! They were born to run...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yesterday we loaded up the team and trucked them down to the Nordale Road bridge over the Chena River. It's only 15 miles or so away from here. So why the trouble of loading everything in to the truck to get to the same trails we can run to straight from our yard?? Well, we live just off the Quest trail and our team will have to run right by home on February 6th when we start this year's Quest. Although we've been running teams home from all different directions recently so the dogs aren't as used to any one turn, that means we have to run by lots of different places that they know go home. We wanted to simulate the race and see how they'd do. When our friend Paige, who is running the Quest 300 this year, asked if we'd give her a tour of the sometimes confusing trails through our backyard before the race, we had a chance to do the whole run with another team, giving a race feel. We left Nordale at about 1pm, a very similar time to when I'll be coming by there, 20 miles from the start in Fairbanks. I stopped just before we got close to home, about 20+ miles in to the run, to tell Paige that we were getting close... Well, all this build up is just to tell you that Stump and Merlin didn't even hesitate at any of the turns that lead home. They listened perfectly and we had a pretty enjoyable run the rest of the way out to Angel Creek Lodge where Sue and Cody picked us up. We, of course, had a beer and a burger at the lodge before heading home with a truck full of very good dogs!

Friday, January 22, 2010

We got a little snow overnight!!
Sue and I both took teams out today for completely different runs...

By chance, we got back to the kennel at the same time.

Still need to get the drop bags closed up today and dropped off tomorrow, but the hard part is done and we are relieved!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quest Drop Bags

Sue and I spent all day filling up drop bags. We're done except for closing them up tomorrow and bringing them in on Saturday!!

Now we can go run dogs tomorrow...


A little fun with pictures from the last few years of dealing with MEAT.

Hope Phish doesn't mind...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Sue and I both took a break from dropbag preparation this morning to take a team for a run.
Phew, did we need that!!
It was almost 30 degrees warmer up in the hills today and I relaxed in the sun with the dogs for a while to enjoy the view-



Back to cooking, sorting, bagging, and bagging.
Hoping to get close to finishing tomorrow!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hey there. Is this thing on??
In an effort to keep ya'll more informed on the efforts of TeamTsuga, we're going to try this bloggy thing. Let us know what ya think.
How about a video from last week's Copper Basin 300?
I've got a full write-up about my race on our website www.teamtsuga.com/journal/10cb300.html
We are knee-deep in Quest drop bag preparation right now but are still finding a little time to run the team and play with puppies. I'll try to get some puppy videos soon-
Thanks for checking in and we'll work hard to keep this thing current.