Home' Plains Producer : Plains Producer December 17, 2014 Contents • Each morning and night the dogs would
be fed four 20-gallon buckets of water
mixed with about a kilo of raw mince in
each. The meat helped give the dogs fat
and nutrients to keep them warm, but
also baited the water so they’d drink it
all. This went with a scoop of dog kibble.
• Kyia’s average yearly dog food bill was
• Where we lived had no running water or
power so everything was powered by a
• The toilet was an outhouse (right), and
in the -40s you really had to be desper-
ate go to the toilet in the middle of the
• Under -45C we had to take the dog food
buckets outside individually, because
if we left them sitting while we fnished
one bucket, the next bucket would have
a layer of ice on top and the meat on the
bottom would be frozen.
• From November until mid-January there
was no sun, only twilight light for a few
• Coldest temperature: -53C. “The -20s
were comfortable but the -40s and -50s
of boiling water right off the stove, run
outside and throw it into the air, it will
all turn to steam or snow fakes. None
makes it to the ground.
• The dogs all howl, like wolves in a pack.
When you become part of it you can
start a howl going with them all.
• After a shower in town, if I walked out-
side with damp hair, even to the car and
back, my hair would be frozen. I had to
be careful not to break the tips off.
• The northern lights are amazing. One of
the best experiences was seeing them.
Plains Producer, Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Before I arrived Kyia had broken her
foot, which meant all the main physical
tasks were left to me.
This was great in some ways, as I was
on the sled for all the dog trainings and
Normally handlers don't get this privi-
lege, they only get to feed, clean up poop
and do all the crappy jobs.
I got the full-on version and learned
everything from top to bottom about mush-
ing. It was great!
The only downside was waiting to see
whether Kyia's foot would heal enough to
enter some of the races.
We hoped she could do the Quest 300
in February but unfortunately it didn't heal
enough in time and we didn't have the
dogs up to a ft enough standard.
Another bit of bad luck was the freeze
up went wrong.
We had extreme cold weather early in
the season, in October, which froze the top
part of the river and left a gaping hole from
The usual bridge couldn't be put in, so
some daredevil rangers built a new two-
mile long road, which followed the river
upstream, until it could be crossed near the
top part of Dawson.
It also took longer for that to freeze
over, so instead of a four-week freeze it
was eight-week freeze up, which meant I
had no showers for two months! My hair
The extended freeze up also meant no
fresh food -- it was all canned and what-
ever we had in the 'freezer' (a box out-
side -- needless to say, it didn't have to be
plugged in).We were running very low on
Normally we would cart the water tank
into town and fll up there, but we couldn’t
cross the river so we put ice chains on the
truck and towed the water tank to nearby
rivers, chopped into the ice and pumped
out fresh water.
Luckily we did this early on, before all
the snow came, while we could still get out
with the truck.
With 50 dogs, two handlers is ideal
for getting teams ready and going out on
runs, but the other handlers who came all
bombed out and left quickly.
With just me, and Kyia with a broken
foot, we couldn't get enough runs in to
train the dogs up enough for a serious race.
The added cold weather spoiled my chance
of doing the small beginners 100-mile race
After freeze up we had more snow than
We had to snowmobile into town for all
our essential stuff, and I was often towed
behind in a little tray.
The road had to be ploughed for us to
get anywhere but the locals who had a
snowplough only ploughed as far as West
Dawson, not the few extra miles to Kyia's
So we became the only ones unable
to get out, and were getting desperate for
For week where we had to melt con-
tainers of snow to keep enough water for
the dogs. Some locals heard about it and
eventually someone came and ploughed
the road and the driveway.
Kyia said we'd usually get weeks of
-30C with a couple of days dropping to
the -40s, but we had weeks of -40s and a
couple days dropping to the-50s.
On those days you could do nothing but
hide indoors or chop wood for as long as
your hands could handle.
A couple weeks before the Yukon Quest
race, the weather changed again and we
had really unusually warm temperatures.
It went from -40 to -10 in a week.
It was a huge tease; -10 sounds freezing
cold, but when you're coming out of -40s
it feels like bikini weather.
We had a shower of rain, which turned
the top layer of everything into ice.
That turned the dog yard, which wasn't
fat, into a crazy adventure trying to walk
around with a dodgy knee.
Imagine a skate park, with heaps of
mounds through it, then cover it with ice
and try to walk over it carrying 20-gallon
buckets full of meaty water and dog kibble.
It soon dropped backed down into crazy
Special Feature v
WE had bad luck
during the year,
although not life
threatening - luckily.
ABOVE: A sketch of Kyia’s favourite dog, Ozzy, drawn by Rachel.
CHOPPING into the ice to access
fresh drinking water.
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