Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pull Training Clinic is a GO - 9-28-11

It's a GO! Jamie Nelson and Ann Stead are offering a 1-day Pull Training Clinic in Baldwin, Michigan at the Last Chance Retreat and Trails on Wednesday, September 28th, 2011.    registration closes September 8, 2011.  For more information on the Pull Training Clinic and to register, click on this link:  For more information about Jamie Nelson and Ann Stead as  instructors, click on this link:  For more information on the site in Baldwin, MI, click on this link:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ramblings of One Weary Soldier: Proposed VA Service Dog Regulation -- Comment Period ends August 15, 2011

Ramblings of One Weary Soldier: Proposed VA Service Dog Regulation -- Comment Period ends August 15, 2011

I found this on the way from somewhere else on the internet (Thanks, Rene.)

Services dogs for Vets, sounds like a good idea, eh? Right now regulations only allow for Guide Dogs for the blind via VA funding. This new regulation will include all Service dogs (not yet PTSD/Mental Health dogs - they are still "studying" that.) This is a good start.

Check it out.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mariel's "Pointer Brothers"

What's YOUR best caption for this photo?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring has arrived in Baldwin

A couple of "dryland" photos from a previous year. Running three of the quarter-borders, one in harness, two tagging along on their necklines (all 3 in harness is WAY too much power for this trike set up!)

Zoom, zoom, zoom...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring is NOT here.

A view on the east loop, Sunday, 03-27-11 - heading up the short hill to the railroad bed.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Intro to Dog Powered Sports - April 9 & 10, 2011

You can find a link to the flyer for the Intro clinic on the home page of MiDD:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trails great this past weekend.

No photos today - the trails were great over the weekend. I ran the 8 dog A team on Friday, Sunday and the four B team dogs this a.m. This morning was hard and fast after a very cold night. We are supposed to warm up in the 40s and 50s the rest of the week. Looks like one more very cold night so tomorrow morning should be good for another fast run. Will we keep our trails for this coming weekend? Only time will tell....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Discovering 3-7 - TV coverage of CD150

Discovering 3-7

Love this TV coverage ("Discovering" weekly program) of the Copper Dog 150 - especially the interview with the winner, Ross Fraboni, of Duluth, MN. He gives Jamie Nelson her props early in the interview. She was slugging and slogging it out in Maine for a 3rd place finish in the CanAm 250 while he was finishing in first in the Copper Dog.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Snow far, snow good - 03-08-11

Here's a photo from Monday's run - the 2-3 inches of fresh snow from Saturday is a nice cushion on the hard packed trail.

Monday, February 28, 2011

An article on the Sweetwater Challenge #2, 2011.

From the Big Rapids, Michigan Online Newspaper (subscription required to view online, but they are having a 30 day free trial right now - there is a photo montage to view online.)

Dog sleds race through Bladwin for Sweetwater Challenge

Contestants took off at 11 a.m. from the Last Chance Retreat and Trails in Baldwin, most using teams of six dogs. Each musher could choose different trail loops to travel, with the option to run as little as 10 miles or as many as 30 miles.

(Pioneer photos/ Whitney Gronski-Buffa)
By Whitney Gronski-Buffa
Pioneer Staff Writer
Published: Monday, February 28, 2011 9:05 AM EST

BALDWIN — Ask a musher about the sensation of being pulled through frozen forests by a pack of wolf-like dogs who are leading you down a path you’ve never before traveled and they’ll likely use one word to describe it: Peaceful.

“It’s just really peaceful,” said Grand Rapids resident Mariel Versluis. “All you hear is the dogs breathing and the skis whooshing through the woods. Usually the first couple miles are not peaceful, but that is the payoff.”

Nine teams — some from as far away as southern Illinois and Wisconsin — met at the Last Chance Retreat and Trails in Baldwin for the Michigan Dog Drivers Association’s Sweetwater Challenge, a two-day noncompetitive dog sled event that gives mushers a chance to whip through the woods with their dogs and relax with friends.

The retreat, owned by Baldwin residents Rich and Linda Lange, hosts two challenges each year and several musher boot camps during the off-season. Drivers from across the Great Lakes region are drawn to Baldwin because of the quality of trails found in the Huron-Manistee National Forest.

“We definitely have the best trails in the state, in my opinion,” Rich Lange said. “The condition of these trails for running dogs is in good shape. That’s one way to judge a trail. You also judge it by how challenging or scenic it is, and we have all that. We have good trails that are not for the novice and extremely scenic.”

Each musher could choose different trail loops to travel, with the option to run as little as 10 miles or as many as 30 miles.The trails cut through an area of forest that has trees that are several hundred years old and have never been logged, Lange said.

The Sweetwater Challenge attracts two different types of mushers: The traditional dog sled team, which uses at least six dogs to pull a musher standing on or riding a sled, and skijor teams, which use two or three dogs to pull one person standing on cross-country style skis.

Versluis uses her two German shorthaired pointers for skijoring and travels around the country to compete. On Saturday morning, she completed a 10-mile loop with her dogs. Versluis said she enjoys the sport because it is so fast-paced — her dogs can run a mile in three minutes.

“I like the speed,” she said, laughing. “The sled people always try to talk me into sledding, but that pace, I just can’t deal with it.”

Donna Jankowski, a musher from Lake Villa, Ill., has been participating in MiDD races for four years and has attended several musher bootcamps at Last Chance. She uses a sled to run the trails and has a team of six dogs, five of which are rescue dogs. She competes in races throughout the Great Lakes region during the winter but said she always looks forward to the races in Baldwin.

“The trails, the scenery, the other mushers — it’s just a wonderful atmosphere and a wonderful camaraderie,” Jankowski said. “The trails here can be very technical, so you have to keep your speed down to be safe. ... There’s narrow trails, steep inclines and downhills, it’s not just a flat trail. I’m just getting to the point where I can finally start to enjoy the scenery.”

Jankowski prefers distance to speed, in part because it takes so much time and effort to travel to each event. She has participated in four-mile races with large cash prizes that are all about speed, but tends to seek out noncompetitive events like the Sweetwater Challenge that give her an opportunity to spend a lot of time on the trail with her team and connect with others who love the sport of dog sledding as much as she does.

“There’s no animosity toward anyone because you passed them on the trail or anything like that,” she said. “There’s no money involved. It’s just about being out on the trail with your dogs and watching all your training efforts come to fruition.”

There’s nothing that compare to the satisfaction of a good afternoon spent on a dog sled trail, Lange said, and that’s what draws people to a sport that leaves them out in the cold.

“Dogs make life bearable, especially under these times,” Lange said. “They’re the best mental relief you can get from what goes on in the day-to-day. You take eight of your dogs and go out on a 20-mile run, spend four hours in the woods taking in Mother Nature and the peace and quiet — it doesn’t get any better than that.”

For more information on MiDD events and the organization, visit their website.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A couple more photos from the, Thurs.

I ran the new 2 mile section of trail this a.m. for the first time (these photos are not from that area.) It was just dandy. All the trails were really great this a.m., not hard and fast like last weekend.

Photos from Weds.

The drive in to the staging area
Portion of trail that crosses driveway

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Conditions for Sweetwater Challenge #2

Photos to follow (I forgot the cord to my camera, on my way to work at noon.)

We had 9 teams on the trails last weekend for our winter campout. We had a hard, fast base then got 6 inches of snow Sunday/Monday. Trail conditions are good. We have groomed the trail twice this week so far. There's a little snow in the forecast for this weekend.

Our mile-long driveway is in good condition - some areas down to dirt as we have been scraping it down to dirt when ever we can.

There are a couple of patches of ice in the open area between the lodge and camping area - the icy spots are covered with snow so are deceptive for foot traffic - this is not an area where the dogs will be running. Never hurts to pack your YakTrax or other ice-walking human foot gear.

We always recommend that you have a good drag mat on your sled for running our trails - we do have several hills on the course and it's safer for the dogs if you can slow them on the downhills or if the trail is hard-packed. The more dogs you run, the beefier of a dragmat you need.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Drag mat with snomo studs photos


Friday, 10 a.m.

The trails have held up through the thaw and got down in the 30s overnight and it's supposed to get cooler as the day goes on getting into the teens tonight. 6 inches of pack left where we've been packing trail all winter - I've been measuring where Rick plowed once - a nice mistake to find out about this a.m.

We will try to find time to shovel some snow on the driveway where the trail crosses the drive. 32nd St. is in good shape. Our driveway is mostly bare with a few icy patches.

Looking forward to running dogs this weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Photos from noon today, 02-16-11

Here's Sting on the trail next to the driveway.
Here's a shot of the metal ruler, tapped into the snow pack - shows 6.5 inches of snow pack left on the trail.

A kennel shot to compare to the one on Saturday.

A look at the Coyote Pass trail where it crosses the driveway. The leaves are on top of the packed trail, not showing through the snow to the ground.

A view of the kennel from Saturday, the 12th

Like I said, we have LOTS of snow...we got a little sleet overnight, now the sun is out. We'll see how much rain we get tomorrow night....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Waiting out the melt....

Been reading about folks north of us getting rain overnight, last night...not here thankfully, we got about a 1/2 inch of snow. In the 30's today with lots of sunshine. We do have a LOT of snow pack on the trails...waiting to see how things hold out for the weekend. We have a really nice location for our impromptu campout. If I can figure out the new camera, I will post a photo from Saturday, the 12th showing all the snow in the kennel.

Monday, January 24, 2011

First Sweetwater Challenge of 2011 A Chilling Success

We had a fun weekend with really cold temps - Saturday night was below zero. Saturday featured wind and blowing snow coming out of the trees. It was like being in your own private snow globe. Sunday was crisp and cold all day with lots of sunshine. The trails were awesome, hookable even. Everyone had good weather for driving home - those with Sirius radio in their trucks were entertained by football on their drives home. Go Packers!

No photos this time. I lost my camera on the trail on Sunday, DRAT! I know I got some nice photos of the teams starting on Sunday. It's snowing heavily right now so the chances of seeing it again before spring are nil. Rick and the Totten boys looked for it yesterday, everywhere, on two different snowmobile runs.

I am happy with how my dogs ran this weekend - they were so flat the weekend before. The cold really makes a difference in their ability to "go the distance." I also changed my pre-run watering program (lesser amount) and stopped snacking them at the 1/2 way point. We might make the Copper Dog 35 yet!

Monday, January 17, 2011

An update for the weekend, Sweetwater Challenge #1

I thought a couple of photos will speak more to the trail conditions, than my words.

The two photos below are from Sunday, the 16th, Patty and I taking a break at the turnaround point to the far west.

It was not reliably hookable but it's getting there - it's snowing right now with a couple more inches due overnight. More snow coming on Thursday and Friday too. It should be a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Weather Forecast for Weekend/Early Next Week

From 9 and 10 News:

"Saturday a system moves in from the West that will bring snow showers to Northern Michigan. Some of these snow showers could be heavy at times reducing visibilities and creating slick roads. Winds will also be gusty out of the West/Northwest at 10-20mph. Highs Saturday will be in the low 20s to low 30s. Sunday will bring lake effect snow showers with a few bands that could be heavy at times. For the most part Sunday will be a brief break from systems as another low pressure system will be moving in Monday afternoon and Tuesday bringing another shot of snow to Northern Michigan. Highs will remain in the 20s for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday."

Good news as we need more snow on the trails. We need "system" snow - all we have gotten is lake effect fluff that looks great but doesn't pack down to much. At least it is staying cold this week and next so we aren't losing anything.

Pretty sad when the Tahquamenon Race can't hold their event in January this year - unheard of. In 12 years of the event, they have postponed once, never cancelled. They are looking at Feb. 12th as an alternate date - let them know via their website email if you might be interested.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Baldwin Snow Conditions

The single digit temps and today's sunshine are setting up the trails nicely. We got about a foot of snow in the past 6 days - powder but we've been packing it and it is finally setting up.

The photos below are from the east loop - glorious sunny day to take a run with the dogs. Tomorrow is "A" team day - more mileage, more dogs.

Happy trails, wherever you are!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

8" of snow so far...more in the forecast.

What a difference two days make!

We have 8" of snow since yesterday - heading out after work to begin packing it into a trail.

You can find the Northwoods Cam Network on - once you open the NCN - click on either Irons or Baldwin (Wolf Lake) to see the "proof."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Yucky New Year

A quick note to confirm that yes, the trails are trashed from the rain and warm temperatures on Thursday and Friday. Patty and I got in some good mileage on Thursday in the mist and fog.

We are forecast to get a little snow every day for the next week but no big accumulations. We'll have to wait and see what the second week of January has in store for us.