Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mush! Mush! -OR- Hike! Hike!

Warning!  Lots of photos today.  I neglected to tell you about one of the major winter events here in the Keweenaw.  The 3rd annual Copper Dog 150 was a 3-day, pro-class sled dog race.  The 150 mile race is held in 3 stages.   The sled dog teams raced from Calumet to Eagle Harbor on March 2.  Stage 2 took the teams from Eagle Harbor to Copper Harbor the following day.  The race ended on March 4 when the teams raced from Copper Harbor back to Calumet via Brockway Mountain.  I believe 23 of the 29 registered teams actually finished the race.  You can't imagine the excitement and the number of people the race brought to this tiny community.  Mushers and their teams came from all over the Midwest, West and Canada.  Hundreds of volunteers and many local businesses are involved in the events of the weekend.  It was pretty impressive.

The race was scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. on 5th Street on the same block as our Church.  Steve took a walk down several area streets earlier that afternoon to snap some photos of the dogs, trucks and last-minute preparations for the race.  He spotted this beautiful dog just down the street from our house. 
Some of the trucks or trailers proudly displayed the names of the dogs.
Trucks and dogs were everywhere.
Some dogs were relaxing.
Some dogs were eating.
Extra snow was piled onto 5th Street to create the track the dogs used while in town.  However, the majority of the race was actually run on the local snowmobile trails.
5th Street was blocked to normal vehicular traffic for the entire weekend.
A new log structure was constructed at the race start.
Shortly before the race began, a team of snowmobiles led the way down the 5th Street track.  The local Calumet web cam caught some of the action.
By 7:00 p.m., the street was crammed with people.  The race began as scheduled, and it took about 90 minutes to get all the teams off and running.  Mushers yell either "Mush! Mush!" or "Hike! Hike!" to get the dogs moving, but "Hike" is actually much more common in English.
The race trail crosses area roads in dozens of locations.  Volunteers are needed at each crossing to get the dogs to the other side of the road safely and to make sure the dogs don't accidentally make a turn onto the road instead of crossing it.  By the way, even though the Keweenaw snowmobile trails are used for the majority of the race, the trails are not closed to snowmobile traffic for the weekend.  The dogs are so well trained that they simply ignore the machines should they meet them on the trails.  Wow! 

After all the teams were off, Calumet was treated to a nice fireworks display shot off from the local park.  We could see them from our kitchen window.  If we had known we were going to have such a nice view, we would have put a couple lawn chairs outside by our back door and watched them with a cup of hot cocoa!  Next year!
As I said, the race was a 3-stage, 3-day event.  The mushers returned to Calumet with their teams on Sunday afternoon.  The last day took them up and over Brockway Mountain, and they ran through some heavy snow, so they returned a bit later than predicted.  No problem.  Steve was able to snap some great photos as they came into town.  You can tell this guy is having fun!
Some dogs ran with shoes (booties).
Some ran barefoot.
Here's a stereotypical musher.
Nice hat.
Here's #23, the winner from Minnesota with his lead dogs, Fox and Mabel.  Fox has snow on his face showing he was obviously trying to grab some snow while on the run - apparently not the preferred method of hydration.
All in all, it was a great weekend for the community.
We're even talking about volunteering at one of the road crossings or to be a host family after we move to the new house.  Wouldn't that be fun?  If you would like to read more about the Copper Dog 150 (or view some video), visit the official website at copperdog150.com.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

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