A sled dog in Seward musher Dori Hollingsworths yard wades through more than two feet of snow that fell overnight last week. Hollingsworth said the snowfall this winter is starting to be too much of a good thing.
Photo courtesy of Dori Hollingsw
Dori Hollingsworth of Seward is a lot like other mushers when it comes to wishing for snow to fall, but this season’s accumulations have her saying enough is enough.
“At this point we just groan when the weather predicts more snow,” she said.
The reason? Hollingsworth already has had more than 10 feet of the white stuff fall this winter, burying everything around her home.
“We just keep getting snow, and more snow and more snow. There is such a thing as too much,” she said.
Hollingsworth said she and her husband are spending nearly all their waking time digging themselves out.
“It’s a lot of work. We’re constantly shoveling or snowblowing just to walk around,” she said.
Hollingsworth said they’re also spending more time digging their 20 dogs out than they are actually running them.
“We have the dog’s houses raised up on pallets, but we still dig around the houses,” she said.
Hollingsworth said she recruits the energetic dogs in the kennel to help her out.
“We’ll move the more active dogs around to pack down spots around the houses,” she said.
The snow clearing doesn’t stop in the dog yard either, according to Hollingsworth.
“My husband will groom trail for hours and get it all nice, then overnight, two feet of snow will fall so we can’t run until we groom it again,” she said.
Unlike Iditarod and other distance mushers that revel in trail-breaking through deep snow for hours on end, Hollingsworth said she is a sprint musher, favoring shorter groomed trails where she can run her team extremely fast.
“As a sprint team, we like to go fast, so we try to keep the speed up for training. If it’s not too deep we run anyway, but two feet is a bit more than we want to wallow through,” she said.
However, even when she is fortunate enough to run her dogs on groomed trail between snowfalls, so much powder is falling so fast, a hard base is tough to come by.
“The training trail we run on is 11 miles long and usually takes us 33 to 36 minutes, this year it’s taking us 52 to 45 minutes,” she said.
This may not sound like such a big deal, but in sprint races where fractions of a second often mean the difference between finishing places, 15 to 20 minutes slower could be the whole race.
Despite the challenging training from too much snow, Hollingsworth said it is still better than the alternative.
“It beats years past when we were still training on a four-wheeler at this time. I’d always rather it snow over rain,” she said.
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