Midnight Encounters

I just read TJ’s blog post ‘Night Run 4‘ about how changing to training at night features some exciting encounters. This motivated me to write a few words about my experiences.

Since we are now training for Gold Rush Run medium distance sleddog race in late March, we are building a lot of mileage for the dogs. That means that the training takes a lot of time, and I can no longer just use my lunch break to go for a quick spin with the dogs. (Besides: I have to use that time for my marathon training, sigh..)

In practice, this means that 90% of the time I train in pitch black. Our ATV is such a piece of junk that half the time the headlights are not working, so I rely on having a good headlamp (Fenix HL60R RAPTOR+) with an extra battery.

Where we live, there is not a big chance of coming across pedestrians. But every other night we do see cars or tractors. The dogs could not care less. But then there are the more exciting encounters!

This week we have met at least three deer, a couple of rabbits and what I suspect was a moose. Chaika is such a pro that he does not react in any visible way, but the younguns sure do! Just last night it felt like they could have pulled me and the ATV on top of the hill all by themselves while trying to chase after a deer that just would not head off road!

Of course, I feel pretty confident in these situations. After all, I am sitting on top of my ATV and if I feel like I have to, I can just stop the show. But that’s not the case always! A couple of years ago I was out walking three of our Siberians. It was half moon, so I did not bother to take my headtorch with me. At some point, the dogs just stopped and stared into the woods. At that location, the woods are pretty dense and without a light source, I could not see what they were looking at.

I stopped. I waited. The dogs waited and stared into the forest, intensely. Then I heard something heavy shift weight, just outside the visible range. There was something big, maybe 10 meters away, and I had no idea what it was. The dogs were silent, just stared. The thing took a few steps, then silence. I was feeling pretty nervous, but somehow I felt assured that since the dogs were not afraid, neither should I.

Slowly, the steps moved further away, and after what seemed like half an eternity, vanished into the foliage. Then I felt a yank on the leash, as Ritu signaled that she wanted to finish the walk and get some chow.

To this day I have no idea what it was that we met in that small forest road that night.

Anyways, thanks TJ for reminding me of this story! 🙂

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