It was lovely to spend so much time at McCabe Creek this morning and enjoy the hospitality from the Kruse family.

Around 6.10am the team trotted into McCabe and the dogs did not immediately flop down ready for a rest, they were still milling around watching what Allen was doing, ready to continue if he asked. As soon as he brought their bale of straw over, however, they knew that meant a stop and they were quick to make their nests amongst the straw and curl up together.

Allen himself was is good spirits but pleased to be at McCabe with the prospect of a good rest for the team and for him. He gave each dog poultry skin snacks, which they all ate enthusiastically, took booties off and prepared their meal for later. There is no resupply at McCabe so he had brought everything with him to sustain the team.

One thing I particularly love to watch is Allen working with the dogs. We all know those inherent “dog people” that unconsciously stroke a dogs head or scratch their ears? While Allen was taking booties off, even though he was cold and tired and his fingers were frozen, he was tenderly petting and speaking to each dog as he went. That is what drew me to this sport more than anything. The relationship between mushers and their dogs.

Allen then came inside, hung all his clothing and mitts up in front of the wood stove, had a big bowl of stew and lay down on the mattress at the back of the room. He was asleep within moments. It was a nice, quiet place to be with just a couple vets, officials and the family. Everyone enjoyed a sleep for a few hours and woke feeling human again.

Allen rested the team for six hours and they certainly enjoyed their sleep also, especially for a time they were right in the sunshine sheltered amongst the trees and out buildings. Although it is still pretty chilly in this part of the world it is no where near as frigid as Dawson so the dogs were able to stretch out a little and relax. The truck thermometer told us it was around -30F.

McCabe farm has a few horses (you may remember Aliy’s story about the horses from last year’s YQ300) and once it got light Spark had a good view of them through the trees from his sleeping spot. He decided that he needed to keep an eye on them as he likely couldn’t figure out what they were and why none of us were concerned about them. Kodiak is decidedly in love with Spark on this race so wanted to keep guard with him but he was still sleepy. It was really comical to watch Kodiak sitting up, leaning on Spark and nodding off every now and again.

We carry dog cards with us to give out to children we see along the way and the Kruse grandchildren were fascinated with our team. They asked a lot of really great questions and Bridgett told them about each dog. Driver was a favourite!

Bridgett tells the Kruse grandkids about the dogs

After their nap, the team ate every scrap of their hot breakfast before heading back down the trail at 12:10pm. We are pleased to see them travelling at good speeds along the Yukon towards Carmacks. As we drove past the river we were able to see the some of the jumbled ice the trail team alerted the mushers to. The bergs are not huge but there are a lot of them so it will be a challenge picking their way through the trail.

We expect to see them this evening and they will most likely stay here a while to rest.

Here are a few portraits from McCabe:

Violet is focussed on the task ahead
Spark is just so photogenic!
As promised, here’s Junior!
Frosted Champ
Kodi and Spark continue their bromance
Felix is always smiling
The glamour boys Commando and Dutch

16 Responses

  • This team (including Allen) is just rock solid this year. It’s fantastic to see. They’ll sure be ready for Iditarod.
    But first things first; let’s win this race!

  • Soooooo….Aliy…….I just HAVE to ask. WHAT ARE YOU FEELING RIGHT NOW? To watch your husband and your beautiful dogs headed towards a Yukon Quest (win!? – do I dare say it? or at least a) good finish… is this the team you’re going to pick to go to Nome? I am so in awe. It’s truly incredible. You must be so proud. Allen is exhausted, of course, but he must be bursting with pride, too. Heck, to have ALL of his 14 4-legged team-mates looking THIS good after racing over 700 miles in frigid temps. My god. Everyone at SPK should be smiling from ear to ear right now. The work you put in – from the breeding and training to the daily love and care. Heck, I’m proud of you all and I’m just a fan. We are all proud of SPK and happy to support you any way we can. Know that you have a lot of enthusiastic fans out here wishing you the best and cheering you on. Go SPK!

  • Great pictures of the dogs. I love seeing glimpses of them along the race trail. As I was refreshing (often) today, I read the article on McCabe Creek and the Kruse family as well as the trailbreaker article on the YQ website. Reading about what goes on behind the actual race is so interesting and makes one feel as if they were there, almost. Go SPK Black Team. WooHoo!

  • I love this post, it has a sense of tranquility. You have done a wonderful job keeping us informed and it has been so fun to watch this almost perfect race unfold for Allen and the pups….don’t want to jinx it, just sayin’ lol!!! The dogs look fantastic and they must be so proud of themselves. Spark and Kodiak, so cute! This is a really special team of gorgeous dogs, well trained-well cared for–well loved, and it shows! Thanks for the update and the pictures! Go SPK Black!!

  • I’m loving this team – what a great group. Oh yeah, Allen too. Mush on down the trail, this has been an absolutely incredible performance by the dogs, musher and handler team. Whitehorse is in site!!

  • Loved seeing the pictures. Allen looked like he could fall asleep eating–can’t
    imagine how tired he is. You said it so brilliantly how musher and dogs
    relationship is. Beautiful! Safe travels Allen and SP Dogs! Watching you all
    hours of the night.

  • Glad everyone got a good rest. The dogs look great and I love the photos. Just like there is no bad photo taken of Alaska’s beauty, there is no bad photo taken of an SP Kennel athlete. I don’t know what it is about Rodney, but he still looks like a puppy to me, maybe it is his cute floppy ears 🙂
    Cheers, and stay strong SP Black team!!!!

  • I am almost at a loss for words with this post. I am absolutely in awe of this team and so proud to be a fan and “Straw Lady”. To be some small part of this professional, classy, respectful team is humbling. Continued prayers for the rest of the run!

  • Kodiak and Spark must have gotten a little sleep before horse patrol, because the team’s speed to Carmacks looks nice.
    Thank you for all the wonder pictures. I love Violet’s portrait. What a beautiful team!
    SPK team, Thank you for so much information. Thank you for all you do behind the scenes to insure success and keep us informed. Thank you for all your sacrifices.
    Exciting race! I don’t mind at all that Allen is not neck and neck with two other teams!

  • Beautiful photos – great eye for framing and capturing their essence. They do look good and I think the synopsis you are writing this year are especially good, very genuine and down to earth.

  • What awesome photos. The team looks so relaxed. The bromance is cracking me up! Loving following along with this race. I’m almost able to understand some of the tracking information beyond staring at the picture of the trail!

  • LOL…Commando and Spark with their Bromance! Darn these dogs are amazing!!! Allen is doing SUCH a great job with them….and its not like this has been easy conditions…Lots of Teams scratched… have all 14 still doing so well is a testament to Allen’s care for them… proud to be a SPK Fan right now! Still some miles to go….may the magic carpet ride continue to Whitehorse!

  • The team is beyond fantastic. What a race Aleen & the dogs are putting together.
    The horse patrol boys are too funny.
    Thanks for all the pictures. Yes, it looks like Allen is asleep while holding his bowl of stew.
    Amazing how mushers can function when they are soo tired. How important and special for Allen to tenderly touch & talk to each of his teammates.
    Thanks again Moira for another excellent post.

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