Busted Axle Road
Chapter 112: January 1998

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

The New Year's day weekend proved to be pretty decent. It was fairly warm, for winter, although nowhere near the freezing mark, though it was blowing pretty good. The day afterwards, Saturday, was beautiful, and Mike got up in the morning with an itch to run the dogs.

He was still pouring himself a cup of coffee when the phone rang. "You want to go for a run today?" Mark asked.

"Might as well," Mike replied. "God, I'm sick of football, after yesterday. Where do you want to go?"

"I'm thinking that we may not get a better time to run that stretch between Turtle Hill and that campground where we stayed last time. With the weekend, there'll have been snowmobiles out, and the trail ought to be packed pretty good."

"That's kind of long," Mike said. "We'd have to hustle if we want to make it back by dark."

"Why not take our time, and make it another camping trip?" Mark said. "If you want to camp in the winter, then this ought to be a pretty good night for it."

"Sounds good," Mike said. "I'll see if Kirsten has any plans for me. I'll get back with you."

Kirsten was in the kitchen, feeding Susan. Susan was eating a lot of solid food, now, and had pretty well given up the jug. "Don't tell me," she said. "Let me guess. That was Mark. He wants to go out with the dogs."

"Yeah," Mike said. "We were talking about doing another overnight, like last month."

"Oh, go ahead," she said. "You'll be moping around here all day if you don't go. You're not going to get very many days this nice for it, anyway."

"Thanks, honey," Mike replied, heading back for the phone. "I really appreciate it."

Mike had Mark back on the line in a minute. "Let's do it," he said.

"All right," Mark said. "Don't hook the dogs up, yet. When you get yourself ready to go, come up and help me get the dog box in the truck. Then, we can pick your stuff up on the way out."

It took a while. Mike had kept his winter camping gear pretty well together, but it took time to gather it up, get dressed, and carry it out to the sled in the barn. He gathered harnesses, lines, and all the other essentials he'd need, and finally got in the Rabbit and drove up to Mark's house.

"Been wondering where you were," Mark said. "I'm just getting ready to load the dog box."

"Man, that's a lot of stuff," Mark said. "It's amazing how much of it is for the dogs, and how little of it is for us."

The access road up to the top of Turtle Hill was blocked; there wouldn't be any kids going up there and parking tonight. Mark found a place where the snow wasn't too deep by the side of the road, and parked the truck there, and they set to unloading the dogs and sleds and gear.

It was after noon before they got on their way, and they knew they'd have to move fast to be able to make it to the campground and still have enough light to set up camp, so they tried more of a racing pace, rather than a trail trot. Fortunately, the dogs had a good, long initial burst, so when they settled down, they were a good ways up the trail.

The sun was just setting into the trees when they pulled into the little campground again. After their trip of the month before, they had the camp setup routine down pretty good. The only hitch was that the river was frozen over now, and Mike had to take an axe to cut a hole in the river for water.

"Still better than melting snow," Mark commented as he tossed their sleeping bags and foam pads into the tent. "I understand that takes forever."

"We'll have to give it a try, some time," Mike said. "Maybe during the race. I don't think we want to try to carry water. If it's cold, it'll freeze, and if not, it's heavy."

"Maybe it'd just be better to have someone meet us back where we parked the truck," Mark suggested. "We could water the dogs there, and not have to mess around with melting snow."

"We've got to talk about this race, anyway," Mike said, dishing up warm dog food off of one of the stoves. "It's got me a little concerned. I mean, you get right down to it, we're not that experienced, and the dogs aren't that experienced. Making a night run up the trail sounds like fun, but it's awful narrow. One of us could get hurt, and then where would we be?"

"I don't know," Mark said, pouring warm water into a bucket to water the dogs. "Maybe we should just plan on running together. We can do a grand drag race start out of the festival for the benefit of the crowd, then get back together again around your place or my place, then run together out to Warsaw and back. Then, when we go back by our places, we can turn it into a drag race again."

"Good idea," Mike said. "I'm willing. I'd be just as happy to stay together like that. But, this trail is still awful narrow to be running at night."

"We'll have pretty close to a full moon most of the night," Mark pointed out.

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