Rich Ranch Community Day

Yes we have ranches all over here in MT land. The Rich Ranch has been doing this for 25 years! Shout out to the Rich Ranch and thank you for doing this for so many years. Rosie and Violet were two of the mules that were pulling the sleighs through the field with kids and adults alike on board. Don’t you just love mules? They seem to have more personality than horses and just seem more lovable for some reason. This year they had a chili cook-off and our own Eric Hayhurst from Seeley Lake won! Way to go Eric!

AND one of the main reasons I was there was to see Jessie Royer giving sled dog rides to anyone who wanted them. She and her handler were giving rides on two of her “J teams” of older or retired dogs but still wanna have some fun running! BTW, Jessie was our youngest person to win the Race to the Sky at age 17 in the 300 mile race. Last year she came in 3rd at the Iditarod, so she will be one of the ones to watch and  WIN that race. Then she can join the ranks of Libby Riddles and Susan Butcher, past women mushers who have won Iditarod.

So, Jessie had her rig with the dog trailer in tow and dogs, you guessed it, yipping and barking and carrying on like they do when ready to run. Kids were so excited, some were jumping up and down just like the dogs—lets put some of them in a harness and see what they can do! Jessie would get them settled in basket on the sled and they, like the dogs would get down to business and just look ahead to the trail, everyone smiling even the dogs.  She did about a ½ mile loop and dogs as well as kids and adults alike had a great time. They would come in to the “finish line” and load up a new bunch of people just as excited to go as the last.

I, too, had planned on being in that line of entrants, but had a little mishap. It has been some years since I have had a sled dog ride in AK at a friend of my aunt’s who had dogs in Galena which is one of the Iditarod checkpoints on the Northern Route. That is where I first got interested in sled dogging and my first foray into volunteering for a race. But, I digress.

My mishap. The day wasn’t that cold out so I figured I would wear my cutsey boots instead of the clod-hopper ones with the cleats on. So I get out of my car in the nicely plowed parking lot and yep, you guessed it landed right on me arse! After several curse words (don’t worry no kids were around), this couple who saw it all happen asked if I wanted help. I just laid there and asked them to just let me die right here and throw snow over my corpse. After getting my wits about me again up I go and over to where the dogs were. So needless to say, I was in too much pain to go bouncing over a trail in a basket on the sled. Ugh. My loss to be sure. After a trip to the chiropractor I will be up to snuff in a while. But jeez. Note to self: always wear the “good boots” with the cleats on them! No exceptions! The couple who offered assistance turned right around and put their cleats on their boots!

So everyone had a great day, eating chili, taking sled dog rides from one of the great mushers of this era and traipsing through the snow covered field on a sleigh pulled by mules. What else is there? Life is good…….

-C.Jewett