Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mushing on the Baldwin Sweetwater Trail

Sweetwater Challenge in Baldwin

based on a news article in "Mushers go the distance on the Sweetwater Trail", by Howard Meyerson, Mar 7, 2009

Mushers from as far away as Delaware converged on Baldwin last weekend for the Sweetwater Challenge. The event was sponsored by the Michigan Dog Drivers Association. The 24-mile mushing trail was opened this winter after several years of construction.

One woman from Illinois said that she was trying races with a medium distance this year, and that was why she came. She had been doing sprints, which gave her about an hour on the trail with multiple hours driving. She said “I enjoy being out with my dogs. I want to run with them longer,' so I started doing mid-distances last year."

The Baldwin trail is designed to host 12, 17 or 24-mile races. Blaine Danley, the Michigan Dog Drivers Association president, said that people enjoy spending time with their dogs on the trail and there are few places where mushers can run long distances without encountering dangerous road crossings or snowmobile trails.

Deanna Clark, a veterinarian and skijorer from Madison, Wis., drove here for a chance to try the trail. Skijorers use a dog team to pull them on skis. She said, “This is one of the few races with long-distance skijoring. It's a novice race and a really friendly environment."

At 11 am Saturday the Challenge began. Starts were staggered by two minutes. The course through the National Forest is flagged, and there are manned stations where a tired or injured dog may be dropped off.

Kathy Bietau, Recreational Planner for the Forest Service, said the association is working with the forest service in the hopes of making the Sweetwater Challenge Trail a permanent, dedicated mushing trail. It would be the first in Michigan on public land. Currently, the trail is permitted by the forest service only for event use. It is not open for use at any other time.

Lower Michigan mushers are hopeful that there will soon be a backcountry trail closer than Michigan’s upper peninsula.

See Michigan Dog Drivers Association
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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