Monday, January 30, 2012

Congratulations Cim Smyth

Cim won the Tustumena 200 Sunday evening coming in just minutes ahead of Jeff King. The two teams were neck and neck the entire way. It made it exciting for those of us on the trail as well as I'm sure those watching at home via the trackers.

There are three mushers still out on the trail and getting closer to the finish line. It ain't over yet, but I came home after Jodi Bailey made it in due to the fact that my dad needed to get home and get to bed. Which is where I should be, instead of editing photos. I need a new strategy for this sort of job for next year. I'm learning.

So I leave you with a pic of the winner coming into the finish line. Instead of getting them as they crossed - because I knew others with T200 would be there - I decided to shoot them coming up to the finish on a lake they had to cross. Made for some great wilderness shots. There are some good spots that I want to try to get to next year, if I'm not FREEZING like I was this year. As I said it's a learning experience this year!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I would update

but I'm exhausted. the event has been a blast but it is FREEZING. They keep saying tomorrow should be warmer... yeah, right.

anyway, for those posting on my blog asking about DeeDee - she lost her dog about six miles into the race and she scratched to go and look for Ophiela. Thankfully just a few hours ago the dog was recovered! Follow the race on and on their facebook!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Four drop out of T200, slots open for last minute registration.

Organizers for the T200 posted via facebook yesterday that four teams had withdrawn from the race. Since the checkpoints had already been set up to handle twenty teams, they have openned registration for last minute mushers to take the - now unused - spots. Registration remains as a $200 fee and closes Friday when the mandatory vet check and musher's meeting is set to begin.

Teams that withdrew are Jessie Hendricks, Zoya Denure - citing health issues, but she also posted on facebook that they were having vehicle trouble, and the Clarkes - who hit a moose earlier this week, totalling their dog truck! General registration closed on Monday with a final entry by Colleen Robertia a local Kasilof musher and veteran of the race (as well as the Quest and Iditarod).

Vet Check begins tomorrow at noon at the Aspen Hotel in Soldotna, with a musher's meeting to follow. The race takes off at 9 am on Saturday with the Junior T followed at 11am by the main event. The race begins at Mile 112 of the Sterling Hwy.

**Please note that while I am going to be shooting as the volunteer photographer for the event nothing I post is an official communication with the race. Follow them via their website, facebook and twitter for official updates during the race. I will tweet and post photos as internet and time allows over the weekend. The organizers will try to post my photos of the start as soon as I get them to them.**

Monday, January 23, 2012

T200 Musher Roster up to twenty names. Deadline today.

2012 winning cover art drawn by local student. So cute!
With the 2012 Tustumena 200 set to begin on Saturday (January 28), fans of mushing and the race itself are eagerly awaiting the release of the official roster. Race coordinators have done an amazing job keeping fans updated via their website and their facebook page. The deadline to sign up for this year's race is today, Monday January 23.

On the list of mushers this year are four time Iditarod Champion Jeff King - who just last year was "retired" from racing - and Alaskan favorite DeeDee Jonrowe. Peninsula musher Paul Gebhardt, and 2011 Iditarod runner up Cim Smyth are also competing. Gebhardt just finished the Kuskokwim 300 yesterday in third place and earlier in the season Jeff King won the Sheep Mountain 150. The Junior T boasts a whopping four entrants, including last year's winner Conway Seavey. Seavey's dad, Mitch, is the 2004 Iditarod Chamion and his older brother Dallas won the 2011 Yukon Quest.

Word from the trail says it is in the best condition it's been in years, and the new checkpoints are getting a lot of positive feedback. The one downside is that Clam Gulch, a mainstay for the race, will not be a check point this year. Originally Clam Gulch was a stop, but an announcement was made late last week that there would be changes to the proposed trail. New to the race this year, and going back to the race's roots, is the check point in Homer. Other check points include Oil Well and Freddie's Roadhouse in Caribou Hills - which will serve as the halfway layover. Homer will also have a mandatory layover during both legs of the race.

Vet checks are Friday afternoon, the junior race begins at 9am in Kasilof, the 200 will follow at 11am.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Movie Review: War Horse

Whenever Steven Spielberg is in the director's chair you're guaranteed a nearly flawless storytelling. War Horse is no exception. The care to the story that movies goers have come to expect, as well as amazing cinematography, is ever present.

If we've learned anything over the course of Spielberg's career, it's that he knows how to tell a story. That he can so easily manipulate an entire theater's emotions is part of his gift. He's warmed our hearts with an alien's love and friendship with a young boy (E.T.), given rebirth to our inner child (Jurassic Park), and brought the horrors of World War 2 to our consciousness.

Based on the novel by the same title, as well as the London Theatre play; War Horse follows the story of Alby, a boy on the cusp of adulthood, and Joey, his horse. In order to save the family farm, the young man sells the horse without warning to a British Cavalry Captain preparing to go off to battle with the Germans in World War 1. In a heart wrenching scene, the young captain promises Alby that he will do his very best to return Joey as soon as the conflict is over. Alby bids Joey farewell promising him that he will find him and they will be together again.

For the next two hours or so the audience is bombarded with emotion packed scenes both beautiful and grotesque. Joey changes hands - and sides - multiple times, and is on the edge of death more times that one can count. For most of the film, the audience sees the story from Joey's perspective. We see him make friends with a fellow war horse, and sacrifice himself for his friend. We see him learn things that no one believes him capable. We see Joey do what many would only describe as "the impossible."
Highlight for spoilers:
I am not a cryer. I know I say that and then two of the last movie reviews I've done have me tearing up or uncontrollable tears. But I've never had raking sobs in a movie theater. I'd heard about them in relation to Schindler's List or Titanic (the first one I get why, second one I still can't take seriously) and always wondered why people couldn't control it. How they could let themselves be so emotional in public.
Let me tell you, I now understand. When your emotions are so manipulated by a master director or story writer, you have no control. The climatic scene of Joey's friend losing his life (not Alby, but a fellow horse) and Joey's running away to the No Man's Land Scene had me in hysterics. I had never felt the need to just cry... at a movie. I couldn't watch, I couldn't breathe. I couldn't sleep after the movie was over and I'd been home for a couple of hours. The last 45 minutes is not for the faint of heart. Bleeding hearts don't stand a chance. My best friend cried through the whole film. As did my mother.

While the war scenes are not as graphic as Saving Private Ryan, the violence towards animals are graphic. The violence towards humans is not near a dramatic as that of Schindler's List, but the horrors that the horses of WW1 faced are. Animal lovers in general, and horse enthusiasts in particular, will have many problems watching this movie for that reason. Horses are brutalized by the German soldiers, and are killed in a faulty ambush by the British.

Overall, this is Spielberg's finest piece to date. He very rarely takes a step backwards, and each serious piece is just a training run for the next big piece. That War Horse did not get the Golden Globe is a travesty. This is a must see for all movie goers.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Extremely cold weather and bad trail cancel Copper Basin 300

With tempertures dropping drastically this weekend in much of Alaska, and a reportedly ungroomed trail in place, the Copper Basin 300 for 2012 has been cancelled as of this morning. The announcement was made after racing was suspended late last night when it was revealed that a section of the trail had not been properly established and temperatures were down to -40F or more. Racers were allowed to continue racing up to the checkpoint where the announcement was made. Officials waited until first light to make the call that the CB300 would not continue.

At 9:30am Alaska Time, Race Marshal Greg Parvin released this statement:
"The 2012 Copper Basin 300 has been cancelled at Meier's Lake, 75 miles into the race. Heavy snows and high winds obliterated the middle section of the trail; the race trail is impassable. Furthermore, temperatures have consistently ranged between 45 and 50 degrees below zero. The decision was made in the interest of the dogs, mushers and race staff."

Some have posted on the race's facebook page and their personal pages their take on what led to the cancellation. A musher not running in the race, but lives in the general area, was very vocal on the page stating that current weather conditions were not the factor, and that poor trail management was. They stated on the CB300 Facebook page that both she and her husband were concerned to find out that they were not planning to groom the trail until the day of the race. Knowing the area and how much snow they had, they new the trail would be hard to break - especially the section from Meier's Lake to Sourdough.

Former volunteers and locals also complained at the way the breaking of the trail was handled. The man in charge of trail conditions reported earlier in the week that the trail was deep and that the weather had made it difficult, but that they had a solid base on the trail. Posters on the page today - not volunteers or officially involved with the race this season - contested that idea saying that the trail had not been properly marked or put in. A local musher seemed to confirm this in their own posts.

Temperature alone would not factor into a cancellation. Both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod see temperatures of -30 and -40 below and continue on. Reports by locals and mushers alike don't seem to mention blowing winds or snow. It seems the main difficulty is the trail itself and how ungroomed it was. While it is true that in races like the Iditarod and Yukon Quest also deal with weather created messes along the trail, when mushers are not expecting an ungroomed trail it does become discouraging.

Also discouraging is how much money is lost by the teams. While the race has refunded part of the $400 entry fee to each team, that does not account for the travel and food and lodging expenses to the mushers and their handlers. Some mushers shared their "unofficial" disappointment at having to pull out. The race is also used as a qualifier for both the Quest and the Iditarod for rookie mushers, and is one of the most competitive middistance races. Many Quest and Iditarod teams use it as a final big run before the long distance races begin. It gives everyone a chance to assess their team and their chances.

Most teams are travelling today from Meier's Lake on their way back to their home bases today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Favorite Disney Park planning resources - Part 2

Click here for Part 1.
Dumbo Ride, Disneyland 2011
So you've gotten the hang of it by now, you're ready to take the next step and book your trip. This is where it gets tricky. You have your Passporter to write plans down in (use pencil!), but wait! Don't just rush and pick those dates that look the less crowded. Did you make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck? Switch dates sometimes means less money and more fun for you and your fellow travellers - and they aren't during busy seasons!

This is where comes in. It's a travel agency site (that's been trained and approved by The Mouse), but it's also so much more than that. It actually keeps travellers and potential travellers up-to-date with all of the latest and greatest promotions. If you're not going through a travel agent this is where you have to be pro-active.

Disney doesn't just automatically put you into whatever promotion that might come out after you book - you do. As long as you're more than 45 days out you're not penalized for making travel changes to your package. This is how two years ago we ended up with FREE DINING for most of our stay, and three years ago (this month actually) we ended up with a moderate resort for the same price as a value! INSANE! And these are DISNEY promotions! Once you book, watch for the deals. If one becomes available call down to Disney. The guy on the other end of the phone will help you get into the promotion if they can. You may have to break up your reservations into two seperate - but linked - packages, but it is SO WORTH IT! (again this is if you book an entire package through Disney.)

Now, you're booked to go, so what are you going to do when you get there. You want to be spontaneous, but there are so many options - especially for Walt Disney World - to fill up your time. Where do you begin? Well, aside from the great reviews in your Passporter, try these on for size (and remember these are more for park destinations!).

My next stop is either purchasing The Unofficial Guide to *your destination here* it's a book that comes out every year and is even more critical than Passporter. They often get a bad wrap for being anti-Disney. They aren't, they are just more of a "worst case scenario" as far as prices and crowd count. They take a very critical look about Disney but are Disney enthusiasts themselves.

Another great feature with the Unofficial Guides it that they have a partner website, This is a paid site, but what's really cool is that if you purchase one of the guide books you can get your subscription at a discounted rate! They are also completely mobile with a great phone app (yes, I am a subscriber, and yes I play with their app even when I'm not anywhere near the parks!). The two best features are their crowd calculators, which gives you an idea of how crowded any day of the year will be, and their wait times. The wait times are accurate and update more often than the Disney waittimes (and are probably even a little more accurate than Disney).

Once you've got an idea of where you're going to be and when, it's time to decide where you're going to eat. This is especially important for Walt Disney World as you want to book your dining reservations as soon as you're able to (180 days if you're staying on property for WDW, 60 days if you're going to Disneyland - on property or off). The best place for that is They have the menus for every eatery - sit down, counter, and snack! - and they keep them as up to date as possible. There are sections for reviews (though if you want current reviews, ask on, and it also gives you the prices.

  • Quick Tip: The one thing you have to do is BUDGET, and I always round up by at least five dollars per. Figure in tip, and tax, and so it's always better to budget more and save than budget less and come up short towards the end of your trip. The money that you don't end up spending on food you can put towards more souvenier's or, like I do, the next Disney trip!
I must warn you, however, that this site will get you hungry. Just the thought of all of these amazing foods is enough to get my mouth watering. There is nothing like Disney Dining. If you're going to Disney World all I can say is GET THE DINING PLAN (this requires you stay on property). It is so worth it. We were able to eat at places we never could afford without it. AllEars - and, really passporter - have a great way of explaning the program and how to best use it. That in and of itself is another blog entirely. Ha ha!

Speaking of mouth watering, a great site for reviews on the food experiences at Disney is the Disney Food Blog. Whenever I have a hard time deciding where to eat, or if I'm not quite sure about a newer establishment I go to see if it's been reviewed (and it normally has) by this team of Disney Foodies. This is one of the few websites I follow year round, even when I'm not planning a trip! But, again, it will make you hungry. I've warned you, so don't come crying to me that your tummy is growling... or that your keyboard is wet because you drool.

So there it is. These are the "secrets" I use to plan my trip when I go. Nothing fancy, and it is a bit of work, but it's your hard earned money going to a well deserved vacation. There are others sites I've reccomended to friends that aren't on here. Typically those links that you've been given by me were links I was given by friends that I trust. is a great way to get discounted tickets - or so I've heard. I've never used them as I prefer to just do everything through Disney when I go to Disney World. Disneyland seems to be cheapest if I buy directly from, so, again, I don't need to go through a third party to get the best rate. And really MouseSavers is all I need to make sure I'm getting the best deal with Disney or with an outside company.

So enjoy, don't let it over whelm you. I typically spend nine months planning a disney world trip before going. And it took over a year to plan my first one. It does get easier, especially when you use these free (or nearly free) resources. You can log onto them at anytime. And, when all else fails, you can use a travel agent (USE A DISNEY SPECIALIST) and if you want names, I can point you in that direction as well (rememeber I don't use them, but I trust them and bug them all the time with my own questions ha ha!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Favorite Disney Park planning resources - Part 1

"Elliot" in the Main Street
Electrical Parade - Nov. 2010
Every year it seems family and friends ask me for help on their Disney trips, and I really do not mind. However, if they -or you- are like me, planning makes it all the more fun. So instead of having me do all of the work I typically start out by pointing them in the direction of some free - or nearly so - resources that will help in the planning.

Not sure how many actually use the resources, but I assure you that they are a must use. They will give you a better perspective of what you can accomplish no matter what time you go. I cannot imagine doing a Disney trip without at least a bare minimum of planning - especially a Disney WORLD (you know, that park in Florida) trip. Disney is more than just a theme park, it's an interactive entertainment experience. From the time you enter a parking lot you are already immersed into the experience, and it just grows as you walk up to the entrance and make your way into the parks.

So, how do I keep from having a major headache, and a family or friend away from the mega meltdown I've witnessed? I'll be honest, I've been there - twice - even after the planning. I guess what I'm saying is, plan for the inevitable. Families and friends irritate each other. Add in the crowds and something "going wrong" or not meeting up to expectations and it'll happen. Especially in the heat. So, nothing is fool proof, not even the plans that some of these sites give.

First, and this is a no brainer, go to There are tools that are helpful to your trip planning. I hit these sites first to do a number of things. The first stop is ordering the FREE (see, they do give SOME things for NOTHING) vacation planning DVD. These change every year or so and give you a look on the top attractions, coming additions to the parks, and a great overview. Mind you, this is a biased outlook where every bit of magic is available to all. If you're travelling with kids - or family - this is a great resource because it builds the excitement AND gives you a great jumping off point to discuss what each member of the travel party's must dos are.

Once you have the dvd ordered, go to the specific destination/vacation you want to plan. DisneyParks is only the jumping off point. Disney Cruiseline, Adventures by Disney, Disney's Aulani Resort (Hawaii), as well as each park destination are represented on this site. You can price a vacation package, bone up on the options, see what promotions they are offering (discounts!), and if you're headed for a park you can look up the schedules for the park(s) to being planning your daily itinerary.

Once you've decided where you're going, and you've gotten that free planning video, now it's time to get a more unbiased assessment of your trip. There are tons of sites for Disney World (you know, that park in Florida) but not as many for Disney's other destinations. Most are footnotes to a Disney World site. That's fine, Disney World is - by far - the biggest of all their destinations. Just be aware when you click on a link as to what it refers to. All of the parks have things in common other than a Disney name and the characters.

One of the things I swear by is my fake-leather bound Passporter Guide - especially when I am headed to Disney World (you know, that park in Florida). Not only is it probably the most uptodate and comprehensive - in English you can understand and full of technicolor goodness - book on the market. This is NOT a Disney authorized guide. It is a well researched book and a new edition comes out every year (for that park in florida, the other parks don't need to be updated as often).

Even if you don't purchase the book, join their message boards. It's free for everyone to use and you can learn so much. This is my main haunt online for Disney information. News is broken here before many news outlets report on happenings at the park. It also links to other great resources. There are Disney expert travel agents as well as folks that live near, work in, or visit the parks regularly. It's a bank of knowledge that is friendly, and open. People don't mind answering the same question over and over again (and believe me that does happen, so don't feel bad if you're a "repeat offender" ha ha).

The board is well organized by parks, and even has sections for travelling to other parks/attractions in the general area (for example: the Walt Disney World section also has a board for Universal Studios Orlando and Sea World). Again, people are friendly, and it can easily become addicting. Once your trip is over be sure to stay on the board and share your experience in the trip report section. Impart wisdom to others. It's a great community - and if you do join stop by and say "Hi!" I'm Tonichelle on there.

Part 2 to come soon!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why I don't follow other's Disney trips...

I might comment on a few statuses/tweets/photos here and there, but why don't I follow the trip reports on blogs or message boards? Simply, because it hurts too much. I know this makes little sense to most - even other disney fanatics - who like to live vicariously through others or just can't get why one would even care to go to Disney once, much less over and over.

I can't explain it. Perhaps it's a jealousy thing - because honestly I'm excited for my friends and family when they go (except maybe those with those annual passes, cuz they tell me about their trip just to be mean! LOL) - I can appreciate the joy others have, but I guess I want it to.

Growing up family vacations were camping trip, hiking trips, and every few years we would go to visit my mom's family in California. When I was five, on a trip to visit the family, my grandmother decided my parents needed to take me to Disneyland, so off we went. Like most children I was immediately in love. I don't remember why, I just remember loving it.

That would be the only family "vacation" we ever took. And, apparently, it was not my dad's favorite idea when he thought of vacations. Due to fincances it just wasn't feesible, and all he remembered was the negative stuff. The fact that my mother terrified me from sharing in the thrill rides with my dad, the melt downs I must have had, etc. It was a lot of money for a lot of headache.

I wouldn't go again until 2001 on a band trip, and ironically it was Dad -again- who went. This time it was to Disney World in Florida and there wasn't a whole lot either of us could say about it that was positive. For all her talk of being a former Floridian, my band teacher is a total n00b when it comes to Disney. And she didn't research it before hand. We had 12 hours in EPCOT and didn't know a thing about what we were doing. I came away hating Walt's Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow...

When I graduated high school - or rather when I tested out of homeschool - my aunt Judy gave me an amazing gift: A Walt Disney World vacation. We went in November. And I learned how to do Disney. Or, at least, I began to learn. I even learned to like EPCOT. Two years later it was my parents' turn to rediscover the magic of Disney - and even DAD is wanting to go back (2013 here we come!)

I've been twice with my best friend, both times taking the reigns in the planning. And I've discovered more of the parks each time. And I fell in love with EPCOT and the resorts and just about everything about Disney travel. (Disney Magical Express, best thing ever.)

I go to the parks and I just change. I am not only happy but I feel at home. I live in a world of fantasy in my daydreams, and while in the parks it's kinda like living in my daydreams. I fit in there, because I'm not the only one in the world that *gets* Disney.

So I guess it's just that a reminder that I'm not in my happy place is not what I need right now. It's not that I'm not happy for you, and hey some of you I've even helped plan your trip, it's just that for me it makes me sad to know I didn't go too. I'll comment on them eventually, just probably not as enthusiastically as I do when you're only planning your trip ha ha!

So congratulations and welcome to the club of Disney Park goers! May you get just as hooked as I am! And know that I'm celebrating with you, with my eyes closed (hee hee)!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Time adjustments cost Mackey a win.

The Knik 200 came down to splitting hairs when deciding the winner, and the deciding factor was not at the finish line. Lance Mackey's team came through the chute first with Jake Berkowitz so close behind. Officials then went to check on times for each musher. With the snow storm hitting its fiercest point along the region, communications were down, meaning the official decision was delayed in announcement.

People on the ground tweeted that Mackey'd won, but were unaware that Mackey was premature in leaving after his six hour layover in the Skwentna checkpoint. Because of his leaving three minutes early, Berkowitz was awarded first place with Mackey taking second once the times were determined. Ray Reddington Jr. was third.

Teams are still out on the trail. Follow the race via twitter @Knik200 or their website.

Knik 200 finish too close to be determined

It was a neck and neck for race veterans Lance Mackey and Jake Berkowitz with a finish too close to tell. According to the twitter feed an official ruling will determine the 2012 Knik Race winner. With the weather turning ugly all around the south central region, it's good to hear that nothing slowed the front runners down. It looks as though DeeDee Jonrowe and Ray Reddington have also finished.

Knik 200 a training run for Team Jonrowe

 Just hours before the weekend's sled dog race was set to kick off, mushing favorite DeeDee Jonrowe posted on her facebook that the Knik 200 was going to be a training run. Jonrowe, 58, runs her kennel out of Willow, Alaska where the Iditarod now starts from. Jonrowe is a long time musher - starting back in 1979 - and, like many mushers, has her sights set on the "big race" in March.

She posted yesterday on her facebook:
"Don't be concerned about wherever Justin High and I finish in Knik 200 tomorrow. This is a training run and both of us have unproven dogs that are out for experience. We are keeping our "eye on the prize", and that is in March. This weekend is about "time on the trail", kind of like "time on your feet" for you runners." 

The Knik 200 is a two day 200 mile sled dog race that starts in Knik and stops at Iditarod checkpoints of Yentna Station and Swentna before doubling back and finishing back at the starting point. The race is used by Iditarod rookies as one of several required mid distance Iditarod qualifying races. Conditions for this year's race couldn't be more perfect with temperatures hovering just below zero and enough snow that it will be a hard, fast paced trail.

The race is dedicated to, and named for, Joe Reddington Sr. who is known as the father of the Iditarod. Reddington was concerned with the dwindling number of sled dogs in Alaska with the boom of airplane transportation and roads. To save the Alaska pioneer way of life, as well as a unique breed of dog, Reddington began his quest to bring mushers together in the early 70s and the first race was run in 1973. Since then the sport has grown in popularity and technology.

According to the latest posts on the Knik 200 facebook and twitter, the first team will cross the finish line around 1:30pm Alaska time today.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jeff King joins T200 Roster
Four-time Iditarod Champion and newly unretired Jeff King has joined the small T200 roster. King will be the 12th musher out of the gate on January 28 for a 200 mile sled dog race.

The T200 is a well known race located on the Kenai Peninsula. For the first time in years the race will take a route to a check point in Homer before returning to the starting point. The race was very close to being cancelled this year due to lack of funding, but with help from local support and a bit of restructuring the race is still on.

Changes to the race are simple, a different check point (in Homer) as well as the lack of the Tustamena 100. Both the 200 and Jr. races are set to go the last weekend of January. So far not many junior mushers (youth) are signed up, most noticably absent is last year's winner, Conway Seavey.

So far, thirteen teams have signed up for the T200.

*Another exciting addition (well, exciting to some) is the addition of ME! I will be volunteering as the race's official photographer. Tons of photos coming your way at the end of the month! So excited (how's that for totally changing from an official sounding article to a fangirl blog?)

So much for taking time off!

Schnulle at the start of Iditarod 37,
March 2009
After racing a very exhausting competitive season last year, Sebastian Schnuelle announced that he would take the 2011-2012 racing season off to go sailing and visit friends and family around the globe. Schnuelle tried to take a break the season before, but quickly found himself signing up for the big races around Alaska and Canada.

This season, Schnuelle gave many of his dogs over to another musher and headed outside to "see the sun," as he put it. Soon, though, Schnuelle actively followed the first races of winter, giving his advice and online commentary via his facebook accounts. Then news broke that he would be running the Copper Basin 300 race (being held next weekend). He posted that he was working on his CB300 drop bags, and begrudged his unwavering obsession.

Then rumors swirled earlier this week that Schnuelle had signed up for the Yukon Quest. Some fans scoffed, his name was not on the race website, Schnuelle was taking a break from the big races.

Schnuelle put that talk to rest this morning with his update to his facebook page: "signed up for the Quest. Damn, I AM addicted."
The Yukon Quest is the second most popular long distance sled dog race in Alaska, and the only international race in North America. The race begins in Fairbanks and crosses over the Canadian border. While the Iditarod is now known as the "glamor" race with its well groomed trails and temperate weather, the Quest is known to be brutal. Many Quest mushers who go on to run the Iditarod pump the Quest to be the more challenging of the two (though Hugh Neff took that back after the difficulties of last year's Iditarod).
The 2011 Quest was an exceptionally challenging one, with many of the top names having to scratch due to adverse weather conditions. Once front runner Hugh Neff scratched (a dog died on the trail, which devastated the musher, who then ended up trapped on the mountain during a snow storm), Schnuelle was poised to take the title, but flooding on the Yukon caused other mushers to become trapped on the ice. Schnuelle helped several out of danger, including the eventual winner, Dallas Seavey, who came in just minutes before Schnuelle.
The Quest begins Feb. 4, 2012.