THE ABSA Ski-Hi Clocaenog Event held at the end of March 1996 featured an 11.2 mile Trek over varying terrain and in a temperature of 4° at an altitude of 1200 ft.
Following the demise of the EDC Llyn Brenig 16-mile Trek, ABSA felt that it was worth putting on another similar event in this unique and vast area of North Wales. Whilst the old Trek certainly turned boys into men with its harshness of both weather and conditions and was therefore only attractive to a mere handful of regulars, its basic concept certainly was sound enough to schedule a ‘tamer’ event to encourage more mushers to look on the wild side and perhaps appreciate the con-ditions in which the sleddog and his driver first came into being. Learning about survival equipment, navigation, caring for the team and yourself in a desolate area, adds another dimension to the sport of sleddog competition and gives a tremendous sense of achievement once conquered.
ABSA Event Organiser and former Brenig 8-mile Trekette Winner, Alan Dedden from Dorset, made a very good job of his first attempt at organising a sleddog event. Alan is always the first to volunteer his assistance at other events and this time it was the turn of his fellow ABSA Organisers to pitch in to lend him a hand for it is not easy to run an event on your own when you live over a hundred miles from the venue. Alan was fortunate in securing Techni-Cal as the Event Sponsor who generously provided dog food and rosettes for every competitor and trophies for the principles.
Eskimo Dogs Ready, Steady, Trek! Ivan Passmore with his own import bitch Inga Di Capo Nord (right) and Mike Mackmurdie’s import dog Stakkavang’s Kasan.
The first mile of the Trek was conventionally trail-marked and then mushers needed to follow a marked map, issued to each at the Mushers’ Meeting, over the rest of the un-timed trail. Hidden checkers were positioned on several trail junctions and they point-marked each competitor on their way through – whether they approached from the right dir-ection, then took the right direction on. Mile-markers were posted along the intended route as navigational confirmation aids and confidence boosters. At about half-way, mushers needed to stop and answer a questionnaire, the cor-rect answers of which would be used to split any dead-heaters at the end of the day. Many mushers took this opportunity to check and water their dogs and themselves too! The route provided some breath-taking views across the Welsh mountains, and overcast skies gave rise to a few minutes of snow as a reminder of the un-predictability of the weather in this area.
In addition to the Trek, there were Classes over 2.9 miles available for those not confident enough to go on the Trek, or with old/young/not-so-good dogs who weren’t quite up to it.
Dog sledding did help in shaping society because dogs have been an important part of our society since, well – always. The most iconic way that people worked side by side with dogs is in order to establish a life in the Arctic Circle, and that was done with dog sledding. Today, there are even dog sledding tours you can be a part of, and they give people the opportunity to experience that special connection that is made between sled dogs and sled drivers.