Crazy blizzard adventures at the Midnight Run in Marquette

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When I was informed a few weeks ago that I was going to be helping to handle for Krystal at Firestar Kennel for the Midnight Run, I was warned that I would be absolutely exhausted for lack of sleep, but have a lot of fun.  The race starts Friday at 7:30 at night in Marquette, MI, then the racer comes in at about 1am or so in to Chatham, MI.  The musher is supposed to sleep (ha!), while the handlers – Al & Josh, and occasionally me- stay up all night and take care of the canines, feed them, give them massages (seriously), etc.  The musher is then supposed to leave for the second leg of the race about 6 hours after he or she arrives at the check point, coming back in to Marquette in the early afternoon Saturday.

When we left early Friday to get to Marquette to meet up with Josh and Krystal for vet checks (these dogs are thoroughly vetted numerous times throughout the race), the forecast kept getting worse and worse. Blizzard warnings started being posted for the area, and most of us started geeking out, as we love a good storm. Being the Northwoods adventurers that we are, we prepared for the worst clothing and supply wise – which is basically the same as preparing for a dog sled race.  Same equipment. Ha!

That being said, we had NO clue what we were in for.

When Krystal came in at about 1:30 on Saturday morning, the weather was blustery, but nothing unusual.  As the night progressed, the wind started to pick up, and at about 7am when we got Krystal ready to go, it started to get a bit odd, weather wise.  Within about half an hour, we couldn’t see the building in front of us, and it was getting harder and harder to think about having Krystal to go out in that weather. About the time she should have taken off, Krystal pulled out of the race for the safety of herself and the dogs. Based on the next few hours – we were VERY glad she did.

We packed up to leave and get on the road before it got really bad.  The last photo of this blog is the most I could see of their vehicle and the dog trailer in front of us for the next few hours.

As we drove to Marquette down 94 and then 41, it got whiter and whiter – and each time we thought it could not get any worse.  We were really wrong.

Al drove his big truck behind Krystal and Josh and the dog trailer to keep traffic away from it and protect the dogs.  As we got closer to Marquette and came up next to Lake Superior, we suddenly ended up in the most solid band of white blowing snow I have ever witnessed.  As the wind whipped the snow across from Lake Superior, you could not see the hood of our truck.  For a split second there was a moment you could see a little bit of traffic around you – and it was at this moment Al said “oh shit” and a car slammed in to us from behind because they were travelling so much faster than the rest of traffic.  Thankfully we were between Krystal & Josh with the dog trailer and the car that hit us- or else it would not have been a good thing for the dogs.  We pulled over, the cops came, and everyone was ok.  I was really worried there would have been a pile up behind us, but somehow it was in a few minutes of less wind and better visibility.

Since there was less wind, and visibility was better, we decided to keep going.

Ha.  That’s when the wind then picked up again, and we ended up on Hwy 41 a mere 2 miles outside Marquette in between Lake Superior on one side, and a cliff on the other.  The only reason I knew there was a cliff on the other was because as we inched along the wind died down for another split second revealing an accident going the other way, and numerous emergency vehicles lighting up the snow.  It’s really creepy to see red and white snow showers caused by emergency lights….

We finally ended up in Marquette as they closed Hwy 41 behind us.  As we pulled over by the “road closed” sign to get our breath back, we saw another vehicle go flying almost directly in to the sign because it was impossible to see it from that angle. UP driving – it’s not for wusses, apparently. 😉

This is what I posted on Sunday:

 

So – enjoy the photos – I’ll be back for Copperdog in a few weeks – can’t wait!!  🙂

(Also – if you are the woman with the child who asked me to take that photo – PLEASE email me.  In the craziness of getting dressed at the accident I lost your email 🙁 )

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10 Comments

10 Comments on Crazy blizzard adventures at the Midnight Run in Marquette

  1. Holly
    February 17, 2015 at 8:50 am (3 years ago)

    Amazing story. Very glad you and the dogs and everyone with you are ok. Photos are fantastic

  2. Lindsay Wood Davis
    February 17, 2015 at 8:56 am (3 years ago)

    What a story! Glad you are all safe and able to bring back great photos!

  3. Alison Durell
    February 17, 2015 at 9:28 am (3 years ago)

    Hannah,
    For those of us who know next to nothing about sled dog racing, you have once again introduced us to amazing shots behind the scenes… so many dedicated dog teams and their helpers in extreme cold! Thank goodness your friend pulled out of the race as conditions worsened. Thank goodness all are safe and none of you were involved in those accidents you described. It was frightening enough that someone even slammed into the rear end. Injured dogs would have been a real tragedy. Quite a story! This Arctic chill embracing so much of the US is pointing out how “pioneer” strong and resilient those who live in the Northwoods are over long seasons of cold.
    Take care!

  4. Dean
    February 17, 2015 at 9:33 am (3 years ago)

    Loved the wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing your experience with us !!

  5. Julie Buckles
    February 17, 2015 at 10:10 am (3 years ago)

    How fantastic to have a dog handler/photographer/winter fanatic on the crew. Great northern story. Stunning, beautiful shots & I love the guy in the t-shirt at the checkpoint.

  6. David
    February 17, 2015 at 10:15 am (3 years ago)

    Quite the adventure, as it always with you. Glad you’re all home safe and sound … for now. Image 7186, the back-lit dogs with star-burst light and the diagonal snow-covered-hay bale track is stunning. I love how technology helps you to take such clear and meaningful photos in low light.

  7. Mary Jane DeLauder
    February 17, 2015 at 3:27 pm (3 years ago)

    Hannah! Wonderful photos! It’s COLD! I feel it! Love your photography!

  8. june
    February 17, 2015 at 11:17 pm (3 years ago)

    I am so happy that you and Al are ok!
    Unbelievable picture!

  9. David
    February 19, 2015 at 11:42 am (3 years ago)

    Revisiting (again). I feel a little guilty loving #7042 – the coffee cup and lights. There’s just something about it that tells the tale of dark, of cold and of race-day (night) excitement.
    I also just noticed the ‘hat’ in #7057 – center. There’s gotta be a story there.
    Thanks again for all the photos H.

  10. Lindsay
    February 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm (3 years ago)

    Hannah, these are beautiful. My hubby’s gun range up north, there’s a sled dog farm and I once thought it was cruel to see them all but honest to pete, I’ve seen the shifts and all the people arrive and they are some of the best taken care of dogs in the world.

    🙂