Listen as Hope reads selections from her books!

Against the Tide
My Little Book of Manatees
Isaac Johnson















Aisling's Mushing Competitions for 2012

Eye on the Iditarod
Aisling’s Quest

Aisling's Mushing Competitions for 2012

January 14-15 :

Norman Vaughan Memorial, Hamilton, MA

Unfavorable weather this weekend in Hamilton, MA.
The race was postponed until February.
Aisling is totally frustrated.

January 21-22 :

Mushers Bowl, Bridgton, ME (Postponed)

More discouraging news for Aisling!
Due to poor poor track conditions resulting from lack of snow, the Mushers Bowl dog sled races have been rescheduled to February 18-19.

January 28-29 :

Tamworth, NH (Cancelled)

Here’s the latest from Aisling…Sad!
“Tamworth has been cancelled.
Right now it doesn’t look like we will be racing at all.
I’m very upset and disturbed.”

February 4-5 :

Farmington Frolic, Farmington, ME

Saturday, February 4:  The good news: The Farmington Frolic took place.

In Saturday’s run Aisling’s dogs got tangled, her lead dog Danu had to poop, and Steele got his neck line caught under his arm pit.

Aisling came in last, which was just two minutes behind everyone else.

Her goal is to make up those two minutes tomorrow.


Sunday, February 5:  Aisling rearranged her team for Sunday’s race and shaved a few minutes off her time.  It wasn’t enough for her to move up from seventh place.

Poppy (her grandfather) and his six dogs finished first over all.  He received the good sportsmanship brass because on Saturday he picked up a musher who lost her team, and he carried her for two miles, finishing second.  On Sunday Poppy shaved six minutes plus off his time and blew everyone away!

Aisling says, "I am glad for him.  Next week I am rearranging my dogs big time and hoping for the best."

February 11-12 :

Eastern FISHING & Outdoor Expo at the DCU Center
in Worcester, Massachusetts

Aisling attended the Eastern FISHING & Outdoor Expo at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts with her Native Performance Dog Food sponsor.  Aisling, along with her lead dog Danu, was a guest at a Meet and Greet Book Signing.

February 18-19 :

Mushers Bowl, Bridgton, ME

Friday, February 17:  Aisling talks about the event, and about Poppy, her grandfather:

"The race is still on though there's not much snow.  Mom and I went over today and there's maybe 2 inches, if we wanna be nice.  I have signed up.  Poppy isn't racing due to a hand injury he got when Pilot bit him.  It was an accident, really.  Pilot got loose and when Poppy went to hook him back up, Morgan bit Pilot in the back leg.  Poppy pulled Pilot to help free him, and Pilot bit Poppy.  So his hand is like 3 times the size, as he bit down to the bone.  He kissed it after all was said and done.  But still we don't know how long the trail will hold out for.  They don't think it will make the whole day.  Even so we shall see. Wish me luck.  ̶  Love, Aisling"

Saturday, February 18:  Aisling finished 2nd to last, in pain and sick to her stomach.  But she felt pretty good helping someone who needed it.

In Aisling's own words:  "Our race today was over sheer ice and horrible.  I took a digger out of the shoot around the first corner.  I took out some trail help and flipped the sled.  I regained it all before entering the woods.  That was just the beginning of my troubles.

My dogs got into three fights.  I flipped my sled on a 90 degree corner, hit a tree head on and lost my team.  I got up dazed and chased after them.  I finally caught up with them, thanx to Owen who kept grabbing the lines to the leaders and pulling back on them trying to get the team to stop.  Don Diego who ran lead with Steele turned and started a fight.  I broke up the fight and regained the sled.  I took another digger on a 180 turn flipping the sled again.  This time I did hang on but I hit some rocks against my side and then my head.

I think having the helmet on did more damage.

Three teams passed me by.  A newcomer from Virginia was right behind me.  Feeling sick and dazed, I motioned for him to pass.  He yelled to ask if I was ok.  I said I felt sick, but ok.  I told him he could pass, but he said his dogs did better chasing.  So I kept in front and called for his tired Siberians to chase me.  I finished 2nd to last in pain and sick to my stomach, but I felt pretty good helping someone who needed it.

Mom took me to the ER.  Those folks said I bruised up my side a bit.  My knee is swollen and my wrist is just bruised.  I have a minor concussion.  Yeh!

I am racing again tomorrow.  There’s not much snow left.  I’m dropping Don.  I will only have 3 dogs: Mary in lead, with Steele and Owen in wheel.  At least I'll have no fights.

Mom doesn't want me runnin', but she sees my drive thru my blood shot eyes.  Yeh!  I’ve got a nice shiner where my goggles got slammed into one eye.  Pretty kewl!  Tomorrow I’ll be fine.  That’s what I tell Mom. I’ll update everyone tomorrow."

Sunday, February 19
Cancelled because of lack of snow.

In Aisling's own words:  "Well, that was a waste of time and gas and getting dogs excited.  We got to the race site and waited until 9:30 before they decided to cancel the whole race.  What a waste!  I knew I wouldn’t finish anywhere close to make a difference, but still they could have made this decision last night.

I feel better right now, not as sick as yesterday so I guess it's not so bad after all.  I have some reading to do for school even though there's no school next week.  I have to work three days at Responsible Pet Care doing my 24 hours of community service so I can get out of freshman year.

It's getting warm out and the snow is melting."

February 25-26 :

David D. Merrill Memorial Race, Newport, ME
Cancelled because of lack of snow.

In Aisling's own words:  The Newport Races are canceled this week to due to lack of snow.  How did you guess?  Hahaha!  Not funny.  Jackman is our last hope.  Three days of racing for Poppy and me in the Pro Division.  The Championship!  Hooray!

I have made some changes in my team and I feel I need to explain to those who don't know me, or who wish to be like me.  I am racing Steele in lead for brains, Mary in lead for her drive, Owen in wheel.  He's the rocket.  Enough said.  And Danu simply because I need another girl and she needs experience I can only hope for the best for three days.

Here are the reasons for rearranging my team like this.  Yes, I am out to win, but think for a second.  In order to win, do I step on the one who has assisted me, the one who has always believed in me?  No.

My poppy is going to be 70 this fall.  I would love to think he's got 10 more years of racing, even 20.  I will settle for 10, but you never know. I am blessed to have a grandfather who is agile and loves the sport, but I have to consider how many more races he will have with a fast team.

I want Poppy to have a lot of awesome memories of finishing first and taking home trophies with me by his side cheering for him, proud to say, "That's my poppy."  I am only 14.  I have many years to run dogs.  Don't think I’m putting Poppy out to pasture.  Trust me, I'm not.  But I want the best for him right now like he has always wanted for me.  So in Jackman, the Northeast Championship 2012, I am giving him my best boy Don Diego for his team.  Poppy will run my old leader Max in lead with Harley, Jr. and two awesome dogs, Don Diego and Emmett in point. VJ and and Pilot, his most trustworthy dog, in wheel.

On March 2-4 I want Poppy to take home the Northeast Championship 6-dog for me.  Winning is everything, but when it comes to family and another's dreams, I can stand back a bit and wait in order to see someone else in the sunshine, basking in the glory of being #1.

I hope for the best for me and my team.  But please cheer for the man who stood by me, believed in me, always gave me his best do, never left my side, my grandfather Brian Shepherd. I want him to win Jackman 6-dog.

I want people/kids to realize winning isn't everything.  I'm still winning as I stand behind a winning man, my poppy.

You don't always have to come in first to be #1.

Lara (Aisling)

March 2-4 :

Northeast Championship, Jackman, ME

Races completed!

In Aisling's own words:  The weekend was bizarre!!  On Thursday we drove up to Jackman in blizzard conditions.  It took almost 7 hours at 30 mph.  The next day I went out with minor issues on the trail.  I had Steele and Mary in lead with Danu and Owen in wheel.  Steele just wasn’t focused and he kept slowing down.  We came in 6th.

Poppy went out and took a digger in the S corner.  He still managed to come in 4th.  GO POPPY!  The organizers combined the Pros and Sportsman so he technically came in 1st but he was only 4 minutes behind the Pro drivers.  WAY TO GO!

Saturday was cloudy and we were all hoping for no rain.  It showered freezing rain for 5 minutes and then it was fine.  But for me Saturday was trouble.  I went out trying Danu in lead since she was digging so much Friday (wanting to run!) Steele once again began to trot.  Then he stopped mid trail.  I unhooked him and tried to bag him.  Danu followed me.  Owen jumped into the mix and tried to fight with Steele.  It was all I could do to keep my boys separated.  In the mix I got bitten in the hand and the butt.  NOT FUNNY!

I ended up putting Steele back in lead and just kept going, at times in front walking and running with my team.  It took me 33 minutes to get back in.

Poppy went out and WHAM!  The man came back in again 4 minutes behind the Pros, still holding position.  AWESOME JOB!

Saturday afternoon we had the Yukon Race.  This is a "race" we all do for fun.  You have 4 dogs out on drop chains, 4 harnesses on your sled and 1 handler for the leaders.  You and your handler have to run from the start line to your truck.  Your handler holds the lines out while you the musher harness your dogs and brings them to the sled gangline them and hook them up.

Your handler can only hold your leaders out.  You release your sled and you're off on the trail for 2.5 miles.  First one back wins.  It was me, Jake, Turner, Alex, his dad, and Eathon, a junior driver.  We mushers and handlers went to the line.  We were counted down and wham we were running.  Jake was out of the yard first, followed by Aex with his dad hot on his heels.  I was next and then Eathon.

You don't get scared just cuz ur out first.  You still have the trail!  I took out Harley and Danu in lead with Emmett and Don Diego in wheel.  I was trying out a possible new team.

Alex was back first, followed by his dad.  Jake came in 3 minutes after them.  Eathon and I chased each other on the trail.  All of our dogs had already run that day between 5 to 7 miles so they were tired.  We decided just to have fun as he was also trying out a possible new team.

When we came out of the woods, Eathon had about a 2-dog lead on me.  (He's younger and he needs the confidence boost!)  He was running with all he had and yelling, "I have you!"  I yelled back, "You’ve got this one, Eathon!"  It was a blast!  I found a possible new team out of the deal.

Sunday came around and we were happy, but our sad faces showed as this was the last race on the last day of the season.  I wish it could have lasted longer.  It was so nice to have snow.

I decided to drop steel off my team and run Mary and Danu in lead with Owen alone in wheel.  We took off with minor issues as Danu wanted to play.  Mary is a good leader, but just not strong in control.  We survived.  I shaved 12 minutes off my time and came in 5th.  Not too bad for 2 dogs and a pup.  I was happy.

Poppy went out chasing the 3 Pro drivers once again.  When the 3rd team came in we were told poppy had crossed the bridge. WHAT?  OMG! MAJOR CHEERS FOR POPPY!  He was right here with the Pros.  The other  teams came in 10 minutes after him!  We were blown away.  What an awesome race for him!

We are not sure how this is gonna affect his Sportsman trophy as he was put with Pros.  We will see in the spring meeting at the awards ceremony.

I took 5th place in 4-dog Pro, receiving a check and brass.  Poppy took 4th in 6-dog Pro, also receiving a check and bras.  HIS FIRST CHECK!  We were all blown away!!

You might have noticed I said his team was running strong, kind of.  Max, my old leader who is now leading Poppy’s team, is an older dog.  All weekend he seemed to be a slow starter.  Harley, Poppy’s other leader, was always a neckline ahead of him.  This is not a good thing.

Max came in Sunday tired and shaken.  We have to assess him and go from there.  We are unsure of his race abilities anymore.  He might be looking for a forever home by the fire with a new family.  We will cross that bridge after some training.  Since we finally have snow we will work with him, but that’s the question we’ll have to answer.

As for my team I hate to say it, but Owen is becoming a liability.  He fights with all males and he even went after Danu on Friday.  I can’t race with a dog who can turn on his team mates.  I will be putting him up for sale on Monday and explain he needs a female team.  He’s an awesome dog and could be a great asset to the right team.

Steele is another issue. Maybe he needs to be out of lead now and be a point dog.  These are things we will assess when we go out next weekend to train some dogs if we have snow, which I am hoping for.

Overall it was a challenging weekend but a happy one for the man who always stood in the shadows behind me.  This was his weekend to shine and, boy oh boy, did he ever!  WAY TO GO, POPPY, Poppy!

As for my thoughts on the Iditarod, I knew it was officially starting while we were at Jackman.  I will catch up on standings today.  I am curious to see where people are placing, but after this weekend of chills and spills, I know things you will never be prepared for will happen on the trail.  It’s all a crap shoot.  No matter the training, dogs will be dogs and we as mushers can only hope for the best--good trails and a good run!

Good luck to all those running the last great race!  I will be watching you!

March 19 :


Iditarod XL Officially Concludes!

Jan Steves Last Into Nome – Red Lantern Winner!

Nome, Alaska - Monday, March 19, 2012 – The 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race officially ended at 02:57 Alaska Time when Rookie Musher Jan Steves (Bib #40) from Edmonds, WA made her way under the Burled Arch on Front Street in Nome, Alaska with 9 dogs on her team.  The 55 year old musher made the trek to Nome in 14 days, 11 hours, 57 minutes and 11 seconds.

Steves was awarded the coveted Wells Fargo Red Lantern, presented by Scotty Watkins, Wells Fargo’s Nome Community Banking Manager.

After the ceremony under the Burled Arch concluded, the 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race ended with Steves extinguishing the flame in the Widow’s Lamp, signifying that all mushers and their teams were safely off the Iditarod Trail.




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