Greetings from South River.
Thought it best to start doing some writing. Was invited out to dinner
last week while Marg was in Cuba. Had a most enjoyable evening with
Lisa & Sam & Edie. However, I was most perturbed when asked as I
approached the house if I could climb the steps to the porch. Sort of
undermined my confidence & made me begin to think perhaps I was
really in decline.
Here in the South River the first daffodils are opening. Sure sign that
spring is here to stay. Winter came to a sudden end this year. 13
March we put 53 teams on trail for the March Break, most doing 5 & 6
day programs. Unseasonably warm weather over the week reduced the
trail to almost nothing by the following weekend. The fact that the
ground did not freeze in the fall made the melt very quick. By mid April
we had all the camps pulled. Most years we can get it done by mid May,
but often still a challenge with snow lingering on the trails until the end
The lack of snow of course does not bode well for the spring & summer.
Already there are open fire bans across the north due to dry conditions.
Water levels appear high at this time so some good spring canoeing will
be available. Ice was off the lakes by mid April & canoes & kayaks were
passing by on their way to find water.
It was a good winter here in South River. Always enough snow to run &
only one day of rain all winter. The economic downturn was a factor this
winter & for the first winter in 26 years in South River, the business did
not reflect substantial growth. But we were still very busy. Most
weekends we exceeded 50 teams on trail. First week of January we set
an all time high fielding 72 teams. Used 2 locations for that effort.
Once again I want to recognise the guiding staff for an outstanding
winter. We have always had a very professional & motivated staff & each
year the staff seems to get stronger. This is due in part to our staff that
return for multiple seasons and pass the standards on to rookie staff.
Also affected by the support we get from staff who have moved on to a
more stable lifestyle. Many of them were back again this winter to
guide trips or to help as needed. Good news is that most plan to return
again next winter. Although busy, this winter has been fun &
surprisingly very easy, & for that I owe thanks again to this staff. From
kennel staff to Marg’s food crew a real team effort was evident.
No big trips in Moosonee or Temagami this winter. Again a sign of the
Economy is again starting to look more positive. People are feeling more
confident & planning already for next winter. Some of the schools &
Scout groups who did not come this winter have already booked for
2011. Realize I say this every spring, but this year perhaps more than
others you need to
We have already moved into spring & summer programs. We are
offering canoe trips & hiking trips again this summer. Already have
done a 4 day hike. Actually used the wheeled rigs to start. A group
from Ridley College used the rigs to get from the kennel to the trail head
where they began their hike. Again warm weather prevented the use of
the dogs throughout. But end of March the group was hiking in T shirts.
Strong season for the dogs. They ran well all winter long. Some
outstanding rookie guides turned out to be excellent dog people in their
first winter. Again they had excellent mentors in the senior staff. The
fact that our dogs are so friendly yet work so hard is a testament to the
guiding staff who enforce the standards & teach the appropriate
behaviors. As usual there are quite a few dogs looking for a couch this
summer. All are friendly & all are well disciplined dogs. They will need
guidance in adapting to a pet home but most do adjust quickly. Process
is easy & there is no cost. All we require is your assurance that your
chosen dog will be loved & respected & a part of the family. Please visit
our adoption page. I do have a couple younger dogs that would be
happier in a pet home who are not listed on the adoption page. As pets,
all these dogs are capable of exercise such as bikejoring, skijoring,
jogging or walks, or playing. They still love to run & they still love to
work – just not every day. Most of all they love attention. Adoptions
are going well this year. Already many in new homes & some spoken
for. Someone inquired about Storm last year. I have misplaced your
Spring pups are down. Again carefully bred from the race dogs,
Tamarack & Jarvis, Jenna & Squid, and Meaghan & Mercy are in the pens
now. Staked out the winter pups this weekend past. Bashful & Ryder
pups, & Jewel & Python pups. Looking for 40 pups to replace our
retiring dogs. All these litters are bred through the dog Pluto that I talk
about on the Meet our Dogs Page. Some very impressive looking pups.
All will be ready to work expedition this winter. Throughout the winter
the racers will be looking at these pups with an eye for 2012. As I write
this 30 dogs are coming out of B.C. These are dogs Kris worked with at
Whistler Dog Sledding last summer. They will arrive here April 30.
Another very successful racing season for the Chocpaw Racing Team.
Check out the Race Page for race stats. Rene & Kris are already plotting
next season. Beargrease, UP 200, Can Am are all in the works. As well
Kevin plans to try his hand at racing next season.
We have a Facebook page now. It is a business page for sharing
feedback, stories & photos. Already many good posts. We welcome
contributions whether current or past.
We have started a new blog as well. What we – when I say we I include all staff
past & present – have accomplished here at Chocpaw & how we do it is
most remarkable. We would like to share what & why we do it. We are
very proud of what we have developed. We strive constantly for a quality
product & are always evaluating with the help of participants. We
have a world class product & world class dogs. The accumulated
knowledge & skills here is unrivalled. Often here it said that if you want
to learn to dog sled & work with sled dogs go to Chocpaw. Staff who
leave & go to the Yukon or Alaska impress with their knowledge & skill &
passion. Hope to have staff contribute posts to the blog. Will get a blog
address up on the Update page as we get it going.
If you are travelling the bush this season, be very careful with flame. It
is & will continue to be very dry this summer.
Keep your feet on the runners!