Personal Note

I apologise for the lack of a post in the past two weeks. My attentions are required elsewhere at this time. Marg, my wife, collapsed a week & a half ago. She has been in hospital ever since. Testing has revealed a greatly reduced aortic valve & one blocked artery. She is in Sudbury Hospital awaiting open heart surgery to replace the valve & bypass the blocked bottes ugg pas cher artery. She is in great spirits & looking forward to getting this fixed. As you all know Marg is vital to the operation of Chocpaw doing all the buying & looking after everyone’s food needs. More importantly she is the rock that keeps us all grounded, me most of all.

Rene & Marg

Trust you understand my lack of writing at this time. Will return hopefully by the end of next week. Keep your feet on the runners. Paul

Get Active

We have officially started summer as of June 21. It has been a long spring starting mid March. A good mixture of sun & rain. The fields & forests are green. Often by this time they are starting to brown due to a lack of rain. As predicted water levels are down, especially in rivers draining into the Great Lakes as are the Great Lakes. It is quite startling to drive along the north shores of Huron & Superior & see the water so low. Many of the great white water rivers are not runnable. Docks are sitting high & dry & extensive sand bars & rocks now extend for miles. This will obviously have dire effect for the plants, animals & fish. One effect of the weather in these parts is the reduced number of black flies. One function of the black fly is to pollinate the blue berry plants. Without the black fly doing their work this will prove to be a poor year for blueberries. Prices will skyrocket. Will also create some hungry bears as the bear rely heavily on the blue berry crop. Throughout this blog you will begin to see that the people involved here see this as a way of life & not just a job. The opinions expressed here are my own. They work here. There are other philosophies & methods of doing these same things that work. We are very involved in keeping current on animal care issues. A big concern here is nutrition. Every ingredient in the food is there for a reason & we look not just at what we put in but where it comes from. We feed a raw diet because of a personal belief that cooking & processing destroys a lot of the nutrients in food. Because we use fresh sources of meat there is no need to cook or process to destroy bacteria. I do not use processed or refined foods in the mixture. Again this year we are doing a major review of the diet based on new information that suggests sled dogs metabolize somewhat differently to the pet dog. We have had our food tested & some of the supplementary food tested as well. With help from John Peterson of Musher’s Brand Dog Foods we are looking to tweak our diet to provide optimum nutrition for the expedition dogs. The racing team is also working with John to develop a diet specific to the needs of a racing dog. This is a lesson I should have applied to myself as well. While being very particular what went into the dogs, raw & unprocessed, I was eating far to much processed & refined foods. Same principles apply to feeding humans. Eat raw. Eat unprocessed & unrefined. Single ingredient foods. No chemicals, no additives. Pretty easy these days to research this using the internet. People driving by the yard are often surprised we have them in the open. This is to my opinion desired. The sun keeps the area dry & keeps the soil an inhospitable place for parasites. As well the sun keeps the smells of the kennel at a minimum. If you have ever wandered the northern bush you will know that the black flies & mosquitos like the shade as well & also the cooling effect of the moist forest floor. In the early morning & evening the bugs are just overwhelming in the shade. Kept in the open, the area is pretty much devoid of bugs. There is always a breeze blowing across the kennel. Every dog house in the yard is raised to allow dogs shade under their houses. All this makes the kennel a very pleasant place for the dogs & for the humans who spend hours in the kennel everyday. Driving by the kennel one might think we only employ nudists. Again because of the sun the staff need not be concerned about bugs. Another observation when driving by the kennel on hot days is there are no dogs moving & the yard often looks empty. A closer look will find the dogs lying in the sun just soaking up the rays. This is common behavior for most animals. Sunning is a part of daily life. The animals recognize the importance of getting some sun. The sun supplies Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to life. Google Vitamin D & read about the importance of this vitamin. All life needs sun. Human as well. All this hype about protecting yourself from sun is bunk. You need to use discretion but you need to get sun. I credit the good health of the dogs in large part to exposure to the sun. The other lesson learned from the dogs revolves around exercise. The more exercise the better. The dogs thrive on physical challenge. The harder you work them, the more they want. A number of racers have shown how true this is. For years running back to back long races was not considered wise. Lance Mackey for one blew that theory out of the water with back to back victories in the Yukon Quest & the Iditarod. A number of mushers have since reinforced the concept. In our expedition kennel we have learned that if you place everything in order – proper nutrition & hydration, proper conditioning & training, proper rest, & all important that influence of positive atmosphere – then you can work the dogs day after day. 100 days straight is no problem. Work & exercise is actually contagious within the kennel. This is no different for the human being. The harder you exercise or work, the more committed you become to the activity. The more you see the results of your efforts, the harder you work, the better you feel. But it is a total effort. Physical exercise, combined with good food, proper rest, & a realistic & planned incremental training. Of course do it all in the sun. You will feel better physically & mentally. Keeping yourself healthy is a full time commitment. Keeping the dogs healthy is also a full time commitment. Paul

Mini’s adoption story

Hi Paul

 I just thought I would let you know how Mini is and how life is going
 with her. First of all, she is just most definitely the most amazing
 dog I have ever known. I adore her more and more with every day.
 I get so many compliments about her and no one believes us that she
 just turnt 11! I guess, this is a compliment for you and for your work
 and how you treat your dogs. Everyone comments on how good she looks
 and in what amazing shape she is for a dog of her age! I spend at
 least 2 hours each day out in the bush with her walking on trails and
 exploring the nearby forests and parks. And it is great to see how she
 enjoys now being on the long lead and running around and sniffing on
 every tree.

 Recently, we went down to Kentucky for a climbing/camping trip.
 Unfortunately, she picked up an incredible amount of ticks. But she
 was the most patient girl when I was removing all of them from her.
 And it proofed me once more, how well she was treated at chocpaw, as
 the trust she has in me, clearly shows that she never had bad
 experiences with people. I could remove ticks from her inner ear and
 all other crazy spots without her complaining about it!
 We often get asked whether she is a rescue, and it is sad to see how
 many people think beind a sled dog must be a bad life. But we, of
 course (!), always stress that she comes from an amazing place and
 that we would never call it a rescue!

 I am attaching you some pictures of Mini’s new life. Even though it
 looks she is mostly sleeping, we are keeping her active!
 Hope your summer is going well. And I really hope we will manage to go
 on a dog sledding adventure with Chocpaw next winter.
 Thanks again for this absolutely amazing, most gorgeous and incredibly
 intelligent dog!

 

Simone

 p.s she looks a bit skinny on some of the pictures. But we finally
 figured out the best feeding solution for her, and she is eating very
 well now and finally putting on some weight! And yes, she is spoilt 😉

Lessons Learned from the Pack

One of the attractions to working with the dogs – especially with the numbers we have – is the constant learning. Every day, every interaction with the dogs is a learning experience, both for me & for the dog(s). A few years back I did a paper on the similarities between the kennel & society. It was a very tongue-in-cheek article at the time. However, as time goes on, there really are some valuable lessons to be learned from the kennel & the animal world.

A few years ago, a neighbour with a house on the South River invested considerable time & money building a sand beach. South River is on a flyway for Canada Geese for both spring & fall migrations. A pair of geese found the beech very attractive to start a family. The first year there was just the one family. Geese return year after year to the same beach. The next year there were 3 little families. Last year there was at least a dozen. Every year the geese take over this little beech & the beautiful lawns. It is always gratifying when someone notices your hard work investment. This year to date there are only two families one with 8 little ones, the other with 5. I pass by 3 or 4 times every day on my way to the kennel. The routine is always the same. From the time of hatching both parents are with the goslings. Day & night. Together they teach the little ones to walk, to swim, to forage for food in the water or in the field. Mother leads the way with the little ones single file behind, & father at the year. Whether swimming or walking, the formation is the same. The goslings are not sent off to learn to swim by themselves, or forage for food. Both parents take them & teach them. Especially when young there is little time for just playing around. The little birds are in training from day one. They seem to be constantly on the move. No telephones, no computers, no televisions, no ipods. They eat well & exercise constantly. Time is short if they are to be ready for the coming migration. All the training when young prepares them physically & mentally for the long flights. They are disciplined from day one.

Some pretty good lessons in parenting here.

As for the first post, it has been said that I am too competitive. I look at life as a game. Life is short. There is no time to waste doing things poorly. To live life to its upmost I belief a person needs to strive to be the best, not just personally but ultimately the best. I have never run a race I wasn’t trying to win. I have never played a game I didn’t play to win. I enjoy sports & games. Part of the fun is winning. I don’t believe in winning at all costs. But I do believe in putting forward your best effort. Alex Baumann, former multiple olympic medal winner said it best when he said that striving to be the best you can be, to set personal records is not good enough. The object of competition is to win & it behooves all participants to be realistically competitive.

In this business I believe we are the best at what we do. I select guides, dogs, programs to provide the best possible experience. I am not satisfied with second best. The guides who choose to work here are like minded.

Really with this mind set we constantly ewvaluate & attempt to ramp up service & quality. I think it shows in the product we offer.

This blog will focus on Chocpaw Expeditions & why we believe we are the best. At times it may even branch out into some loose rants. As you know people who reach my age have an opinion on everything. But you should also be aware of Clint Eastwood’s take on opinions.

Until next time, keep your feet on the runners.

Paul

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY

Winning is not a sometime thing:it is an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do thinks right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. Vince Lombardi quote. Think about it. Back soon. Paul

A Teacher’s Testimonial

Written by Tom Lewis, Director of Leadership and Community Service, Pickering College I have been bringing students to Chocpaw since their very first year of operation. I would not have maintained such a long association if it were not for the fact that Chocpaw offers such a unique experience that you won’t want to miss. I was looking for an out of the ordinary expedition for my students in a winter camping setting and gave Paul Reid a call. It was a great decision. Paul and Marg Reid are tremendously accommodating. Whether it has to do with routes I wanted to travel, special food needs that my group may have, or extre experinces I wanted to add, such as building snow shelters, my students have always come away with a rewarding experience. Many have returned to do other expeditions. Chocpaw Expeditions allows your students to experience dog sleddging as it should be experienced. The students will be driving their own sleds feeding and watering the dogs, gathering their own wood and water, in other words, gaining a complete appreciation for winter camping while sledding. Chocpaw guides are a terrific group. They reflect the care taken in their selection. I have found that they relate well to the students and truly enjoy what they are doing. The expeditions that I lead tend to be four days in length and fit well with our shool’s Duke of Edinburg and Leadership Programs. The students find these trips physically and mentally challenging but incredibly rewarding. I would throughly recommend Chocpaw to your school. Perhaps we’ll pass each other on the trail someday.

A Lesson Like No Other

A Lesson Like No Other
Written by Kate McLaren
The following article appeared in the Saturday, February 21, 2009 edition of the North Bay Nugget, weekly newspaper, and deals with a school trip with Chocpaw Expiditions.
For students in Ecole Secondaire Catholique Algonquin’s outdoor education course, the old proverb experience is the best teacher” rings true.

A group of 10 students recently travelled to South River to take part in a two-day trip by dogsled, hosted by Chocpaw Expeditions, which provides dog sledding and outdoor education activities with excursions into Algonquin Park. “The trip went exceptionally well,” says outdoor education teacher Al Faucon. “It was a pleasure dealing with this organization. The leadership of our guides . . . helped make this a great learning experience for the students.” After arriving at Chocpaw, the students went through an orientation session, learning how to handle the dogs and sleds. They were then led to a dog yard that’s home to more than 300 sled dogs. Each pair of students was responsible for their own sled, and took part in everything from preparing the sleds for departure to giving commands, gathering firewood and cooking dinner. “Having total control over the dogs was awesome,” says student Adam Price, who after completing the course last year decided to assist this year as a co-op student, gaining experience for a possible career in the field. “To be responsible for everything, to know the dogs are listening to you, it’s pretty cool.” Dominique Chartrand is a first-time outdoor education student with a fear of dogs. “I was scared to confront them, but we all had to go up and grab the dogs and harness them. By the end of the day I realized they were all friendly, and I got to like them,” she says. “It felt really good to face my fear.” According to Faucon, getting the students out of their “comfort zones” in a controlled environment is an important activity to help build self-confidence and leadership skills, which are emphasized in many activities in the course, such as canoe trips, wind surfing, snowshoeing and skiing. “The students are challenged, stressing safety through education and planning, and they end up doing things they didn’t think they’d ever be able to do,” he says. Gabrielle Gravelle, another student, says she plans to take the course again. “Trips like the dog sled expedition are definitely not as easy as they look,” she says. “It’s definitely not a ‘little kid’ group. It really makes you more independent.” The outdoor education course is well suited for students looking for learning opportunities outside the classroom. “The dynamics within the group grows from Day 1,” explains Faucon. “Students from all areas of the school start out as individuals, learn to work together, and finish the course understanding the concept and the importance of supporting each other, and working for each other, for the group.” Faucon adds that one of the best aspects about the Chocpaw trip was that it was the students’ experience to enjoy, and they responded well to the responsibility. “I take outdoor ed because it’s a great way to stay in shape, and you get to learn a lot by doing stuff, not just by sitting in a classroom,” says Price. “My favourite part of the trip was definitely the scenery, and seeing the dogs work together to bring us to our destination,” adds Chartrand. Chocpaw Expeditions, an organization that has been running trips for 24 years, offers various packages, including day trips averaging 25 to 30 km, and multi-day trips, during which mushers sleep overnight in a camp about 30 kilometres inside Algonquin Park. Chocpaw’s philosophy centres heavily on an appreciation of the outdoors, and a return to nature. The company is owned and operated by Paul Reid, who states on the website that “Chocpaw bases its programs on the legacy of the fur traders and the native societies. We strive to develop an appreciation for the magnificent beauty of the Canadian wilderness, its power and its solitude.” Being the largest dog sledding experience provider in Canada, with more than 300 dogs and 16 experienced guides, Chocpaw is able to offer year round programs of both dogsled-ding and canoeing to all age groups and abilities, including programs for tourists, schools and youth groups, families and even the handicapped, as well as special focus programs for artists, photographers, and naturalists. Although Algonquin’s outdoor education course has been successful thus far when it comes to building leadership skills and independence, Faucon hopes it will grow with time. “It’s a physically demanding course and it’s challenging, but like I always tell the students, the harder you push yourself, the greater the rewards.”

Dog Sledding and Outdoor Eduacation

The following article deals with dog sledding and the educational learing experiences provide by Chocpaw Expeditions. Dog-sledding and Outdoor Education

by Paul Strome
There are as many different perceptions of an outdoor activity as there are participants. In the following article I will share with you several of those perceptions that focus on one of Canada’s oldest outdoor activities: dog sledding. One of the largest and best run dog sledding operations in the world is right here in Ontario — South River to be exact. The company is called Chocpaw Expeditions and it is owned and operated by Paul and Margaret Reid and family. I talked with Paul and Margaret and asked them some questions about why they began dog sledding and what drives them to continue doing what they are. Here is what Paul had to say:

‘To me a big part of what I offer is creating dreams and challenging kids to dream.’ ‘Because of the nature of the activity, everyone starts at the same level, whether it is the group star athlete or the intellectual nerd. The physical skills are unique, the physical challenges unique, and therefore everyone starts on a level playing field. It gives an opportunity for everyone to excel and we structure for success. While the experience relies on teamwork there is much opportunity for each person to be all alone in a fantasy world limited only by imagination. We take kids from the concrete jungle and expose them to a natural and magnificent environment. We expose them to animals that give unconditional love. One of the greatest thrills I get is seeing a tough street kid sitting on the trail with his team, lost in the affection, completely oblivious to everyone around, perhaps for the first or even only time. That is a moment that will stay forever with that kid. It is a memory that will inspire dreams. Many times I have had calls from parents telling me of their child calling out commands in their sleep. Seems to me education, even field trips, lack this type of dream making potential. We stir imaginations that have been dulled by a media driven world.’ I couldn’t believe the title of the last Pathway! “Risk Management”…Accountability or what? Well, that’s what society is asking educators to provide in all their activities, but you and I know there are other criteria that are just as significant as accountability when it comes to outdoor education. Most of us know what we have to do from an accountability perspective, but what really drives us, propels us forward, and fuels all those extended hours we put in is the satisfaction we get when we know how profound the experience has been to one of our participants. Even so, educators seem to feel the need to justify everything they’re doing, whether it is an “inside-the-box” or “outside-the-box” teaching style. Why do we do some of the things we do? What makes a particular experience meaningful for us and for our students? Is there a winter activity that we could participate in as a school trip that would fulfill all the Ministry of Education requirements? As outdoor educators we find ourselves asking these and other pertinent questions of ourselves, our students, our procedures and our society. After running with a dog team for many kilometres over a couple of days some people choose to analyze the activity’s component parts: history, geography, physical education, family studies, leadership, physics, language, mathematics, biology, zoology, art and astronomy. These topics are all used in this activity and in various ways. You might even think this has to do with justification, but does it really? There are many ways of “justifying” an adventure like this and you may approach this justification from many different perspectives. History. Dog sledding has been a way of life for thousands of years for First Nations people living in cold climates and it has been a way of life for non-natives for hundreds of years. Why not study Native people’s lives, past and present; the fur trade; different sled designs; different species of dogs; famous people connected with dogs and dog sledding in Canada. Did you know that Inuit sleds were made of frozen fish wrapped in caribou or other skins and then frozen solid with water? Geography. The number of geographic topics that could be covered before, during and after your dog sledding trip is endless. From geology to geomorphology, watershed particulars to topography, you are in the midst of a living library in which you can lose yourself! Physical Education. Running uphill in the snow for a number of kilometres every day is definitely educating your body physically. This is truly an aerobic workout. You also learn about the physical capacities of animals smaller than yourself who are pulling you, your partner, and all you gear. We’re not the only athletes on this trip. These Alaskan huskies are in great shape. These dogs don’t work because they’re forced to; they work because of positive reinforcement, and because they love to run. Affection, and positive words do wonders and that’s what Chocpaw’s philosophy is all about. The dogs are raised with positive reinforcement, not a whip. Leadership and Team Building. One definition of a leader is someone with a compass in her head and a magnet in her heart. Other people know this leader has a plan, a direction and a vision, and they agree with that. Others also know they are attracted to this person because they know what they’re doing and why. Some people may say there is a difference between team building and leadership. Maybe the professional guide fills the leadership role because that’s their role but true team building is an intangible process that develops over time if all the constituent components are there. I profess dog sledding in a group does both of these and a whole lot more. Being in charge of your own dog team develops your leadership and team-building skills in many ways. You have a partner and six dogs that you depend upon and who depend upon you (as a whole team) to get from one place to another. Patience and a positive but firm disposition are admirable qualities any leader must have to be successful, whether with dogs or people. One of our participants once said, “you have to display leadership by taking control of the sled. You have to know when to slow down, stop and go.” I believe that’s the case with every aspect of your life; to have balance in your life you need to know when to be a leader and when to be a follower. Physics. Unhook your dog from the drop chain and, unless you lift your dog up by the collar and hold him or her in a standing position your learn what traction and four-wheel drive are all about. You also learn to balance on the back of those runners while you’re traveling through the woods at a pretty good clip. Why would you want to keep the brakes engaged while going down hill, when it’s so much fun to go fast? Well, it he momentum of the sled is such that it runs into the back legs of your wheel dogs (those dogs right in front of you) it usually damages them, emotionally or physically, for life. The result may be that you learn how to walk the trail slowly rather than be pulled quickly. A dog may never pull again once she has been run over. Language. Farley Mowat, James Raffan, and Pauline Johnson are three famous Canadian writers who have written books and poetry about people in Canada’s wilderness areas. The dog sledding trip offers new fodder for journalling, poetry, and story writing. The metaphor “Life is a dog sledding trip” is appropriate and worth exploring from a language perspective. Oral language skills can also be exercised, because there’s always a story to be told before, during and after these adventures. The story may be of a dog urinating down someone’s boot, the dog team that took the musher for a swim through a hole in the ice, or the dog team that returned to the kennel without their musher or passenger. Then there’s the guide who can recite Robert Service’s famous poem, “Cremation of Sam McGee,” entirely by heart. Whatever the stories, you can be sure they will always be interesting. Family Studies. Cooking healthy meals for a hoard of hungry people is no small feat, but the job gets done. When you are planning your own trip you learn how to arrange balanced, substantial meals for people who burn a lot of calories. You also learn how to co-operate with each other to get those meals prepared and cooked and the dishes done. The luxurious prospector tents have a wood stove at either end (stoked by the guides throughout the night), raised platforms (covered in closed cell foam mats), and propane lanterns and stoves. An extremely important part of camp is the outhouse that comes with a Styrofoam seat, which keeps your body parts warm during those precious few moments of relief. The great part about the Chocpaw philosophy is that your trip is a participatory one. Everyone is expected to help water and feed the dogs; gather and cut up the firewood (the splitting is usually left to the guides); help prepare and cleanup after the meal. The extent to which people work together in a co-operative manner determines how much recreation time they will have after tall the chores are done. Whether “co-operation equals success” is a universal law or just opinion, it is a significant factor in outdoor education settings. It can influence the mood of the group and ultimately how effectively the group works together. Mathematics. Estimating when you might arrive in camp based on environmental conditions and dog speed might be something you ponder to a lesser degree than whether you have calculated enough dog food for the trip. Making sure there is enough food for a group of teenagers on a trip like this could be critical to your survival as a leader, not to mention the good humour of your participants. Biology. You can smell it throughout the trip, in the cedar groves, and the spruce or pine woods through which you travel. We can all prosper from learning more about plant identification, and Native uses of plants and medicinal uses of plants, and this is a great place to do it. First Nations people have been using plants for thousands of years to cure ills like scurvy. Plants have been used to heal, flavour, comfort, or consume as tea. Why don’t we talk with more Native medicine people and find out more? Zoology. Research on sled dogs has produced some inspiring thoughts about such things as nutrition, the necessary food groups, and the combination of them. These sled dogs eat a lot of calories a day during the working season. The right mixture of food is as important for the dogs as it is for the people on the trip. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats need to be mixed in the proper amounts to enable the dogs to perform their best. Art. While you travel almost silently through the landscapes you can soak up the vista, hold it in your mind and sketch it later. A camera for your eyes may capture that moment, that vision. With video cameras being so small you may even get footage of your pal melting your boots too near the stove or your buddy sliding down the hill on his %$*@. If you are skillful enough to “shoot” some wildlife with your camera you may be able to share those images with others Snow art is a new and upcoming medium you may want to experiment with. Angels and snowmen are just a start. Be creative; add new and interesting appendages. Build a snow hotel and rent out the rooms! Astronomy. Picture it! Algonquin Park on a clear winter night, lying on your back looking skyward. You’ve got someone with you who knows a lot about constellations. Any constellation can be useful if you know what it is and where it is supposed to be in the night sky at a particular time. Polaris, the North Star, is especially useful for navigating. How about a dog sledding trip on a crisp, clear night on the tundra? What star of constellation would you use to guide yourself? OR why not admire the stars just as they appear—gorgeous points of light that carpet the night sky? Then, there’s the practical view of an expedition like this. Turning your team to the right means you need to learn the correct command – “Gee!”. Turning your team tot he left means you need to learn the other correct command – “Haw!” It sounds like you’re having a party, doesn’t it? Well, it can be like a party gone wrong if you don’t remember the correct command. Life should be fun. Learning should be fun. Activities like these can put the two together. I use the word “kids” – that parameter extends each year, as I get older. I remember years ago listening to a 72-year-old man rave on enthusiastically about his dog sledding experience. He had traveled all over the world and done some incredible things. He rushed into the office, grabbed the phone and called his wife. (This was in the days before cell phones.) His exact words were, “ this has been the most incredible experience of my life”. He later wrote me a letter telling me all the things he had done and that this had been a 60-year dream fulfilled. It made me realize the effect we can have and that I want to have – Dream maker. Not a bad occupation. Let’s all strive to have that feeling…Dream maker. I believe we are all teachers and students simultaneously. As teachers, we get to see the fruits of our labours when our students are successful. As students we really come alive when we are learning something that is meaningful, inspiring, and fun too. A dog sledding trip may be considered teaching outside-the-box for all sorts of reasons, but the most important aspect for me is the result. Come and try a dog sledding experience and soak up all the adventure, camaraderie and huge learning that is possible. Paul Strome is a COEO (Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario) member and wrote this article for a recent Pathways edition. He has been bringing groups of students and adults each winter to Chocpaw for over a decade. For more information on what Paul Strome feels these trips bring to his students, he can be contacted at 905-878-2814 or Paul.strome@peelsb.com Contacting Chocpaw Expeditions

P.O. Box 674, I Industrial Park Road, South River, Ontario, P0A 1X0
Phone/Fax – 705 – 386-0344

Spring Update

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    

of May.    

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.    

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    

winter.    

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    

contact information.    

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!    

Paul

2010 Race Results

2010 Race Results

Fort Kent Dog Sled Races Can – Am 250 Mile – March 6 – 9

-Rene Marchildon 4th Place

Fort Kent Dog Sled Races Irving Woodlands 60 Mile – March 6 – 9

-Kris Sampson 7th Place

Upper Peninsula, Michigan 200 mile – February 19 – 21

-Rene Marchildon 3rd Place

Kearney Sled Dog Races, Ontario – February 6 -7

-Rene Marchildon 1st in the 120 Mile

Kris Sampson 1st in both 40 Mile Heats

-Karen Kohler 1st in 2 Dog Skijoring running Finney, a Chocpaw dog, with Tease.

A successful day at The Kearney Sled Dog Races for the Racing Teams of Chopaw Expeditions.

Eldorado, Ontario – January 23

-Rene Marchildon 1st Place

-Kris Sampson 2nd Place

Newbury, Michigan – January 9 – 10

-Rene Marchildon 1st in the 63 mile 12 dog race.

-Kris Sampson 3rd in the 8 dog 42 mile race.

A great start to the race season. For more information on this race check out Tahquamenon County Sled Dog Race Page at www.tcsdr.org