CALUMET — Finding a parking spot in the Copper Country proved itself to be a bit difficult this morning in the aftermath of the season’s most prevalent snow storm sow far.
Road crews across the Keweenaw spent the past 24 hours cleaning up truckload after truckload of it, and although the storm has affected the race course for this weekend’s Copperdog 150, the Village of Calumet will be Ready.
If you’re going to have a sled dog race, you need to have snow. But this much, really? Official totals of this most recent blizzard have not yet been posted by the National Weather Service, but unofficial reports show some areas receiving as much a 17 inches. The area’s premiere dogsled race is still scheduled for this weekend.
“20 business owners and individuals got together 10 or 11 years ago and they each threw $500 into a pot and said ‘hey, let’s have a sled dog race,'” said Race Director Jeff Foss. “We’re still going because of them and their interest.”
Although it is largely celebrated, the Copperdog 150 is not the first public dog sledding event take place in the area.
“There was a sled dog race that happened even 20 years ago in Calumet, it only lasted for a few years I believe,” said Foss. “But there was something that started the whole thing and got people interested again because they were like, ‘Oh yeah, remember when we used to do this, let’s try it again.’ So here we are.”
There have been some changes made to the this year’s route. Because of the heavy snow and snow drifts, the mushers will not be able to run their dogs on some of the back country trails, so they will utilize more of the groomed snowmobile trails that will provide a, more solid surface for the paws, shortening the race by a small amount.
Snowmobilers have the right-of-way on those trails and are asked to be aware of the dog sleds.
“We are a guest on the trail,” Foss said. “We try to share it with them. We have to go through a DNR application to be able to use them much like they do as well. We pay a fee. So we’re both starting the trail and we’re all there together.”
Often times, riders will park their sled along the trailside and watch the race.
A team of village employees takes each truckload to an offloading site where it will be stored until the spring thaw. Some of that snow will be brought back to 5th street within the next couple of days to make the starting run for the race. Race start time is slated for Friday evening at 7:00.