The Musher: DECKED Sends Trent Herbst Off to the Iditarod

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 4.56.46 PM The Sawtooth mountains sprawl for miles along the Stanley Basin, snow thumps from the heavens in heavy, damp flakes caking the land with another fresh cloak of quieting white.  Trent Herbst, Iditarod musher and 4th grade teacher at the Community School in Sun Valley, Idaho, releases his live wire dogs from their kennels.  He ties them to the 1995 Ford F250 that serves as his transport, training sled, and on nights of less than stellar luck, bunkhouse.  His truck has more miles on it than the odometer wishes to count, it's body a habitat of rust and exploding trim pieces. Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 5.09.28 PM It's only a few days until the dogs leave for Anchorage, and it's tune up time. Trent has been competing in the Iditarod for over a decade running through the mountains of Idaho with his team of 30 or so frozen salmon and dog food devouring crossbreed sled hounds. He trains them and himself during the early mornings, late nights and weekends. It's not uncommon to hear of Trent running the dogs 50 miles through the night after work returning home early the next morning to grab his brief case and lunch rushing off to share his passion with his 4th grade students.  Soft spoken and characteristically humble, he's a walking library of sound bites that tells of epic tales in an understated manner that belies the grit necessary to compete in on of the world's most challenging events. Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 5.08.19 PM Recently, on just another night of training with Trent and the dogs, they were headed for an overnight at a hut high above the valley outside of Fairfield. After hours of climbing they began descending in the dark and he realized they had made a wrong turn in the middle of the night. Unable and unwilling to risk a disaster by trying to turn around in the narrow road in the dark, he decided to just keep descending.  Unprepared for a night out, as the run's goal was a hut fully stocked and equipped for him to spend the night, Trent continued in the night as if it were nothing more than a trip to the store. After a few hours sounds came through the pitch black of the starless night, and a few lights appeared announcing his arrival in the town of Prairie, a tiny outpost in the middle of nowhere miles from where he had intended to sleep.  After feeding the dogs and getting them bedded down he began searching for a place to sleep. A quonset hut appeared and opening the door he discovered the town library, heated and hospitable. A perfect night's sleep replete with reading material suitable for an educator. Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 5.07.36 PM Trent's gear is almost as important as the dogs themselves. Enduring harsh temperatures, rugged conditions and the bomb hole-textured dirt roads around the county, his DECKED system bears the burden of his sleds while providing an organized solution for storing his harnesses, spare clothes, tools, and even occasionally frozen fish. Rather than pack energy bars or kibble, Trent will throw a 30 lb frozen salmon in the sled and bust it out at snack time, using a hatchet to chunk it up for the team.  This ideal meal of fat and protein keeps the dogs lunging at their traces and more motivated than any sawdusty wad of astronaut goo could make them. Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 5.04.23 PM Trent and gang are one of approximately 64 teams that will take the line to contest the historical run from Anchorage to Nome on Saturday, March 5.  All of us wish him luck and smooth running! To follow Trent and rest of the race go to: Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 5.05.12 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 5.03.16 PM