8/5/12, Dayton, WA - I’m currently 3 miles southwest of Dayton on US-12. The lads actually had two large hills to climb today. Shortly after passing over the Tucannon River Bridge, it was a steady climb of 3 to 8% for the next 4 miles. The road then leveled off for a mile, then the grade increased to 8 to 12% for the next three miles. When I though I had reached the top, I broke Doc out and put him on the rear. Then, I went down a small hill and saw that to climb back out again, it was a 1/2 mile long hill that was a 10 to 12% grade. My secret weapon (Doc) went back on the front of the wagon and away we went.
Bill and Bob are good pullers, but they’re not even in the same league as Doc. When he’s pulling a steep hill at the front of a Unicorn hitch, he always pulls at least half the weight of the wagon, sometimes more. Even if I try and hold him back a bit with the lines, he just takes the bit in his teeth and goes for it. Consequently, I have to watch him very carefully to make sure he doesn’t lose his wind. If I stop and let him catch his breath before he’s blown, it only takes 5 to 10 minutes before he’s ready to go again. If he’s blown (really heaving), it will take a lot longer. The bad part about stopping for more than a 10 minute break is that their muscles cool and they stiffen up. I try to hold rest breaks on hills or after heavy work to 10 minutes flat.