FORT KENT, Maine — From shooting and killing a moose while training to falling asleep on a trail and being treated for mild hypothermia during the Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Race, this teenager had one turbulent racing season.
Caleb Hayes, the same 17-year-old musher from St. David who shot a moose that charged his team while training for the Can-Am 100, decided to compete with his team only to be found Saturday “cold and unresponsive” on the last leg of the race, according to his father, Jonathan Nathaniel Hayes’, account of the events.
The young musher said he was battling to find the right arrangement of dogs along his gangline because one of his racing dogs was in the height of her heat cycle. This led to Caleb Hayes becoming overheated and sweaty, as he was running along with his team. Exhausted and defeated by his way too distracted, way too tired team, Hayes said he eventually decided he would need to rest his dogs and maybe take a nap as well.
“I put both ice hooks down and fell asleep,” Caleb Hayes said.
Caleb Haye’s mother and father both became concerned when he did not come through the last half of the race in more than six hours, his father said. The Fort Kent SnoRiders Snowmobile Club responded to his father’s concerns and found the younger Hayes lying in the trail before station 8, which is halfway between the Allagash checkpoint and Can-Am Central at Lonesome Pines in Fort Kent.
In Can-Am Central, Caleb Hayes’ parents said they were told he had been located in the trail “cold and unresponsive.” Meanwhile on the trail, the SnoRiders woke him from his sleep and informed him of his option to scratch the race, according to Caleb Hayes.
“I didn’t want to, I really didn’t want to, I wasn’t ready for it,” Caleb Hayes said. “But then I looked at the dogs and how tired they were, and the situation with the dog in heat and the no leader situation. I caved, I had tried everything.”
The SnoRiders insisted that Caleb Hayes do what he could to warm up and devised a plan to get Hayes’ dogs and sled back to Can-Am Central while he stayed at the nearest checkpoint to bring his body temperature back up, he said.
Caleb Hayes told the medic at the checkpoint that he was feeling okay shortly after the team had left as he felt it was his obligation to be with them until the end. He had been taken by the Fort Kent Fire Department and Ambulance Service by Snowbulance to the nearest emergency room where he was reunited with his worried parents with hugs and tears, he said.
A day after the incident, Hayes said he is feeling great and healthy. He said he was just reflecting on what had happened and what he may have been able to do better, though it has only increased his drive to succeed in next year’s 100-mile race.
“I’m conquering that race one way or another,” Hayes said.