The Sheer Surging of Life
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy
of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death,
that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.”
-Jack London, The Call of the Wild
Husky Chariots: Dog truck and sleds
Alaskan Husky. All of these dogs are actually husky mixes, crossed with running breeds for health and stamina.
Greeting the dogs. There were over 60 dogs here – five teams of ten, plus extras – and we petted each and every one of them at least twice. Most were super sweet, a few were shy and none were unfriendly.
The dogs were mostly quiet until we started hooking them up to the lines, then they went berserk. Complete pandemonium.
Our lead dogs Mars and Moon, litter-mates
And we’re off! Flying past Fan Mountain.
No shortage of scenery here in Big Sky. That’s Lone Peak, our ski mountain.
After about five miles we stopped the teams for a hot chocolate break. These metal cleats helped hold the sleds in place. If it were up to the dogs, they’d never stop.
Let’s Go! Let’s Go! Let’s Go!
More! More! More! The energy, drive and enthusiasm of these dogs was incredible.
The Sled Hitch. Lots of redundancy in those knots so there’s no way the team can come loose from the sled.
Most of the dogs were very sweet and personable. It was clear they’re very well treated and cared for.
“Jaws”, held here by the lead musher, is the matriarch of this team. She’s 11 and still loves to pull.
Driving the sled! We each got a turn to drive. It wasn’t difficult, but you sure have to hold on tight! If you fall off, the dogs don’t stop. To slow down you stepped on the center rubber mat with one foot. To stop (eventually, not immediately) you stood with both feet on the curved metal bar, which drove two spikes down into the snow.
This dog ran the Yukon Quest, a 1,000 mile race. Most of these dogs are older and retired from racing. These 10-mile jaunts are just enough to get their yayas out.
Turning for home past the Spanish Peaks
Dan driving the sled with Tristan riding along
Heading for Home towards Lone Peak
Tired, for now.
Thanks to Spirit of the North Dog Sledding in Big Sky! I’ll be back for more!
Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
Love the endless spirit and bottomless drive of sled dogs. If only we could love our jobs as much 🙂
What a terrific experience! My two huskies would be jealous…alas, never any snow here. 😦
Thanks so much for sharing the trip!
Love this post Mary ! Superb photo’s of those wonderful dogs. Thanks for haring.
One of our dreams! How wonderful it must have been to take part in this amazing adventure. I can see that you enjoyed it very much.
Enjoyed the post. Know nothing about sled dogs, and have, perhaps, off-topic questions:
I gather these are retired dogs out for a daytime run. Can they still sleep outside, ride out storms, etc.?–I notice that Jaws is not hairy and fluffy. Could D.O.G. survive (the weather, not the pull)? And if you are living in your teardrop, how do you heat it? Jack Handley
Jack Handley *Diplomate, Curmudgeonology*
“Surveillance is necessary for personalized marketing, the primary profit stream of the Internet. ” http://www.schneier.com/essay-420.html
Another awesome adventure. Thought of you when I was hiking with my husband and daughter this weekend. We were just south of Stone Mountain, GA. No exactly the elevation you’re used too, but it felt great to be out doors. My daughter and I also ran the Atlanta Hot Chocolate 5k that morning, our 3rd annual mother-daughter tradition. Thanks for sharing your adventures.
Awesome photos and adventure. Makes me want to pack up and head straight over there!
I would love to try travelling by dog sled! What a great way to go.
I gather you had fun might be an understatement then!! Brilliant, thanks for sharing 🙂
Looks like a lot of fun, I love visiting snow to go skiing etc. but that sure looks like a lotta white stuff, not sure I’d be warm enough 🙂
Awesome post and gorgeous photos!