Mushing a dog sled!
|It wasn’t the Iditarod, but it
didn’t need to be. I was on a really cool adventure! I was
standing on the runners of a sled behind “my” dogs, racing
over snow-covered Denver Glacier. The sled glided softly.
The dogs barked excitedly. Snow kicked up onto my boots. It
We were in the middle of an incredible seven day Alaskan Cruise on the Celebrity Summit. That morning, our ship had docked in Skagway, Alaska, and we walked to TEMSCO Helicopters to check in for our "Dog Sledding & Glacier Flightseeing" tour. The helicopter flight gave us birds eye views of our gorgeous ship. Then we headed deep into the icy, mountainous landscape.
In the middle of this expansive wilderness, the dog camp suddenly came into view. We landed and walked past rows of neatly lined up wooden dog houses. On each dog's house was the dog’s name. Most of the houses had a dog beside or on top of them.
Our guide introduced us to our sled dogs. We squatted next to them and ran our hands over their thick fur. Then, we boarded the sleds.
My dad mushed first. My little brother sat in a basket in front of him. I sat in the basket in front of our guide. And we were off!
After a few minutes of smoothly gliding over the snow to the music of barking dogs, it was time to trade mushers. We stopped far from the camp, way out on the glacier. It would have been very peaceful except for the fact that the dogs were now in racing mode. In contrast to when we’d first met them, they barked and jumped, eager to keep racing.
My little brother took over the mushing position and we started forward. Although he was only eight years old, my brother had no trouble standing on the runners and mushing, except that he had to crane his neck to see past my dad who was now seated in the basket in front of him.
A few minutes later, we stopped again. Now it was my turn to mush. I placed one foot on each of the runners and gave the command. The dogs raced forward.
The experience of mushing was very different from being a passenger. The ride felt faster and more exhilarating. When we came to a small hill, the guide jumped off of her sled, still holding on to the handle bar, and ran up the hill. I did the same. Once the dogs had cleared the hill, they took off. Our guide leapt into the air. Her feet landed back on the runners. I leapt into the air too, still holding on to the handle bar as the sled zoomed forward. I flew behind the sled for a few moments, and then, my feet landed perfectly in position. I felt like a real musher!
I did this in June 2006 on Denver Glacier near Skagway, Alaska, USA.
Dr. Jen (California, USA)