On our second day owning sled dogs, we couldn’t resist taking them out for a run. One small snag – a blizzard warning. “Oh well” we thought, maybe it would keep snowmobile traffic off the lake. After unloading the dogs, massive snowflakes began to fall. We hooked up the team, unanchored the sled and yelled, “hike!” Nothing. They just stood there confused, looking at us like they’d never been on snow before. My husband questioned whether they were really sled dogs! Finally, with the two of us running along side of them and the kids on the sled, the dogs began pulling. Half way across the lake, it began to rain – sideways. With zero visibility, we made it back to the car and found ourselves soaking wet and stuck! Yep, we were “those idiots” you see on the news. After we finally got home, we felt pretty unsure of things – thankfully, we were too tired to give it much thought.
A few days later, my husband and I decided to take the dogs out by ourselves. Surprisingly, a park reserve nearby offered designated dogsledding trails so we wanted to check it out. Uh yeah, the trails looked like they may have been used by one snowshoer, ever. Still, we thought we’d give it a shot. We hooked up two teams of three and hoped that they’d be able to pull us through the deep snow. Boy, were we fooled. When the dogs saw the resemblance of a trail, we took off like a bullet. Then we knew why they didn’t run on the lake; no trail! My sled was in the lead and we flew up and over hills barely touching the snow. And when the trail came to a tee, I yelled “Haw” to my leader, Fast Eddie, and he took a sharp left. They knew their commands! I was so proud, “WOO HOO!” I whooped. Then… the trail narrowed into an overgrown forest. The dogs ducked right under the branches but I wasn’t so lucky. Before I knew it, I was knocked off the sled and I watched in horror as the dogs kept going. “Whoa, Fast Eddie, WHOA!!!!” I yelled, with no avail. My husband rounded the bend – with instant panic on his face as he took off after them. I ambled through the deep snow cursing my short legs. Our saving grace was that the previous snowshoer had only gone a short distance further – making the dogs think that the trail ended. My husband lectured me about the golden rule of dog mushing – never, ever, EVER, lose your team. I was too winded to argue. When I finally caught my breath and got my team turned back around, they saw the trail again and “poof” – we were off, running over my husband’s legs in the process. This time, I successfully ducked branches and we seemed to find a good pace. Suddenly, the other team began to pass me and when I looked back, I saw an empty sled – no husband! We chased the team all the way to the entrance of the trail where there was (thankfully) a gate. With tongues hanging out and excitement in their eyes, the team looked back at me and I knew what they were thinking, “we won the race!” What else could I do but tell them they were good – and tie them up, tight. Eventually, my husband emerged from the woods with a bloody lip from a branch that whacked him in the face. I motioned with my hands, “let’s have it” and under his breath he offered an exhausted apology. After we collected ourselves and untangled the teams, we both agreed that we couldn’t leave on such a disastrous note – we needed to tackle the trail again. Just as we relished in the fact that no one had seen us, I spotted a lone photographer in the woods! Oh great – where are those photo’s going to appear! Perhaps under the photographic pressure, me and my team effortlessly made it to through the forest and eventually stopped to wait for my husband. I thought his team looked so majestic bounding over the hill… until I saw it – an empty sled! Not again! Fortunately, I was ready to secure the team and my husband wasn’t far behind. Darn branches! The trail ride back was a smooth and somewhat redeeming – however, we broke the golden rule THREE times in one day! Yep… us greenhorns have got some learnin to do 😉
Stay tuned for our 3rd attempt!