What to do on a Sunday afternoon in January? – Drive to Two Harbors for the 2015 John Beargrease dog sled race of course! The first thing that impressed us this year was the behind-the-scene event. From the starting gate, the teams take off at two minute intervals so watching the teams get into formation was crazy! In a photo below, you can see, the dogs are SO excited, it takes an ATV to hold each team back – along with approximately six-eight dog handlers. The John Beargrease race usually begins in Duluth but with the lack of snow, it started in Two Harbors this year – winding up the Gunflint Trail and ending back near Duluth. You can track the racers via GPS so we’ve been cheering on our friend Rita from Stoney Creek Kennels, who sold us our team of dogs! And the second thing that impressed us; the number of girls running the race – over half in the mid-distance!
We’ve heard that sled dogs run the best at night so we decided to try it out. With a warmer than usual January, we made an evening out of it – grilling out and dog sledding into the night. And sure enough, as the sun went down, the energy level went up! After running two teams of four for a while, my husband hooked all eight dogs up (for the first time) and he ran them on a 2.5 mile loop. The eight dogs still averaged between 8-16mph but with all of them pulling, hills were effortless. My husband described it simply as, “Energizing.”
Some father/son duos play video games, golf, or watch football together. My boys – WINTER CAMP. In previous years, they’ve hauled in gear over frozen lakes and over portages in snowshoes. This year, I’m not sure if their mode of transportation got easier or crazier, but it certainly got cooler – with our addition of sled-dogs! We weren’t quite sure how our over-fed team of eight dogs would do pulling two fully loaded sleds for miles into the wilderness, but there was only one way to find out. We drove to the Fall Lake BWCA entry point in Ely, MN. and harnessed the dogs up to the sleds. With four other mushers on site, the pressure was on – as our team resembled the Grinch’s dog pulling a village full of xmas toys. Thankfully, the trail was slick and the dogs were excited, so when the sled was released, they took off like champions. Across the lake and into the snowy horizon they flew – the boys; pumping their fists in the air as they disappeared into a canvas of white. They crossed Fall Lake, over four-mile portage, and onto Basswood Lake where they set up camp on a remote island. Nestled among tall boreal trees, the dogs curled up on beds of thick white pine needles. The boys, in all their adventurous glory, caught fish for dinner and enjoyed nothing but each other’s company and the sounds of the wilderness. And with lungs full of fresh air, full bellies, and a wood-packed stove, even the booming ice and the howl of the dogs couldn’t keep them from falling asleep. They returned from their adventure a bit more rugged – with a renewed appreciation for one another and God’s creation. And, with a new appreciation for our awesome team of sled-dogs! Every father and son should be so lucky! *Ely happens to be the dog-sledding capitol of the world and there are many guides to lead such adventures. Book today!