It was our full day of dogsledding! I woke up early 6 or so to the sounds of all 50+ dogs howling. There’s nothing quite like listening to that amazing sound while lying cocooned in bed.
Soon it was time to rise and begin the day. We had a lovely breakfast where I was transfixed again by the beautiful birds at the feeder. There was a chunk of meat that had been put out the day before in the hopes of attracting the bobcats…it was now gone! I also got this amazing photo of a blue jay. I’m still really proud of it!
Once breakfast was over, it was time to ride. I was very fortunate that I got to go in a sled pulled by 6 dogs. Most the rides we were on were only 4. It was a little faster. I could only imagine what it would have been like if there had been 16 dogs pulling that sleigh! Again, there’s the beautiful silence during the run, where you just heard the dogs running through the snow.
Again, I realized how much I loved working with the dogs themselves. I loved getting to know all the dogs as we harnessed them for runs or fluffed their hay in their tiny houses.
After lunch, it was time to take our learning to the next level. We were going to learn how to drive the dogs ourselves. This was an exciting and terrifying prospect. We had a tutorial before we went out. We learned the words to tell the dogs to turn left or right (ha or gee), or straight on. We were reminded to hold on to the sleigh for dear life. Don’t let go for any reason. We would have one of the experienced mushers in our sled so it wasn’t like we were going by ourselves.
It was brilliant. It was better than being a passenger. The thrill of being at the helm of a sleigh, seeing the dogs before you. Amazing. It was a good run, the dogs were responsive to my commands. We ran through the snowy environment. Not many photos since I was holding on for dear life. We stop on the trail to get photos but all of them showing me holding the sleigh and trying to distribute my weight on the brake and ice claw.
Then it was back to the yard to help others with the next runs. We also walked the younger dogs, which was surprisingly difficult. To walk them, we had to put on a harness…for ourselves instead of a handheld leash. I understood quickly that this was necessary. I walked one of the young males and boy, was he strong! He also got kinda annoyed with me that I wouldn’t go faster!
After we finished the runs and walking the dogs for the day, we took a stroll down the driveway back to the main road for about forty-minutes. We got to see a little of the surrounding area in this seemingly remote part of Minnesota. There were other houses nearby but 15-20 minute walk. We walked up the main road and noticed giant paw prints in the snow. There was no corresponding human prints. We think that they were wolf prints!
Before dinner, we enjoyed the sauna. I’m not much of a sauna person but I’ve gone by myself. It’s clearly a collective experience. Also, this was the way you bathed where we were staying. It was so much more enjoyable with people. To sit and sweat in the heat and then wash with cold water was really refreshing. We did try something very Finnish: a bunch of us ran from the sauna to roll in the snow. Unfortunately, the snow was kinda melty and the area we were rolling was cover in pine needles…but it was fun nonetheless!
We ended the night listening to the tales of the Iditarod runner talking about her experiences. The best kind of bed times stories!
That’s all for now!