Hi everyone! Time for another edition of Try New Things Tuesday! This one is coming to you from Alaska, where the official state sport is dogsledding. It’s a big thing in the winter – you may have heard about a little race called the Iditarod? And since this blog is somewhat about fitness, I thought I’d take some time to try out this sport and report back to you all!
It all started 2 weeks ago when I was at work and a man from a local dogsledding kennel came in with a puppy! While we played with it he proceeded to tell us all about a tour that his company offers. Customers can take a helicopter to nearby Godwin Glacier, where they will land at a base camp for dogsledding and can actually sled on fresh glacier snow! Because he wants us to suggest his tours to our customers, we worked out a little deal and 2 coworkers and I were able to sign up for a discounted trip for last Monday! We were so excited but had no idea how to even prepare for this. What do you wear on a glacier in the summer? After consulting some coworkers who own sled dogs and do this all winter long, we felt more prepared and I was so excited when we pulled up to the Seward airport for our helicopter ride!
All 3 of us girls were a bit nervous about the helicopter part, and it turns out we were all kind of right about that. We ended up getting a bit of motion sickness up there due to the high winds, especially on the way down! But it was worth it because we got to see some incredible views:
The surface of the glacier up close!
Dogsledding base camp!
When we landed, we learned we were standing on a piece of ice that was 600 feet deep! We also learned that they got 6 inches of snow the day before. Snow on the summer solstice is pretty crazy! Right away we started exploring base camp and playing with the adorable dogs!
The view from the employees’ front porch!
After getting to know the dogs, we started off on our 20 minute dogsled ride with our tour guide in charge of steering! The dogs are only able to go about 6-8 miles per hour. They usually only have to pull one adult passenger and if they’re racing they need to be able to pull all of the equipment (food, layers of clothing, sleeping bag, and hay for the dogs to sleep on). Less weight means that they are able to maintain that speed for long periods of time, which is how they are able to finish the 1,112 mile Iditarod in only 8 days! I can’t imagine running that far, especially in 8 days through crazy snowy terrain! For this trip the dogs had to pull two sleds containing us 3 girls and our guide. It was amazing how fast they were able to go and we had so much fun flying around the glacier!
How to steer: lean to either side with your feet. How to stop: step on the metal thing in the middle.
The newest dog musher in Alaska!
I loved the feeling of standing on a sled while flying along in the snow – it was such a blast! Trying not to fall over was my main concern at first, but eventually I started to relax and enjoy the ride. It felt good to know that the guide was there to actually steer us and give the dogs commands! I just really wanted to try it out on my own to see if I could do it, but if I fell off those dogs would have kept going!
After our tour we thanked the dogs with lots of hugs and attention! Some of them were so tired that they fell over in the snow. Our guide assured us that they take them out for rides at least 6 times a day (most without paying customers) for exercise and that if we got on the sleds right now they’d be up and barking to be running again. He was right! The dogs didn’t want to stop and probably could have kept running for a while! It’s amazing how much they loved running! I think we all need to take notes from these guys, they clearly love long runs! 🙂
After a few hours up on the glacier we were cold and ready to head back down to warmer weather in Seward. We didn’t want to leave those dogs though! We hope to go back up there later this summer once the puppies from Seward are old enough to spend time on the cold glacier because we love puppies!
Seward from the helicopter
So what did I think of dogsledding? I gave it a 4 out of 5!
What I liked:
- Dogs! If you’re not totally in love with big fluffy dogs giving you kisses there is something wrong with you and we can’t be friends.
- Being on a glacier, which I know isn’t how most dogsledding sessions go. But being on top of fresh snow on a glacier in the summer is something I’ll never forget!
- Standing on a sled and driving along at top speed was so much fun! I felt like I was flying! I think that’s the main thing I loved about this sport (and the dog cuddle time wasn’t bad either!)
- I really liked being able to work with the dogs to make the sled move. It’s definitely a sport that requires a really good connection with your dogs. In a race, both the racers and dogs rely on each other to make it to the end. It’s cool to be part of a team…except you’re the only human on it!
- Getting to spend time outdoors in a beautiful snowy place! I love snow and the fact that I was able to see it in the summer was amazing!
What I didn’t like:
- The sport basically takes a lot of skill, knowledge, and dogs. Lots of dogs. In fact, for Andrew and I to take up this sport we’d need to buy at least 4 dogs (which need to be trained) as well as a sled and good gear to stay warm. This is not a cheap sport at all!
This is probably the most Alaskan my Try New Things Tuesday will ever get, but I loved getting to try this out! I blogged about this over on Bearly Alaskan as well but was so excited about it that I had to bring it over here too. It was one of the best things I’ve done since moving up here, and I really want to do it again! I’m looking forward to winter when I can try to convince people to take me out on their own teams!
Have you ever been dogsledding? What’s the craziest sport you’ve ever tried?