SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – February 2006

Dogsledding in Minnesota: Born to Run

Head out with six hard-charging huskies, and winter will never feel more alive.

by: Michael Perry


I walk up the line and face the two dogs yoked to the front. "Hans and Fittipaldi," says Arleigh's son, Odin, who at 27 has already perfected his father's steady gaze. "Hans is a good lead, but he has a habit of stopping to sniff and pee on bushes." I pet and talk to both dogs. They endure the attention politely, but keep looking over my shoulder at Odin and Arleigh packing the lead sled. If you've ever been at a cocktail party talking to someone who glances up every time someone popular enters the room, you get the idea.

Once you go, you go. There is no buildup. Arleigh's sled is moving off ahead, and my dogs leap to the traces. The dogs left tethered in the yard set up a howl and holler, and just as quickly-zip-it is just you and your team whooshing through a tunnel of spruce. The runners hiss against the snow, and the cargo bay grunts and creaks as the straps ease and the load settles. I keep my right foot on the studded rubber flap of the drag brake, but the dogs are flat-out flying. The first corner approaches, and now I realize why Arleigh puts your focus on that tug line. Any more responsibility at this speed this early, and you'd bail out at the first bend. "Slow 'em down on the straightaways and let 'em go on the corners," he'd said. It's counterintuitive, but if you brake on the corner, the dogs drag you straight into the brush. I step off the brake and hope for the best. The dogs stream around a tree trunk and out of sight. I dip, lean, and shift my weight. The sled tail kicks out and sweeps through the corner in an arc, tracking neatly in the dogs' wake. The tree is scarred by beginners who gave in to the temptation of braking.

The trail winds through a dense forest near the upper meadows of the Kadunce River. It is a full-time job to cycle the checklist: Watch the cable, duck branches, scan for corners, watch the cable, duck, cable, duck! I "pedal" some on the uphills, dropping a foot to push and take some weight off the sled. When the dogs hear your boot thumping the snow, they look back with tongue-lolling grins, then pull even harder-although Odin says if you help too much, they will get lazy. They also look back if you overplay the drag brake or bump a tree and jerk the cable, clearly wondering how humans reached the top of the food chain.




Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Rocky Mountains
Trip report and thanks!
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: grizzled
Health and Fitness
Back Pain
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: ol-zeke
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions