What is it like to dog sled? Join the mushers of the Upper Peninsula for a dogsledding adventure.
You are in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
As you stand on the runners of the dog sled, looking in amazement at the very excited dogs that are about to pull you down the trail, you begin to wonder. . .Just what have I gotten myself into?
These dogs are psyched-and based on how the sled is bouncing around-strong, too. You get a little comfort knowing you will not be alone on the trail. Your guide will be ahead with his own team.
As you stand there, many, many questions go through your mind. Will I fall? Will I be able to hold onto the sled if (and when) I fall? Which one of these things are the brakes? When do I use the snowhook again? What were my leaders' names? I think I remember how to undo the snubline.
Suddenly, your guide turns around and gives what you think is the thumbs-up signal with his fur-mittened hand, and like a shot he is gone. Your dogs are screaming to join their kennel mates on the trail. You lift your foot off the brake, and without warning, you can't believe how fast you are going down this narrow chute through the trees.
The loud barking and excitement at the hook up are behind you. The dogs don't make a sound while they are running. Trees are flashing past you in a blur, seemingly close enough to reach out and tear off your parka. You vaguely remember something the guide said about trying not to hit the trees. You've made it the first half-mile and turn onto a straight, wide trail. Even though the dogs are still running quickly you remember that you are supposed to breathe, and begin to relax a little.
Further down the trail the dogs slow to a nice trot and things seem to be under control.
This is the point where you begin to see the attraction of this wonderful sport. It is absolutely breathtaking in the winter woods. Snow hangs on the pines creating a white, sparkling tunnel into a magic land.
You see the breath of each of your dogs, and the enjoyment they derive from being on the trail again. They strain into their harnesses, eager to see what is around the corner or over the next hill. It is obvious they are enjoying their work. Their adventurous spirit is almost overwhelming, and definitely contagious. It is apparent these dogs are healthy and well taken care of. They are physically fit athletes that receive excellent nutrition, training and the opportunity to do the thing they love most-run.
The variety of feelings and emotions you experience during your trip is amazing. Excitement, fear, exhilaration, awe, solitude and serenity are just a few, not to mention the kinship you will begin to feel with your dog team as you traverse the north woods. It is easy to understand why mushers choose this type of lifestyle.
You are one of the growing number of people wanting to experience this mystical thing called "mushing." Dog sled touring businesses, or outfitters, are popping up all over the country where snow is abundant.
Here in Michigan, there are numerous mushers around the state, but only a few are offering guided trips, and they are all in the U.P. where winters are long and the snowfall is incredible.
A variety of formats is used by mushers. Some only offer rides in the sled where a musher drives the team. Others allow you to ride the runners of a "trail sled," a second sled attached to the team behind the first sled. A musher drives the sled and actually controls the team. Some outfitters offer half day or whole day outings, while a few offer more extensive, multiple-day trips. On these types of excursions, many outfitters will supply most or all of the specialized winter equipment you will need.
Triple Creek Kennels, E5372 Highway M-94, Munising, MI. Phone: 906-439-5242. Two hour, 1 day, and 2 day guided sled dog trips tailored to groups from 2 to 6 people. We also offer packages that include a dogsled trip, lodging and meals. The ultimate wilderness experience.
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