This month I was lucky enough to go dogsledding for the first time, thanks to our friends at Alpine Adventures Dogsledding in Leadville, CO. http://www.alpineadventuresdogsledding.com/
Leadville, the highest incorporated U.S. city, is just a short drive away from our home base in Buena Vista. But it is about 2,000 ft higher in elevation which means way more snow!
Having never been dogsledding before, I had no idea what to expect and there were a couple surprises along the way.
Surprise #1: The dogs were way smaller and skinnier than I expected! I think our whole tour group slightly doubted their
ability when we first met them. (Also scared we were too heavy after our winter-work-out-slumps!)
But they proved us all wrong! Each dog weighs between 35-65 lbs, but as a team, the dogs can pull sleds up weighing up to 600 lbs. Pound-for-pound they are stronger than draft horses or any other draft animal.
Surprise #2: I got to mush the dogs! I thought for sure I would just get to ride along while a professional guide directed the sled. But nope, the staff taught us how to break and to keep an eye on the dogs in case they need a rest, and then it was just me and my boyfriend on the sled while the team pulled us along with their fearless leader, Sugar, up front. Sugar was a small, white, beautiful Alaskan Husky who kept the team moving, and on the right trail.
Surprise #3: These dogs were truly bred and born to run and pull, and they do love it! I was scared the sled dogs may get overworked, or cold and tired, but that was not the case.
As soon they are hooked on to the sled, ready to go, and the coast is clear, they start barking and howling and hopping around, anxiously waiting the command from the musher to start pulling. When I gave the command to go and gave them a slight push off, they took off, at about 15 mph. That’s quite a startling jolt when you’re standing on the back of the sled! But then they did settle into a more efficient pace of about 5-10 mph.
They also love, love, love the cold Leadville climate. Their ideal temp to run is actually just below zero degrees Fahrenheit, and they can’t run in temps over 35 degrees or they may overheat. After each ride, they all get at least an hour break with food and water to refuel before the next run.
After our 6-mile dog sled tour we got to walk around the facility and meet all the beautiful dogs! They were so friendly and overly excited to be getting some love as we walked through. I even met a 6-month-old puppy, who wouldn’t even start the training regimen until he was 1-year-old.
Finally getting my fill of puppy love, we made our way to Tennessee Pass Café in Leadville for lunch. This is my favorite spot to eat in the area and I’m always looking for an excuse to go!
I would recommend dog sledding to anyone and I do hope one day you get to explore all that Leadville has to offer! I’m looking forward to sharing more adventures in the snow with you next month.