One fine spring day when we were living in Colorado, we drove out for a peaceful XC ski up a forest road. When we got to the head of the road, as we were putting on our skis, we met a woman who was unloading her sled dogs for a late-season training run up the same road.
Mama had helped a friend in Maine with his teams of dogs and so we stopped to chat with the woman and pet the dogs, who were all talking up a storm, excited to go for a run. We ended up helping the woman harness them up. When they were all untangled and clipped in, she asked us if we would like to go for a ride because the dogs wouldn’t get as much of a workout pulling an empty sled.
It only took a minute for us to drop our skis and poles back in our car, although we had no other suitable shoes, so we had to wear our XC ski boots for the trip. The trip was my first time in a sled, but there’s not much to get used to except that sled dogs poop on the run, which, when you’re in the sled, means that you pretty much have a ringside seat for all the action. Yeesh, that took some of the romance out of it, but honestly, they don’t poop that much, so mostly we were mushing along across the snow, through the forest, bundled up together in a sled. It was romantic, fun, and exciting.
Then, since Mama and the musher, Debbie, had been chatting about how much experience Mama has with sled dogs, Debbie offered to let us drive the sled. I figured that she just meant Mama, since my experience was limited to that one ride, but no, they both set me to driving. Fortunately, for me, the dogs know what to do. Mostly, I just had to stand there in my XC ski boots. Remember how I said we were stuck wearing those? Right, well this was my first pair, that we’d gotten used, half-off somewhere in town to see if I would really like XC skiing before spending big bucks on good boots. That explains my hot yellow shoe in this shot, and yes, that’s Mama in the sled.
After that initial ride, we would go out and help Debbie feed, water, and clean up after her dogs–I found out why they don’t poop a lot on the runs. Because they do it all back in the yard, where it freezes to the ground, for us to chisel up. We would also break a trail for them to follow behind their yard, skiing a long loop along a pond. After Debbie would take one team out to follow our tracks for a few laps, she would let us drive another team around the pond, when the driving was a bit easier in the full sled track created by the first team.
I suppose that I could have put these photos and memories in the context in which they were uncovered during our never-ending quest to declutter our house. Today, that involved lugging several large Rubbermaid bins and various implements of baby delight that 3B has outgrown–have to save them for the next baby, you know–to our basement storage cage, and exhuming several boxes from there that had cryptic labels and digging through them to separate valuable remains of our past lives from worthless crap. But I figured that a story about dogsledding through the forest was more interesting–especially for those of us in the Northeast, who have our windows and doors open to better enjoy the 70 degree winter weather. What the–?
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