Once we had landed after our amazing helicopter ride to the top of a glacier we were met with a dog sled summer camp. Which is a spectacular sight from the air, but is really quite a neat experience on the ground.
The camp is allowed to set up on the glacier for a few months in the summer as both a tourist attraction and a way to keep the gods in shape in the off season. So when racing starts back up in the winter the dogs are still rearing to go. A group of dogs trainers and workers live completely isolated for roughly 3 months with about 200 dogs.
Being set up on a glacier has some unique demands and restrictions though. There is the stipulation that nothing is left on the ground or let blown away. This means that all shed dog fur must be meticulously picked up, bagged and flown back down to town once a week, along with, you guessed it, all the dog poop. All supplies must be flown in and then out: food, shelter, dogs, you name it. Once the camp has melted a certain amount of snow under the camp they must relocate to 1 of the 3 or 4 locations picked out for them. Once they go through all the camps and all the designated amount of snow meltage (which I know is not a word but totally applies here), they are done for the summer, no matter when that end happens to occur.
Our dog sled trainer was a really nice guy who is just starting his own dog team from puppies and some other young dogs. He was really enthusiastic about what he does and very good with his dogs. Each dog has a little house that they can either sit inside or on top of, and is marked with their name.
When it was time to pick out his team for our run every dog was beside themselves with excitement, making every indication that they wanted nothing more than to be chosen. It was similar to when you say the word "walk" around my dog at home, only on a much larger scale.
Our team of 9 dogs pulled 2 sleds tied to each other. So you go a chance to sit and a chance to stand on the very back one. My favorite was by far the standing. It felt a little like skiing without the effort. Just as beautiful as skiing though, if not more because I didn't have to worry about where I was going, just got to enjoy the view.
I have always loved the mountains. I attribute it to growing up in Cleveland where it is nice an flat, so whenever I get into the mountains I still am amazed by them. And snow, of course, I just love. So put those two together and I am on cloud 9.
kaitlin k walsh
Adventurer armed with a camera.