Bucket List Check #18 - Dogsledding in Big Sky, MT
After a full and exciting day snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park, we made the hour drive up from West Yellowstone, MT to Big Sky, MT to check out dog sledding. Given the tremendous amount of snowfall from the blizzard that hit two days prior, it took more like an hour and a half to get to Big Sky. Driving in the snow is no joke!
Fortunately, we caravaned with another group of friends, who live in Utah and are acclimated to driving in such snowy conditions. Coming from Texas, this type of weather would have our city of Dallas shut down for a least a week!
We passed the ski town of Big Sky and made our way up towards a remote location at the top of a mountain where we discovered a trailer, specially built for hauling huskies. We knew we were in the right spot!
After signing waivers, and gearing up with waterproof snow boots and ski goggles (which I recommend bringing if it's snowing, since they don't supply those), we could roam around and check out a few of the dogs.
I immediately noticed several scars and scabs on these dogs and apparently the owners told us that it is common for these dogs, and males in particular, to fight for alpha position.
The owners lay out the sleds that had a single line and we had to assist them getting all the dogs out to hook them to the line. The dogs were paired, with one of each side of the line.
You could sense the excitment and energy in the air from each dog, as they sensed they were going out for a run. Most started barking eagerly and were ready to go, while others sat down waiting patiently. The clamor from these dogs barking was almost deafening, as they were getting pumped up to pull the sleds.
Once attached to the sled, the owners instructed Mike and me to get into the sled. We were covered up with a semi-waterproof liner and the driver or "musher" would bark commands to dogs. It was interesting to watch the dogs from the sled, Sometimes they would get tangled in the line, but always seemed to be able to work it out eventually to get untangled.
One thing we learned from our guide is that these dogs are working dogs, and work all year long. During the summer months, they travel up to Alaska and continue pulling sleds.
We had 4 or 5 sleds going and the scenery was something to behold - a white winter wonderland. An old "retired" dog anxiously lead the way for all the sleds.
The retired leader of the pack.
About halfway through the ride, we stopped for hot cocoa and cookies, after which we could switch places. I had no desire to drive the sled, but Mike really wanted to, and had a 5 minute crash course in leading the dogs. He did awesome...although it required some fancy footwork, leaning to the left or right on turns to avoid capsizing the sled. It was a bit like dancing!
Have you ever been dogsledding? Share your experience by commenting below!