JUNEAU, Alaska – After two days at sea – including the scenic cruise into Tracy Arm – everyone was ready to get off the ship and have an Alaskan adventure.
Because we were focusing on bringing Alaska to our three grandchildren, we chose the Sled Dog Discovery and Musher’s Camp tour, booked through the ship. We were picked up by van promptly at 9:30 a.m. and traveled over the bridge to Douglas Island and through the woods to the camp.
It rained on and off all day but we were getting used to it. Upon arrival at the camp, half our group were loaded in to sleds with wheels and went off for a ride with 15 or 16 dogs pulling. In the meantime, our family was filled in on how this camp operates. Several mushers come here with their teams each summer to train them. The mushers and their dogs live on property for the duration of the summer.
“Who would have thought that people from cruise ships would want to come and take a ride behind sled dogs,” the one musher commented. “The owner of this camp is one very smart man.” He and his wife and their teams come here for summer training. Then they return to their home on the Kenai Peninsula for the winters and a variety of races.
The two main sled dog races in Alaska are the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest, each 1,000 miles long. Many of the dogs here have competed in one or more of those races. There is a display of racing sleds and equipment.
When it was our turn, we got into the sleds and took off, with musher Emily at the helm. As she guided the dogs with the commands, “Gee” (left) and “Haw” (right), she explained how they loved to run and that this summer training keeps them strong and fit for their winter races.
After our ride, we had a chance to meet our team lead by Diego and then the highlight for the children…meeting and holding three two-week-old huskie puppies. The mushers explained that this socialization is very important for all of the dogs.
The trip was fun for the children and an interesting insight into the world of sled dog training.
That afternoon, Jennifer and Steve celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary by taking a helicopter trip to the glacier field. They booked their trip on the dock, thus saving about $80 each over ship pricing. They said the experience was very special and worth the extra “pop.” I will share some of their pictures in a later blog post.
During the afternoon, Cynthia, Vivian and I perused the shops and Dominic went to Club HAL. Grandpa Chet took a nap. So nice to have options!
Photos by Cynthia Janssens