After working all morning I went outside in the -30 degrees temp to start the 4-wheeler and prepare the dogs for another training run. On first and second attempt the 4-wheeler didn't start due to the temp. With fresh snow falling I called Ken and asked if I could take the sled out instead. To my surprise he agreed.
Going this route isn’t necessarily the easier path. There were several things I needed to prepare including attaching the gang line & snow hook to my sled, placing a bag of cuble for weight inside my sled and finally fishing a quick release system so when I am on my sled and ready to go I can pull on a top and my sled would be free.
All these extra steps are worth it. Sledding is an amazing experience and I wish all my friends have opportunity to do it.
As I am attaching my team of six dogs I can tell they are feeling sluggish and were not motivated to run. This was really clear to me when I detached the front of the gang line. Where they would normal start barking and wanting to run towards the trail head, they just stood there looking back at me when i was giving them to command to run. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like an idiot while I could feel Ken watching me from the house. I tried encouraging them again however by this point they really didn’t care what I had to say and the leaders started running back to their house pulling the other dogs with them. I’m in a mess.
Ken comes down to give me some advice and says this is a really important moment. The dogs have control and you need to get it back. He holds my sled for me as I repeatedly straighten out the dogs in the direction of the trailhead and looking both leaders in the eyes explaining to them what I wanted, I nearly got them out of the yard.
Once out I felt relieved. There are so many distractions for them in the yard. Other dogs, their house, lots of cool things to pee on. On the trail they only know to run. And run they did. It was great being on the sled. Its also a lot of work keeping the sled in the position of the trail you prefer. To steer right and left you need to get on that side of the sled and drag your foot on the ground to slow that side of your sled making you turn in that direction. This comes in very handy when the trail is slanted and gravity is making your sled slide right off the trip, you need to jump to the other side of the sled and start working your butt off to get it back where you want.
All in all it was a great 13 mile run. When I returned I went inside the house to let Ken know how my ride went. He explained to me that he left the dog yard light on with expectations the team of dogs would return pulling the sled without me! Messed up right! No faith!