Ken is a busy man. With kids, wife, personal stuff, and recently starting his own sledding race, I don’t get a lot of time with him. However, when he does share some in his day, he tries to share as much knowledge as possible. One morning I received a text we are going to double sled. Being a rookie do dog sledding, I wasn’t sure if that meant we are going to be sledding with two teams of dogs, one team of dogs with both of us on a sled or one team of dogs with two sleds. After clarifying I was correct in thinking, we were going to have one team of 11 dogs pulling two sleds.
Ken went ahead and attached the sleds together while I started to harness the dogs and put them on the gang line. With the snow falling adding to the 4 inch that had already fallen today Ken decided it was time to put booties on the dogs. A "booty" is a cloth bag that slips over a dog foot and velcro around their wrist. These are put on the dogs when its cold and there is fresh snow on the ground to prevent snow balling up inside their paw. Of course, there is a perfect technique on how to do this that Ken shows me in detail and I enviably mess up, only to hear about it after Ken finds out. Part of life.
After preparing the dogs, we both hope on our sleds and give the command to start moving forward. For some reason, the dogs were not feeling up to running. However, with a few com commands, Ken encourages them out of the yard! It was great sledding behind Ken to study the way he moves from one side of the sled to the other. With Ken having over 25 years of dog sledding experience there is no one better to study. We ran the dogs about 17 miles and about half way through Ken asked if I wanted to get on the front side. Feeling confident, I agreed. Everything was going smooth other than Ken pointing out that we were going a little fast. I did receive one compliment. On our way back I didn’t get to the outside of a turn fast enough to avoid a protruding branch which almost tipped my sled over. As this was happening, I jumped off my sled and started running beside it while placing it back on both runners and jumping back on. Ken yells out, “Nice save!” Knowing you need to earn your compliments from Ken, I’ll take it.