When I think of dogsledding, I usually picture dogs running thorough several feet of snow, pulling a large sled carrying people bundled up in pounds of snow gear in order to fight the cold. After what was supposed to be the dogsledding Winterim, my view of the exciting winter activity has changed drastically. As I walked sluggishly though the airport at five am the morning Winterim began, coffee and suitcase in hand, I never would have anticipated the chaotic but exciting experience I was about to have...
As our group stepped into the Minneapolis airport, after a long, loud plane ride, we faced our first unexpected obstacle: the heat. Before leaving, we had all been warned that Minnesota was experiencing extremely strange weather for the time of year, but the 75 degree temperature was more than I would have imagined. In the first ten minutes of our trip, after discovering that there was no snow or clouds in sight, I became extremely skeptical about how the next five days were going to work out. I didn’t want to be a pessimist, but I couldn’t help but wonder how dogsledding works without snow.
The next morning I learned that dogsledding in the dirt is just as difficult as it sounds. After eating breakfast, we packed up the vans and drove for about an hour to reach the only spot in the area that still had snow. Even then, the amount of white on the ground was almost as pathetic as it is when it snows in Portland. Once the dogs had been harnessed and chained to the sleds, we set out on the last two dogsledding days of the season. Twenty feet after we began, the snow started to disappear. The minute the sled reached exposed gravel, it became too hard for the dogs to carry us, so we had to get off and run until we reached the next snow bank. For the rest of the day, the snow appeared less frequently and lasted for shorter periods of time. Needless to say, we ran a lot.
Even though our time in Minnesota wasn’t the typical dogsledding trip, it was definitely an experience I will always remember.