Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dogsledding in the Land of 10,000 Lakes by Otto L.



When a whole bowl of boiling water freezes mid-air when splashed, I knew I was in the midst of the cold winter of Minnesota. Every direction I look, all I see are masses of green and white. An army of lakes surrounded me, but they are all hidden under a layer of shining fresh snow, frozen in slumber, waiting to be woken up when spring is around the corner. Coming from the warmth and humidity of Southeast Asia, I was way outside of my “natural” environment. One thing was for sure: I was in for an experience of a lifetime.


After leaving Portland at five in the morning, and arriving in Minneapolis around the afternoon, the group had to endure a long and claustrophobic four-hour drive up to the dogsledding capital of the world: Ely. The group consisted of myself, Aidan T, Matthew S, Paul K, John M, Hannah H, Cassy L, Sebby W and Brooks Y, along with teachers Bettina Gregg and Kristen Myers. The four-hour drive proved to be worth the while. Dogsledding turned out to be a tiring work for both the riders and the dogs. The nature of the dogs can also turn the joy of this sport into a horrific brawl. The dogs have their own system hierarchy; there are multiple hulking 140-pound alpha males within their own community. If a dog team of pulls-up next to another dog team, a brutal and, sometimes, bloody dogfight could break out within seconds of the alpha males eyeing each other. However, when everything goes smoothly, dogsledding becomes an entertaining activity for both the dogs and the riders, even when the dogs are peeing while they are pulling the sleds. Nothing is more amazing than sledding across a frozen lake while the sun sets in the distance.
Unfortunately, all things come to an end, even dog sledding. After three days of bonding and enjoying life with the dogs, we are forced to drive back to Minneapolis to fly back home. But before leaving the state for good, we definitely had to stop by the Mall of America, and enjoy ourselves there for an hour. My time in Minnesota was undoubtedly an experience of a lifetime.

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