Sunday in Breckenridge. Rocks had fallen on I-70 where we'd traveled two days before. BIG rocks. Rocks that made the rebar in the pavement look like cheap paperclips. Rocks they had to blast apart before they could move them. Rocks still hanging overhead waiting for a chance to fall. The bypass around the pile was 200 miles. Welcome to real mountains where nature still reigns.
We got a chance to pet the dogs who were very loving. They were all females except for Trout who was a male lab. He looked a tad out of place, but Larissa, the guide, said he didn't know he was a lab he thought he was a husky. He stood shivering while all the other dogs stood around hassling trying to cool off. The dogs were much smaller than the Alaskan huskies we'd seen. Short and very stocky. Little packages of muscle and fur and lolling tongues. We stood around listening to the guide tell us how to stand on the runners, how to set the brake, how to lean when going around a corner....when it dawned on us (6 total) that we weren't going to just RIDE the sled we were going to STEER the sled. Seriously?! You're going to let total idiots take your dogs and drive them into trees?! Seriously!? Seriously.
Who wants to drive first?.....first?....someone has to be first? We were still processing the fact that we were going to be s-t-a-n-d-i-n-g b-e-h-i-n-d 8 dogs who are runningasfastastheycan hellbent for leather between trees, over snow covered god-knows-what and oh-by-the-way there's a creek we have to cross.
I spoke up and offered Terri and I up to the Iditarod gods as a sacrifice. I'd drive first and she would ride.
Larissa started the snowmobile pulling the sleigh everyone else would ride on and the dogs started lunging in their traces. She came back and told me to slow down if she waved and if they started to bunch up slow down and to lean into the curves and to hang onto the sled because they couldn't be stopped except by the brake and we'd be going over a creek and stand with both feet on the brake when we stopped because the dogs were strong and would take off without me but with Terri sitting on the sled and not to worry it would be ok.
I stood on the brake (with both feet), she unchained the dogs and away we went. She was in front of us and the dogs cut the first curve so close to a tree I had to lean the other way to avoid getting scraped off. I promptly forgot everything she'd said. In the midst of all of this, a dog had to pee and kept trying to squat while running. Then every other dog except Trout decided they had to pee and soon everyone was squat-running. I tapped the brake, everyone straightened out and we were off again. She signaled me to stop.
Terri got her chance to terrify me, the creek was on her watch. We watched the others struggle and we had a blast!
My favorite is the light brown one. She was sweet.
If you ain't the lead dog.....
Terri- suited up and ready to go!