Day 2 in Ely

With 5 sleds in our group, there is a lot of work to do before leaving. All the sleds need to be lined up single file and tied off to the kennel wall. If you don’t tie them off the dogs will just drag the sled off down the trail without you. Then the dogs need to be harnessed and brought one at a time to the sled and chained on. All the time this is happening the dogs are barking and howling like crazy because they so desperately want to be picked for a sled. As the chain line is filled more chaos occurs with dogs growling at one another asserting their dominance. Finally the sleds are ready. The plan is to head down hill to the lake, gather again and then start the trip. One person man’s the sled to the lake. I’m the 4th sled in line and we take off with a sprint, get to the turn and my lead dog goes left up and over a log that is blocking that trail instead of to the trial to the right. There was no one to follow so they just went the way they were used to go. Lucky for me all the dogs and the sled jumped the tree and made it to the lake where John the guide met us to lead the dogs around to the rest of the teams.
Alright time to get up for breakfast, more later.

And so the tale continues. The day started the same as yesterday, up at 7, put on multiple layers of warm wear and head to the dog kennel area to feed, water and clean up after the dogs. The kennel is about 2 blocks from the lodge and as you get close, the dogs hear you coming and greet you with continuous howling and barking. There is about 40 or more dogs so the noise is impressive. Once you get to the kennels, which is an outside area and each dog has a wood shelter to sleep in or stand on, they just get wild. All are large dogs, some huge and a bit intimidating, but once you get near them they become very friendly and love physical attention. They may snarl at their neighbor but always seem to cozy up for a rub. Back to the lodge for our breakfast and some casual lounging and then down to the kennels again to harness the dogs and chain them to the harness line. There are 5 sleds in our group with 5 dogs per sled staggered 2, 1 and 2 mostly. Mawson and Ramona were our 2 lead dogs again. They both pull and lead great but want to eat each other alive if they spend to much time next to each other without pulling. This means every time the sled stops, one of us has to step on the rear drag brake while the other runs up to the front and controls the lead dogs so they stay up front and don’t get in a fight. Vera was the brake man and I was the one to control the dogs. I really like Mawson, he will be snarling at Ramona and then relaxed and friendly with me immediately after.
Ok, so the story will have to continue tomorrow, time to call it a day.

7 hours latter we are back at the lodge.
Dog sledding, the art of controlled chaos where one moment things are peaceful and serene and the next moment is a dog fight between any number of dogs snarling and growling with bared teeth. The human role is to try and stay on the sled at all times and to break up the dog fights. Needless to say if you are afraid of dogs and shy about reeling them in when they look like they are ready to bite your face off, maybe dog sledding isn’t a good choice of winter activities.
Time for short break and then more tall tales or is that tails?