Last week, I had an experience I’ll never forget: a sunrise dogsled run up on the Mount Washington Auto that leads to Mount Washington State Park.
The Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel, based out of Jefferson, New Hampshire, has been training for a historic ascent of Mount Washington. Mt. Washington has only been summited twice by mushers; the first time was in 1926 by Arthur Walden, and the second time was by Florence Clark in 1932. Both ascents were after the spring equinox. If successful, Muddy Paw’s attempt scheduled for this weekend will be the first successful winter ascent.
After a great night’s sleep at the Town and County Inn in Gorham, NH, I rose bright and early at 5 in the morning to tag along on a training run. I met up with Chase, the musher who will be trying for the summit this weekend, at the base of the auto road.
Chase suited up an 8-dog team. I thought that huskies were the fluffy white dogs you see in movies like Balto; however, ‘husky’ is just the generic term for a sled dog. On our team, we had six Malamutes, also known as ‘fuzzies’. They had some great names like Eragon, Scooter, and Guinness. Up front, there were two lead Alaskan Huskies, Susie and Quebec. Both were Iditarod veterans!
Dogsledding up the Mount Washington Auto Road was really relaxing- I wouldn’t mind starting off every day doing it! I was very warm in roughly a million layers in my sled bag. It started off being around 30 degrees, but it got colder as the morning went on.
Chase, the musher, was an awesome companion on the way up. He had lots of great stories from his dogsledding adventures and summers on archeological dig sites. It was also clear that he really loved the dogs.
As we got up to the turnaround point at tree line, the wind got really intense. When we crested the hill, it was like a different world- a really cold and windy world!
The dogs couldn’t turn the sled on their own in the conditions, so Chase asked me to turn the dogs around. I got out of the sled, but that was about as far as I could go- with 90 mph wind gusts, I literally could not keep myself upright. I was given the task of holding down the sled, which I was barely heavy enough to do… good thing I’m not on a diet!
I can’t imagine what it will be like another 2000 feet up… good luck to Chase and those dogs! Anyways, we finally got the sled turned around and headed back down. Chase only had 3 dogs pulling the sled, but it still was a fast ride down.
Here’s a short video of some of the descent, around 3000 feet.
It only took us around 20 minutes to get to the bottom- we really were zipping down!
Here’s an interview of me, looking very windswept:
Thank you so much to Karen at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel for this amazing opportunity (and the great photos and video)! Much thanks to Chase for being a great musher and keeping me safe in some crazy conditions. Finally, thank you to the Town and County Inn for being so hospitable!
Have you ever been dogsledding? Want to? Check out dogslednh.com to find out how!