Monday, January 26, 2015

Exploring Denali - A Dog Sledding Adventure

I suppose everyone differs on what they believe to be an agreeable temperature, or perhaps even an agreeable season. That being said, it is incredible how quickly the human body can adapt. Perhaps we might be a little strange, but we are quickly becoming devotees to frozen lands of the world. After spending four days dog sledding through Denali National Park, our devotion is quickly growing stronger.

There is nothing better than being in nature - far away from everything. It is so refreshing not to see power lines and trash scattered everywhere. No cell phones, no email, no unwanted distractions. Just vast and untamed beauty.

Watching the dogs run is an experience in itself. The look on the face of each dog is that of sheer happiness, despite their frozen whiskers. When they run, it is sheer power and true joy. If they did not want to run, they would not run. They love it, they crave it, and they are happy to harness up.  There is a statute of Balto* that stands in Central Park in New York City. It reads "Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed anti toxin 600 miles over treacherous waters, through arctic blizzards, from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the winter of 1925 – Endurance, Fidelity, Intelligence”. The words describing the dogs could not be more accurate.

Even more so, there is something tranquil about dog sledding - just you and your team. You must trust them, and they must trust you. There are times when you must rely on their animal instincts, despite your better judgment. There are moments where the human soul seems to transcend all bounds and combine with the strong, indomitable spirit of the sled dog.  What does that moment feel like? It cannot be explained (although I will try), only experienced.  It is an overwhelming sense of peace and strength mixed with the feeling that anything (and I do mean anything) is possible. After all, sled dogs can withstand and accomplish far more than most humans can ever dream.  Why not harness that spirit and apply it to our own lives?

*If you are not familiar with Balto's story, Balto was a sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the serum run to Nome in 1925, in which diphtheria antitoxin was transported from Anchorage to Nenana by train and then to Nome by dog sled to combat an outbreak of diphtheria. The serum run is commemorated by the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. 

 Headed out with our teams

 With our incredibly knowledgeable guide, Mike.

 Manook and Sky with Gabby and friend in wheel

Joy and Jade

 Nick and Sham

 Beautiful Jade on the river