M is for Mush!
Nope, I’m not talking about soggy food. “Mush” is a term associated with dog sledding, an activity that’s on my bucket list and an excuse to return to Alaska. During my August trip with friends Madge and Lyn, we stayed at EarthSong Lodge in Healy just outside Denali National Park.
One of the reasons I chose the lodge was because High Camp Kennels is onsite. Karin and Jon Nierenberg, the couple who own the lodge, also raise dogs for dog sledding and lead winter expeditions, and I thought a kennel tour would be an Alaska thing to do.
Dog Sledding in Alaska
Now, it’s my understanding there are at least two schools of thought to sled dogs. One is about raising specific breeds and thinning out litters in order to groom the best dogs for racing competitions. The other is about utilizing good working dogs to pull a sled more for necessity and recreation rather than competition. (Remember, it snows A LOT in many parts of Alaska.) High Camp Kennels, as I learned, is about raising sled dogs for work and recreation and not competition.
One of the neat things about staying at EarthSong Lodge (and someday I’ll get a review up about the adorable lodge) was hearing the yelping and howling of resident dogs in the early evening then hearing howls from neighborhood dogs reply. The lodge is also relatively close to Denali National Park and is what I envisioned an Alaskan cabin to be. I’d definitely stay again.
Kennel tours are offered each morning and the dogs are extremely friendly. Most enjoy the human interaction and affection. The kennels were clean and it was evident Jon (who led the tour) cares about these canines.
If you’re planning a winter visit (which I’d LOVE to do), they offer Denali dog sledding expeditions. Jon was a National Park Service ranger in Denali for years so he knows the park. Interestingly, he talked about dropping off food supplies throughout the park before the snow came which will be used throughout the winter by his dog team. So who’s ready to mush!?
Healy, Alaska 99743
Tel: (907) 683-2863
One other thing about the term “mush” and dog sledding. Apparently, no one really uses the term “mush”, except in movies and Alaskan tourists. “Hike” is the common term. Many believe “mush” was derived from the French word for go/run: “marche.” Early French explorers used the command to get the dog team to begin pulling. (Source: Athropolis)
Have you ever tried dog sledding?
This post is part of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Check back daily for a different letter!