M is for Mush!

A Dog Greets Me, High Camp Kennels, Healy, Alaskaopens IMAGE file

A Dog Greets Me, High Camp Kennels, Healy, Alaska

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 opens in a new windowEarthSong Lodge in Healy just outside Denali National Park.

High Camp Kennels at Earth Song Lodge Near Denali National Parkopens IMAGE file

High Camp Kennels at Earth Song Lodge Near 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.

The Cabin I Stayed at EarthSong Lodge Near Denali National Parkopens IMAGE file

The Cabin I Stayed at EarthSong Lodge Near Denali National Park

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!?

EarthSong Lodge
Healy, Alaska 99743
Tel: (907) 683-2863
opens in a new windowwww.earthsonglodge.com

Dogs at High Camp Kennels, Healy, Alaskaopens IMAGE file

Dogs at High Camp Kennels, Healy, Alaska


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: opens in a new windowAthropolis)

Have you ever tried dog sledding?

This post is part of the opens in a new window2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Check back daily for a different letter!

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Author: Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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  1. I had to laugh at your comment, ‘No I’m not referring to soggy food…!’ Dog sledding is appealing and any excuse to travel works for me!
    Rhia from Five Minute Piece for Inspiration (about #777 on A to Z list)

  2. I have enjoyed checking out your blog so far! I am headed to Alaska (flying into Anchorage) the first week in February. I am going solo and only have a plane ticket so far. I’m not trying to spend a lot of money, do you have any recommendations on where to stay/what to do?


  3. Hello Micayla.

    Thank you for dropping by and I’m really excited about your trip to Alaska! I haven’t visited during the winter but I heard it’s incredible. Here are my posts about my summer trip: https://solotravelgirl.com/?s=alaska

    Hope you get to see the Northern Lights!




  1. My Awesome Alaska Adventure | Solo Travel Girl - […] When it comes to lodging for Denali National Park there are several options and I chose something with character…

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