Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dog Sled Adventures

At Grouse Mountain Lodge guests come up to the front desk to inquire about activities they should do throughout their stay all winter long. There is downhill skiing on Big Mountain just 20 minutes away, cross country skiing right out the back door of the hotel, and sleigh rides at the Bar W Guest Ranch just up the road. One activity, however, always interested me as an employee more than any of the others. That activity was dog sledding.

Dog Sled Adventures is just 30 minutes north on Highway 93, and I had sent guests there the whole previous winter whenever they asked where to go. Whenever a guest would come back from their ride they would without doubt have huge smiles on their faces and have only positive feedback to give. That alone may have interested me more than any other aspect of dog sledding.

I met the owner, Jeff, one day when he was driving his “dog truck” through town. It’s a truck that has a wooden covering in the bed with dog face-shaped holes cut out so when he makes a drive through Whitefish people can see a few of his friendly huskies with their curious and excited faces sticking out to gawk at cars and passerby's. Jeff immediately invited me to come up for a ride sometime after knowing all the business we try to give him at Grouse. It wasn't until this past month that I was able to finally get up there and see for myself what all the buzz was about.

Standing in front of Dog Truck with owner; Jeff (Left) and Musher; Adam (Right)

Pulling up to the yard was something I’ll never forget. 138 huskies each equipped with their own doghouses were jumping, barking, and all hoping to be a part of the team that got to pull the sleds next. Jeff gave us a big smile; “They’re all friendly,” he said. Boy was he right. These dogs were each incredibly sweet. It’s as if the term “puppy dog eyes” was coined at this very spot, as each dog begged to get a sniff as you marched past them towards your sled.

Our mushers name was Adam; he was extremely helpful and good at what he does. He answered all of our weird questions without hesitation; “What do you feed them?” “How much do you feed them?” “Where did they all come from?”

Each litter has a theme for their names. Pulling us that day was Brownie, Jell-O, and Cobbler. We also had a few from the “Adam’s Family” theme & some from the group of famous rock stars. Each dog is known by name and they also know their ages & personalities. I could understand how a dog could get lost in the mix because there are so many of them but I was very impressed with the amount of individual attention Jeff & his staff give to each dog.

The ride itself was about an hour long, and definitely worth the money. Winding through back paths in the snowy forest, I could only imagine how gorgeous it would be after a fresh snowfall. Sometimes they need to bring the snowmobiles out to carve a track for the dogs to run on, but other times they just forge ahead themselves. Alaskan huskies love to work. Adam said that even when he pulls the brakes on the sled they never stop running.

Jeff has been doing his business for 30 years. I am so glad I was able to step into his world for an hour long cruise, and enjoy hot cocoa & chocolate chip cookies with the team afterwards. After having this experience I would recommend Dog Sled Adventures as a Northwest Montana “must” for activities in the valley.

For further questions on dog sledding call them directly at 406-881-BARK! (2275)

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