North to Alaska

26 dogs, four people, 7 days, 3000 miles, a couple trucks, a breakdown, helicopters and a delivery. This about sums up our trip to bring the dogs to Alaska for the summer where they will be running tours with Alaska Icefield Expeditions on the Denver Glacier outside of Skagway in Southeast Alaska. We’re super grateful to Aaron who worked with us this winter and will continue to work with the dogs up on the glacier leading tours for guests coming off the Alaskan cruise ships that travel through the Inside Passage.

Last Sunday Caleb, Aaron and I (Deanna) loaded the dogs up in our trailer and truck and headed north. We stopped in Gunnison to pick up Kaitlyn, a friend of Aaron’s who is also working on the glacier. We took a longer route to Alaska so we could stop and visit with my brothers and their families in Idaho. It was a short but sweet visit. From there we headed west through Oregon and Washington and then up through British Columbia and Yukon Territory. The country we drove through was gorgeous- deserts that glowed pink and lavender with the sunset, up over mountain passes, along massive rivers and glacial lakes, through stunted tundra forests, passing moose, caribou, foxes, coyotes, black bears, bison (and baby bison!), porcupines and eagles. We even got to stop at Liard Hot Springs and soak away our road weariness for a few hours. 

A couple dogs enjoyed riding in the back of the truck (until it broke down). They switched every stop, some were better than others as I'm sure you can imagine =)

A couple dogs enjoyed riding in the back of the truck (until it broke down). They switched every stop, some were better than others as I’m sure you can imagine =)

The worst weather we saw was a gnarly blizzard right out our front door. Going up over Monarch Pass was crazy icy. Once we got over that though, the rest was smooth sailing, weather-wise anyway…

Since there were four of us, taking care of the dogs super easy. Each morning we would unload the dogs from their boxes, feed and water them, and let them stretch their legs a bit while we eat our breakfast. Then we’d get back on the road and drive for 6-8 hours and stop again to let the dogs out to use the bathroom and drink some water, while we kicked around a soccer ball. We would load them back up, drive another 6-8 hours then stop for dinner. This was their longest break where they ate, drank, pooped, peed, and then we would try to give them all a little run to use up some of their energy. After a couple days of this routine they’d settle in and get used to it. Though it’s definitely a relief for us all when we finally arrive.

bison

Tons of bison in Yukon Territory. These guys just hang on near the highway. This is the first time I’ve ever seen baby bison. Look closely in the photo and you’ll see them.

The biggest hitch in the trip came in Washington. We were cruising down the highway thinking this was going to be the easiest trip north with the dogs when we heard a huge clunk that continued for a couple of seconds until we pulled over. It was the injectors. Caleb knew this without a doubt because the same exact thing happened to him a month prior, leading him to have all six injectors replaced. Needless to say this was hugely disappointing. Thankfully we had AAA from the last time we had to be towed. The trailer wasn’t covered by AAA, but one of the tow truck drivers was awesome and came with his own truck to pull our trailer to town for no extra charge! What a blessing that was. He was super helpful and even offered us a place to stay at his house.

White Pass

Coming up over White Pass. This is where Canada spits us out into Alaska.

We had to get the dogs to Alaska by May 2nd, so we didn’t really have time to hang out and wait for the truck to get fixed, nor could we trust it after being left twice now on the side of the road. So we rented a

Caleb and I hanging out on the beach in Skagway, watching the sea lions and otters play.

Caleb and I hanging out on the beach in Skagway, watching the sea lions and otters play.

U-haul, the only truck we could find with a hitch. It turned out alright and was a super solid (though gas-guzzling) truck. We made it to Skagway on time and were able to drop the dogs off at Temsco, where they were loaded into helicopters and flown up to the glacier. 

It was surreal how quick that whole process was. It took less than an hour to get all 26 dogs and Aaron and Kaitlyn up. Once the last group was loaded and flown up, Caleb and I stood there feeling a little lost. The dogs will be gone for the next 5 months. All our focus had been to get the dogs to Skagway and up to the glacier. There hadn’t been much thought about what would be next. A strange absence, for sure. I think we’ll get used to it pretty quick, but we’re definitely missing the dogs right now.  After leaving the dogs, we took a ferry to Juneau, did a little glacier caving and now we are headed home to Colorado.

Caleb and Glacier

Playing on and under the Mendenhall Glacier

D under Glacier C under Glacier

We’re looking forward to updates and photos from Aaron on the glacier. When we hear how things are we’ll keep you all updated as well. Watch Facebook for those updates!

adminNorth to Alaska

Meet Our 2014-15 Guides

IMG_1178Caleb Hathaway-

Caleb got into dog sledding 10 years ago. Working with dogs was a great way to spend his winters, while working on a ranch in the summers. Once he caught the bug, he headed north to work with dogs in Canada and eventually in Alaska. He’s helped train a team to run the Iditarod, ran a few mid-distances races, and worked with and managed several tour companies before starting is own tour company in 2011 here in Salida, Colorado. He loves dogs and he loves educating people about dogs and more specifically about sled dogs.

IMGP1434 (1)Aaron Young-

Aaron moved from Pennsylvania to spend a couple of years working with wolves at Mission Wolf outside of Westcliffe, Colorado. He fell in love with the wolves and wanted to continue working with their K9 relatives. He moved to Alaska to help run dog sled tours on a glacier outside of Skagway. He joined us in October to run dogs and learn more about the sport of mushing. We’re excited to have him on the crew this season!

photo (1)Deanna Jamison

Deanna lived and taught in Alaska for seven years, but ironically didn’t get a chance to work with dogs until her last year up there. She learned a lot about dog care (and cold weather!) while living in Alaska. She moved to Salida in 2013 to learn more about running dogs and to help run the kennel and the business (and be near Caleb ). 

adminMeet Our 2014-15 Guides

Blowing Coats and Puppy Time

Throughout the winter, one of the most common questions we get is, “How do they stay warm when it’s so cold?” Since these guys are used to living outside, their coats are nice and thick. They actually have an undercoat, kinda like long johns I guess, that’s hard to see when you just look at them. Come spring time though, they’re ready to get rid of that extra layer of warmth. I’ve been spending a little time each day brushing all the dogs to help them a long in the process. Those thick clumps of fur that are coming out drive me crazy! Here’s H.D.’s undercoat all over his circle.

photo

I shouldn’t pretend to know what he’s thinking, but if I were to guess, I’d say he’s pretty excited to get rid of the winter coat.

In addition to the undercoat, they also have a lot of important oils in their coats that keep them warm. I once had a girl ask me if we ever give them baths, and the answer to that is no. Not because it’d take a month to wash 28 dogs, but because if we washed them they’d freeze out in the cold because we’d have washed away the oils that help keep them warm. I wonder if we’d stay warmer in the winter as humans if we showered less….

On another note, Lydia is in her final week of pregnancy and she’s getting big. We’re excited to have some new puppies! We’ll keep you updated on the puppy status.

adminBlowing Coats and Puppy Time

Snow? In May?

Yep, that’s right. And not just a little bit. Here’s the photo I took when it was still light out.

photoThe sun has now set, so I can’t get a photo of how much snow there is now, but suffice it to say more than enough for May. It’s not so bad though really. The dogs like it cool, and so I guess we do too. All this snow is making some noisy, restless dogs. They think it’s winter again. Not quite, guys, it’ll be awhile again til this stuff stays on the ground… hopefully.

 

 

adminSnow? In May?

New Website

Well, folks, we’ve got a new website, and with that, we’ll be trying to keep it updated about what’s happening in the kennel and in the business. Stay tuned to hear about some exciting things coming up and about also to get updates on our fun, furry friends (‘scuse the terrible alliteration, I just couldn’t help myself). And in the meantime, enjoy the photo!

Sometimes you get brown, sometimes blue, and every now and then both!

Sometimes you get brown, sometimes blue, and every now and then both!

adminNew Website