Dog Sledding in the Worcester Range

As anyone who lives in Vermont (or just about anywhere else in the country) knows, this has been a weird winter.  We’ll have a week of 20 below, a sudden big snow dump, and then a few days of 40 and raining before going back into a deep freeze.  Needless to say, it’s not been a very good winter for outdoor sports.  The ice skating on Curtis is great until it all melts and turns to mush.  I’ve had a few good day’s up at the mountain, but in the scheme of things, not many.  I had big plans to do a massive amount of hiking, snowshoeing, winter camping, and skiing this winter but with the weird weather I just haven’t gotten out as much as I’d like.  This weekend, as I fight off a cold, wasn’t looking like an improvement.

Until last night when I got an email from my good friend Mary.  Mary has been a wilderness guide for many years and lives an adventure-some life not too different from my own.  She lives in a tiny house in Calais that is, believe it or not, even smaller than mine.  In fact, she built it in my back yard and towed it over to it’s current location behind a friends truck.  Mary recently founded Mountainsong Expeditions and has been leading a wide variety of really cool wilderness trips around central Vermont.  Her repertoire of courses is both impressive and eclectic, including a women’s only Huntress Intensive, Sea Kayaking in Maine, a hunting trip to North Carolina, and dozens of local courses co-taught with other Central Vermont Do-It-Yourselfers on topics ranging from hide tanning and bow-drill fire making, to a weekend long Village Medic Training.  Somehow amongst her busy schedule she’s managed to find time to join the team at Peacepups Dog Sledding, in nearby Elmore, Vermont.  At Peacepups she leads most of their snow-shoe tours but is also being trained as a dog-sled guide.

As such, she needed a Guinea Pig, and when have I ever turned down a chance to be someones Guinea Pig!?  Her email said that she needed a passenger for a final training run before she could take paying customers on dog sled trips and if I could, would I please show up at their base, halfway between Worcester and Elmore today at Noon.  “Of Course!” I replied instantly, “See you there.”

As I pulled up Mary and Peacepups founder Ken were unloading dogs from their dog truck.  There were two other actual paying customers there as well, riding on Ken’s sled pulled by a team of eight Siberian Huskey’s.  Mary’s sled, with just me on board, would be pulled by a team of seven – we were a lighter load.  Over the course of the next two hours I learned a lot about sled dogs, sleds, and Ken’s mission.  He founded Peacepups in 2005 out of a desire to share his love of sled-dogs with others.  He donates 10% of all profits to non profit organizations working to promote world peace.  How cool is that!?  It’s clear from just our short visit that he’s dedicated to this mission, and that he and his posse of 30 sled dogs love each other very much.

Their sleds were much larger and fancier than the one my grandmother had when I was growing up, but I have very fond memories of dog-sledding with her, and I was excited to be back in the saddle!

Their sleds were much larger and fancier than the one my grandmother had when I was growing up, but I have very fond memories of dog-sledding with her, and I was excited to be back in the saddle, even if I wasn’t driving!

And we’re off! The chorus of the dogs ended as they focused on the pull.  It wasn’t hard to see their sheer joy and love of running as we raced into the snowy woods.

All bundled in.  The two-person sleds feature a comfy padded seat, a waterproof bag to keep snow of of you, and even a sleeping bag to sit in to stay warm.  Talk about riding in comfort!

All bundled in. The two-person sleds feature a comfy padded seat, a waterproof bag to keep snow off of you, and even a sleeping bag to sit in to stay warm. Talk about riding in comfort!

Mush Mush! The well groomed trail flew by and the dogs were in heaven! Mary and I had a great chance to catch up and along the way she told me all about Peacepups, how she got involved, and even taught me the voice commands the dogs answer to.

The Ride itself was a beautiful five mile out and back groomed trail through gorgeous woods between Elmore Mountain and Worcester Mountain.  Whether you’re a local, here visiting, or have friends or family visiting and are looking for a very unique adventuresome outing, I highly recommend both Peacepups and Mountainsong Expeditions.  There’s no way you could go out with these folks and not have a grand-old time!

As for me, I’m back in my tiny house for the weekend, reading my book, looking at bike-maps, and downing Vitamin C, hoping this cold goes away before our next good snowfall.

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