By Phil Lindeman / firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Louie Traub
“This sled is like a car stuck in drive,” our guide said before almost anything else. “If you go off the brake, the dogs will take off.”
On a stunning December morning, our small group of amateur dogsledders met with Courtney Donald, a guide at Good Times Adventures in Breckenridge, for a few hours sliding around on fresh, soft snow with huskies that live to run. It had snowed 12 inches the night before and the pine forests on all sides of the team looked like something from a Colorado postcard, or maybe a Christmas Eve dream.
“The big powder days are softer and slower, the spring ice days are faster and a little more frightening,” Donald, 25, said. “It’s like a day on the (ski) hill.”
The car analogy is still no joke. As soon as our guide walked past the team — eight dogs staked to a track in the woods, attached by full-body harnesses to a small sled made for two — the dogs started fussing and fiddling and nearly backflipping, yowling for someone to just take them on a run already. She knows them each by name, and after giving us a crash course on dogsledding technique, she introduced us to the homebred animals tasked with pulling us through the thick, white-capped forest.
In the third row were Bacon and one-eyed King — the wheels of the team, Donald said, and King really did have just one eye — followed in the second row by Dr. Drea and Missy Elliot. The lead dogs, Juan and Sherpa, were calm compared to the wheels. They’re the brains.