A chilly 13ºF was not going to keep us away from meeting 46 incredible sled dogs, taking a basket ride and learning all about their routine from Lone Wolf Guiding Services owners, Ashley and Mark Patterson.
When we arrived at Lone Wolf, Mark greeted my mother and I. Ashley was busy loading up 8 dogs in the smaller of their two dog trucks. These dogs would be the ones pulling us on our basket rides. Once all packed in, Ashley drove the small distance to the top of their 3 mile trail, right on property! The dogs all knew that the truck meant they were getting ready for a run. As we met the team, both Ashley and Mark taught us about the dogs, their “breed”, each dog’s unique personality, different harnesses and how to put them on the dogs. Mark even gave me the opportunity to put Dollar in her harness! They also shared the importance of the pups wearing booties with the current icy trail conditions. Right away Plum and Newt’s piercing blue eyes surprised us with their beauty! As the team was getting prepared, we also observed that the girls were more casual with the boys stood up in line, very structured and ready to run!
Our team for the day was:
The co-ed pair of Tayra + Pum led the pack
followed by Whiskey + Newt
Penny + Dollar brought some female power
while Trident + Alder brought up the rear!
My mom went on the basket ride first. It was amazing to watch her take off! Mark pointed out that Ashley was on the breaks as much as she could be, proving just how powerful these pups are! Wow! While mom was on her 20 minute adventure with Ashley and the pups, Mark walked me through the kennel. I was amazed that he knew each and every one of their 46 dogs names, personalities, history, family and more! I was not able to remember each dog’s name, although I tried, but I was greeted with hugs, kisses and love from nearly all of them. It was incredible! I could not believe how friendly they all were.
Next it was my turn for the basket ride. I climbed into the sleeping bag provided and was strapped snuggly into the toboggan. I pulled my Turtle Fur Totally Tubular headwear on as a neck and face mask and my hat. Nice and cozy, I was all settled in and with Ashley’s command “Ready? Hike!”, off we went! It was incredible to watch each of the dogs run, with their own personalities. Newt ran a little more to the right than the others while a few others relieved themselves while on the move. Now that takes some serious skills! To turn right, she hollered “Gee!” and although we didn’t turn left, I learned the term they would use is “Haw!”
When we returned, the dogs stopped with impeccable timing, right where we started when Ashley said, “And Hoe!” Once we stopped, some of the dogs began to roll around in the snow, looking as playful as ever. They each received a pork fat snack before their booties and harnesses were removed and they were brought back to the kennel one at a time. Mark shared that this is when they are able to spend some time with them, notice any injuries and on longer runs, when they each would be stretched out, just like any other athlete!
Before ending our trip, Mark continued to walk us through the kennel to meet the rest of the dogs, play with the 7-month-old puppies, learn about their daily routine and get lots more dog cuddles. We learned about all the other services they offer in spring, summer and fall, such as moose safaris and guided hikes. We also learned how they train their dog sledding race team with an ATV.
I highly recommend that everyone checks Mark and Ashley out! This was the perfect morning spent doing something thrilling and filling our hearts with some much joy! Ashley has been dogsledding since she was 13 years old, making it even more apparent how much each and every one of their dogs means to the Pattersons.
If you are up for more of an adventure, check their Mush Your Own Team 4 hour hands-on trip.
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