Our last day in Alaska was spent with the Seavey family at their Ididaride Sled Dog Tour. Mitch Seavey, 2004 Iditarod Champion, and his family have about 200 working sled dogs. The intrigue of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, also known as Alaska’s Super Bowl, came alive as we met competitors and heard their stories. The Iditarod race covers over 1,150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer with jagged mountain ranges, frozen river, dense forest, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams. Add to that temperatures far below zero, winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility, the hazards of overflow, long hours of darkness and treacherous climbs and side hills, and you have the Iditarod.
After a brief introduction to the family and business, we walked back to where the dog are kept. I was expecting covered kennels, and was shocked to find tons of dogs each equipped with their own, private kennel. As the staff started hooking up the sled, the dogs became more and more excited, almost saying “pick me; I want to go.” It was incredible feel how powerful, excited and smart these dogs are. Since we were there in the summer, we rode in a wheeled cart that they use to train the dogs with when there’s no snow on the ground. We rode behind 16 dogs for two miles mushing through the Alaskan wilderness to the base of Resurrection Mountain and along Box Canyon Creek. After our ride, we toured the kennel facilities, saw what the mushers wear during the Iditarod race, and met future sled dogs that were only a few months old. This tour was chosen as one of Alaska’s Top Twenty Attractions, and is certainly one I will never forget.