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Dog Sledding in Northern Wisconsin

Date: February 7-10, 2013

In early February 2013 Sandra and I went to visit Mike and Allie in Wisconsin. Mike's parents live in the Northern Highlands of upstate Wisconsin. Their house is on the shore of one of the larger lakes of the area, Crab Lake. I've been to Mike's parents house before, but only in the summer time. The lake freezes in the winter. We thought it would be a neat experience to see this area covered in snow. And we also wanted to try one of the popular winter sports of this area: dog sledding.

Visiting Mike and Allie

Mike and Allie recently bought a house and also got a super cute dog: Shelby
Into the snow with Sandrita! It was so nice seeing all this snow, especially after the really mild winter we've had in the D.C. area. It reminded me of my childhood in Slovakia. There were even icicles hanging off the house gutters.

Mike busted out his unicycle and took Shelby for a jog.

At Crab Lake

The next morning we set off for a 5 hour drive to Crab Lake.
This is the dock - it has a "bubbler" which keeps the ice from freezing. The second picture is the guest room. It was so nice, better than a bed and breakfast.
Before dinner we set off to go cross-country skiing. This was Sandra's first time but she was doing quite well (despite the occasional falls!).
Few pictures of the frozen Crab Lake.
The base of the lake was slushy and the slush kept freezing to the skis so we abandoned the lake and took a trail home.
Mike's parents just got back from a ski trip to France and were heading out the next day for another ski trip in Colorado so we lucked out in them being around to meet Sandra. Mike's mom prepared for dinner a venison stroganoff. Mike's parents go hunting so I asked if they killed the deer. They did - accidentally with their car! This was the best road kill I have ever tasted.

Dog Sledding at Two Moons Kennel

The next day, Saturday, we drove for about an hour to get to the Two Moons Kennel. On the way we passed a number of gas stations occupied solely by snow mobiles. Snow mobiling is a really popular winter activity here and drivers need to be careful to watch out for careless snowmobilers crossing the roads. We almost hit one on the way back.
The Two Moons Kennel is run by a lady, MJ, who takes in rescue huskies. She has a total of 14. The dogs were really friendly - and being huskies, they love to pull.
We started off on the frozen lake by the house. The lake was gromed so we didn't have the slush issues we had on the ski trip from the previous day.
Before getting here, we didn't really know what to expect. We thought that perhaps we will just sit in a sled while somebody else will drive it. But instead, we got to go on our own. The lake allowed us to try the sledding while the people from the kennel got to watch us to see how we do.

Here comes Sandra
Next it was Allie's turn

And finally Mike's

We then all went again for the second run on the frozen lake
The dogs were really friendly
After we finished the two runs on the lake, we went back to the house to warm up - it was bitterly cold on the lake. The break also allowed the dogs to take a rest. The owner treated us to her cakes and cookies - they were absolutely delicious. Then after this lunch break, we resumed sledding by doing a trail in the forest.
On these forests run, we again went one at a time, and this time were followed by a snowmobile just in case something happened.
Sandra went after me and I got to follow her in the backseat of the snowmobile.

Here goes Mike.
What I found interesting about the whole experience was just how physically demanding dogsledding (mushing) really is. Even when you are just standing on the sled, you still need to do flex your legs quite a bit - it's somewhat similar to downhill skiing. But even more importantly, the dogs tend to slow down, especially on uphill. In those cases, the best thing is to just jump off the sled to help them out. So in reality, a good chunk of the run was spent by me running alongside the sled.

Sandra with the dogs

I got 3 dogs for my second forest run. This was a blast; we went really fast at the beginning. I even caught air few times. However, I had to cross 2 roads, which required slowing the dogs down (to make sure no cars were coming) and after the second road, the dogs decided to take it more leisurly. There is a saying I saw somewhere that you can't push a dog with a rope and it's very true. Although there are commands to tell the dogs to speed up or slow down, in the end, it's up to the dogs to decide what they want to do (but the sled has a break, just in case).
Mike and Allie
Sandra on her second run

These two white dogs that Allie got were by far the fastest.

Dinner back at the house

We finished this really fun day by me preparing some traditional Slovak dishes. I made goulash soup, and since we had some leftover potatoes and there was some bacon in the fridge, I also threw in some bacon potatoes. We topped this off with our home-made wine. Cheers!
Next morning, we said good bye to the frozen Crab Lake and headed back to Milwaukee for our (multiple-times delayed and rescheduled) flight back to D.C.