Out of all the stops on the Vaseline Dry Skin Patrol’s mission to rescue dry skin, the BearGrease Dog Sledding Marathon was the one I was looking forward to the most. I had no idea what to expect but just the thought of those cute dogs pulling me as I comfortably rode in the front basket of the sled sounded so cool! Little did I know that we would not be riding on those sleds but driving them . . . by ourselves.
On the day of our dog sledding lessons, it was 19 degrees and snowing. I couldn’t believe how cold it was and when I woke up my skin felt dry and frozen. How in the world would I survive a whole day outside? I even started feeling a little itchy after getting out of the shower probably because of the extreme difference in temperatures. I knew that this would be the ultimate skin test. I made sure I covered myself in Vaseline Intensive Rescue and got dressed . . . layer after layer after layer.
Then it was time to go outside. OMG . . . was it cold!
This was the first time I’ve even been in falling snow and I was surprised at how wet it was. I had 2 warmers in each of my gloves and boots but my fingers and toes still felt like they would freeze off. I started wondering at what point do you get frostbite? And if you did get frostbite, would you even know since you can’t feel anything due to the numbness? The good thing was that my skin didn’t feel itchy anymore.
We headed up to Eagle Lake in search of local legend, John Stetson, who would be teaching us how to dog sled. Stetson, the owner of Epic Adventures, is an Arctic explorer and has logged 100,000+ miles on dogsleds. Ask anyone in town and they all rave about what a great man he is. And he was. His patience and sense of humor made me feel confident that I would survive this.
After a few lessons on dog sledding terminology . . . Whoa (stop), Easy (slow), Gi (right), Ha (left), On By (keep going) . . . it was time to get the dogs. They must have sensed what was going on because all of a sudden every single dog there started barking and howling. It was so loud that it was almost scary. They were all jumping and pulling on their chains just begging for a chance to pull the sled.
The sled was tied to a tree and the 5 dogs were hooked up by their harnesses. I was introduced to my lead dog, Sparkler, and told that I should bond with her. I looked her in the eye and said, “If I fall off the sled, don’t leave without me!” I had no idea if she understood me or not but she just kept staring at me as if she was thinking, “Is this girl for real or what? She better hold on for dear life!”
Then it was time to go. All of a sudden, chaos erupted again as they started jumping and jerking forward. They were so loud that I started to feel a little anxiety as I stood by myself on the sled. What if I fell off? What if we got lost? What if I hit a tree? I had no idea what the course looked like and knew that Stetson lived on 80 acres of land. I wondered how long would it take for everyone to notice that I wasn’t on the sled anymore?
They untied my sled from the tree and we were off! Luckily, the dogs knew where we were going since I was too scared at first to shout any commands. However, once I got my balance and got used to the movements, I took a look around and was awed by my surroundings. The untouched snow-covered land was absolutely breathtaking. It was only when a tree branch almost hit me in the head that I remembered that I needed to pay more attention. And Sparkler, bless her little heart, kept looking back as if to make sure I was still there.
At the end of the wooded trail was a downhill shoot that opened up onto the frozen Eagle Lake. It was here that I met up with Kari & Michelle as our dog teams took us around this beautiful area that went as far as the eye could see. I found it to be a real challenge to make sure my dogs didn’t go too fast and get tangled up with the team in front of me. I kept trying to put my full weight on the brakes but the dogs were a little stronger than me.
All in all, I think everything went very well . . . if you don’t count the time my sled hit a tree and I almost got buried in the snow, or when I jumped off my sled when Michelle’s dog team went off the path on the frozen lake and my dogs tried to follow her, or when 2 of my dogs got into a fight and one tried to eat the other.
At the end of the day, I felt this event was a success because I left with all my fingers and toes in tact, no broken bones, and the softest skin around. In fact, the dry itchy skin I woke up with that morning never even crossed my mind during the day’s event. It allowed me to concentrate and enjoy what was going on around me with the confidence of knowing that my skin was well taken care of.
Here’s a video of Michelle @ The Adventures of Supermom going on her first ride:
Thank you Vaseline Intensive Rescue and Duluth, MN for the experience of a lifetime!
I was compensated by Vaseline for my time to travel. All opinions are 100% my own. Photos courtesy of Zippy @ Champagne Living.
Owner of An Island Life. A flight attendant and mother to 3 beautiful girls. . . living a blessed life in Hawaii.