So after I posted that I’d be forgoing skiing in the Alps because of my preggo status and taking up dog sledding instead, several people commented that rigging myself up on a rickety sled pulled by several aggressive huskies might in fact be more dangerous than sailing down the slopes on a pair of skis.
And before I actually stood behind my own team of sled dogs, who could no doubt smell my fear and seemed to thrive on it, I would have said, “Don’t be ridiculous!“
I mean, the website promoted the excursion as family friendly! You could put your kid in the sled and drive them around! Besides, how dangerous does this guy look?
So when my friend Jess and I arrived at the base of Le Tour for our 15 minute dog sledding lesson and subsequent 45 minute sledding adventure, I didn’t think much could go wrong.
Then the guide came over to give us le briefing. It started out ok: Here’s the break, here’s where you stand, etc. But quickly devolved into tips such as “Don’t EVER let your dogs pass another sled, they’ll fight and start biting each other” and “Don’t let go of your sled when you fall, just hang on and try to pull yourself up and run beside it for a while.”
I paused for a moment, wondering at the guide’s choice of English there. “When” you fall? What about “if” you fall? Was a face plow in the snow really as inevitable as he was making it sound?
“Yes. People fall all the time. A lot.”
Al-righty. He then instructed us to hop on and jam down the breaks as they geared up the dogs. Poor Jess was rigged up first, her lead dog howling and leaping vertically 5 feet in the air as the rest of us got ready. That’s when I started wondering if dog sledding wasn’t just the best worst idea I’d ever had.
Then my 3 dogs were latched on, and they started howling and barking and jerking my sled forward in fits of unbridled excitement. They were pumped. I was terrified. And then it was time to go. With a brisk Allez! from the guide the dogs snapped into line and we all launched forward in single file into the field ahead.
And for about 30 seconds it was absolutely exhilarating! We were flying over the snow, I was gripping on to the sled for dear life, and the dogs seemed to be having a blast. Then they stopped. And took a poo.
I was not briefed on what to do during a dog poo break, so I waited patiently. Then the dogs finished their business and leapt forward without much warning. And for another few minutes it was extreme dog sled madness! Leaning into the turns! Wind whipping my face! White-knuckle grip on the sled!
And then we stopped for another poo break.
After that we did a short uphill jog (with me running behind the sled) to complete our first circuit. The guide made a brief assessment: All were alive and accounted for. So we took off again on a slightly more complicated route, down by the riverside and into some heavier snow.
That’s when I watched Jess take a flying super-man fall into a snowdrift. It looked bad. But did she let go of the sled? No! She dragged for a few feet, did some magical roll maneuver and jumped back up and onto the foot holds. It was awesome.
After a few more feet and another poo break, I heard an ominous AAIIIIEEEEEEE! behind me and shortly found another woman’s dog team panting next to mine, without a driver. I took the opportunity to stop, tell all the doggies to remain calm, and snap one of the only action photos of the day:
After the woman was yanked out of a snow bank and reunited with her sled, we took off for a few more laps through the countryside. There were several more tumbles and poo breaks, thankfully none of which involved me. And by the end, my dogs pretty much gave up trying to pull my pregnant ass up the last hill, so I had to run behind them, panting and sweating and dodging the piles of poo on the track.
But all in all, I would say dog sledding was a total success. My hidden talent maybe, since I didn’t fall once! And absolutely probably more dangerous than skiing. So I figure when I finally get around to making baby #2 someday, I’ll have to line up a trip to scale Everest or something.