Dogsledding In New England: A day of adventure at Lake Elmore, Vermont

Running the trails at Lake Elmore, Vermont
Running the trails at Lake Elmore, Vermont | Source

A few years ago I added another outdoor adventure to my already lengthy "G" List. If dogsledding is currently not on your bucket list, I highly recommend you add it and treat yourself to an exhilarating day (or night) winding thru snowy trails as you listen to the nearly silent pace of the pack dogs.

Ken mushing his sled at Peacepups
Ken mushing his sled at Peacepups | Source

Where To Find Sled Dog Adventures?

There are many dog sled tours offered in the New England area, as well as, nearby New York State. Because Vermont is our next door neighbor, we decided to venture up to Lake Elmore and take a tour with Peacepups.

Situated in the southeastern part of Lamoille county, Elmore is primarily forested and agricultural land. Driving north on highway 89, you'll pass through Montpelier, Vermont. Stop at any of the many cafes for a cappuccino before finishing your trek to Elmore (just be sure to use the facilities before leaving. Once you've arrived at camp there are no bathrooms).

N44° 32.616' W72° 31.765'

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Ken, generally has two sleds each with a pack of dogs. He immediately begins to introduce his dogs by name and temperament. Each one has a unique personality and voice. Ken recognizes his dogs as if they were his children. It is during this time that the dogs are their loudest, barking and howling. A few of the veteran dogs rest conserving their energy. (the younger dogs have not yet learned to nap during each run). A few of the dogs are mischievous, but not for long. Neither Ken or the other dogs will allow it. The dogs excitement is palpable.

Ken, from Peacepups, sharing the love.
Ken, from Peacepups, sharing the love. | Source

We're then instructed on the style of sled we'll be riding in which fits two comfortably. The musher, Ken, will stand on the back of the sled.

When we are nestled into our sled and wrapped with a warm blanket, Ken begins to connect the dogs to the gangline. During this time, the dogs eagerness is uncontainable. Several of the dogs jump vertically into the air to show their readiness.

The dogs jump with anticipation. They are ready to pull.
The dogs jump with anticipation. They are ready to pull. | Source

Once the dogs are harnessed, the musher gives the command and the dogs are quick to react. From the moment we hit the trail there is quiet. A few moments ago, the dog's barks were echoing through the wooden countryside, but now, doing what they clearly love doing, they are focused and silent.

Hearing a dog howl in the night can leave you feeling eery, but watching them howl this day was rather peaceful and watching them communicate with each other was fascinating.
Hearing a dog howl in the night can leave you feeling eery, but watching them howl this day was rather peaceful and watching them communicate with each other was fascinating. | Source

Taking a ride with Ken from Peacepups

Like most exciting events, the time passed much too quickly. With one last windy turn we were back at camp and again surrounded by barking, howling Siberians.

Before you leave, you can make a hot cup of tea and stand by the fire in the Peacepup tent. There will be one more run for the dogs and the next fortunate couple were just arriving.

We bid our farewells and handed out a few treats to the dogs that weren't already getting some well deserved rest.

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Mushing Terms:

Although dog team drivers are often referred to as "mushers", and "mush" is thought by many to be the standard word to get dogs moving, the word is, in fact, not often used as it is too soft for a distinctive command.

The word likely came from the early French explorers and their word "marche" (go, run) used as a command to a team to start pulling.

The most common commands for a dog team are:
• Hike!: Get moving ("Mush" and "All Right" are sometimes also used).
• Kissing sound: Speed up, faster.
• Gee!: Turn to the right.
• Haw!: Turn to the left.
• Easy!: Slow down.
• Whoa: Stop.
• On By!: Pass another team or other distraction.

Did you know.........

Mushers usually have no trouble getting sled dogs moving - often its harder to get them to stop - but it takes months of training to get dogs working together as a team.

Once trained, sled dogs can remain in top form for years - it's not unusual to see 10-year-old dogs in races like the Iditarod or the Yukon Quest.

To keep dogs in shape and at peak performance levels through the off-season, some mushers harness their teams to wheeled carts or four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles, and let the dogs pull the chariots along snowless dirt roads.


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Comments? Questions regarding my dogsledding experience? Leave them here. Looking for a place to eat while visiting Vermont? I've got a few suggestions for you 12 comments

PageC profile image

PageC 4 years ago

Great hub! I haven't actually tried dogsledding, but have wanted to.


alifeofdesign profile image

alifeofdesign 4 years ago from New Hamphire Author

Hi PageC, It was on my "G" list for several years before I had the opportunity. It was amazing. I hope you have a chance to experience it!

Thank you for reading my hub.


Jennifer Rousseau 4 years ago

Loved this hub and learned so much about dogsledding.

There is a company in Mt Shasta, CA, where by in laws live, that we have been curious about for years. After reading your hub and 2 feet of fresh snow, I have advanced this to the top of my "J" list!

Thanks Graham


alifeofdesign profile image

alifeofdesign 4 years ago from New Hamphire Author

So pleased to learn it's at the top of the "J" list now! Thank you so very much for reading and commenting!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

A brilliant hub and thanks for sharing.

Eddy.


alifeofdesign profile image

alifeofdesign 4 years ago from New Hamphire Author

Thank you, kindly, Eiddwen.


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

That's something I've always wanted to do. Thanks for sharing your experience with us! There is nothing more joyful than seeing working dogs so focused on their jobs. Time for me to check out dog sledding tours in Lake Tahoe or Park City!


alifeofdesign profile image

alifeofdesign 4 years ago from New Hamphire Author

lindacee, this had been on my "G" list for sometime. If you can locate a team that offers evening tours that, too, is wonderful. When the dogs are running it is amazingly peaceful, however, it is also equally amazing the excitement and the barks the dogs let out before they mush....they are so anxious to run it's a bit of a frenzy! Have a great time! Best Regards,


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

I had to come back by and see that picture of the dogs anticipating the run. Fantastic. This is such a great hub, and I hope everyone who is searching for a fantastic experience will read it and realize how rewarding it can be!!


GoldenThreadPress 4 years ago

I have always wanted to dogsled and, yes, it is on my bucket list. I believe we have a number of dogsled teams here in Wisconsin. I'll have to check it out! Great Hub!--Deb


alifeofdesign profile image

alifeofdesign 4 years ago from New Hamphire Author

DrMark1961, I'm going to presume that you have been (?) Although I have scratched this off my "G" List, I crave to try it again and I would love to mush my own sled. The dogs were truly amazing. I, too, hope that folks out there will find the opportunity to try this-it was more wonderful than I had anticipated. Thanks for stopping by.


alifeofdesign profile image

alifeofdesign 4 years ago from New Hamphire Author

GoldenThreadPress-DO IT! Make the plan and cross it off your list. The experience is thrilling on so many levels. Peacepups offers an evening ride (I mentioned that in the hub, I think) and I would enjoy that as well. I'm certain that that would be an entirely unique experience. Have fun ;)

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