I had imagined bluebird skies, crisp air, and a blanket of snow. And indeed, I got the snow part right. Plus or minus a blizzard – with heavy wind gusts and heaping snow drifts. But, here we were: our Oregon Trail of Dreams Sled Dog Ride Adventure.
We layered up and shuffled over to the tiny wood hutch only to hear that our trip would be delayed because of bad weather and an under-the-weather musher. No worries, though. We were a parking lot away from the Sunrise Lodge at Mt. Bachelor. And a coffee bar, hallelujah.
Hot drinks in hand, we tromped back to await our sleds. We met Rachael Scdoris, the owner/operator of the business. Scdoris grew up helping her dad, a professional musher, when she was barely bigger than the dogs. She laughed at how her “help” wasn’t very efficient. The other mushers could harness ten dogs in the time it took her to harness one. But with nature and nurture on her side, she finished her first Iditarod a decade ago. Now, she and her husband run the huge operation.
Scdoris encouraged us to walk around and meet the dogs. They sat still and quiet until the first sled was within eyesight. Then, a cacophony of barks and yelps and yips filled the air as each dog begged to start running.
My dad and the kids went first, bundled up like three peas in a pod. Then, my mom and I loaded into the sled right after. It was surreal and surprising. The lunge from the start. The whoosh down the hill. The muffled stillness of the forest.
Our musher’s race stories and encouraging “Good dogs! Good DOGS!” covered the sound of our sled above the snow. She chatted on and on as if we were best friends meeting for drinks – while my mom and I sat huddled in the sled, teeth chattering and noses freezing. It was cold. Bitter cold. And yet, I couldn’t get over the enthusiasm of these mushers. These professional dog lovers.
Their passion wasn’t just evident in their words and their stories. It was obvious by their actions. They work tirelessly. In crazy climates. With dozens of dogs to care for. Why? Because they love what the do.
I think the world would be a better place if we lived more like these mushers. Doing what we love in spite of the sacrifice it takes. Nothing is more heartwarming. Even in the freezing cold.