Outdoor Winter Adventure only 1 hour from FivePine Lodge . . .
When my husband told me he wanted to take one of the sled dog tours up at Mt. Bachelor for his birthday, it was no surprise. He had become a sled dog enthusiast after watching some of the races that took place in Central Oregon between 2002 & 2004. While I shared his interest in the sled dog sport, I wasn’t so enthusiastic about going on one of the rides. Am I going to freeze in that sled and how comfortable can it be? It looks like something more suited for hauling firewood, than delicate me. Anyway, it was his birthday, so I put on a happy face and checked into arranging this.
I went to the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort website and looked for the link to the Oregon Trail of Dreams sled dog tours. The website was very thorough in providing all the tour information and driving directions to the meeting point at Mt. Bachelor. The website stated reservations were required, and I called 800.829.2442 to make our reservations.
When we arrived at the Sunrise Lodge at Mt Bachelor we easily found the starting point for our tour and checked in with one of the tour guides. We had plenty of time before our departure, so we went inside the Lodge for a cup of hot chocolate. It was snowing pretty heavily at this point and I began to be anxious and wondered if I was really going to enjoy this adventure.
When we returned to the starting point, our musher and owner of the dog sled tours, Jerry Scdoris, was already selecting and harnessing the dogs that were to become our 8-dog team. We learned how important it is to place the dogs in the best positions as they all have their different personalities and running styles. They all got so excited and so anxious to start the run. I think it was at this point that I started to feel the excitement. Jerry got us settled in the sled, me in the front and my husband behind me. It was pretty snug, but with multiple blankets on top of our legs and a waterproof cover sealing us in, we were well-protected and pretty warm. We were, of course, dressed for the cold weather and once we started I was glad I had borrowed a pair of snow goggles.
As Jerry took the brake off the sled the dogs lunged to a start and we were off down the trail. I couldn’t tell you how fast we were travelling, but the dogs were pulling us down the trail with ease. Before long I had forgotten about my anxieties and felt as if I had been transported into a fantasy world. I had been out in the forest during heavy snow before, but this was amazingly different. I don’t know if it was just watching those dogs joyfully running across the snow, the beautiful scenery or being mesmerized by the snow falling gently all around us. Whatever it was, I didn’t want this ride to end.
Along the way, Jerry chatted about his dogs and their training and care and how he came to the sled dog sport. From his conversation, it was pretty easy to understand the incredible bond between a sled dog racer and his dogs. Jerry also talked proudly about his daughter, Rachael Scdoris, who is legally blind and operates the tours with him. She is a skilled sled dog racer and has twice participated in the renowned Iditarod Sled Dog Race which takes place in Alaska each March.
As we completed our loop and started to get closer to the end of our trip, I was wishing we had signed up for the longer 26-mile trip, which takes 5 hours, including a lunch break at Elk Lake Lodge. I may have not been up to that, but certainly something I will consider in the future. Our trip was a wonderful experience and a special memory. Now, each March we follow the Iditarod race online. We recall our own sled dog adventure and just maybe have a little understanding of why those mushers feel the need to venture out in the Alaska winter wilderness and follow their sled dogs teams, hopefully to the finish line.