How can you not want to visit a town that had a cat for the town mayor? This is not our first visit to this small town near Denali (map location). A bit over 33 years ago, the USS Nimitz had a port call in Anchorage Alaska (really; it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure). This was part of an exercise in which yours truly was a part of (called NORPAC), back when the mighty EA-6B was still flying the skies. We (my fellow aviators) called the exercise FOGPAC, since most of the time we were fogged in and couldn’t fly. Our cruise patch slogan was “Eat ’till you’re tired, Sleep ’till you’re hungry.” But we had some free time while in port and drove to Talkeetna from Anchorage in hopes of seeing Denali (we failed due to clouds, but we had a good time anyhow).
This visit, many years later, we have now seen Denali and even better, we got to have fun with sled dogs! Our first day in Talkeetna was spent with the Alaska Sled Dog Company, learning how to mush, and I’m not talking about the emotional sort of mush.
We had the opportunity to visit with a working sled dog team, that uses the off-season to haul tourists like us around their local trails to keep fit and get ready for the upcoming race season. Since there is no snow, four-wheeled carts are used instead of the sleds.
These are very lean and wiry dogs that love to pull. Since there is very little friction with a wheeled cart, as opposed to a sled, we had a small group of four dogs pulling us, and that was more than enough. They had no problem pulling us along, and I had to use brakes on several occasions to slow them down and keep the cart upright as we rounded corners.
The two lead dogs were experienced Iditarod Trail participants, and the two in back were juveniles still learning the ropes. When racing, there are 12-14 dogs powering the sled. After getting back from our 45 minute trail run, we had time to play with a new litter of puppies.
It wasn’t all fun and games with the dogs, though that was definitely the highlight of our stop. We also trekked around one of the local lakes, wandered town several times, ate great food and drank great beer. After all, we need our nutrition for the next phase of journey. We are off to Seward!