A black metal snow hook anchors our wooden sled to a tire fixed to the ground, as each dog in the seven-husky team strains at its harness, barking and yipping with the excitement of the run. My musher, Martha Sortland, motions for me to take my place on the runners, standing behind her. I step onto the treads and Martha reminds me for the third time to hold on tight.
"It's like getting shot out of a cannon," said Steven Peterson, chaplain of YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch and director of its dog-sledding program, now in its third year. Peterson gives a rousing presentation about the sport every Thursday and Saturday morning from mid-June through early April. On this morning, about 80 of us sat in rows of seats in the dog-sledding building, sweating in our outerwear, but completely captivated by Peterson's talk.
One theme dominates his sermon: "These dogs love to run."
If you go
Dog sledding is $25 per person for guests at Snow Mountain Ranch. Call 970-887-2152, ext. 4130, as far in advance as possible to make a reservation. Dog sledding season will (hopefully) go through the end of March. Accommodations at SMR range from $79-164 for lodge rooms and $149-499 for cabins.