A very nice man by the name of Geoff Carol was kind enough to take us all dog sledding with him! He could only take 2 at a time, so we took our turns and had a blast. It was the coolest thing I have ever experienced. He is the only person in Barrow who still does dog mushing. All of the dog teams have been replaced by snowmachines. They are more efficient and easier to take care of. So, the tradition of dog mushing is no longer practical. Geoff got into dog mushing from a couple of Minnesotans who were planning an expedition to the north pole. He joined them and went to the north pole with them in 1987. They started in Greenland and it took him 56 days to get there.
The dogs that he has were so, so, friendly and cute. They are Greenland huskies, which are not the same type as they use for the racing, like the Iditarod. The ones that they use in the Iditarod are used for speed and the Greenland huskies are slower, but have a thicker coat and are more suited for survival. The average lifespan is like 8 years. I loved the dogs they were quite adorable and soft, and beautiful and friendly.
When Sam and I went it was colder, so Geoff made us put on big parkas to stay warm. He wanted to make sure that we enjoyed ourselves and did not freeze to death. Some of us got to help harness up the doges. They were barking like crazy because they were so excited to go. They are chained up in a pen, each with their own little house (box), but live to go on mushing Riding was so fun. It was so beautiful to watch the dogs running and pulling us along. We used the words “Ha” for right, “Ge” for left, “Kitta” for go (inupiat) and “whoa” for stop. We each got to drive the sled and stand on the rutters on the back. Geoff took us across the lagoon, the tundra behind Ilisagvik and across the the arctic ocean. On the way back one time, he wrapped a rope around his waist and skiied back to his house as we drove the sled! After we returned, we unharnessed the dogs and got to feed each dog 2 fish and a blubber chunk. It was a really unforgettable experience.