Our dog sledding adventure was Just Short of Magic

March 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm (Alaska, Travel) (, , )

Judging from the rather unenthusiastic responses to our travel plans (mostly along the lines of “Uh, why?”), Fairbanks doesn’t appear to rate as a top Alaskan tourist destination.  Understandable when a tour of a subterranean tunnel for studying permafrost makes it onto the list of suggested activities.  For a weekend, however, there are activities enough to keep you entertained.  Dog-sledding would have to be high on that list – can be done around Anchorage, but for the lack of snow….

Keen to experience this most iconic of Alaskan sports, we head 30 minutes out of Fairbanks to Just Short of Magic.  Run by long-time musher and teacher, Eleanor Wirts, Just Short of Magic is a mushing school where visitors can go on a sledding tour with an experienced musher, or learn to take the reins themselves.  Going with the guided option, musher Matt, fresh out of completing the Yukon Quest, takes us into the woodlands with his team of eight.

Magic - Entry

Magic - Sled

Magic - Trail2


Magic - Trail

The school could not be more aptly named.  Zipping along the trail that winds through a snowy, birch forest, the bright sun casts dancing shadows all around.  We barely notice the cold in our thick jackets, mittens and big, white, bunny boots, but welcome the warmth when when the trail occasionally pops out into a bright clearing.  Speed is about 6-7 mph.  These are not racing dogs; they’ve been bred for their friendly dispositions and it’s well worth arriving early before the start of the tour to spend some time with them; they will expect tummy rubs in return for selfies (a fair trade) and you might even coax shy Asland out of his kennel for a pat.  Regardless, it’s clear that they love to run, clamoring for attention as the mushers prepare to depart, those left behind stoically looking to the distance, waiting for their return.

Magic - Tummy Rub


Magic - Waiting

Magic - Puppy

All too soon, the adventure is over and we’re pulling up to the school.  For the dogs, it’s pats goodbye and a quick, meaty snack before dashing off again.  Not quite so energetic, we’re thinking indoors with some hot cocoa to kick-start the defrosting process.

Magic - Temp


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