Amazing. That’s one word, to sum up my night winter camping under a full moon and 30 dog sled teams. I should (and will) let the photos do most of the “talking”.
New to the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon this year, was a Winter Camping Village. Fans could bring their own winter tent (or rent one) and experience traditional winter camping at the Sawbill checkpoint.
We heard the first dog sled team swoosh by our tent at 6:25 AM Monday morning. Other teams soon followed suit, with distant barking alerting us that the next team was soon to arrive. (click here for video)Our spot on the Sawbill Trail, was a mandatory 4 hour layover in the race, in which mushers were required to handle their teams without any assistance, (as a pre-qualifier for the Iditarod). Each musher had a spot with hay for the dogs to warm up and sleep in. Once nestled in, dog booties were removed, food was served, and sleep was top priority.
In the checkpoint mix, was our winter camping village, and it brought many curious onlookers. How are the tents made and how are they set up? How do the stoves work? What should you pack for winter camping? And are you warm?! (I have addressed most of these questions in my previous winter camping blog). Yes, we were warm! Warm from shoveling snow for our tent site and warm again once the stove was lit.
In between answering camping questions, and taking in the sights and sounds of the Beargrease, we were enlisted to help out on a few occasions, leading dog teams back onto the trail after their break. The dogs were definitely ready to get back on the trail! (watch the video, click here)
It was an exciting day, but unfortunately we had to pack it all up and head back to Duluth. The teams have to pass through the Sawbill checkpoint again, and how fun it would have been to be able to watch them come back through the next day!
A big thank you to the Beargrease staff and volunteers. As I stated above, it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do it again next year! I hope some folks out there will join us!