Ely, MN Chamber Of Commerce
I am dogsitting Nacho, a former Iditarod dog, this weekend, so when I found a friend willing to try skijoring we set out from Fall Lake. The friend hadn’t skijored before. I thought of Nacho as a steady puller so she hooked up to him while I harnessed myself to my dog, Mantis.
There were several trucks already in the lot with dog boxes, meaning there were at least two teams already out on the trail. Another truck with a team pulled in just as we were filling out our BWCAW permit. This was a big ice-fishing weekend.
I think all of the sled dog activity reminded Nacho of his former life, and he was ready to pull. Sue scooted along behind him at a fast clip, trying to slow him down by holding a snowplow position, but the track was well worn and solid, not giving her much purchase. Once Mantis realized she wasn’t going to get the lead, she trotted along behind, happy to be out for an adventure.
The day was sunny and warm (a few degrees above freezing). Despite the other vehicles in the lot, we saw no one else as we slid along the white expanse of Fall Lake, crossing below Mile Island, then skirted the far shore. The red-brown of bare pine needles on a steep, south-facing slope was a surprise.
Our plan was to decide whether to take the 4 Mile Portage or to back-track to the Newton portage when we got to the 4 Mile, but the dogs made the decision. Up and over the berm at the tip of the trail we went. It was, at times, a heart-stopping ride on the long, narrow portage.
We shot out into Hoist Bay of Basswood Lake in less than an hour. Since we all had energy and plenty of daylight, we traipsed up to the northeast a few miles more before we turned back. The wind was in our faces then, and Mantis was bored. I had less dog power on the way back, but the exercise was good for me, too.
The 4 Mile was still a wild ride, especially when a red squirrel cut across the trail right in front of us and Mantis dove into the brush after it. Luckily, I accidentally wrapped the rope around a sturdy alder and it acted as a brake.
We need to get out this weekend to check out the new snow.