By Diane Chase, author of Adirondack Family Time Tri-Lakes and High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities
Mush! John Houghton, the owner of Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours has been checking the ice on Mirror Lake daily to make sure it is safe and ready for dog sled rides. Since we saw a dog sled movie (more than one movie so it's not worth mentioning a name) there has been some insistence from the ranks about being pulled around by dog. There had been attempts in our past of attaching a sled to our gold retriever, with little success. I have been even dubbed the team at times, but believe the allure isn't in the ride but in the animals.
Houghton, who also breeds his Alaskan Huskies as well as runs them, is not going to jeopardize his eight-dog team or the passengers that are along for the ride. He has over 20 years experience with dog sled tours. If his dogs are on the ice, his daughter assures me, the ice will be safe. He periodically checks the ice for his and the animals safety. Oh, good grief, of course. He is a professional. We are in experienced hands.
Thunder Mountain Sled Tours home base is located in Vermontville. The dog sled check-in is located at the foot of Saranac Ave in Lake Placid. Each 3/4-mile ride is $10/person, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Friday - Monday. Call 518-891-6239.
Houghton gives me a quick introduction. He would use more dogs in tougher conditions and less for ice. The less resistance on the runners, the quicker the dogs can pull. These dogs know we are going for a ride. They are pulling at their harness, barking for attention. Our lead dog is Pepper, one of Houghton's 35 sled dogs. She is black with a sprinkling of white. Her head is in the game the minute the signal is given.
I am instructed to get in the back. The kids will nestle in between my legs. The heaviest weight is toward to back. Yup, John delicately let that tidbit drop, but I am not insulted. The sky is blue and when the sun peeps out from beneath a cloud, the frozen lake sparkles. The wind is crisp and invigorating. The trip passes too quickly. We are back at the base and thanking the crew.
Before we walk away we ask if we can pet the team. The other dogs bark for attention. We give each member a pat, but save the accolades forour lead dog, Pepper, for guiding the rest of the team.© Diane Chase, author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks (Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities) for the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Jay/Upper Jay, Wilmington, Keene/Keene Valley which is available online or bookstores/museums/sporting good stores. Diane is currently working on the second guidebook in the four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities.