An afternoon with Absaroka dogsled treks
STORY BY Carly Dyer
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jesse Lenz
Before the sled takes off, the yapping of eager huskies fills the air. Then: absolute silence. The dogs dash forward, padding quietly through the snow as they were bred to do, towing their riders alongside a river and through a forest tunnel of rocks and evergreens that rise all around. This is the world of mushing.
During dogsled season, which runs from the day after Thanksgiving through the end of March, Absaroka Dogsled Treks takes people on winter adventures through Gallatin National Forest along the Absaroka Mountain Range. Pick from three different options at increasing lengths: the Tenderfoot, the Yukon, and the Denali. The longer the trek, the higher the climb. They all leave from Chico Hot Springs Resort, 26 miles south of Livingston and 30 miles north of Yellowstone National Park.
And if the trek kindles a craving for even more adventure, Absaroka also has an intensive three-day mushing course, in which one to three students learn how to feed and care for the dogs, as well as the ins and outs of sleds and other equipment.
The Absaroka team is serious about the care and well-being of the dogs, purebred Siberian and Alaskan huskies. The company picks its mushers—a smorgasbord of locals and global adventurers—carefully to ensure they have a strong connection with the dogs. Kenny Hess, a local sled builder, helps with the upkeep of some of the sleds. It’s a testament to the tight knit community that’s embedded in Montana culture—and in the wild and wonderful world of dogsledding.