Originally we had scheduled the Dog Sledding on Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter excursion during our stop in Juneau. However, when we got off the cruise ship and checked in at the meeting point, we were disappointed to learn that there was major fog and snowing on the Mendenhall Glacier and the excursion had been cancelled for the afternoon. In its place, we switched to the “summer” musher’s camp, which is basically dog sledding among the trees and over mud in the Tongass National Forest.
Our driver took us out of downtown Juneau and we drove about fifteen minutes until we turned onto a small road at the front of the camp. We entered the camp and was greeted by groups of loudly barking dogs, hooked up to metal carts. As soon as we sat down in our metal cart, the dogs took off and I felt somewhere between terrified and exhilarated(the type of terrified where you are also laughing so hard you’re crying if that makes any sense). Our guide sat on the back of the cart and directed the dogs with voice commands as they moved quickly over the trail. The cart moved incredibly fast past all of the tight turns and I was laughing and screaming each time. Also, if you choose to sit in the front seats, be prepared for the mud the dogs will kick up towards you.
After the ride, which really only lasts about fifteen minutes, you get to meet so many dogs. We got to pet the team of dogs that pulled us around, plus we got to meet a “retired” dog, the sweetest pregnant dog, and a couple of puppies.
While the excursion was not quite what I expected(as we missed out on the glacier dog sledding experience), the best part of the excursion was the people we met. When asking the workers at the musher camp if they live in the Juneau area I learned most of the workers were only there for the summer season. I met a guide who travels with twelve of his dogs to Alaska during the summer, and then competes with his dogs in dog sledding competitions in Michigan in the winter. I met multiple workers who were simply looking around the internet for an adventurous job and decided to travel to Alaska for three months. A lot of the people I met in Alaska travel there in the summer just to enjoy the scenery.