Today on the first ATV run behind the 16 dog team, the gangline separated from the harness on the ATV and, since sled dogs love to run, that’s what they did. They ran all the way to the turnaround where we, the second group of riders, were waiting to ride the ATV home. They surprised us because we were turned looking down the hill, cameras ready to shoot photos as they came running up. Instead, the team appeared running around the curve behind us. Everybody scattered like startled birds to get out of the way, and the team stopped to Vern’s cries of “Whoa! Whoa!”
The first rule of mushing is, “Don’t let go of the sled.” It’s also the second and third rules of mushing. We experienced firsthand the dogs running, regardless of whether the sled is attached or if the musher is on the runners.
Here is what a run behind 16 dogs looks like. ATVs are the sleds when there’s no snow. The driver maintains the right speed to keep the gangline taut.