Guest post by Snowmama Shannon Dempsey
We had the pleasure of going dog sledding on Saturday, December 31st, with PawSatch Snow Dogs, and I have to tell you - I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a REAL dog sledding experience!
Seeing that we’d be here the week after Christmas, I booked our trip early, actually in mid-October, and according to Neal Bowlen, Owner, we were lucky to get a spot as they were pretty much booked up for the week already! So note to self - book early! Trips are limited to two a day because they are completely private! It’s just you and your group... you won’t be sledding with a bunch of strangers, just those in your party! So it was just the three of us booked for 10:30 am on December 31st!
It was easy to do - book via email or give them a call. They have a website - http://pawsatch.com and you can find them on Facebook. I sent a request via email at first and Neal called me within 24 hours to confirm the date and time. He does require payment at the time of booking - but after talking to him I had no reservations about doing so - he’s the kind of person you want to hug through the phone.
Fast forward two+ months and I receive a reminder email from Neal about our date and specifics about location to meet. Due to the limited snow the area had received thus far, he assured me he had a “secret snowy spot” and that we’d definitely be sledding on snow for our trip and gave us detailed directions to Weber Canyon which took us about 40 min to get to from Park City. (*if you do not have your own transportation, they will make arrangements for you - just ask!)
In this email, Neal included specifics of what to wear (dress for winter and something you don’t mind getting a little hairy or dirty as you will get LOTS of loving from the dogs), a reminder that he provides snacks, coffee, hot chocolate, water and if you’d like he’ll even provide lunch - anything from simple to gourmet!
It’s finally our morning to go dog sledding and we arrived at our meet up spot promptly at 10:30 am and Neal was there waiting for us with all of his gorgeous dogs and his crew, our guide and Neal’s photographer. Yes, included in your price you get a TON of photos taken throughout the day as you meet each dog and then he rides on the back of Neal’s snowmobile to document the entire day. Did I mention that’s included in your booking fee?!?!?
I’ve only emailed with Neal and actually talked to him once and I felt the need to give him a hug upon our meeting as if we were old pals. He just gives off that vibe. And you can totally tell he loves his job - no wait - he loves his lifestyle!
Hubby, son and I get to meet each of the dogs, learn their names, ages and preferred places in line and then get a brief lesson on the sled, how to lean around corners and what to expect as the dogs are lined up (the dogs get VERY excited when they are lining up, barking, playing, nipping each other - they love to run & to pull!).
Neal also has a trailer at the site so there is a potty - a must before you take off for your trip, especially if you have kiddos with you, because the trip could last anywhere from 30 min to an hour depending on the weather as well as a spot to warm up.
Our son is set in the front seat of the sled and with the temps hovering around 20* and even though we’re dressed in ski gear, he is wrapped in a nice comfy sleeping bag good to -60* temps. Fabulous!! I take the second seat, also with a sleeping bag (hey, we ARE from Florida!) and hubby takes up the rear with our guide and is given a lesson on helping her break and turn when needed (which by the way he is SUPER exited about!). We were all completely comfortable!
Away we go - off for a gorgeous ride as the snow flurries begin to fly (seriously, could it get ANY more awesome?!) and Neal and his photographer buzz along side on their snowmobile taking pictures of our faces in a perma-grin state! It was so much fun! Tom was helping “drive” as we rode for a good 45 min, down into the Wasatch National Park and onto the frozen reservoir, making fresh tracks in the newly fallen 2-3” of snow!
It was the right amount of time - the dogs needed a few breaks, we got to take in the amazing scenery and the entire trip was captured on film (you are more than welcome to bring your phone/camera but honestly, you don’t need to!).
Upon our arrival back to “camp” lunch was waiting for us in our trailer. Prior to the trip, I emailed with Neal regarding lunch and I went for a simple order of PB&J for Ian and turkey sandwiches for Tom and I. We were met with enough food to feed an army - I think Ian downed 3 PB&J’s dripping with goodness and there was turkey, ham and roast beef sandwiches for us along with chips, fruit and three different kinds of soups! Neal also made us hot chocolate and had water bottles for us. Now let’s be real - the trailer is a trailer - and it carts all his supplies to and from the site, but was completely appropriate and welcomed us warmly after our trip with the dogs and allowed us to get out of the cold and have a delicious lunch! He even had a movie playing of the Iditarod Race in Alaska - which was spot on as one of his dogs has finished the race not once, but twice!
As we ate we were able to pick Neal’s brain about the dogs, his love for the sport as well as the love of the lifestyle he has running his business and providing for his family of five. Like I said earlier - you just want to hug the guy and he’s so easy to chat with.
Our outing lasted just over 2 hours - Neal tells you to plan on 2-3 hours depending on the weather. It was the right amount of time for us. We never felt rushed nor did we feel like it was too much nor were we too cold. I hate to use the word perfect, but really, it was for us!
After lunch, we got to hug, pet & snuggle with the dogs one last time before we left. Took a few more pictures and then headed out. Did we tip them you ask, you bet ch’ya!
What a way to spend the last morning of 2011!
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The views expressed on Snowmamas are those of the individual authors, who are independent contractors of Park City Mountain Resort, and may not be factually accurate. These views are not intended to reflect the opinions of Park City Mountain Resort, its owners, its management or its employees. Snowmamas' authors have or will receive a paid trip to Park City Mountain Resort or will receive other compensation for their participation as an author.