Six cadet members of Juneau's Civil Air Patrol accompanied by two senior members visited the Sheep Creek Summer Sled Dog Camp, operated by Gold Rush Sled Dog Tours, LLC, on July 17. Cadets Perry, Peterson, Fischer, Kiefer, Abrams and Burgess along with senior members 2nd Lt. Damerval and Lt. Col. Nestler traveled up the Sheep Creek Mine Road to the site of the old AJ Mine. The site is now the location of a sled dog summer camp providing tours for the cruise ship passengers that visit Juneau from early May through mid-September.
The members were first introduced to a team of dogs and then got to experience sled dog mania, when they went for a 1 1/2 mile ride on a custom-built wheeled cart being pulled by 14 of the camps Alaskan huskies. The dogs went wild as they were hooked to the cart, a sure sign of their enthusiasm for running. Once the cart got moving, the dogs quieted down and concentrated on their work, happy to be on the trail doing what they love to do.
After the ride, while visiting the history tent, cadets heard the story of the 1925 Serum Run. During the Serum Run, a relay of sled dogs joined together to deliver Diphtheria serum 700 miles in five and a half days to ultimately save the whole town of Nome. They also learned about Joe Redington, whose efforts led to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race becoming the most popular and longest sled dog race in the world. Joe is now called the "Father of the Iditarod."
In the race tent, the participants learned about the supply bags that the mushers in the Iditarod send out before the race so that they can re-supply along the 1,000-mile trail. They also learned about the mandatory rest that the mushers are required to give their dogs during the race, and the fact that all of the musher's give their dogs more rest than what is mandatory.
Before departing, the guests were treated to hot chocolate and cookies and introduced to some 9-week-old sled dog puppies. The puppies were the hit of the tour and everyone enjoyed holding and getting chewed on by the puppies.
Many thanks go out to Gold Rush Sled Dog Tours and their crew for providing such a wonderful experience.