We’re still adventuring through the holidays and we hope you’re joining us!
It’s super easy. Just pick 4 of the 7 challenges we have listed HERE, do them over the course of the next 7 weeks and then fill out the form when you’re done. Honor system and easy peasy. Then we’ll pick some winners and announce them on January 9th! Again, check out all the details here.
Be watching the blog for posts every Sunday to help give you some ideas on how to make it happen AND what you could win!
Finally – tell your friends! We love seeing people get out!
This Week’s Highlight: Take a Night Adventure
Please welcome Kathryn Petroff to the site today!! Be sure to check out her bio – she’s an ambassador for Rebecca at Hike Like a Woman, and with good reason!
Winter. It took me a long time to learn to love that word after moving to the mountains. All of my neighbors would “shush” me when I said it as if I was about to unleash some unrelenting beast upon us. In recent years, however, I have decided that it is truly all about perspective. I used to dread the around the clock restocking of firewood and the daily drive down our HILL OF DOOM in the snow, while longing for my summer hikes. But now, I appreciate the workout I get from splitting wood in the fresh air and look forward to sledding races down our hill with family and friends, faces painted silly and cackling all the way down.
This past winter, I added a new activity to our growing list of reasons to be thankful for the season. Dog sledding! I was on the hunt for a Valentines surprise for my husband, and we are not the type of people who drive down to the city for a fancy dinner with a 2 hour wait. That eats up precious babysitter time! New experiences are the ideal gift in my book, so I did my research and happened upon the perfect fit for us, Snow Buddy Dog Sled Tours. Snow Buddy is a small, family run company owned by Sarah and Dan Piano in the cute little town of Oak Creek, CO.
What I loved about Sarah from the moment I first spoke with her is that her top priority is all about the happiness and wellbeing of her dogs. They are her family, and they are each special to her. You see, in this sport, many people focus on breeding and training the perfect dogs for the job. They have a certain window of time that they are at their peak, and then they are often no longer considered useful and sadly some are culled. Sarah knows that the passion these gorgeous animals feel doesn’t simply go away when their strength and speed slows down a bit. I saw it firsthand. They LOVE to run and pull! When the sled stops, they are itching to take off again like a kid running towards a piñata that just exploded. Because of this, Snow Buddy has actually sought out and rescued dogs that are toward the end of their “careers”. Dogs that may be considered no longer useful to some, to Sarah, still have an excitement for the sport that she loves and deserve respect into their senior years.
After plotting over phone calls and emails, Sarah and I pulled out all the stops for this surprise and did it up right! I set up a weekend without kids and reserved a stay at Oak Creek Motel, a cute and friendly little motel frequented by hunters and outdoor adventurers. As for the dog sledding adventure, I booked the biggie…the dinner tour.
The night of the tour, my husband, Andrew, and I met our two guides, Sarah and Ethan, just before sunset for a private dog sled experience on Dunckley Pass in the Little Flat Tops. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. Andrew’s first response when he heard I had set this up was, “You are actually going to drive the sled? I can’t wait to see this!” I am not exactly known for my love of speed, something my husband is pretty addicted to. I have skied most of my life, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I still prefer taking it slow on green runs and enjoying the scenery. My husband? He backcountry snowboards. I gave up long ago following him down the next run he thinks I can “handle”. Not my style. Heading into dog sledding for the first time, I was not sure what to expect and how I’d feel about the speed. (Spoiler: I LOVED IT!)
The entire experience was hands on, and we were allowed to be as involved as we felt comfortable. We harnessed the dogs ourselves and were taught commands like “Ha-ha” and “Gi-gi” for left and right. I noticed that each dog had their own personality, something that Sarah explained helped determine their strengths and position within the team. It was fascinating and exciting.
“Ready, HIKE!” We were off! The light was fading, my husband was bundled in the sled, and I took off behind our guides, steering my new furry friends into the woods. Andrew and I could both feel the adrenaline and excitement each of us was experiencing. We stopped after a bit and switched drivers so that my husband could take charge while I snuggled under the blankets and took in the views of the moonlit forest. It was breathtaking.
Soon, we arrived at a large tent with white Christmas lights strung around it. The dogs laid down to rest under the brilliant glow of the full moon and stars. Well, most of them. A couple of our new buddies knew what was going on inside the tent and pranced in to join us. As we walked through the opening, we could feel the warmth of a wood stove that had been set up for us. A chandelier hung over a table set for two. We sat, tucked away in a secluded winterland, and savored a lovely dinner created just for us by a local chef. When it was time for dessert, we decided it just didn’t feel right to leave our new friends outside, so we insisted that Sarah and Ethan (and one or two of our four legged friends) join us inside for some incredibly delicious homemade chocolate cake. We laughed and told stories of our lives in the country. It felt like spending the evening with long lost friends. I could not have imagined a more perfect night.
Sadly, it was time for our adventure to come to an end. On the drive back, Andrew and I both cuddled on the sled and took in one last ride as our guides led us back to the trailhead. We hugged, said our goodbyes, and vowed to come back. I will hold to that, as my son was incredibly jealous. Not surprisingly, our kids are also outdoor adventure junkies.
Snow Buddy Dog Sled Tours is a small business, in a tiny town, run by incredibly genuine people. It’s not a cookie cutter resort company, and I appreciate that. I love experiences where you get to learn something new, spend time laughing and relaxing in nature, and meet new people along the way….people who treat you like one of the pack. So I have added this to the top of my list of reasons to LOVE winter. What is at the top of your list?
More Ideas for Nighttime Adventures
While Kathryn experienced an epic winter nighttime adventure (which, sign us up!) sometimes the best we can do is get outdoors as a family for a walk around the block, or sledding on the local hill after dinner.
With the winter solstice just around the corner why note celebrate the longest, darkest night of the year with a headlamp or a flashlight and an outdoor adventure.
Light up the Night with LuminAID
We’re here to brighten your night by giving away a prize package from LuminAID as part of our Adventure Through The Holidays Challenge. Because just because it’s a dark winter night doesn’t mean you need to stay indoors.
We’ve been taking our LuminAid Solar Lanterns on our winter camping trips over the past two months and have LOVED them. Super light, recharge easily and last a long time!
Thank you, Luminaid, for sponsoring Adventure Through The Holidays.
Again, be sure to check out this page for more information about how you can win prizes for getting outdoors this holiday season.
© 2016, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.