I have been having a blast teaching my Iditarod class at our home-school co-op. We are only a week away from the start of the real race in Alaska. So, this week, we tried to experience a little of what it might be like to hit the trail.
We loaded up our “sled” (aka, the Little Tykes wagon) with the required items every musher must have. This included an ax, a pot big enough to boil three gallons of water, a cold-weather sleeping bag, dog food, 128 dog booties (two pairs for each of our 16 dogs) and several other items.
The boys are holding our map of Alaska, which shows all of our mandatory checkpoints on the 1,150-mile trail.
I got to be the musher for our first round, and the boys were the dogs. They had to learn all of the dog commands, like “Hike!” to go, “Gee!” to turn right, and “Haw!” to turn left.
We stopped at some checkpoints as we made our way around the building.
Just like in real life, our lead dogs were the fast runners. The dogs in the back were our stronger pullers.
I gave each boy a chance to be the musher and I helped pull the sled. For awhile, we switched the order of the “dogs” and it was amazing what a difference it made! When the stronger boys were in front and the faster boys were in back, the “lead dogs” would start to fall behind the fast runners, the rope would get mixed up and the wagon would hit someone in the rear. It was comical!
We also found that even though the load we had to pull was heavy, when everyone worked together, it was effortless. We have learned that the 16 dogs on a real sled team barely feel the weight of the sled. It was a great lesson!