Yesterday Amy and I said goodbye to the 70 sled dogs that we spent the winter working with at Wintergreen. We are heading to Chicago to visit schools. We will also be getting ready to head to the Amazon Rainforest in May. It is sad to think that another dogsledding season in Minnesota is coming to a close. However, the owners of Wintergreen, Paul and Sue Schurke, are about to head north on an amazing dogsled adventure. In a couple weeks, the Schurkes will fly to the one of the northernmost villages in the world—Siorapaluk, Greenland. Siorapaluk is a tiny village of less than 100 people in northwestern Greenland. Can you find Siorapaluk, Greenland on a map?
Northern Greenland is one of the last places on earth where people still hunt and travel using dogsleds like they have done for thousands of years. The Inuit hunters use large sleds call qamutiq. Sled dogs are usually connected to the qamutiq with a fan hitch. In a fan hitch, each dog has a long rope that connects it to the sled. The fan hitch works well for these dog teams that travel over jumbled sea ice.
In Minnesota we dogsled over frozen lakes and rivers, as well as over trails through the woods. A fan hitch would not work because the dog team would be too spread out. We use a tandem hitch in order for the dog team to fit on narrow trails in the woods. The tandem hitch means the dogs are running in a line two by two.
When traveling in the Northwest Territories, we learned about one more way to hook up a dog team. There, the Dene First Nations people would traditionally run dog teams on really narrow trails in the woods. They would hook up their dogs in single file to travel on these trails.
These are three examples of how people traditionally dogsled in three different parts of the world. What kind of dogsledding would you like to try? What type of dogsledding would be best suited for the area you live in? Thank you for taking part in our Boreal Wilderness Adventure. We hope you learned a lot about dogsledding and the boreal forest. Let us know what your favorite lesson was! Do you have any suggestions for how we can make your learning adventures better?