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Get Out: Skijoring

By Brett Shepard 8:08 AM March 13, 2014

More than 20 miles of multi-use trails in Anchorage are open to skijoring.

Anchorage has miles and miles of trails throughout the city, and there are countless ways you can explore the network of paths.

In this week’s edition of Get Out, I looked at one of the more unique ways to venture around Anchorage — and your favorite four-legged friend gets to go with you.

“It’s such a hoot to go zipping around the woods,” said skijoring club member Chuck Pratt.

From the looks of it, skijoring appears very similar to dog mushing. The main exception is that the dogs don’t do the bulk of the work. You and the dogs work together as a team. They run and you ski.

“I like being out,” Pratt said. “I like being out with the dogs. It gives me a reason to get out.”

This sport may look pretty daunting to the casual passerby, but it’s something almost anyone can enjoy, said skijorer Kimberly Wells.

“It’s always helpful to at least kind of know how to ski. I didn’t do it that way and I fell a lot in the beginning. But I stuck with it. If you know how to ski it’s very helpful,” Wells said. “It’s not a must, but it’s a good idea.”

I already know how to ski and I found the added power of the dog made for an even more exciting ski trip.

We skied with primarily husky breeds, but a husky isn’t necessary for this sport.

“I’ve seen people skijor with mastiffs, Rottweilers, Dobermans, poodles and Dalmatians. I personally skijored with Dalmatians, so quite a variety of dogs,” Wells said. “Mixed breeds and otherwise are suitable. If they want to pull and be out there with you, take them out.”

Kimberly didn’t mention basset hounds, so even though my dog Einstein loves the snow we probably won’t be the next great skijoring duo.

If you are interested in getting involved in this sport, the Anchorage Skijoring Club is really a one-stop shop for everyone from beginners to seasoned skijorers.

“We have fun runs for beginners. We also have races,” Pratt said. “We term them races, but everybody is welcome to come and show up. It’s a real low pressure event.”

More than 20 miles of multi-use trails in Anchorage are open to skijoring. If you are looking for a new way for you and your pooch to explore Anchorage and get in some exercise, this might be the sport for you.

If you have any ideas for our get out series you can email me at bshepard@ktva.com.

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