There was a dumpload of fresh snow on the north side of Mt Shasta for the 2013 Siskiyou Sled Dog Races. We took a firepit and wood, lots of snacks, and camp chairs. Got so comfy I didn't want to leave! Every half-hour or so a race started or contestants returned and we moseyed over to the starting line to watch the action. The mushers were from all over the western states. There was even a truck-load of dogs on their way to the Iditarod.

The energy at the starting line is palpable, with dogs leaping in their harnesses in wild eagerness to start running. Signing up as a volunteer for the day will get you in on the action holding onto a dog or two for the mushers, keeping lines from getting tangled before the starting gun. Being in the middle of dozens of huskies crying their low, moaning howl sends a thrill up the spine!

Pat Campbell, Siskiyou's best known racer, ran the 19.5-mile race with sixteen dogs and a time of 1:42:19. That's right, sixteen dogs. I have trouble managing two dogs at once!

The six-dog category was highly competitive and had a number of different race-lengths. In contrast, the skijoring division (being pulled on skis by 1 or 2 dogs) was surprisingly under-manned, with just 3 teams. As an easy way to exercise your dog, skijoring is a simple and affordable sport. And when there's no snow, the skijoring belt and harness can be used for cross-joring, running with the little extra forward-momentum that a pulling dog can give.

Although there were a lot of obviously Siberian and Alaskan-type huskies running, they are not the only dogs who can do well at pulling sports. There were some interesting mixes running. One of the skijorers had some sort of shepherd or retriever mix, and another dog looked more like a border collie cross than a northern breed. There was also a chihuahua, but his role in the team was questionable.

I forgot to take my camera, of course, but fortunately Ms Schmidt and her fine Canon were clicking away. We had a great time and so did our dogs, when we let them out to play between races. More photos are on the Dakonic Photography site.

This is a very family-friendly event and I hope more people from Redding can make it up to the 2014 races. It's a truly one-of-a-kind experience. The park where it is held is easy to find off the highway and has good amenities. The mushers are friendly (*after* their race), happy to share about their sports, and comfortable with people petting their tied-out dogs. The dogs looked great, happy to be running and very, very fit.

The races are put on by the Siskiyou Snow Dog Sporting Association and results are posted on their website.

Read more about sledding on the sports page!