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#215 Dog sledding FAQ

LaikaCan I drive a dog sled?
Yes you can! We have worked to train our dogs and make driving a dog team as easy as possible. There is one participant per sled, and of course there a guide for each sled, who will either ride the sled or offer suggestions along the way, if you wish to steer the sled yourself. Your trip starts with an orientation that covers all aspects of driving a sled and handling the dogs. Dogsledding is an activity enjoyed by people ages 18 to 65 of different fitness level. However active lifestyle may make your experience more enjoyable.

How many dogs are on a team?
Many factors go into deciding how many dogs go on a team (trail conditions, strength of the individual dogs, weight of the musher and gear, and even personalities of the dogs). Our teams average about 4 to 8 dogs. Snowmobile support is provided throughout the trip.

Who else will be on my trip, and how big are the groups?
Outdoor and adventure enthusiasts from around the world participate in our sled dog trips. The group size is from 4 to 8 persons.

Will I stay warm?
Please, find below the table of average winter temperatures:

 

Jan Feb March Apr Dec
Temperature in Petropavlovsk  (°C) -4.5/
-8.4
-5-
-11
-2/
-10
-5/
+1
-4/
-9
Average temprerature in Milkovo  (°C) -21.4 -18.3 -12.5 -2.8 -18.6
Rainfall (mm a month) in
PKC
- - - 42 -
Snow 100 67 140 40 96
Hours daylight/darkness 09:00-19:00 08:00-19:00 07:00-19:30 07:00-20:30 09:00-18:00

There are some very basic principles to staying warm in a winter climate:
- Keep dry. One of the most important steps in keeping dry is to choose the appropriate clothing. This is clothing made of fabric that does not hold moisture. Cotton is not to be worn outside in winter, as it is extremely absorbent and does not dry fast. It is important that socks and long underwear do not contain any cotton fibers. Appropriate winter clothing is made from synthetic fibers. Synthetics are quite plastic and do not hold water. Choosing synthetics is most important when selecting long underwear. Polypropylene, Thermax, Capilene, or any other name brand synthetic, will not hold water. Wool is also good for this kind of activities, however, it does not dry as quickly as synthetic. Do not avoid wool, but given a choice, pick a synthetic fleece over wool.
- Avoid sweating during activities. You will learn to monitor how much insulation your body needs to stay warm, but without sweating. By using layers of clothing you can regulate the amount of insulation and thus regulate your body temperature to the "comfortably cool" state where you are comfortable, but not close to sweating.
- Bring clothing with "loft" to hold air. Fabrics include down, synthetic fleece, and wool. This is another advantage to the layering system, as several layers will trap more air than a single thick one. It is very important that there should be plenty of room between layers. Layers that are tight and constricting will also constrict blood flow. Blood circulation is essential to stay warm.
- A tightly woven outer layer of nylon or other material will block the wind.
- Food and drink are also important for keeping warm. When participating in our trip, you will be burning more calories than you normally do, so you must consume more calories. Fat is the most important ingredient for keeping warm because it contains the longest lasting calories. To keep hydrated you should drink 8 to 10 cups of water each day, small quantities of water consumed at intervals during the day is best.
- Physical exercise is also essential in keeping warm. Some exercise, like jogging-in-place, is needed to warm you, during breaks and lunch stops.
- Sun protection is extremely important, as the sun reflecting off the snow is very bright. In order to be comfortable on sunny days, try to wear a hat or hood with a brim and/or sunglasses. (Remember however, the most important factor in selecting a hat is its warmth.) Sunscreen on your face and lips is also helpful.

What gear will I need?
All sled dog equipment is provided. You will just need to bring your warm winter clothing. Please, find below the list of recommended clothes:

  • Two sets of long synthetic underwear, like Thermax, polypropylene, or Capilene.
  • Three sets of heavy wool or synthetic socks.
  • Two winter hats. One hat should be thinner for warmer weather or higher activity levels. It is best  for your other hat to be thicker and to have a windblock layer, like a nylon shell. A hat with a brim is also helpful.
  • Gloves and mittens. It is important to have both. A couple of pairs of simple gloves like fleece, or ski gloves and a heavy pair of mittens with some sort of windbreak like nylon or leather is helpful.
  • Fleece or wool pants.
  • Two fleece shirts or wool sweaters. You should be able to wear both of these at the same time. It is better to have shirts of two different thicknesses.
  • A heavy, hooded jacket or parka.
  • A hooded wind shell jacket to fit over all of your other clothing
  • Wind pants made of nylon pants will allow brush off the snow.
  • Boots. Winter boots need to have removable liners and insoles that can be pulled out to dry at night. An extra pair of liners is also necessary. Please, note that tight footwear means cold feet. Tight boots cut off the circulation which leads to cold feet. Winter boots with removable liners are sometimes called “pack boots”  
  • Sunglasses.
  • Water Bottle

Is it safe to ride a dog sled?
As with any outdoor activity, dogsledding involves its own natural risks. Careful preparations and thorough instruction minimizes many risks and allows you to drive your dog team safely. Our guides are well trained and experienced in dogsledding and guiding outdoor trips.

 

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