Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sister Adventures: Alaska Part 2

Hello and welcome to part two of my Alaska adventures. Currently brisk winds and cold temperatures combined with bites of non-dairy Mint chocolate chip ice are helping me relive Alaska as if I never left. I'm settling in to share highlights of my favorite adventure.

Dog Sledding & The Chena Hot Springs: An adventure of a Lifetime!

Wake up sleepy head! It's time to hit the hills. Time to hitch up the dogs. What?! This Georgia girl (and lover of tropical destinations) is about to ride a dog sleigh in temps below zero with layers and layers of snow as the landscape, and I was excited!

For body fuel we whip up some peanut butter and coconut protein balls for the road. This trip was going to be sans children so we give the girls hugs and kisses and clamor into the car; laden with snowsuits, gloves, hats, scarves, face masks, hand and foot warmers, as well as some serious snow boots.  Also with us, buried at the bottom of our bags was a bathing suit for the hot sprints. There was no reconciling this concept in my mind, but I packed it anyway. More on that later.

In the meantime, we drive the 30 or so minutes to Paws for Adventure!! Once parked and out of the car we take a moment to soak in our surroundings.   Almost every sense is stimulated as you breathe in the fresh air, listen to the excited barking of the dogs, and see raw beauty spreading out before you in blankets of white. Up ahead the owner beckons us to join her in the warm yurt where we check in and get suited up for the chilly ride.

Inside the yurt...

Outside the yurt...

We watch with childlike awe and interest as the musher harnesses each dog. I can't help but smile as the dogs seem to be begging for their turn to pull the sleigh. They love it! Once 10 dogs are clicked in, Chase instructs us to load up into the sleigh. Much obliged. The dogs begin protesting the additional delay, as they are ready to go. He gives the command and the sleigh lurches into motion and down the first hill we go.  Even now my eyes fill with tears and my heart fills with pure delight as I recall our squeals and laughter at this new thrill. I know. I don't get out much.

I hardly notice the cold temperatures. I opened my eyes as wide as they would go. I didn't want to miss a thing! We each were given a turn to stand behind the sleigh and attempt to "drive".

I snap one picture of Lauren at the helm and my fingers began to hurt from exposure to the cold, but I had to get a picture of what I was seeing!
 My eyes couldn't take in enough breathtaking beauty.  Even my phone hated the cold and moved unbelievably slow. I snap a couple pictures and quickly tuck my phone away and try to regain feeling in my finger tips. I'm so glad I did! For this will soon be framed and on my wall...

Oh LORD! Take me back. I can't get over it. Our "musher" informed us that dog sledding is an addicting sport. Though I don't love being cold I could appreciate his passion for those dogs and being out on the trails. He has completed in the Yukon 500 and plans on completing in the Yukon 1000 next year! Whoo baby! 

And a couple more pics...

Needless to say, I'd highly recommend this treat for those traveling areas where dog sledding is available!  

I could have went home, completely full of adventure but our day wasn't over. Up next, the Chena Hot Springs!

Just like everywhere else we drove, we were greeted with more snow.  This is where the bathing suit was supposed to come into play.  My fingers and toes were still numb from the morning sleigh ride, I still had on several layers of clothing, including a snowsuit on and now I'm supposed to unclothe and put on a bathing suit. The very idea seemed ludicrous to me.

We wander around and follow the signs to the hot springs. A building that looks like a small YMCA comes into view and we enter cautiously.  A young man works the desk and the walls are lined with shelves for shoes and boots.  Lauren and I exchange a look and approach the desk.

"Hey, uh, we're here to see the hot springs."

"Cool. That'll be $15 a ticket."

"Ok. So. What do we do?"

"What do you do?" He looks at us as if he's wondering what's wrong with us. 

"Yeah. What do we do?"

"Well, there's a locker room down that hall. Change into your swim suit and follow the walkway down to the hot springs. It's enclosed and sort of heated."

"Uh. Ok."

At this point we knew we needed to just go. We head to the locker room and giggle at how crazy it seemed to be donning our swimsuits. I was cold already.

We shove all our belongings into the locker and pad down the walkway to the springs. I'm shivering and wondering why we thought this would be a good idea. And then the springs come into view. It's beautiful. I put my toe in and quickly draw back in shock. It is hot! I wondered if I would even be able to get in!

There are a few others already soaking in the spring. They seem to be just fine so I move forward and slowly let my body adjust. It's amazing. The moisture in my hair begins to freeze but the rest of me feels as if I'm soaking in a hot bath.  We begin to explore every cranny, making short video clips for Instagram and Snapchat.

It was -11 degrees outside. Imagine how frozen my hair would be in 30 or more below zero!!

After about an hour, we begin to experience dehydration. When going to the hot springs one should bring a bottle of water. The other visitors already knew that. They were guzzling.  It was time to get out.  Our bodies were so warm from the 106 degree soak we just took that we hardly notice the freezing temps back down the walkway. However, this wore off quickly and we dried off and dressed in a flash.

It was time to head home. What an amazing day. I knew I would not forget this incredible adventure and I felt so blessed to share it with my sister. And thank you for sharing along with me. There's only one more post to go!!


1 comment

  1. Ahhhh!!! Such fun times! I feel like I just got to relive it again 😍😍😍 miss you and our sister adventures!


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