Adventuring Author: Dogsledding

I live in the type of place where I can post on Facebook, “Anyone have dogsledding connections? I need it for book research,” and the next day I get a message from a friend saying, “I can get you a ride!” (Al, you’re the best!)

I know, I’m spoiled.

So yesterday I went on my first all-day dogsled ride to Granite hot-springs out in the wilderness. Hubby came too.

What I expected to happen:

1. We meet up at the start of some trail where a sled will be hooked up to a string of fluffy, Siberian Husky dogs.

2. Daylen and I climb in, side by side, in a sled — all warm and snuggly and ready for a great ride — and the tour guide says something akin to “Mush!” (Though I know it’s not “mush!” because only Hollywood uses that.)

3. We ride through the forest as I take pictures, notes in my idea book (because, of course, the dogsled will ride so smoothly that my handwriting will still remain normal.)

4. We arrive at the hot springs, which I imagined as some sort of restaurant-hotel built around a steaming pool of lava-heated water.

5. As I sit at my wicker table (after a nice dip in the hot spring) someone serves a cheap bowl of soup for lunch (probably in a waxy-paper to-go bowl.)

6. We hop back into the sleds and ride back.

7. Farewell Huskies!

What really happened:

“Welcome to Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Tours!” — insert long intro filled with juicy info about dogsledding that I scratched into my idea book like a madwoman — “Okay, Nadine, Daylen, follow that guy out to the sleds.”

Outside are 165 dogs (not Siberian Huskies) barking their hellos, which sound a lot like, “I want to go! I want to go! Take me!” in dog-language. adventuring-author-dogsledding

And then there’s the sled. Wait…there are four sleds and only two guides. I’m confused…

“This one’ll be yours.” Al, our guide pointed to the sled in the back. “You can decide who you want driving it and who you want riding in it.”

What my brain said: Wait…YOU’RE NOT EVEN COMING ON OUR SLED?!?!

What my mouth said: “Oh, okay.” Look at Daylen. Daylen shrugs with a you-are-the-author-who-wants-the-experience grin. Gulp. “I’ll drive first.”

After some mushing commands, some dog intros, some warnings about flying off the back of the sled at the take-off (“Excuse me?!”), I hopped on, pressing down the brake with all my weight. And then, with a very un-Hollywoodish, “Alright, hike!” we took off.

I was an official musher.


No, I didn’t fall off the back. And yes, I want to do it again.

I spent over an hour and a half on the back of that sled, watching the lead dogs and learning the ins and outs of sledding. My team of dogs weren’t the usual type you’d expect — most were Alaskan huskies (which are basically an all-muscle shorter-haired mutt that does great in the cold wilderness) and we even had a labrador named Gumbo (shh…don’t tell him he’s a lab. He’s touchy.)IMG_6033

I did get my chance inside the sled and, despite the lack of snuggle-with-the-hubby (he took over driving, as all manly men do), I got to relax in the 50 degree winter weather, watching the giant moose go by (yes, we saw a giant moose. No, the dogs did not try to eat it.), and taking notes in my idea book. It was a little too bumpy to write, but I made it work. (How could I not? Who gets to write stories while riding in a dogsled through the forest?)

We arrived at the hot springs which were (as you probably expected) outdoors. No restaurant, no hotel, no shower rooms, BUT…there was an outhouse! Hurray! 😉

Needless to say, it was beautiful, warm, and the perfect destination after a long sled ride before starting the trip back. It’s much more fun swimming in a hot spring under the blue sky than under some hotel ceiling.


Afterward, our served meal was much more elaborate than a to-go cup of soup. The tour guides started with hot cider and hot cocoa, then served Brie baked in tinfoil on a grill with apples and crackers and huckleberry truffles followed up with homemade chicken stew in a bread bowl.

While chatting and eating, Daylen and I discovered that almost all the people sledding with us were fellow believers! And suddenly the dogsled tour turned into a super-fellowship, chatting about ministry and Christ, completely rejuvenating us spiritually.

This trip was exactly what I needed. Why? Because I’ve been trudging through a bout of “I’m-An-Awful-Writer” and blaming it on “writer’s block” (which I don’t believe actually exists.) And I finally took the advice of J. K. Rowling:

JK Rowling Quote

There’s nothing like real-life to inspire you to live deeper, write harder, and pursue God with more passion. Yesterday, I got another dose of life — of exciting adventure-filled life — and God completely surpassed my expectations by immersing me in His creation.

Now…I’m ready to write again.



What are ways that you find rejuvenation from the every-day life?



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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. I am SOOOOOO jealous! Dog-sledding it on my bucket list!

  2. That is so cool!! I have always wanted to go Dog sledding!! W

  3. Nadine,

    A great post! Loved it! Thank you for sharing.

    It’s especially appropriate for me because I’m in a period of walking away from fiction writing in order to recharge. I just never considered dogsledding to recharge!

    • It’s amazing what a new adventure will do for the imagination. 🙂 Definitely take time you need away from fiction. You don’t want to be stuck in a burn-out phase.

  4. Sounds like fun!! It definitely helps sometimes to walk away and refresh. Often when I do that, new ideas will start popping up unlooked for. I really enjoyed this post. Looks like you had a blast!

    • Yes! I just read this article on how walking and movement can stimulate the imagination. Tolkien and Mark Twain and Steve Jobs and other geniuses all took walks! That’s enough inspiration for me to get out and go adventuring! 😀

  5. Jealous…………What an awesome experience! Loved this post and photos too!! God is so good to give you fellow believers to experience this with as well.

  6. What a great adventure, Nadine! Thanks for taking us all along with you and revitalizing your writing for the next adventure, real or pretend!

  7. You never cease to amaze me with your adventurous spirit! 😀

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  9. Wow! What a fun adventure! Your pictures sure were inspiring, which means the real thing must have taken your breath away. So glad you shared it with us!

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