Imagine a snow-covered mountain landscape, where you can enjoy both the thrill of the wilderness and the quiet solitude of nature in all its splendor. Now, imagine yourself gliding through this picturesque nature with a team of sled dogs and a musher to guide you through this unique escapism experience.
You would feel the beat of your heart going faster with excitement, while hearing the swish of the sled runners and enjoying the sight of the dogs – nature's most powerful and majestic creatures – as they speed through the winter wonderland. And this is just the start – the start of a lifetime adventure that Anna and Kristy Berington, two twin-sisters from Wisconsin and Iditarod mushers, wish to share with everyone, so that even you can experience the thrill of dog-sledding first-hand.
"The meaning of musher to me is a dog driver, the coach, the nutritionist, the parent, the friend – you're everything to the dog. You're not just standing in the back of a sledge, making and going where you wanting to go, you're part of that team of dogs," explains Anna, who enjoys providing every kind of winter sport aficionado with a “hands on” introduction to dog-sledding.
In fact, Anna and Kristy are both experienced Iditarod mushers and have run Alaska's perilous race 6 times in a row, turning a man's world into a woman's one. The Iditarod race in Alaska actually covers almost 1000 miles of the roughest yet most untouched place that Mother Nature has to offer. A race during which the sisters and their packs of sled dogs need to tame mountain ranges, treacherous climbs, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast, sometimes in total darkness and most of the time under temperature conditions that go far below zero.
"We never feel alone, because we always have our dogs with us. But it's important to put yourself in complicated situations, so you can learn from them," explains Kristy. "So when you go out on the training runs it's important to practice…going through open water, going through windstorms or snowstorms, so you can see what you and your dogs are capable of. And when you do that, it makes your bond stronger with the dogs, and your confidence gets stronger too."
Needless to say, mastering the art of mushing is vital to any musher, and while the beautiful sled dogs provide the power, the musher must always be aware of potential dangers imposed by Alaska's robust environment in order to be able to safely reach her destination with her pack of sled dogs. When they're not racing, the twin-sisters still want jackets that keep them warm and safe. That's why they have opted for the Polar Equipment series from Parajumpers' Fall/Winter 2015-16 collection – two outdoor polar jackets that feature a 3-layer cotton shell with breathable lamination, 730 fill power 90/10 down fill, shearling inserts, as well as reflective tape at the cuffs, and fur trim around the hood.
"When you move along with the dogs all you hear is their feet hitting the snow, and the sound of their breathing. The sound of the sledge gliding across the snow. Even in the darkness it's beautiful. The moon and the sunrises and sunsets and the wildlife you encounter, it's just everything. You never see the same thing twice, you can do the Iditarod a hundred times and it's never going to be the same," concludes Anna.
Anna's and Kristy's tips and tricks on how to become the perfect musher will certainly warm your soul while dog sledding across the scenic winter landscapes and enjoying the spirit of Alaska. And their lifetime experiences will also fortify this fascinating adventure of (wo)man and dog becoming soul mates in nature.