Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Training Trip to the Tug Hill Plateau

Dog Sledding at Tug Hill

As many of you know, Eric and I along with the Maryland Sled Dog Adventures sled dogs frequently travel with our dogs. This past weekend, we embarked on our first dog sledding adventure of the year by spending four days in the Tug Hill region of New York.

When most people think of New York, they think of Manhattan. The single most outstanding feature of the Tug Hill region, however, is its undeveloped state. While there are some small scattered villages along the outer edges of the region, the core is heavily forested and relatively unpopulated. Because of its location just east of Lake Ontario, the Tug Hill Plateau frequently gets hit with heavy lake effect snowstorms. Most agree that Tug Hill gets the most snow east of Aspen, averaging 200-300 inches of snow per year. In winter, the prevailing westerly winds move cold area over the warmer waters of Lake Ontario producing massive lake effect snow falls. Nestled smack dab in the middle of the Tug Hill Plateau is one of our favorite dog sledding areas, Winona Forest. Winona Forest is a mushers dream with over 70 miles of nicely groomed multi use trails. For a map of the trails throughout Winona Forest click here. The forest is used for skiing, snowmobiling, ATVing, hiking, snow shoeing, and, obviously, mushing.

Snowshoer with dog

Arising bright and early, Eric and I loaded the dog team into the dog truck and hit the road. One of the best things about Tug Hill is it's relatively easy access via Interstate I-81. Leaving our house at approximately 7:30 am, we arrived in Pulaski, New York at approximately 1:30 pm. After stowing our gear at our accommodations, we phoned our friends and fellow mushers, Frank and Regina Caldwell, who live in Winona Forest and headed out to the trails.