Mushing isn’t just a winter sport.
In fact, trading snow for sand sounds pretty tempting at 20 below.
“I’ve been mushing six years and this is the coldest I’ve ever been — my fingers are still numb,” said Jamaican musher Devon Anderson.
Milling about with the Quest mushers Wednesday night, Anderson was talking carts.
“You need wheels for dry-land sledding,” he said, explaining the odd contraption printed on his T-shirt.
Like a dogsled, the musher stands at the back of the cart, which has big all-terrain wheels.
The only difference is, Anderson can steer the carts.
Last weekend marked the Jamaican musher’s first trip on a dogsled.
He fell off four times.
By trade, Anderson is a guide at Chukka Cove Adventures, a Jamaican company with 145 horses that caters to cruise ships and wealthy American travellers.
“My boss was looking for ideas for another attraction,” said Anderson.
“He asked me if I’d be a dog-sled guide — and I said, ‘Isn’t that done on snow?’”
But, as it turns out, the white stuff is optional.
And after a couple of weeks training in Scotland, where cart racing is big, Anderson was back home taking adventurous tourists on short jaunts with his Jamaican mutts.
Rescued from shelters and picked up off the street, Anderson’s 17 dogs are used to the heat.
“They’d freeze up here,” he said with a laugh.
But “up here” is where Anderson wants to race, eventually.
“I enjoy the sled more,” he said.
It’s more challenging.
Anderson is sponsored by Jimmy Buffet.
“We’re here because of Buffet,” said Anderson’s boss and manager Danny Melville, also sporting a rasta-coloured Mush Mon T-shirt.
After boasting about Anderson’s dry-land race record, Melville talked carts.
Most of his rigs are being custom built in Edmonton and seat two tourists, with the musher standing on the back.
These Bad Land Buggies cost upwards of $6,000.
“And they can go anywhere,” said Melville.
Although Anderson is the first Jamaican musher, Melville hopes he won’t be the last.
“We want to start training other mushers,” he said.
“And Anderson is training toward bigger sled races.”
Saturday, after watching the Quest take off, Anderson was heading out for an overnight run on Lake Laberge with Jeannine Cathers.
But before he left, he gave reigning Quest-champ Lance Mackey a couple of Mush Mon bandanas.
On the way out of the start chute Saturday, Mackey’s two lead dogs sported the red and black scarves.
But by the time Mackey’s team hauled into Braeburn late that night, the mementos were frozen solid.
Anderson hopes to come back next year, and maybe even get a race under his belt.
“There’s going to be more of us,” he said.
“Mushing is going to get much bigger in Jamaica.”