Most 10-year-olds arenâ€™t thinking about hooking up a team of sled dogs and hopping
on the back end of a sled for a ride through the snow-covered woods in the dead of a Northwest winter. Usually, itâ€™s video games or playing some sport that involves the use of a ball.
Lane Esvelt isnâ€™t any 10-year-old.
Sure, Lane likes playing football and baseball. He shoots trap. But what the fifth-grader at Kettle Falls Middle School really gets excited about is hanging
with and running his dogs.
No, thatâ€™s not a bowl of oatmeal in the morning.
For the uninitiated, mushing entails hooking up dogs (no, not a basset hound or an English Bulldog)
to a sled. Itâ€™s a centuries
old activity that, back in the day, had more to do with self-preservation and serious toil than recreation. Transportation via sled dog was a popular vehicle for explorers, mail delivery, and getting from point A to point B.
Lane, who started running
dogs three years ago, has other plans.
â€śMy goal is to run the Iditarod,â€ť Lane says matter-of-factly. â€śItâ€™s the ultimate raceâ€ť and his ultimate goal.
The Iditarod, referred to as the Last Great Race, is a late February, early March run of 1,000 rugged, dangerous
and forbidding miles from just north of Anchorage,
Alaska to Nome.
Lane, who won a sled dog race at Priest Lake recently, beating some teenagers while he was at it, remembers
fondly the first time he saw mushers running their dogs.
â€śMy grandma took me to a race in Alaska,â€ť Lane recalls. â€śI remember that they (dogs) went really fastâ€¦the dogs and the guys on the sleds looked really, really excited.â€ť
Lane was really, really excited watching the spectacle.
Laneâ€™s dad, Kettle Falls High School teacher Jono Esvelt, remembers Lane telling him that he wanted to get into sled dog racing.
Jono didnâ€™t think much of it at the time.
â€śI figured heâ€™d forget about it,â€ť Jono said with a smile. â€śHe didnâ€™t forget about it.â€ť
Lane persisted and his father went along. Lane got his first two dogs three years ago and itâ€™s been a love affair for the youngster since.
The Esveltâ€™s purchased a standard sled dog stapleâ€”the Euro Hound (a cross between an Alaskan Husky and an English Pointer).
*To read the complete story, see the 2-19-14 edition of the S-E.