Most 10-year-olds aren’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, it’s video games or playing some sport that involves the use of a ball.
Lane Esvelt isn’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, that’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. It’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.
“My goal is to run the Iditarod,” Lane says matter-of-factly. “It’s the ultimate race” 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.
“My grandma took me to a race in Alaska,” Lane recalls. “I remember that they (dogs) went really fast…the dogs and the guys on the sleds looked really, really excited.”
Lane was really, really excited watching the spectacle.
Lane’s dad, Kettle Falls High School teacher Jono Esvelt, remembers Lane telling him that he wanted to get into sled dog racing.
Jono didn’t think much of it at the time.
“I figured he’d forget about it,” Jono said with a smile. “He didn’t forget about it.”
Lane persisted and his father went along. Lane got his first two dogs three years ago and it’s been a love affair for the youngster since.
The Esvelt’s purchased a standard sled dog staple—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.