Photo by Tom Ross
Local author Dagny McKinley’s new book, “Wild Hearts: Dog Sledding in the Rockies,” chronicles her adventures leading tours at Grizzle-T Dog & Sled Works near Milner.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Steamboat Springs For the first couple of weeks on the job, dog sledding guide Dagny McKinley had trouble lifting the 40-pound blocks of meat destined for a kennel filled with more than 100 sled dogs.
She had responded to a newspaper ad for tour guides at Grizzle-T Dog & Sled Works, a company that leads multi-hour dogsled tours near Milner and was having trouble bolstering her strength and self-confidence.
After she got the hang of it, McKinley said she was amazed at the power of her dogs, a feeling that comes through in her book, “Wild Hearts: Dog Sledding in the Rockies.”
The photo-heavy coffee table book chronicles McKinley’s experience working the past two winters at Grizzle-T and outlines the basics of dog sledding. A writer by trade, McKinley moved to Steamboat Springs from Los Angeles about eight years ago and took the dog sledding job to change her routine.
“I wanted to balance out my writing career with something a little more physical, and then I fell in love with the dogs,” she said Friday during an interview at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.
McKinley starting taking photos of Grizzle-T’s dogs on the sly, whenever she had a free minute and a free hand. She waited months for the right cold morning to capture the “Wild Hearts” cover photo, which shows a frosted-over sled dog peering through icy eyelashes. The resulting product started as a memoir gift to the Grizzle-T staff and eventually became a full-scale photo book.
The Canadian native’s writing includes “Audrey Rose,” a weekly column in the Steamboat Local following a freewheeling character; “Eccentricities of a Butterfly,” a play about Audrey Rose; freelance assignments for magazines across Colorado; and a second, much darker play in the works. “Wild Hearts” is her first book. She hopes to write a second based on a climb of Mount St. Elias, the second-highest peak in North America.
The author hopes to travel the state and country talking about what she’s learned from her two years dog sledding and the time she spent working on “Wild Hearts.” She’d like some of those talks to focus on the self-confidence she built up working at the kennel. A book talk in Steamboat tentatively is scheduled for mid-December at Epilogue Book Co., she said.
The book came out in late July and is available in town at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Epilogue Book Co., Ski Haus, Freshies Restaurant and Mountain View Car Wash, and online at www.dogsleddingtherockies.com and www.amazon.com.
— To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204
or e-mail email@example.com