Council musher to run in Sled Dog Challenge

Trevor Warren and his mother, Laurie, have been running sled dog teams together for many years now. In the picture above, Laurie is on hand during a recent training run in preparation for the 2023 Idaho Sled Dog Challenge set to kick off Jan. 30. The 100-mile race ends Jan. 31. Photo courtesy of Trevor Warren
Philip A. Janquart

Warren says sport has evolved over the years to become a family affair

It was renown author Jack London and the great outdoors that started it all.
 When Council resident Trevor Warren, 26, was just knee-high to a grasshopper, he began taking hunting trips to Alaska with family.
 The rugged terrain and legendary mystique most likely inspired older brother Garrett to read stories about men and women who were dependent on dog sled teams to survive in the unforgiving remoteness of America’s last frontier.
 “I guess I was emulating my brother,” explained Warren when asked how he got into sled dog racing. “My aunt Val lives next to Denali National Park near McKinley, Alaska, just about a mile from Jeff King, a famous Iditarod musher. She knew him. There is just more of a dog culture up there, so we were exposed to that and then my brother started reading ‘Call of the Wild’ and ‘White Fang.’”
 The stories took hold of the brothers, Garrett’s itch to experience sled dog racing for himself so strong, the family stopped in northern Idaho on the way home from an Alaska trip to pick up two sled dogs from musher Josie Thyer.
 Thyer is one of dozens of contestants who will be competing in the 2023 Idaho Sled Dog Challenge, which consists of 100- and 300-mile races, as well as a two-day, 52-mile Warm Lake Stage Race designed for mushers new to the sport and for those running new sled dog teams.
 The Warm Lake race begins Jan. 25 at the North Shore Lodge and Resort and ends Jan. 26 at the same location.
 The 100-mile challenge begins on Jan. 30 at the Lake Cascade boat ramp in Cascade, Idaho and ends the morning of Jan. 31 at the Wye Trailhead and Campground off Highway 95, about six miles southwest of New Meadows. 
 The 300-mile race also begins Jan. 30, with mushers expected to finish throughout the day on Feb. 1, right back where the race started, at the Lake Cascade boat ramp.
 “That kind of kickstarted it,” said Warren who will be running the 100-mile race on Jan. 30. “We got a few more dogs and started running and racing and then I got my first dog, and then another, and another, and it just kind of snowballed. After a couple years of my brother and I doing that, my mother, Laurie, started running with us and she started building a team and it just kind of became a family thing.”
 Warren moved to Council with his family from Washington state in 2004. He has always loved nature and the outdoors and later ended up finding jobs banding birds in places like Peru and Hawaii.
 “But it wasn’t a feasible, long-term career,” he said. “We spent a lot of time on the coast, too, and I like boats, so I ended up going over to a marine systems boat building school in Port Townsend, Wash. I got an associate’s in occupational studies there and left with a certification as a marine electrician.”
 Warren, who has been running dogs since he was 14, however, eventually ended up embracing his true love – dogs.
 These days, he and Laurie are running a business in Council called Canine Etiquette Academy, focusing on dog training and boarding. Warren’s girlfriend, Katie, is a trainer at the academy. Laurie is currently helping her son prepare for the race. 
Warren’s Dogs
 Mushing dogs come in all breeds and sizes. Warren’s team consists of Alaskan Huskies, which are not an official AKC breed, rather a hearty mix, which has evolved over the decades.
 “They got started during the gold rush,” Warren explained. “People were just going to the pound and getting any kind of dog they could that was big enough to pull a sled. We’re talking bird dogs, Labradors, German Shepherds, Border Collies, etc.”
 Those dogs started getting crossed with actual Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, and the native American village dogs, Warren said.
 “Basically, you ended up with all these crossbreeds, mixes, and mutts, but they were bred for certain characteristics, so you ended up with this thing they call the Alaskan Husky,” he said. 
 They all now share common characteristics in terms of athleticism and work ethic, and come in every size, color, and disposition imaginable. 
 Warren’s dogs are more traditional looking, with longer coats and fluffy tails. He said that although there are still a few lines that are working dogs, the actual Siberian Husky, which most people identify as sled dogs, no longer have the athletic profile to run and pull.
 “Most people seriously into the sport don’t use them,” he said.
Team Size
Warren said the number of dogs in a team depends on the race and your particular needs, but that even four dogs can pull a sled without difficulty. The longer you plan on running, the amount of gear you have, and the range of hills or mountain elevation on your trek are all determining factors.
 “The standard, in my opinion, is about eight dogs; that’s a good team,” he said. “You aren’t going to have any problem climbing hills. You can haul some extra weight and you can run about as far as you want. I’ve been running a 12-dog team this season and I have to brake going uphill.”
 Warren said, however, that he will be using 10 dogs for the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge.
100- v. 300-mile race differences
 “The first three years of Idaho’s race, my mother and I each ran a team in the 300-mile race, which is personally my favorite length of race,” Warren said.  
 The longer haul, though, means a lot more training, more planning, and more strategy.
 “I do like to run around the clock; you get tired after a couple days, but one of my issues with mushing is that there is a lot of work out front. It’s not like skiing, where you just throw you skis in the back of the car and drive to Brundage (Ski Resort) or something,” Warren said.
 It takes about an hour and a half to two hours to prepare dogs and equipment, then the drive to the trailhead where it takes about another half an hour to 45 minutes before you are ready to run. 
 “Then, after your run, it’s kind of a repeat, putting everything away,” Warren said. “On the longer races, it’s pretty cool because you run, rest, eat, and sleep. You’ll get into a checkpoint, feed your dogs, bed them down, and give them straw. You’ll get a couple hours of sleep, then you’ll get up and do it again. You get to run real intensively for a couple days and you get to cover a lot of ground and see a lot of country.”
 In contrast, the hundred mile races, begin in the evening and end in the early morning hours the next day.
 “It’s a pretty quick one-and-done kind of thing.”
 The 100-mile races are usually in the 16- to 20-hour range, with about six hours of rest. Warren has participated in dozens of races in Montana, Wyoming, Washington, and Idaho.
 “We were very excited when this local race in Idaho got started,” he said. “It literally opened up right in our back yard, on the trail we have been running. We thought that was pretty cool.”
 Warren said what he likes most about mushing is the unusual mode of transportation through beautiful scenery. 
 “It’s just a really cool way to explore the back country and just get outdoors in the winter,” he said. “I love running dawn and dusk … there’s nothing like being out there when it’s breaking daylight. It’s quiet, you’re just cruising along, seeing the countryside … it’s really wonderful.”
 For more information, including trail race map, visit


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