FAIRBANKS — It’s an old Alaska adage that if you’re stuck on the side of the road, then someone will stop to help. And for a group of tourists on Sunday, that help came from a dogsled team.
Neil Eklund and his son, Lauro, were returning from giving a dogsled tour on the Chena River when they saw a silver SUV stuck in the snow by Pike’s Landing. Like many good Samaritans, they figured they ought to lend a hand.
“We had some people on a tour down past Pike’s, and on the way back, there were some tourists in a rental car,” he said in a phone interview Monday. “There was about 4 feet of snow there, so after we dropped off the people riding with us, we came back, hooked up to the car and helped them pull it out.”
Eklund, who ran the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1981 and 1983, said he’s never pulled a car out with a sled team before. But he said the nine dogs in his team had plenty of power, and that with a little digging, some pushing and the pulling of an excited dog team, they managed to free the vehicle and send the tourists on their way.
“We all tugged and pushed,” he said. “The dogs had a lot of fun with it. When you have them all synced in unison, they can really pull.”
Eklund and his son operate Skookum Expeditions. Lauro Eklund is training to run the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod. Neil Eklund said he works as his son’s handler.
Eklund said people probably shouldn’t be driving out on the river, noting cars have fallen through the ice in recent years.
“I guess they were headed to Nome or something on the Iditarod trail,” he joked. “They weren’t getting it with just people pushing; that wasn’t working. At least it’s a good story for them to tell when they go back home.”
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.