With Little Snow and Little Work, a Musher Worries
By Dan Robert Krauss
In the mountains of Mammoth Lakes, the California drought has taken a large toll on a local
business that thrives on snow. The effects have left Jim Ouimet and his 35 dogs nearly out of work.
Ouimet is the owner of Mammoth Dog Teams, a mushing company about five miles outside of town
that offers sled-dog tours, providing a firsthand experience of one of the earliest modes of transportation.
An outdoorsman, mountain climber and sled-dog musher, Ouimet, 47, returned to Mammoth Lakes, his
birthplace, in the late 1980s after serving four and a half years in the Marines, and he began working with Paul
Marvelly and his company, Dog Sled Adventures. There, Ouimet learned the craft of mushing. He took over the
business, which is housed in a former jailhouse, in 1999 and renamed it Mammoth Dog Teams.
Along the way, he worked with Libby Riddles, a champion of the Iditarod sled-dog race, and Joe
Redington Sr., who was known as the father of the Iditarod. Ouimet continues to lead clinics and local
presentations to promote the sport of mushing.
During Ouimet’s busy season, the snowy stretch of winter, two teams of dogs make five runs a
day, or about 30 miles for the dogs and their mushers.
But in the past three years, the worsening drought has meant less and less snow on the peaks of
the Eastern Sierras, leaving Ouimet and his dogs and three other mushers out of work. The last sled-dog tour for
Ouimet and his crew was in March 2013. In January 2014, the peak of the drought, the well at his kennel went dry,
forcing him to drive into town twice a week to fill 33-gallon water containers so the dogs would have enough to
Ouimet has used loans from friends and relatives to help get him through — he estimates that he
spends about $10,000 year just to feed the dogs — but he worries about where he will turn next if the drought
stretches on. His most pressing concern is the animals’ welfare.
“They’re my kids,” he said. “I’m pretty much everything to them. I am the father, the mother,
the guidance counselor, the disciplinarian and the feeder. I do everything for them. I’m with them 24/7.”
Would you like to support Mammoth Dog Teams? If so please contact Jim Ouimet direct at (760)
Original article source: http://nyti.ms/1dYhg2D
Photo credit and source: Dan Krauss
PDF Documents of the Original Article (click to open)
Feeding Time at Mammoth Dog Teams Kennel
A Big Thanks to the Wonderful Kids of Camp
Rooted In The Eastern Sierra: Let
Our Sled Dogs Keep Their Home