When you’re in a place like northwestern Montana, everywhere is a road trip. And when you’re in a place like northwestern Montana for only a few days, you’ve got to take every turn and make each moment count. That means up before dawn and don’t plan on sleeping until absolutely necessary. And on this particular day, it meant pastries at the Polebridge Merc in the morning and then puppies in the afternoon.

Sled dogs to be exact—the most excited, friendly, energetic conglomeration of canines you’d ever want to meet in your life. Rescues, purebreds, mutts, and other breeds you’d never expect to see pulling a sled, all hanging out and living life to the fullest. The ride is pure and fast, the dogs are stoked beyond description, and Jeff—the alpha dog and owner/operator in Olney, MT—is great to chat with over a cup of hot cocoa. He had moved to Montana on a handshake, and with that gentleman’s agreement, started up the sledding business that keeps him and a wide range of visitors busy all winter long. His love for the dogs is contagious, and their respect and love for him and their “job” is just as tangible.

The end of the day found us relaxing and soaking out the aches of our adventures in a wood-fired hot tub (not pictured because we were too busy enjoying ourselves, sorry). And though it went unmentioned, the feeling was unanimous—the time spent in the sled was more than worth the time spent in the car. And tomorrow was a new day with new adventures ahead.