Jeff King is a legend among competitive mushers. He's a four-time Iditarod champion and has won dozens of other races, including the Yukon Quest. You don't get to these finish lines without laser focus, endless grit and a vision for the path forward. Jeff has done so time and again, bringing his whole dog team through some of the most extreme conditions on earth.
Building Husky Homestead was Jeff's unique vision for sharing the mushing and racing lifestyle with visitors. Each year, thousands of guests are mesmerized by his stories from the trail and enchanted by visits with the sled dogs and puppies.
Chalk it up as another win for Jeff King, the "Winningest Musher in the World."
Q. What do you do?
I'm an Alaskan sled dog trainer and racer and I run a popular Alaska tourism experience just outside Denali National Park.
Q. What life experience led you to where you are today?
My love for working dogs began at a very early age. I grew up in Marin County, California near Guide Dogs for the Blind, a world-renowned dog training facility. Jack London's home is not far from my adolescent stomping ground. I was also influenced by his stories about Alaska, the Yukon and the Gold Rush of 1898.
Q. What's unique about what you've created?
Having been able to make a life out of something that started as a passion and a hobby.
Q. What makes Alaska special for you?
Like the poet Robert Service, I am fascinated with Alaska's vast expanse, rugged environment and untamed wilderness.
Q. What are your favorite places and/or experiences in Alaska? What do you remember most about them? What have you learned from them?
Tolovana Hot Springs, Manley Hot Springs, Circle Hot Springs. Do you notice a trend? Nothing makes hours and days on a cold winter trail more appreciated than arriving at a hot spring to soak your weary bones.
Another favorite experience is the first whiff of wood smoke as my team and I approach a village after all night on the trail. Mushing under a full moon, aurora borealis, and the soft panting of my dogs' breath as they trot down the trail...these are a few of my favorite things.
Q. Tell us a favorite story from an Alaska trip.
During my first Iditarod, days into the race, I was traveling over the Beaver Hills. I was approaching the halfway point in a race that seemed unimaginable. The moonless night and treeless hills made it easy to see miles in both directions.
Another musher, headlight bright, was overtaking me from behind. As the team passed by, the voice of the musher cried out, "Who goes there!? Who goes there tonight!?"
I called back, "It's Jeff King!"
The voice cried out again as the team sped off ahead into the darkness. "Jeff King! Jeff King from Denali! You are doing great! Keep up the good work!"
I recognized the team as Joe Redington, Sr., the man who had single-handedly dreamed up and organized a thousand-mile sled dog race across Alaska. He was a hero in my young eyes.
Q. How does the Alaskan wilderness make you feel?
Small. Nothing makes you realize your insignificance more than hiking across a mile-wide river or mushing down a 30-inch trail in a three-mile wide river like the Yukon.
Q. What inspired you to go into the Alaska tourism industry? What feeling or memory or change would you like your visitors to leave with?
In a world that has become more urban and less self sufficient, many find Alaska fascinating and alluring. It brings me such satisfaction to share my life and times with visitors from around the world.
They get a glimpse of a world that they only dream of: raising a family without running water or public power, driving 200 miles to go to the store, meeting the "mail train" twice a week, harvesting wild meat, and filling the freezer with blueberries and salmon.
Q. Alaska.org's mission is to show visitors a more authentic Alaska experience. What are those qualities?
Vastness, beauty, untouched wilderness.
Q. How does it change an Alaska vacation?
By giving an authentic window to the past and present of the 49th State.
Q. What are 3 words that sum up what Alaska means to you?
"The freedom, the freshness, the farness. Oh God I'm stuck on it all" - Robert Service