Sergey (Aaron) Weik and his sled dog Herbie, named after the Herbert Glacier in Alaska, where he was born. PHOTO COURTESY OF SERGEY WEIK

The path to dog mushing

Sergey (Aaron) Weik on adventures past, present and future

Aaron Weik has two first names. The other is Sergey – a nod to his roots that started far from the mountains of Montana or his Americana Minnesota upbringing.

A few months ago, he strolled through the billowing snow beneath the starlit skies and spoke in his polite way of all the things that came to pass in his life that placed him in Big Sky.

His mother died an untimely death from a condition that would have been treatable in the United States. He explained it was really poverty that prevented her continued life. He was three years old when he was placed in an orphanage and has seen all the photos and knows all the stories. Resources are limited, but they are good people at the orphanage – and they do the best they can to look out for the children, he said of the place that is still in operation.

A Minnesota schoolteacher and a mailman traveled to Russia with the goal of adopting a little girl. They did adopt her, but while there, they saw a little boy with a tuft of blonde hair and steely blue eyes – Weik. They could not leave without him.

He speaks fondly of the couple who raised and love him – they are normal, good people. Over the past few years he has been finding his own path; making his way in the world. He was a school custodian for a while – there were good benefits, then a disc jockey and a cook. Always, he felt this wanderlust; this driving push to adventure. Thanks to he stumbled upon dog sledding – and got hooked.

“I like working with a bunch of dogs rather than a bunch of people,” he said. “They’re just easier to deal with.”

Those in the states that are truly dedicated to the sport winter in the American west and summer in Alaska, that way they can work all year long. This year, though, COVID has put a damper on the tourism industry in Alaska – and dog sledding is taking a hit.

He is now working for Yellowstone DogSled Adventures/Basecamp and recently celebrated his 27th birthday beneath the Montana sky with his sled dog Herbie by his side. Herbie, now a year and nine months old was born in Alaska.

“That’s where my little guy came from – he was named Herbie after the Herbert Glacier,” he said. Weik got him as soon as he was weaned and Herbie spent some of his puppy stage nestled in the hood of his sweatshirt, staying cozy while he worked.

The first time Weik ever stepped into a sled and drove a team of dogs was on that glacier.

“The scenery out there was so sick. It was nice – breathtaking. Driving the sled was unbelievable,” he said. It is a rush and is something he believes everyone should try at some point.

Now, he eyes his future of possibility. He wants to open a food truck with a friend and sell exotic food like samosas. Someday, he wants to be an off-grid cook in Alaska. The challenge of it is exciting to him – making delicious meals when supplies will be limited.

Eventually, he wants to go back to Russia, to the place of his birth and meet his three step siblings. And maybe, just maybe, he will be able to mush dogs while he is there.

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