SCA Alum’s journey to a life in the outdoors
Queensbury’s Dave Delcourt grew up with cats, and that was with his father being allergic “to anything with fur,” as he put it.
By his own admission, he also grew up having spent about 90 percent of his time in front of a television or computer.
Life often takes people on different paths, and it’s taken Delcourt on one so different than what he thought it might be, it amazes him sometimes. Delcourt now works at a sled dog touring company/kennel in Juneau, Alaska, where he is training dogs to race and learning to become a musher, himself, with an eye on qualifying for the 2016 Iditarod.
Delcourt graduated from SUNY Cortland in 2010 with a bachelor’s of science in geographic information systems. He moved back home, where he said he started to get a little depressed.
“No job, no friends around,” he recalled in a phone interview. “I talked to a friend who was into hiking and I went hiking with him.”
It didn’t go so well. Delcourt said it took him three times over two months before he could hike up Prospect Mountain in Lake George. But the hiking bug bit him, and he eventually lost more than 30 pounds from the activity.
After an eight-month stint as a custodian, he got his first outdoor job with the Student Conservation Association, for whom he marked trails and signposts in 20 states over a six-month period. One of his college friends was working for a kennel in Michigan that offered sled dog-guided tours, and he visited the friend and became intrigued.
In the fall of 2012, Delcourt was hired to be a sled dog tour guide in Michigan, where he worked over the next two winters, learning about sled dogs as he went along. He even had his first race, though he looked back and realized it was nothing like he has experienced since.
“It was with a four-dog team going 16 miles. I was mainly there to make sure the guests got back safely,” Delcourt said.
Then last summer, he was hired by Redington Kennels, which also offers sled dog tours, in Juneau, Alaska. He’s working for Iditarod royalty, as his boss, Ray Redington Jr., is the grandson of Joe Redington Sr., the founder of the Iditarod.
Delcourt decided to try his hand at racing this year, and has competed in two races: the Northern Lights 300 and Knik 200. He said it has definitely been a learning process.