Part of the Christmas present from Mack’s parents was a dog sledding tour with local company Beck’s Kennels. It was a very thoughtful gift, and one they knew we would enjoy because it would provide us with a uniquely “northern” experience.
Out of the possible tours, Martin and Patti chose the Northern Outdoor option. Two hours in length, we would all have the opportunity to drive the sled, either to the cabin where we would warm up around a wood-burning stove, or back to the home base. Beck’s also offers different types of tours, including aurora viewing, ice fishing and snow shoeing. In addition, proprietor Grant Beck is an avid dog racer – it was neat that the kennel was not only in the business of offering dog sledding recreationally, but participated in the competitive sport as well.
Some of the many kennels
Martin dropped the four of us off at Beck’s yesterday afternoon for our adventure. We were directed to dress warmly, particularly because of the length of our tour, and were surprised to find a collection of parkas, snow pants, boots, hats and mitts for us to use. We geared up and got ready to go.
Kim and Shane
Mack and me
Mack and Shane elected to direct the two sleds on the way to the cabin, and were given a quick lesson from our guide on what to do. We were told to stand with our knees slightly bent, and at the turns, to lean into the turn in order to avoid tipping the sled.
Practicing my stance
Kim and I settled comfortably into our passenger seats, and off we went! Our tour guide followed close by on a skidoo, checking to make sure both Shane and Kim’s sled and ours were on track. Though the dogs were playful and would occasionally fall out of the harness-and-rope-imposed lines, they were focused on getting to our destination, and knew the trails well. I felt safe the entire time – in case Mack fell of the sled, or the dogs made a wrong turn – we knew the guide would find us to help if we had needed it.
Mack directing the sled (he loved his pink gloves)
The ride to the cabin took just over half an hour. It was a peaceful and serene journey, with the trails through the trees being my particular favourite, branches and boughs beautifully draped in snow.
At the cabin, while the dogs rested, we warmed up around the wood burning stove and had hot chocolate and snacks.
Kim warms up
Shane and Mack
We asked our guide about the dogs, because I had expected them to be long-haired Siberian Huskies. She said that because Siberian Huskies had been bred more and more for their appearance instead of racing traits, that Alaskan Huskies were actually a better breed for running. We also asked if she knew the names of the dogs, and she said it was difficult, with 135 dogs at the kennel!
Kim and I directed the sleds on the way back, and boy was it ever cold. We rode against the bitter wind chill pretty much the entire time, along a slightly different route than before. Though I was afraid I would fall off of the sled, between the grip of the sled runners and the fairly flat landscape, it was an easy ride. We had to help the dogs a little by pushing the sled up the hill, but other than that, the dogs took care of us.
On the way back
Thanks again to Martin and Patti for the experience!