Born to Run
There is something very special about the Canadian winter activity of dog sledding. From the moment you meet the energetic and friendly sled dogs your sense for adventure is awakened. For the second time we return to Mountain Man Dog Sled Adventures in Sun Peaks, excited for another 10K unique journey over the mountains and through the woods.
Three words to describe winter bliss... Snow, Animals and Action.
Each tour begins by meeting the team of dogs that will take you into the white wilderness. Owner and guide Chris, introduces us to our team of eight dogs and explains to us each sled dog’s position. Each sled-dog pair plays a different role in navigating the trails. Lead dogs Zelda & Nikita apply the musher’s commands, set the pace, and ensure correct direction. Point or Swing dogs Phoenix & Dragon ensure the team follows turns initiated by the lead dogs. Team dogs King & Turtles are the team’s physical strength. They pull the sled and maintain speed. Wheel dogs Agate & Grizz are the two dogs closest to the sled. They are usually the strongest because they are the first to take on the weight of the load being pulled, especially during starts and climbs. They play a crucial role of pulling and steering the sled.
The relentless energy of the dogs is contagious, their excited barks and howls build up
an exciting tension in the cold air.
Our sled is still secured on a big tree, but we can feel short and strong pulls of the impatient, jumping dogs. As an arrow that was pulled back to it’s maximum capacity, on the musher’s command all sled dogs are launched into the wild. Our sled takes off fast and the sound of the happy barking dog’s fades away, bringing out the sweet sound of snow crunching under our sled.
Off we go, full speed ahead.
Once on the trail, cocooned in warm blankets and snugged up in the low-slung sled, the team glides on in silence, navigating its way through the stillness of the snow-covered forest. It’s really quite surreal to travel by the power of dogs and flow into synchronicity with nature.
A little breather after an uphill part of the trail. King turns his head and
looks at his boss with all telling eyes, “let's go!”
Not only are the dogs incredible, but so too are the highly trained mushers. Owner Chris and his wife Taryn are extremely knowledgeable and the close relationships between them and the dogs are especially engaging. We learned about the history, techniques and subtleties of dogsledding. Their love for their dogs and their passion for the art of dogsledding leaves you without any doubt, these sled dogs are respected and in the best hands of true animal lovers.
Snack time, a well deserved piece of (local grass-fed) beef fat to keep them healthy and happy.
And the love and respect is mutual. A happy dog can’t hide his affection and happiness to be were he is and to do what he does. As the image below shows, it goes beyond a wagging tail...
Happiness just shows.
With every tourist attraction that involves animals we have the responsibility to stop and question ourselves if the animal’s welfare is respected. Is there well being taken care of factors such as adequate food and water, freedom from pain and injury, ability to behave normally, and level of stress. For what we heard, read and especially experienced for ourselves, I have only smiles when sharing our beautiful Canadian outdoor experience.