As soon as I knew I could dog sled in my Saskatchewan, it was something I had to do this winter. The only downside was that I had to find someone to go with since it was a two person minimum. Luckily, with a crazy twist of events, I was able to go dog sledding with an avid dog lover. This allowed for better questions about the dogs rather than my usual questions about politics and foreign policy.
We went dog sledding just south of where Prince Albert National Park begins. As we drove the seven hours north we were at the edge of the Canadian Shield (aka the taiga which is vocabulary word you had in geography class) and were in the midst of beautiful forest. Scenery that is not what you think Saskatchewan would be like. We eventually made it to Sundog Excursions and we were kindly greeted by our guides. They explained the area which I learned that the taiga is the largest biome in the world. As soon as we got situated, we met the dogs. Not every dog was coming along, so the guides figured out the line ups. It was much like how a teacher figures out a seating chart; who can be sat next to who and which students are best suited for the front or the back of the room. The lead dogs are the most experienced and are able to run with other dogs right behind.
During our excursion, we were able to be as interactive with the dogs throughout the trip. My friend was a natural putting the harnesses on the dogs and getting to know their names. It was amazing how much the dogs were barking before the run. However, when the run started all barking immediately stopped. The trails were very nice but they explained that normally would have about two feet more snow. This won’t be a good thing because the area was already dry and suffered major forest fires last year.
After dog sledding for the day. We settled in more to our camp for the night. And yes, I do like winter and the idea of sleeping outdoors sounds like a great plan. Also, they explained that during the summer they cannot get to that camp because the ground is so soggy. It was a canvas tent with a nice oven inside. Before, we had our phenomenal dinner we had to feed the dogs and get water. The dogs eat a diet with more protein and fat since they burn off so many calories. For our water, it was coming from the lake. We walked out and chipped chunk of ice out of the lake. It was a good workout but the ice was totally clear an
d could see right through it. If I did not mention it before, we had a great dinner. It was another great opportunity to learn about Canadian view of what they see in the United States. They recently elected Trudeau and Trump was gaining steam. This was comical because many Canadians voted Stephen Harper out of office because their politics were becoming ‘too American’. After dinner, we went looking for some Labrador tea and rose hips it was time for bed. The dogs for sure helped us by all their singing.
After a good night sleep, we woke up and got the dogs ready to go. It was quite a warm day so we did not go out on as long of a run. Normally in the summer when they go on runs, the dogs wear a special coat so the heat does not effect them as much. We went around Anglin Lake which is one of the best loon nesting areas in Canada. Whether I was mushing or riding on the sled, the dog sledding was extremely relaxing. It was just was what I needed after working in North Dakota. It is something I would do again but I at least want to visit that area in the summer for hiking, canoeing and fishing. It is a gem of Canada that does get overlooked by places like the Canadian Rockies. But in my experience, all the places that have been overlooked have friendly, hospitable people ready to show you around. Can’t wait to return!
(Stayed tuned for a post on the Roughriders and the CFL)