A few months back I decided to watch this new TV show called “No Tomorrow”. I thought it was a very nice and refreshing show, and it made me think about some things. In this show, a guy that thinks that the world will end in less than a year decides to write an “Apocalist”. In this list he wrote all the things he wanted to do before the world would come to an end. And he inspired other people to do the same. Me included. I am happy to say that last February I crossed the first one of the items on my Apocalist: dog sledding!
How did I ended up there?
So my job took me to Canada the past winter. Initially I thought that it was going to be a disaster. Let’s be honest, I was born in Barcelona and my blood is not used to cold. And definitely it is not used to temperatures of -30ºC… But well, work is work and it was a very nice opportunity, so there I went.
I bought a special coat and I was wearing more layers every single day than I usually wear on a week. So you get an idea, I was wearing tights, leggings and on top of it some sky pants. Then on top also three to four more layers. It was an intense week and a half and even though we reached -34ºC, there were occasion when I was even too warm.
The first day after I arrived I went to the hotel hall and asked them about dog sledding. Since I wasn’t sure if I would ever go back to a place that cold, there was no way in hell I would return home without trying it out. I knew there were some companies that were suspected to mistreat their animals so I made sure it was a good team. I finally decided to go dog sledding with “Howling Dogs“.
Dog sledding with Howling Dogs
The guy on charge of booking the tours managed to find us a spot for the same day. We booked around nine in the morning and they came pick us up around eleven. I won’t lie, it was not cheap. At the time, the price for the 3h excursion (1h to get there, 1h of dog sledding and another hour to come back) was of about 120€. Again, it was something I wanted to do once in my life (and it was the day after my birthday), so… I went for it. That day I was there with a colleague and we booked the trip together. I am not sure if there is a single supplement but I don’t think so.
When they pick us up, we went all through Banff picking up some other people from the town. In total we were less than ten people, and the driver was extremely nice. He gave us a lot of information about the town (Banff), some surroundings and which ones were the nicest places to visit and where to eat. Because I was the only one chatting with him while he was driving, he was extra nice and he gave me some globe warmers (which existence I was not aware of) for free!
We took the tour that would take us around the Three Sisters, three peaks near Canmore, a town next to Banff. The big sister is called Faith, the middle peak is Charity and the small one is Hope. There is a lake next to them and if the ice wouldn’t have been that thin we would have passed with the sleight over it. The views were the definition of breathtaking.
Well, let me tell you that the experience was one of the best ones of my life.
We got there and they taught us how to put the harness on the dogs and tie them to the sleight. Initially it seemed like the dogs were suffering, they were barking non-stop. But then I paid a closer look to them and realized that they were actually jumping of excitement! It made the task of putting the harness on and tie them to the ropes kind of interesting, but it was pretty fun. Specially funny was one screaming Husky, he didn’t bark, he just screamed like a man in pain (I learned later that that is quite common among Huskies).
The parts of the trip
So, the ride was divided in two parts. On the first one, one person was sitting inside of the sleight and the other one was standing next to the guide. Then we would make a stop for some hot chocolate and cookies and then we would be back to the camp trading places.
The dogs really know what they are doing and the trip was quite smooth… until they decided to start pooping while running. Even though you won’t get touched by anything, let’s just say that their asses and your face are at the same level, so you can really get to smell some pretty intense smells. But the trip was awesome. I had so much fun…!
On the second part of the trip, I was the one on the back. It was much colder and keeping balance while the sleight was moving was an interesting experience for someone as balance challenged as me. But I managed. I even tried to help our guide to pull with the dogs in several occasions without falling!
Once we arrived to the base camp, we fed the dogs some warm soup (or as they called it, dog gatorade) and some cookies. The dogs were still jumping around excited like crazy, but we got to pet them for a few more minutes. Both people and dogs, were all extremely nice.
Without a doubt, it was the highlight of my trip to Canada.
Overall impression and recommendations
Dog sledding was amazing. I was very happy to cross that out of my list and if the occasion presents, I may even repeat it. Definitely, something I would recommend to everyone without a doubt.
As for recommendations, I would suggest that you go dog sledding in the morning, when the dogs are extremely energetic. I discussed this with our guide and she told us that later on the day they still have energy, but it is funnier in the morning. Also, wear sky gear and snow shoes. You will be standing for basically one hour at whatever temperature you are that day (-30ºC for us)… and you will get cold anyway. Despite that, wear the proper gear and carry your more adventurous camera, go for it, and you’ll enjoy a once in a lifetime experience!
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