Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gone to the dogs

I think my earliest memory of wanting to go on a specific adventure or trip might just be the dream of dog sledding. When I was about 5 or 6 we once went to a dog sled event (Race? Rally? Trade show?- don't know) but there were pens of puppies for sale and lots of activity. I also grew up with a husky who apparently would have made a great sled dog, but lived a domestic life in Prince George. And these events set something in motion, a love for the dogs and that image.

30 years later, here I am. My dear friend miss B has a lovely art project in the works and I was invited to tag along not once, but twice! Last year we went, and this weekend we went again for further development. We drove to northern Saskatchewan to meet up with an outfitter who has a team, and then takes us out on a frozen lake. It wound up being amazing to return as we had already made connections with the couple and their dogs in 2012, and we had a better idea of what to expect. I smiled all day! It was beautiful big blue skies and bright out in the sun but it was close to -20C.

I was thrilled to make my loop again... Long sweeping around the lake- and half way through I was offered the chance to drive the sled. I could not say no. But I'm no expert driver: it's quite the combination of things. Are the dogs tangled in their ropes? You have to manage the foot break, a drag pad and a separate break on a rope that looks like an anchor dug into the track. You also have to hang on for dear life. They're fast and all they want to do is run run run! Off we went... But about a minute later we turned a corner, got into a groove and then slowly ever so slowly we started to tip. And tip into the snow. Right about there my guide said "break!" Too late. The sled was on its side and I was face down in the snow- about 15 feet behind them. Luckily he threw out the extra break and stopped them. (If a toppled sled with a passenger wasn't enough) If this was real and I was out in the wilderness they would have been long gone. First rule of dog club: you don't let go. Ever. They stop for nothing.

I was able to get sorted and drove them into home. It was in a word, exhilarating.

Friday, February 22, 2013