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Dog Sledding at Spray Lakes, Kananaskis

On Saturday we set off from Calgary to Canmore to meet up with  Howling Dog Tours for our long anticipated dog sled ride.  Determined not to be late, we arrived almost an hour early and, after signing the waiver forms and paying for our trip, we headed for the Railway Deli for coffee and croissants.  Despite a large notice on the restaurant door announcing that these were available at the deli between 9am and 11am, our request was met with a great deal of confusion, but eventually we were settled at a table in the (closed) restaurant enjoying our repast.

Our adventure started with a drive from Canmore up into Kananaskis country to Spray Lakes where we met up with the rest of the Howling Dog crew.  Approximately 9 sleds were waiting to be hitched up and, after a short introductory talk, we joined our driver, Brock, to ‘help’ hitching our dogs to the sled.  Each sled had 7 dogs.  These were friendly and approachable and not at all what we were expecting.

Instead of the big fluffy huskies and malamutes often pictured attached to sleds, most of the sled dogs are a cross between Siberian huskies and greyhounds.  Apparently this cross produces a dog with a great deal of endurance and the dogs often run the sleds 3 or 4 times a day.

There is no doubt that the sled dogs enjoy what they do.  A cacophony of howling announced their readiness to run and soon we were off down the track.  Each sled easily seats 2 people; in fact one of the party had 4, including a young child!  A canvas-like ‘cocoon’ attached to the runners made the ride surprisingly comfortable, despite many really bumpy down-hills.  The dogs ran steadily but fairly slowly and were helped on the hills by our driver who either scootered with one leg or ran pushing the sled ahead of him.

The ride itself was magical.  Gliding almost silently over the snow through towering spruce with glimpses of the snow covered lake through the trees.  Half way we stopped to walk out onto the lake and take photo’s of the mountains which surrounded us.  Hot chocolate and cookies followed to a background chorus of howling dogs, eager to get going.

The return trip was over far too quickly but we enjoyed feeding the dogs their well-earned treats and thanking each one with a pat.  Photo’s were taken by a professional photographer as we rounded the first corner and we each bought one as a memento of hopefully the first of many such adventures.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Living in Canada | , , , , | 3 Comments