Picture this: You're dashing through the snow behind a pack of (essentially) wild dogs with nothing to slow you down besides a wooden sled and a piece of rubber with picks in it. This describes the dogsledding experience to a tee.I've been dogsledding four times in my life (I know, how Canadian of me!) but the Expedition Wolf experience near Mont Tremblant, QC was the best experience yet. We got to handle the dogs and help the staff put them on the sleds, learn each of their names and see around 250 huskies frolicking about in their outdoor pen —the dogs sleep in little huts outside (yes, even in -30). The best part? Puppies!
While you'll definitely have a sudden yearning to adopt a husky, after you see them in action you'll realize those dogs are a whole lot of work to keep busy. Expedition Wolf has many pure huskies (and some mixed with wolf!) but they also take in a lot of mutts who have been abandoned by their owners. It's important to find a dogsledding company that will let you see where the dogs live and tell you about how they keep them healthy and happy.
The dogs were super friendly and very strong—helping the staff put their leashes and harnesses on gave you a true appreciation for the strength of these animals and how their urge to pull can easily derail your sled if you're not careful.
Dogsledding is also a good workout. My boyfriend and I (pictured in the sled shot above) took turns as driver. When you're sitting in the sled, you're basically just trying to lean with the sled so you don't fall out on sharp turns and stay warm when you're not moving. But halfway on each dogsled journey you'll usually switch places. Driving can be a ton of work. You have to keep the sled under control going down hills using the foot brake so that it doesn't catch up to the dogs and hurt them. Going uphill you have to get out and help them run. You will work up a serious sweat because you're pushing, running and steering all while wearing heavy winter gear.
Many dogsledding companies will have a staff driver at the front of the team of sleds so if you fall or lose control of your sled, the dogs won't take off into the wilderness.Definitely worth a try for families, as a couple or with a group of friends for a fun way to enjoy the outdoors this winter. Sled photo courtesy of Expedition Wolf. All other photos, writer's own.