Day 2 Wednesday, 26th December 2012
Today promised to be a very exciting day. After enjoying our luxurious hotel breakfast (AKA bathroom prepared military rations) and dressing up climate appropriate with our hard-to-get snowmobile suits and multiple under layers we eagerly waited in the hotel lobby. Somebody from Howling Dog Tours was supposed to pick us up at 9:20 am.
Howling Dog Tours
Howling Dog Tours is a Canmore based dog sledding business. They have around 140 mushing dogs, some of which we would be meeting in a short while. We sat down in a small bus and drove off, but not more than 300 m. Surprise! The Howling Dog Tour office was “just around the corner”. However, the actual dog sledding was supposed to take place many miles away. 60 km inside the Rocky Mountains to be exact.
Free detox on a serpent road
The bus followed a winding road for over an hour. Despite slippery conditions we made pretty good speed on mountainous serpent roads. It was really cold outside, somewhere around -27C so the driver got concerned about the comfort of passengers.
He decided to blast maximum heat in the bus. Ten minutes into the trip and I got really hot. I opened my snowmobile suit, my thick fluffy jacket, my long sleeve merino dry-fit and stopped only when I got to my short-sleeve Adidas dry-fit underwear.
Opening the layers was however insufficient. After a half hour I was totally drenched in sweat not due to exercise, but due driver-induced non-menopausal hot flushes. Oh, well… detoxification is always needed, so I took it. We do not have a sauna in our hotel room, but the detox was a totally unexpected and free health bonus.
Different places, different tours
Howling Dog Tours held true to their name. Let me tell you… howling is what we got, so much so we couldn’t follow the instruction of our guide.
The tour was very well organized each participating couple was assigned to a guided sled – for us it was a bit disappointing, because Andi thought he will be the one responsible for the sled, just as four years ago in Algonquin Park. He was hoping to refresh my memory on how capable and macho an outdoorsman he is. After all, it was the Algonquin dog mushing adventure that sealed our permanent “coupleship”.
Howling Tours has a Cadillac…
I helped with harnessing the dogs while Andi was taking videos with his head mounted Drift camera. Our seven exciting dogs got aligned according to their pulling hierarchy and attached to their harnesses. The sled was well padded and had plenty of cover blankets, something we did not expect either. The Algonquin sled was totally bare and was hard to sit on. My rear was sore for days. This one was a Cadillac, in comparison.
…but we prefer active mushing
Something like ten or fifteen sleds got ready in just twenty minutes. Andi got seated in the back of our sled. I sat in front, but that arrangement did not last too long. Shortly after take-off Andi wiggled his way out and got his musher rank back. For the vast majority of the trip Andi was standing on the back overlooking the sled or was running along to ease the load for the dogs.
A loud “Ho!!” and the sleds one by one rushed off into the mountains. Let the adventure begin!
….to be continued
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