Monday, 21 December 2015

Cross training with mountain dogs

He's a runner. 
High up into the Rockies near Canmore, Alberta for a new experience. Dog sledding, sometimes called "mushing". 
Large dogs usually make A-Chang nervous, but this mixture of various husky breeds was like a gathering of fast-running cuddly toys. 
The trail was at nearly double the altitude of Calgary, itself 1,000 or so metres. 
All keen to meet the huskies, Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours had a clever system in place: the shy dogs wore red bandanas. It meant you could easily identify the friendly ones, some of whom were very friendly. 

First time for both of us, I was a co-driver, with the GoPro taking care of capturing it all. 
Some were really keen to get going.
A-Chang as passenger in the sled had this view. 
The initial acceleration is quite strong. Some of the huskies were literally jumping up and down to get running while stopped.  
For the chauffeurs among us, there was one golden rule: don't let go. 
Always be ready to stop though, because if one dog gets the call of nature, it will just get dragged along on its bottom with all the others. The guides were also looking out for slower sleds, swapping dogs to even things up. 
On the uphill sections, the dogs would look back expecting a little help from the humans - all part of the team. I joined the guide in running up some of the inclines, but I found the air thin, even though I live in the "kilometre high city". The heavy boots didn't help either, but I was never cold. 
Break time, hanging out with Abbie-May. The guides and the 3rd generation owner know every dog's name and personality. More than just work, it's a way of life for them. They were continually looking out for all the dogs' health and happiness. 
There was one near tip over, though the guide quickly undid my bad drunken steering.

One last section in the open, and it was over quite quickly. 
Dog tired. It was a little warm for them, the guides said. 
We must've said thanks and bye to nearly every dog.
According to Strava, the whole trip lasted 59 minutes. Moving time was 44 minutes for a total distance of 9.1 km. The highest speed we reached was 23.8 kmh. 
Off to warm by the fire...
... and contemplate a first encounter running with huskies in the mountains. The best cross training I ever did. 


  1. What a beauty! I want that dog! Looks like it was such a fun day!

  2. I loved reading this - dog sledding is a total mystery to me. Or was!