Mushing in the Mountains
Pictures, as a rule, can’t convey sounds. But every now and then – say when you capture a team of sled dogs yearning to run, yelping in pure exhilaration and excitement – an image can almost get audible. Well, maybe (depending on your imagination!) that’s a stretch. Regardless, on my recent dog sledding experience at Boundary Ranch, the sounds, the energy of the dogs, and the pure joy of sliding through the snow-smothered forest in Kananaskis made for one of the most memorable winter adventures I’ve had in the mountains. But, thankfully, I wasn’t alone. My boys – Nelson, 17, and Nick, 13 – were along for this serene (things actually get very quiet when dogs start running!) little skid through the trees. After all, adventures this good should be shared with family or friends.
Stops along the way
The dog sledding tour at Boundary Ranch (it’s operated by Mad Dogs Expeditions, which is based in Canmore) is a 1.5-hour adventure that incorporates more than just the thrilling ride itself. Along the way, you’ll get off the sled (the dogs need to rest!) and enjoy two stops; one at a teepee and one at a buffalo paddock where you can see these amazing animals up close. However, without a doubt it’s the thrill of “mushing” – skimming along the snow while either sitting in the sled or manning the back end and controlling the team – that is the big payoff. Indeed, enjoying a dog-powered ride is unlike anything else you can do.
What to expect
Upon arrival at Boundary Ranch guests sign waivers, meet their guides and the energetic team of dogs – their 6, 7, or 8-cylinder engine! – and are given a short tutorial on how to guide their sled. Participants have the option of guiding the sled themselves (highly recommended) or handing off the reigns, so to speak, to a professional guide, or musher. Either way, it’s an awesome experience. Not surprisingly, my two boys both wanted a turn at manning the “steering wheel.” And when the wheels, ah, feet, were in motion – especially when we careened down the hills at a pretty decent clip – the adrenaline rush was more than we expected. And the sights – and sounds! – of this adventure will be long-remembered. Covid protocols are in place at the Ranch to ensure your safety and Mad Dog Expeditions is happy to help answer your questions and choose the best experience.
Guest Journalist and Photographer – Andrew Penner
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