If it’s winter and you’re in Quebec City, dog sledding is an experience you shouldn’t miss. If you’re in town during Carnaval it can be done up on the Plains of Abraham, but we’d recommend making the trip to one of the dog sledding companies outside the city for a more authentic experience.
Putting our hunt for Bonhomme temporarily on hold, we went to Aventure Plein-Air Inukshuk and would highly recommend them. Located about 20 minutes from downtown, they offer a range of dog sledding experiences, from a 1.5 hr introduction to longer overnight trips. As dog sledding newbies, with a packed Carnaval schedule to boot, we opted for the shorter Initiation to Dog Sledding package.
Getting to know your dog sledding team
Before actually heading out on the trail, we had a chance to visit with the dogs. They have around 100 dogs in the kennel, so you can hear them as you walk from the parking lot. Each has a little house with their name on it, and every one of them is a little ball of energy. Walking among them, I better understood why people have dogs. Everyone was so excited to see us, and we hadn’t even met yet.
If you go, do me a favour and go to the far corner of the kennel. We didn’t have enough time to get there, but I think the close dogs get all the love, because its hard to move on once you’ve started petting one who has clearly been waiting for you all their lives.
Dog Sledding 101
Did you know that when you go dog sledding, they let you drive? Really? Well, aren’t you smart. I sure didn’t.
I have to admit, when Katy first suggested dog sledding I was a bit skeptical, but I didn’t think I’d get to drive. Even better, when we called and asked the purely hypothetical question about whether a person with a somewhat broken/deformed collarbone would be safer driving or in the sled, they said driving! So, I got to drive halfway. (Katy’s concern only goes so far. If they had said in the sled, you better believe she would have been pushing to drive the whole time, for my own good. I don’t blame her, it was way more fun.)
After a quick lesson from our guide Nicholas, we watched as they harnessed the dogs. When we were in Boston, I thought Gus had a lot of energy, but he had nothing on these guys. As soon as the guides walked in, they knew it was run time, and they were ready. Barking and bouncing, most of them literally hopped on their hind legs from the kennel to the sleds.
With everyone in place we set off. Again, I have admit, I was totally blown away by the acceleration. As soon as I took my foot off the brakes, we took off. We were the second sled, behind the lead guide, and we had been told to keep about 3 meters between sleds. As it turns out, we had the fastest team and I had a hard time not tailgating our guide.
We raced through the forest, stopping every 10 minutes or so to let the slower sleds catch up. Actually, the discrepancy between the teams was so big, that our guide made several dog trades on the trail to try and balance things up. While we were sad to see Pluto, our most keen dog, go, we understood his enthusiasm was needed for the poor laggard at the back who couldn’t keep up.
Eventually we got to the halfway point and I had to let Katy take over the driving. The upside was sitting in the sled means your hands are free for pictures and video.
Back at the kennel we said our goodbyes to the team and lingered a bit for a few more pictures. We didn’t make it back to the car before we both agreed we would definitely be doing that again. Next time we might opt for the overnight trip.
Anyone care to join us?