Guests at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
and several other properties in Jasper, Alberta, are just over an
hour's drive from the fun and exhilarating wintertime activity of
Located in a
rugged and picturesque area with snow-covered forests, frozen lakes
and white-tipped mountains, the Sundog Tour Co. offers suburban
softies like me the chance to make like a radio hero of yore,
Sergeant Preston, and yell, "On King, on you huskies!" to a team of
yammering, mixed-breed dogs hell-bent on pulling a sled up and down
a twisting, snow-packed trail through a stunningly beautiful
More fun than
walking your pooch at home or playing Frisbee with Fido in the
park, dog sledding is a great winter sport, whether you choose to
drive the sled (with an experienced musher and guide at your side)
or sightsee as a passenger from the covered bed of the sled. You
can switch roles any time during the outing.
The dogs usually
are yoked together in packs of six to eight animals, with the alpha
dogs up front setting a good example to those following. When the leaders lollygag, as
they sometimes do, the mushers quickly unharness them, send them to
the back of the pack and ignominiously replace them with eager
Bred not for size
but for strength, an efficient gait and a positive nature, the dogs
seldom weigh more than 55 pounds. It takes months of training to
equip them to haul a sled over ice and through snow, often in
But the sleds,
which can carry a standing driver and passenger as well as a prone
third person in the hold, are ergonomically efficient enough to
enable the dogs to pull them up steeply graded trails. Mushers
pitch in by pushing off the ground with a strong right foot. The
sleds glide effortlessly downhill, necessitating the use of a
built-in, foot-operated snow brake to keep a speeding sled from
running over the dogs.
The Sundog Tour
Co., which also offers helicopter tours, heli-snowshoeing, Maligne
Canyon ice walks, snowmobiling, cat-skiing and cross-country
skiing, features a three-hour dog-sledding adventure called the
Robson Valley plan, which includes mushing the Moonshiners of
Whiskey Creek Trail and a trail-side lunch cooked over an open
fire. There are two departures, 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., from Jasper
hotels for the six-hour roundtrip. The price is $173 for adults and
$125 for children under age 12.
Musher program, with an 8 a.m. departure -- four hours roundtrip
from Jasper -- offers an hour of mushing and hot beverages. It
costs $138 per adult and $93 per child under age 12.
information, visit www.sundogtours.com.
To contact reporter Joe Rosen, send e-mail to [email protected].