“Mom, it looks like we are right inside a Christmas Card!”
There could not have been a more beautiful place on earth than where we were in Northern Minnesota. As I noted previous, our Dog Sledding Christmas Break trip was Epic! We have children ranging in age from 4-18 years old. This is the very first trip we have all been on where it was age appropriate for all of them. Everyone had something to do and it was interesting and fun for all. This is not an easy feat to accomplish when you have such a vast age range of children.
Our first evening was spent getting to know our guides, Heather and Pat. They brought dinner out to our cabin and we enjoyed great dinner conversation and a run down of our upcoming adventures. You will not meet a nicer, more interesting group of people than those who work as outdoor guides – especially those who perform their jobs in the winter season. Their backgrounds and experience are incredible to hear. They have such passion for what they do!
The next morning (after a great breakfast served to us at the cabin by Peter) we arrived at the kennel – received our briefing from Heather and Pat. Heather was explaining the commands – what to say to go left, right, to get them going, and to stop. Running through my mind “I’ll screw that up big time, those dogs will be going the wrong way, I can barely give directions as a passenger in a car”. So to ease my left right inabilities I asked “the dogs that are behind your sled, they’ll just follow you, right” – and the answer was yes! Whew! After our Q&A we were sent to work. Now I know the sled part may sound cool to some of you, but harnessing up dogs may not and the guides realize this. Let me tell you though it was fun! The picture below on the right – dog lover? Not so much, but she got in there and had fun handling the dogs. It was great to see all the kids involved hooking dogs on the sleds – really being a part of a team effort.
“Alright” (to get the dogs going you say “alright” not mush) – and we were off on an 18ish mile journey through the woods and over the ice! Except for the 4 year olds, we all mushed (piloted, drove, captained -you get the idea) our own sleds! What a rush! I should back up a second here. Listen to your guides, when they say the dogs are going to take off when it’s time to go, they are not kidding! Hold on and pay attention! When the dogs are all harnessed on the sleds all they want to do is run! The ride through the woods was beautiful, fun, and a good work out at times – but I would count that as a plus – a little exertion out in the cold keeps you warm. Entering out onto the snow covered ice from the woods was breathtaking! Did I mention that this trip was beautiful?
At our overnight accommodations – a yurt – we helped get the dogs settled & fed, and just goofed around on the ice, explored a little and got to know our dogs a little better. The yurt was cozy and warm – unlike my previous winter camping experiences, this was very comfortable. Our guides made us a great meal, we played cards and visited. Everyone was exhausted, so we got our cots ready and settled in for a good night sleep. I should say my family got cozy on cots in the yurt – Heather and Pat slept on the ice with the dogs. We were welcome to join them, believe it or not there were no takers.
After a great night rest, we had a hearty breakfast (blueberry pancakes and sausage), packed up and harnessed the dogs up for a day trip and a stop for lunch – complete with bratwurst cooked over a fire. Then it was back to the kennel and to our cabin. And yes again dinner was brought to us! Are you catching on to a theme here – this is a real vacation – in that I didn’t have to cook a single meal!
On our third day we took a day trip out into the Boundary Waters (BWCA). We did some ice fishing and even brought our ice skate and did a little ice skating. The older girls had a wild ride sharing the “musher” position on their sled. Our final day was spent at the cabin, ice skating on the frozen lake, cross country skiing, and hanging out by the outdoor fire (and the indoor one also). Oh and one final day of someone cooking for me.
One final picture of the girls ice skating in the BWCA.
Now – I know I have made this post to long. I hear from many couples and others that enjoy the outdoors that having children = no more outdoor fun. As you can see that could not be farther from the truth. I am not saying all our adventure with the twins and older girls have been easy, but with good planning and flexibility one can still enjoy a lot of the activities they once did. Plus it’s so much more fun experiencing them through your children. The key to our trip was warm gear, hand and foot warmers, singing on the sleds, and prepackaged peanut butter crackers.
Thanks for a great family experience White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures!