Saturday, 3 March 2012

Try dog sledding in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

By Keith and Heather Nicol

The dogs are especially photogenic
         Dog sledding was more exercise and more challenging than we originally thought. It was also a whole lot of fun! Elaine Pinard (owner of Les Skis Doux) has been taking people dog sledding for the past 6 winters from her base in Wiltondale at the entrance to Gros Morne National Park. She offers a variety of tours from 1 hour to overnight but we opted for the 1/2 day tour. We arrived at 10:45 am in Wiltondale and Elaine met us with her yellow skidoo to take us 2 kilometers to the staging ground for her operation. There we met her guides Neil and Merel as well as a couple from St. John's who were just as keen as we were to try dog sledding.
The dogs can pull 3 times there own weight!

      After a briefing on how to control the sled and use the brake (very important on the downhills!) we were off along a series of trails through the woods which gradually climbed to Angle Pond. "Be sure to give the dogs a break on the uphills by walking or mushing (using a scootering action)" said Elaine. We saw some snowmobiles to start but after we headed up on Elaine's trails we were alone with just the 3 dog teams. We traversed Angle Pond to Smelt Pond with the Long Range Mountains providing a scenic backdrop to our tour. We then circled back to our lunch spot at the end of Angle Pond, where we had grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, fruit, juice and maple syrup dipped snow for dessert. We tried ice fishing for brook trout but had no luck and then all too soon it was time to start our trip back The return was especially challenging since the descent meant that you had to really steer the sled and brake at the right time to stay under control. Easier said than done! Our sled swung wide on a couple of turns and we had to push it back on the trail through the deep soft snow. Back at the staging grounds, Elaine showed us where the dogs live and with 49 separate dog houses it is like a small community in the forest! Dog sledding is an activity for the whole family and they are taking their dogs on the road so that you can sample dog sledding at various events. March 9-11, 2012 they will be in Grand Fall-Windsor for "Mid Winter Bivver" and on March 23-24, 2012 they will be at the base of Marble Mountain for "Snow West 2012". For more information on how to book your dog sledding trip phone: 709-636-9080 or We can't wait to try the Tablelands Tour in April.
The dogs are very friendly and love to be patted

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