Our family loves to be outside, exploring our vast Canadian wilderness. We have done many expeditions to various locations across Canada, and we are planning many more. From time to time we will be posting some stories of our adventures, but as you can see, our web site is going through a lot of changes and it may be a while.
Often we have shared our northern adventures with kindred spirits, those adventurous souls, who enjoy experiencing the North as it was meant to be experienced. If you would like to join us on an adventure, feel free to contact us. Please note that because of the dangers of the northern wilderness, not every applicant will be accepted. If you are interested in joining one of our expeditions, please read on.
On The Trail
For those who have no experience running a dog team, but want to learn, we will give you a crash course in Mushing 101. After an initial training session, you will be expected to harness your own dogs, run your own team, and care for your dogs before and after the runs. While dogsledding, everyone is expected to help out by pushing the sled, running up hills, and in less than optimal conditions, take turns snowshoeing ahead of the teams to break trail, amoung various other tasks. We may travel on established trails or explore pristine wilderness where no trails exist.
Accommodations will be a combination of wilderness cabins and tents, though more often in tents, depending on location and availability. Every member of the expedition is expected to help in all the duties including setting up and breaking camp and in preparing meals.
On our Great Northern Adventures, participants are usually on dogsleds, although some may prefer to skijor or cross country ski. Snowmobile support will only be called in if there is an emergency. The supplies and gear will be divided amongst all the teams.
Here is an example of a typical day on a Great Northern Adventure:
- Wake up, start a fire, cook breakfast, and discuss the day's agenda. Water and care for the dogs.
- Break camp: Take down and pack up tent, load the sleds, and clean the camp site.
(Some camps are permanent and do not require packing up.)
- Hook up the dogs and head out on the trail for about 4 hours.
- 3 hour break: Snack, and care of, the dogs. Lunch is prepared.
Depending on our situation, there may be ice fishing opportunities.
- Back on the trail for another 2 - 4 hours, depending on trail and weather conditions.
- Arrive at next camp site, tend to and feed the dogs, set up the tent/shelter if needed, build a fire,
and cook supper.
- Evening is free to ice fish, explore, snowshoe, tell stories and enjoy the Northern Lights.
Distance covered in a typical day will depend on several factors: Weather conditions, trail conditions, physical condition of the dogs, and physical condition of the participants. For example, with good trail conditions, cold temperatures, dogs and participants both in good physical conditions, you can expect to cover 60 - 100 km per day. Whereas if breaking trail, or in strong winds, or heavy snowfall, the actual distance covered may only be half that.
Each person is responsible for their own costs. We have done this many times and can of course advise all involved on what expenses to expect, so please do not be shy of asking.
Expeditions vary dramatically in price, dependant on many factors. The most influential factors include insurance (if you choose), location (airfare/travel), dogs, equipment, and food stuffs.
To give an idea of cost, the cheapest expeditions that we have been on are those where we do not have to travel far and everyone has their own teams and equipment, and where nothing goes wrong. These expeditons cost about $150/person/day, but this is rare. We have found that the average cost, for people who do not have a dog team (and must lease one) and who wish to join one of our expeditions is about $250/person/day.
The price of the expedition rises dramatically if we are flying into a secluded area. Renting equipment, dogs/teams, and purchasing specialty equipment also have an effect on the price. Probably the largest expense of all, but also the rarest, is if there is ever a need for emergency evacuation or rescue (thankfully this has never happened yet).
Be sure to bring your camera as there are many opportunities for amazing wilderness photographs. Don't forget to bring extra film and batteries. (remote power packs and lithium batteries work best as they don't freeze as fast as others.)
Physical Condition and Experience
Our Great Northern Adventures are for those very adventurous souls who already have some outdoor experience, such as camping and hiking, and who are in good to excellent physical condition. Participants in these adventures must be willing to get involved with every aspect of the expedition, from planning through to running a team, we are not a guide or outfitting business and will not be pampering anyone.
It is expected that each participant will be in good to excellent physical condition, and be at least able to run for a kilometre at a time in winter gear in the snow, and on snowshoes or skis, and be strong enough to safely hold a 40kg dog.
Outdoor experience is a great asset, especially winter experience. Participants must already be aware of techniques to keep warm and dry in the cold and must enjoy being outdoors. Once the expedition is underway, there is no five star hotel or room service. A naturally happy disposition, as well as a love of winter, dogs, and the raw wilderness is imperative.