… A dog sled tour is a great ride to enjoy. Getting pulled across a marvelous winter wonderland by a bunch of wolf-like dogs leaves you with a corny feeling of peace and freedom. Experiencing this sweet world behind the scenes gives you obviously some other impressions, too. So imagine that 76 dogs are extremely cute, but also extremely demanding. Before meat and water it sometimes looks like they really just want your love. They jump, they bark, they yelp and whine for your attention – 76 dogs at once, while you have to carry the heavy food in a freezing -28 °C snowstorm.
Another trouble: Dogs released from their chains. Whether it happens in the middle of the night by accident or because you want to take them for a stroll or tour – there certainly will be a great, noisy chaos. And it’s not always a friendly get-together when to dogs finally have the chances to sniff at each other… (bleeding puppies are still gorgeous!)
Trying to calm down 76 dogs grew me a very strong voice, by the way.
I didn’t stay as long at the farm as I thought I would. Different circumstances made me decide to leave earlier. Je ne regrette rien, except for the dogs howling sake, of course. I left pretty abruptly in the early night time. Thousand stars were blinking above when I gave every dog it’s goodbye-petting and -belly-rub. And then they all started howling, and I howled with them. Oooh how very kitschy, ha, but it’s very true and what a beautiful last picture of that little adventure.
I’ll come up with some of my “serious” photography from the husky farm in my next post. And then it’s time to turn to the summer side of life, I guess.
Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!
I hear a few birds singing that winter’s going to leave soon. There’s no green here so far, a few piles of ice are still hanging out on the streets and in the parks. That’s a good time for a last big snow story then. A snow story from last winter, when I got part of a wolf … husky pack.
In the midst of the Laurentides, surrounded by deep forests, rounded mountains and quite a bunch of lakes there lays the city of Rivière-Rouge. From here you drive left, right, right left into the woods, get lost, go right again, inside or outside the region of Sainte-Véronique, maybe close to Lac Vert, maybe closer to another lake, but for sure at the top of a little Laurentian mountain you might hear a howl trough the cold, keen winter air.
Yes, there are wolves in the Laurentides. But what I heard up here each night for almost one month was not a lonesome wolf singing its song to the moon, but an impressively big pack of dogs. Alaskan Huskies, Greenland Dogs and Siberian Huskies – a whole 76 sled dogs living and howling next to your house in the middle of the snowy forest, what a ridiculously awesome dream!
Living on a husky ranch – and this is, what I am writing about – was one of my rare plans for my stay in Canada. Since I visited a farm like this in Finish Lapland by accident a few years ago I am absolutely crazy about all kind of dogs, but especially about those beautiful and magical wolfy ones. (Also the beary ones, though. Is there a bear dog farm somewhere? Karelia? Newfoundland? Take me there!)
So what would you do with 76 sled dogs except hugging and petting, cleaning and feeding? Sled dog training! So we did, whenever the weather conditions allowed it. For this we used not only the sled but also ATVs. It was actually quite a joke to see the dogs trying the first times. Almost no dog was listening, everyone ran wherever it wanted, some just kept standing, some cleverly just ran with the pack, not pulling at all. I have no idea how the story ended and if the dogs ever successfully* pulled a sled with customers where they were supposed to, but be sure I have a lot of fun imagining their lovely fails.
*unromantic gloss: A daring guide and bit too much speed or ice and a dog sledding tour can be pretty dangerous business.
More huskies and more impressions from my stay at the husky farm in the Canadian Laurentides in the great howl 2, here. Woof!
Here is the photographic addendum to the ice fishing post “from whiteouts & blueouts“, finally.
Let’s call it “the whiteout series”.
I hope we see each others again one day, wild, wide Lake Nippissing!
Lake Nipissing is the 5th biggest lake in Ontario. That might sound more impressive when you know there are approximately 250.000 lakes in that whole blue province of Canada, around 4.000 of them bigger than 3 km². The great and rich Lake Nipissing has a Vortex and grows a pretty big layer of ice during the long, long winter.
We visited to break that “hard water”..
Naturally I feel attracted to dark and cold places. Passing “Black Bay” on the way to “North Bay” made me giggly. After six hours driving the sweet white vast of Lake Nipissing appeared in golden sunset light. No way to decide which setting of all was the nicest, though.
Lake Nipissing is not a complete whiteout: Widespread over its frozen surface you see many tiny fish huts. These little cozy looking houses mostly have stoves and some even beds. I felt a bit dizzy about the weird ways ambition can take you when I was told about some huts even having a TV – this seems like questionable fishing de luxe (but where actually is the sauna?).
Instead of wooden comfort we had a big tent to build up and, yes, that was quite hard work to do in -33°C weather conditions. But the sun was shining on a blue sky and I was growing a hope to see some aurora borealis later the day.
Drilling the fishing hole in the about two feet thick ice was my favourite task of the day. It took me a while, but eventually I cut my very own bluish gleaming hole in that hard water. The coffee flavoured baits on my hook wouldn’t work for the whole day, though.
You get sort of a fever on the ice. Maybe it’s the cold freezing your mind off, maybe it’s all the cinnamon whisky and the last drops of the good old Minttu you sip like holy tear drops. After six hours I felt quite insane on the way back through the icy snow, under the weird wide light from space.
After a heavily cold night the inside of the tent looked like a crystal palace.
I caught three beautiful and very tasty yellow perches that day. That was not really necessary to happen for my enjoyment, but sort of fulfilled the adventure.
Also it was milder today (-20°C) so I was able to get off my huge borrowed snow suit, jump in my little velvet dress and grab my camera for a quick shooting in the stunning light of the next lovely sunset. There are more results to follow for sure.
We left the tent in the dark.
It’ll stand on the silent lake for a few more weeks, giving shelter to other ice anglers.
By the way: The right-handed hole at the north side is haunted.
Post scriptum: Erik with a Finnish surname was not only a great host but also our fishing and filleting guide. Have an eye on his funny little fishing show 4 Eel Fishing!