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Running with the Dogs

By February 29, 2016 No Comments

It’s the first week of March. You just spent two weeks eating and drinking your way through family dinners and holiday parties, followed by two months of saying “no, really, I’m going to start training for that Ironman next week.”

What’s the best way to kickstart your year of running? Resolutions are ok I guess, but up here in Canadia, we have a different approach to things: the dogsledding detox.

Every year, I spend a week in the Canadian wilderness running around in the snowy woods with a dozen teenagers and 45 Alaskan sled dogs. And while you might be picturing a nice relaxing sled ride through the boreal forest, packed cozily on your sled while the beautiful huskies do all the work, I’m afraid you’ve once again been duped by the media machine that makes all Americans believe things are all beavers and curling up here in the north.

The truth is, dogsledding is a lot of fucking work. We travel as the explorers did hundreds of years ago, hauling all our food and supplies up hills and across creeks in -30 weather and 4 feet of snow. The dogs can’t pull all that shit and your lazy ass up the hill, so guess what, Champlain? You gotta get off and run. And you better pick up the pace because those six energetic beasts are not going to slow down for you, so the minute you take your hands off the sled they’ll be gone for good with all of your shit in tow.

After 25km of running up hills, trying to keep your footing in knee deep snow and using every muscle in your core to stay balanced on the back of your sled as it careens down narrow paths barely missing 200ft tall pine trees, you finally arrive at camp. At which point, you have to wrestle 45 dogs out of their harnesses and on to their “drop chains” while trying to prevent the horny bastards from humping or fighting along the way.

Thank god that’s over. Except, now you’re in the middle of the woods, it’s 30 below and getting dark and your sweaty clothing is frozen solid, trapping you in a block of stink and ice.

There are canvas prospector tents set up, complete with a wood stove to heat them, but there’s not a log in sight. Time to get some wood. Off to the woods with an axe and a saw (this is a reenactment of 1775 after all, so chainsaws would kill the illusion), you cut down a birch tree that, honest to god, weighs 40lbs a foot, and haul the logs back through waist deep snow to your campsite. Who needs crossfit? Grab a hand saw and give ‘er because it’s cold as fuck out here and the moon is rising. An hour later after sawing and splitting your bounty; it’s dark, but you have a raging fire going in your tent. You feed the beasts err, teenagers, and the dogs and at 7:30pm you fall into your sleeping bag, smelling like sweat, wet dogs, campfire and shit (actual shit, there are 40 animals crapping all over the place out there) and pass out for 12 hours before you wake up and start it all again.

Five days and zero showers later, your adventure is over, all of those rum and eggnogs have disappeared from your mind and your thighs and you’re ready to face a new year. But first, someone better get you a stiff drink, because a week in the woods with a bunch of teenagers and two guides (who for some unknown reason have chosen to do this every day all winter long) is enough to drive anyone batty.

And that is how we do up here in Canada.

Are you Canadian enough to add this routine to your winter detox? Check out Chocpaw Expeditions and test your sledding swag. 

This post comes from our good friend Les McBeth, our multi-talented and beer-loving neighbor to the north.

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