We awoke from our first night in Whistler to uninspiring gray skies. We opted for a lazy morning and after fueling with lattes began to flip through the various flyers for activities and excursions at the mountain. One that we immediately agreed upon was dog sledding with The Whistler Sled Dog Company Ltd.
To start out, you’ll meet up at Gone Bakery in Whistler Village, right next to the main taxi loop. You’ll sign the applicable waivers and after swearing you won’t sue, there’s a 20-minute ride to Pemberton.
Rob was our driver and drove us straight into the heart of Soo Valley. It was hard to say which part of the drive was my favorite, but it definitely wasn’t when we were swerving on narrow roads up the mountain. That’s not to say they were reckless by any means, but the roads are treacherous in and of themselves.
As soon as we got to the base camp, we immediately forgot about those swerving roads; we were too distracted by the dogs! Puppies and puppies for days! They all had their own personality and adorable names to go with their adorable faces. Our pack was Ping, Kawasaki, Bubba and Ice.
While the dogs were friendly, the handlers were equally so. Andrew was one of the handlers and answered every ridiculous questioned we asked him. From the origins of their names to their kennels, Andrew knew each and every answer. And it doesn’t hurt that he did so with an adorable kiwi accent and a smile.
You’ll have the option of sitting in the sled, riding on the back with a guide, or driving the team yourself. I highly recommend driving the team. How often can you say you were at the “wheel” of a dog sled! The trail is about 12 miles roundtrip and the dogs know the path, meaning no navigation is really needed. About two adults and a child fit comfortably in one sled but I’d try to keep it to as little as possible so you can really get some speed.
A ski mask is recommended but I say it is a mush must! The dogs kick up lots of snow and it is hard to take in the view of Soo Valley if your eyes are closed. I wore Ray Bans, which worked fine, but if you have a ski mask you should bring it.
It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be on the dog sled ride, but the best word I can find for it is joy. For those that know me, I have this horrible vice where I say “that’s funny” without actually laughing a la Sandy from Seinfeld. But when I am really happy, and really filled with joy, I’ll laugh embarrassingly loud. Riding in that sled was one of those times.
The dogs also signal to you when they need something. One of my favorite things the pack does is when they feel you are too heavy or they need a break, they’ll look back at you. Our little guys looked back at us a few times and I could see it in their eyes that they were trying to tell us to lay off our Four Seasons burgers from the night before.
To top off the whole experience, when you pull back into base camp, they have hot chocolate and cookies at the ready. You’ll head into their yurt where they have a fire going, perfect for drying off your gloves. We just so happened to have some Grand Marnier on us as well and poured into the hot cocoa it was divine.
While many activities in resort areas are over priced and kitschy, I would say this excursion was worth every Canadian penny and was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So head out to Soo Valley to meet Kawasaki and the crew and mush to your heart’s content.