Another wonderful day of mushing on Lake Laberge, Yukon

The final full day for my Yukon Quest tour included one of what will no doubt be one of the highlights of the trip for my guests – 4 hours of mushing their own dog sleds on Lake Laberge.

We began our day at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Preserve guide Julie joined us in the van and took us on a very informative tour of the property.

Yukon Wildlife Preserve
Winter is the best time to see a few of the animals here. Musk oxen are at the top of that list – without snow they seem to be missing an important context.

Musk oxen at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve
From the preserve, we drove to Muktuk Kennels for a special lunch of bison burgers. There are currently 134 dogs living there, and I always want to visit each of them 🙂 A group of Japanese visitors was just getting ready to head out on dog sleds as we were leaving.

Muktuk Kennels, Yukon
By 3:00 we were at Lake Laberge to meet the crew from Cathers Wilderness Adventures – Jeninne and Ned Cathers, their assistant Ruth, and four 6-dog teams of sled dogs.

Mushing on Lake Laberge, Yukon
The first few minutes are spent explaining the basic of mushing a team of sled dogs. It’s fairly simple, and the explanation always seems to calm any apprehensions people may have had about the experience.

Mushing on Lake Laberge, Yukon
My place in the group this time was on the back of Ned’s patrol snowmobile. With decades of Yukon bush experience, Ned can tell stories all day long. Despite having worked with him for a few years, I’d never had a chance to talk to him much, so I was looking forward to the day in a different way than usual.

Ned Cathers - mushing on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Patience isn’t a strong quality of huskies, but these guys know the drill. Once the teams are moved out onto the ice, though, they know that they’ll be able to start running soon, and the energy level goes up. So does the noise level! 🙂

Mushing on Lake Laberge, Yukon
It takes a while to get everything organized, but once the first teams are away…

Mushing on Lake Laberge, Yukon
…the other huskies get pretty crazy! LET’S GO!!! 🙂

Mushing on Lake Laberge, Yukon
One more team ready to go…

Mushing on Lake Laberge, Yukon
And there goes team #4 off into the Yukon wilderness. Once the dogs get to start running, everything goes silent – the only sound is that of the sled runners on the snow.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
The back of the snowmobile is a fine vantage point for photography, and Ned would get me into any position I wanted.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Being a fairly warm weekend (the forecast high was -14°C), there were a few other people out on the lake.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Lake Laberge is a fairly popular place for skijoring – we always encounter tracks on these outings.

Skijoring on Lake Laberge, Yukon
The day was about as perfect as it could be.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
Just before 4:00, the teams pulled into a beach on the west shore of Richthofen Island for a picnic.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
This is a welcome break, as well as a great way to soak up the silent Yukon wilderness, and meet the dogs.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
At 4:42, the sun dropped behind the western ridge, and we prepared to head back to our van.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
A pressure ridge at the north end of the little bay is a bit of a challenge to cross, so Jeninne and Ned were both there to assist.

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon
The light going back was absolutely superb. What a fine end to the day!

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

Dog sledding on Lake Laberge, Yukon

We got back to the van at 6:00 and were back at the hotel Whitehorse just before 7:00. My guests we on their own that night, to do whatever they needed to do to get ready to fly home on Sunday.

The final day got off to a very early start, leaving the house at 03:30 to shuttle my guests to the airport. Once at the hotel, we learned that Air Canada wasn’t finished messing with them, and the plane would be 90 minutes late. *sigh* But they decided that the airport was as good a place as any to wait, so we continued on.

A 03:30 airport transfer in a Yukon winter

Once I dropped the trailer off at U-Haul and the van at Driving Force, I was free to start planning the next adventure. Within 48 hours I was off to Watson lake to pick up 17 rescue puppies! I might have some photos to show you in the next post(s) 🙂



Comments

Another wonderful day of mushing on Lake Laberge, Yukon — 1 Comment

  1. I would love to go cross country skiing on Lake Lebarge!! I love winter and all the winter sports, Your dog pics are just super, Thanks again!!