December 16, 2016
A dog sledding adventure can give you a taste of how it felt to eke out an existence in the north woods 130 years ago. Across the vast whiteness the mushers and dogs would be tiny specks, moving across an empty endless background. Back then it was about the only way to move supplies in back areas, cut off by the snow.
You can get a taste of what this felt like with dog sled rides from Stoney Creek Kennels. The adventure starts a short distance from Caribou Highlands.
“We are just outside of the town of Tofte,” said owner Rita Wehseler. “We go through the Superior National Forest on old snowmobile trails.”
Rita and her husband Bill operate this business, using sleds and 42 Alaskan Huskies. Customers don’t drive the dogs, but Rita and Bill take people on rides in the beautiful backcountry with snow-covered trees. They have a number of options to make it easy.
For a quick taste of dog sledding you can take their “joy ride.” This costs $30 for adults and a child (12 and under) can be added for $15. This ride lasts about 15-20 minutes. For more time, they have a 40 minute tour for $60 for adults and $30 for kids. They also have an hour tour for $90 and an hour and a half for $140. Although you mostly sit back and enjoy the view, you also learn a lot during the rides and meet some new friends.
“They get to interact with the dogs. They get to pet the dogs and they learn a lot about dog mushing,” said Rita. “They will ask a lot of questions to my husband or me. And we will explain how we feed the dogs and about nutrition and what all goes into it.”
You will also learn a few words of sled dog.
“We will tell them how all the steering is done by voice commands,” said Rita. “So when we are going down the trail they get to see this.”
All 42 dogs don’t come along on rides, but a number do come along and man’s best friend does the hard work.
“It depends on the conditions but it is usually a 10 to 12 dog team,” said Rita. “Speed depends on weight, but I’m guessing we usually go about 7 miles an hour or better.”
Most people who ride with Rita are happy they do.
“They love the interactions with the dogs and seeing the beautiful woods, like if we have just gotten some fresh snow and the snow is hanging in the trees,” said Rita. “People tell me it is a winter wonderland and people tell me when you get up into the back woods it is like Narnia.”
If you’d like to go yourself, email firstname.lastname@example.org