Wednesday, Feb 26 Ely Minnesota
It’s cold!!! Minus 40 or 50 wind chill tonight. But we have the gear and had the discussion of how to stay warm so we should be fine. By Sunday when we leave we will know for sure but we are looking forward to this experience.
So what are we doing?? This is Chris’ birthday gift. Dog sledding in Ely MN by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area at Wintergreen Dogsledding Lodge (www.dogsledding.com). This place has been written up in National Geographic and other notable publications.
Today was travel and get oriented day. Thursday we take outdoor lessons in dog sledding and take a run in the morning and one in the afternoon.
We left St. Paul around 8:30 AM. Luckily interstate 35 was in excellent driving condition, unlike the roads in the cities themselves. Past Cloquet Minnesota, the wind picked up and light snow was falling. The balance of the drive was in this windy, blustery weather.
We had packed a lunch and decided to drive through the lunch hour in case the weather got worse. So we had lunch while sitting in our car in Ely.
We picked up some rental winter gear and had purchased some other winter gear from the store in Ely associated with the Wintergreen dogsledding lodge. As you can expect, we were early for the arrival time so we had a dessert at a local cafe and drove around the town a bit.
The cafe had local newspapers. The largest one had a special section on the local controversy over a proposal (the PolyMet Company) to begin a new large scale mining operation. The newspapers are definitely for it. The owners of this lodge are not.
We arrived at the lodge at 4 PM. There are four people dogsledding with us. There are two women from Jacksonville, Florida and two women from Madison, Wisconsin. Thus Ed is the only male guest on the trip. Our two guides, Colin and Greg, are young men who seem very knowledgeable and personable.
The lodge is quite comfortable. It holds the three couples and one of the guides. There are two sitting areas, kitchen, and dining room The guides do the breakfast cooking. There is a chef who makes the lunches and dinners. Dinner tonight was breaded pork chops, cooked carrots, cheesy potatoes, tossed salad, home-made rolls and apple crisp for dessert.
Before dinner, though, Greg took the six of us to the dog kennels to feed them. The dogs heard us coming and started howling well before we were in sight of the kennels. These are Canadian Inuit dogs, born and bred to pull dog sleds. They are, so far, fun to look at and pet. Tomorrow we verify their pulling qualities.
I did not count but there must have been about 30 or 40 dogs there, not counting dogs that are out with other groups. For instance, there are a dozen teenagers from Houston who are camping out for a week and doing the dog sledding. I am happy to be sleeping inside.
After dinner we had education time discussing the trips we will take, nutrition, cold weather gear, etc. The 8 of us seem to get along very well.
The sleds are built for two people to stand on and it sounds like sometimes it may take both of us to stop the sled and the dogs. There will be times when we will have to help push the sled also. According to Colin and Greg, this is the only place where the guests actually drive the sleds versus just riding on them.
So there is a brief summary of day one. More excitement tomorrow.
Ed and Chris 9:45 pm 2/26/14