“Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way…
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse-open sleigh, hey…”
Here in Canada there may be horse-open-sleigh but the true adventure is to ride around Christmas time on a dog-pulled-sled.
There are historical places that have seen the French army fight against that of the English crown for the New World domination.
Now these territories are mostly covered with forests and it’s here, in the remote wilderness of Canada that it is possible to go sled on the snow (or the grass during the summer months) with sled dogs.
There are some dedicated sled dog camps where there are dozens of highly-trained dogs, chained to their kennels and barking with all the breath they have in their throats to show off the adrenaline that flows in their veins.
These dogs are kept in very good conditions obviously and they are eager to pull sleds with visitors, they seem to love the snow!
When I arrived for my adventure outdoors, our sleds were ready.
At the first corner, after a couple of skids on the icy snow the visitors on the first sled were catapulted out of the sled and the dogs disappeared in a flash leaving them behind.
Our two guides preceded us on a sled and trained us how to use it because you go on your own, managing the dogs by yourself. He showed us the “brake” and he recommended us that the most important thing of all was the safety of the dogs. No time to think: ‘And what about ours?’
The dogs are obedient and follow the guide's sled that precedes us as we go deeper and deeper into the woods.
Our ears were filled with the sounds of skids on the ice and the stomping sound of the dog paws that sank into the snow.
You realize that you are here, in Canada, deep in the woods and you feel like an explorer who decided to leave the border of the known world.
Canada is a frontier land. Frontier with the infinity and that infinity appears at some point in front of us, out in the woods, on the other side of the valley.
The infinity here has a name, it is referred to as Backland.
A completely virgin infinity, in which man can only venture, but in which any kind of settlement is precluded. Here Nature is inhospitable and does not offer any shelter.
The land here is the result of a prehistoric impact with a cyclopean-sized meteorite which created a succession of undulating mountains, up to where the gaze does not have the capacity to reach. No forest with trees so tall and thick to hide the sky.
Winter here never seems to end, and who knows it better than the trees? Covered with snow they seem to carry the burden of the winter season on their branches.
The thought of a completely uncontaminated nature for hundreds of kilometres can also scare only at the thought but I must admit that the white of the snow all around you is very calming and peaceful and, especially around Christmas time, it is a perfect day out to spend with family or friends…the adventurous ones at least!
The cold air takes your breath away but I didn’t think about it anymore as my eyes turned towards the infinity far away and I thought about the unknown and everything, beyond that blue sky, green trees and white snow.