Don't Eat Yellow Snow!
Haliburton Travel Blog› entry 5 of 42 › view all entries
January 18th, 2008 – by: LMTaylor
Yesterday we went up to the bus station and caught a Can-Ar bus (coach to us brits) up to Haliburton, which took 4 1/2 long hours with several stops to pick people up on the way. The journey wasn't too bad, I had my MP3 with me so I was listening to music most of the way and once we got close we starting to see proper snow so we got all excited and peered out the windows grinning like loons for the end part. The bus got in at 9.30pm and terminated right next to our motel (The Silver Maple) which was handy. We stood outside the office unsure whether to enter as it was festooned with mobile ads and pictures offering the latest deals.
After we had checked out our room we pulled on our winter gear again and went out to explore the town. Turns out it didn't take much exploring! It was very small, everything centred around one main road with just a few shops set back along the ajoining road. Everything was layered in snow, making it very pretty (ok prettier) and it was so quiet. There was no traffic, no planes flew overhead the entire time and there were very few people out and about.
The next day we set our alarm for 9am so we could get breakfast and shop for a few things before we had to get ready for sledding. We went to the 'Kosy Korner' for breakfast where it seems the population of the whole town had congregated for breakfast. Everyone seemed to know each other and there was plenty of loud and genial greetings going on. We sidled into a booth and took a look at the menu, I silently said a prayer hoping to find a veggie option and what do you know there was. Just the one mind but it was there and for that I was thankful. I have never before been so glad to eat egg & toast! Though we did have a bit of a funny/akward moment when the waitress asked how we liked our eggs. The first thought that sprang into my mind was of course 'unfertilized' but I decided to bite my tongue instead of airing my humour (she looked like she would not just spit on my food but actually deficate too) and let Rachel ask what she meant.
At 1pm our cab arrived to take us up to the Winterdance Dog Sledding site, a bumpy 35 minute journey through which I was alternately facinated by the surroundings and terrified by the speed we were going on rather icy and perilous roads. Somehow we managed to arrive in one piece and half hour before our appointed time so we got to see one of the guys take a sled of 12 dogs out, closely followed by a cameraman sitting rather uncomfortably on the back of a ski-doo.
We had booked for a two hour trip so the guys that had booked for a half day were getting their instructions before us but we got to help hold the dogs while the teams were being set up. I got asked to hold the lead dog while the others were being put into their harnesses and hooked up to the sled.
Not long after the half day trippers had left the other two people that had booked for the two hour arrived and we got started on our instruction. Our guide, Mike, first taught us about the sled and how our dogs will be connected. We were to have a 5 dog team, two in front, one in the middle and two at the back. Two people per sled, one in the basket and one driving. The driver gives commands to the dogs and the passenger sorts out any problems that may occur with the dogs, i.e. any ropes getting tangled etc. The driver is to stay holding onto the sled at all times, golden rule! The sled had a sharp ,curved, two pronged hook that you could drive into the ground to anchor the sled should you need to but we were told not to use this, to just keep two feet on the brake when stopped.
After this the guys got our dogs ready (and I got peed on again). Our team was, Front Right - Casper, a big white & pale grey male that apparently had 'mental issues', he was born under a full moon on Halloween, so I'm told. Front Left - Shyla, a dark grey & white female, very placid. Middle - Nyla, a dark grey & white female and Shyla's sister. Rear Left - Rusty , a light brown & white male. Rear Right - Unfortunately I never learned this guys name but he was a chunky light grey & white male with a poorly eye.
Driving a sled is pretty hard work, we had several steep inclines we had to get up and for most of them I had to run and push the sled up, as pulling mine and Rachel's combined weight up was seemed to be beyond them. There were a few points where they just stopped dead and looked back at me with an expression of 'you gotta be kidding right?" on their faces. Thus, me running up a hill puffing and panting like a madman, gulping in huge mouthfuls of air only for it to feel like I was swallowing sandpaper. Clearly I'm in peak physical condition! We did get to go over a huge frozen lake that had a thick layer of snow over it and it was magical. The surroundings were breath takingly beautiful, with not a thing to be heard except the dogs feet crunching through the snow and the swish of the sled as it trailed them.
On our way back we had a bit of a mishap. Rachel was driving at the time and I was riding in the basket. As we came back up to the lake the dogs did a rather sharp turn, causing the sled to tip and I found myself uncerimoniously dumped face first into a pile of snow! Instinctively I put my left arm out to cushion the fall but because it was snow my hand went straight through and the sled came down on top of me, crushing my upper arm for a few moments. The dogs were still moving so the sled was pulled off me but as I had been instructed I was hanging on with my right hand so I got dragged along too. The sled was tipped on its side and was traveling at a slower pace than before but it was still quite fast. Rachel had let go of the sled completely when it had tipped and I realised that if I let go too there would be nothing to stop the dogs shooting off so I grit my teeth and somehow hauled myself to the back of the sled, managing in the process to avoid being skewered by the curved hook that had been knocked off and was dragging six inches away from my face. Using the dogs momentum I tipped the sled upright and jammed my feet onto the brake. It was exhilirating but a little more action than I had bargained on! The rest of the journey back was pretty uneventful.
After we got back to town I jumped into the shower to defrost my solid chunks of ice that used to be feet and when I was feeling halfway warm again we headed back into town to a chinese restaurant I'd spotted on the way back. It turned out to be a really nice, small place (it felt like we were in their house) with huge portions for the same amount in dollars that we would pay in pounds, result! I stuffed myself silly, we had two huge spring rolls each then I had tofu and veg, it was very good!
After catching the 8am bus we are now back in Toronto. We plan to do Niagra Falls on Monday then head up to Montreal on Tuesday.
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