Unless you’re the lead dog, the scenery never changes.
That axiom from the world of dogsledding doesn’t apply if you’re the musher. Standing on the runners of a sled with six or seven powerful, yelping dogs in front of you offers a commanding and ever-changing view.
Open fields and forests of maple, cherry and birch trees are the setting for a trail system where you can try this noisy, exhilarating sport.
When you step out of your vehicle at Aventure Inukshuk’s arrival site, you are a few hundred yards from a compound where more than a hundred baying, howling, yelping canine athletes await you.
“All they want to do is run,” said owner Carol Lepine, a big man who seems less bothered by the cold than his guests.
Lepine is proud that he runs only small trips – a maximum of three sleds, with the lead sled guided by a highly trained dog handler.
The guide on my trip was Joe, and I stood on the right sled runner while he stood on the left. No one was in the sled’s basket, and it was clear that he wouldn’t have been happy if I had wanted to ride instead of stand with him.
Even though I was traveling with a professional, I still felt like a 16-year-old who had been given the keys to a Ferrari. I can only imagine what the solo drivers in the two sleds behind me felt like.
I’m not a dog person – having a German shepherd bite you in the back at age 8 will do that to you – but I loved Lepine’s dogs. Mixtures of husky, malamute and other breeds, they are powerful, beautiful and smart.
In the winter, they run and run and run some more. After the snow melts, they’re on vacation. A good sled dog can have a 10-year career, Lepine said.
Beyond dogsledding, there are numerous, quieter winter diversions at Station Touristique Duchesnay. Among them: cross-country skiing on 47.5 kilometers of trails, snowshoeing, ice fishing, skating and spa treatments.
There is lodging, too, if you want to add some Mother Nature time to an urban visit to Quebec City.
(Quebec City visitor information is right here.)