BOUNDARY COUNTRY TREKKING
Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais, MN
Suggested by Mushing Magazine's "Question to Ask When You're Booking a Dog Sled Trip". Boundary Country Trekking's response follows each question and appears in bold.
In 1978 we started a touring business with our own dogs. We had sixteen to twenty five dogs. As our business grew we began to hire local area mushers to assist in our program. Ten years ago we sold our dogs and contracted with a local musher to provide all the dogs and mushers for our program. For the last six years Arleigh Jorgenson has run our dog sledding program. Arleigh has been in the dog sledding business for over twenty-two years. We feel he is one of North America's most experienced mushers.
Our trips are a joint venture with Arleigh Jorgenson Kennel. We provide the meals and logistical support, Arleigh provides the dogs, equipment and mushers.
Arleigh has been training and mushing for over twenty years Other staff hired are personally trained by Arleigh or Arleigh's professional dog mushing staff. Before any musher leads any of our trips, they must go through Arleigh's training program at the kennel and have at least one year of mushing experience on the trail. At the kennel, in addition to being trained as mushers, trainees take care of the dogs (feeding, medicine, cleaning kennel, nutrition, repair sleds and equipment, etc.)
Depends on number of trips we have scheduled. For each group we schedule no more than six teams with 2 guides, each person with a team. We have had times when four separate groups have been out on different trails at one time. There are over one hundred dogs in Arleigh's kennel available at anytime to accompany trips.
Teams are matched to your size and ability to handle the team. Number of dogs range from 5 to 8 dogs/team.
One person per sled. We feel that the only way to learn about mushing is to actually be in control of the sled. Our trips are designed to teach you how to mush. Also, from a safety stand point, sleds are much easier to control, and safer, without the additional weight of a person in the sled basket.
One guide / 4 guests. In addition, support staff assist in meal preparation and gear transportation.
Each guest has own sled and team for entire trip. You are not forced to do anything you do not feel comfortable in doing, such as harnessing and feeding the team. However we welcome your participation here.
Primarily Alaskan Huskies. Although they are dogs of racing stock and quality, they have been trained and used as touring dogs with guests for years. They are capable of speed and great endurance and are sociable companions on the trail.
While dog fights can happen, they are rare and we take care to avoid fights. At the kennel, dog houses are not close enough to get entangled. New mothers and puppies are kept in separate areas. Sometimes a dog takes a dislike for another dog and they are kept apart on the teams. Dogs in heat can be a problem. If female dogs come in heat on the trail they are separated from males.
Yes! Some of Arleigh's dogs are shy and require time to get use to strangers. Dogs are social animals and they want to please humans. Most of the adult dogs were raised with Arleigh's children and all have been socialized with children around.
This depends on trip. For example, the three day trip begins 10 a.m. on the morning of departure with a training session and hooking up dogs. Included meals begin with trail lunch and end with breakfast your last morning. At cabins, bed linens are included; sleeping bags are provided at yurts; sleeping bags and pad are included with tent camping trips. Your personal gear and clothing is not included in price on trips.
Sleds, sled bags and dogs on all trips are provided. On camping trips all camping equipment is provided.
Clothing is available for rent. We have boots, outer mitts with liners; anorak windbreaker and wind pants; musher hats with large ear flaps and visor and winter weight parkas.
Guests do not ride in sleds. Sleeping bags are carried on all trips for emergencies. All sleds have sled bags to protect duffel bags and gear; these bags can also serve as shelter in an emergency.
All meals included. As an example, meals on three day trip
meals are as follows:
Breakfasts: Cheese filled French toast, bacon and eggs, and pancakes
Suppers include: Mongolian Fire Pot dinner, stuffed hens, and grilled trout
Lunches are "a buffet of finger foods" easily eaten on the trail.
This depends on the trip. On the three days trip: one night at yurt, and two nights are spent at modern cabins.
Depends-- camping trips are self supported. On other trips snowmobiles bring in some gear and meals.
Preparing teams and sleds is part of the trip; participants do not prepare the meals. First day orientation is part of trip, but is definitely participatory orientation. Depending on number of guests, it will probably take one to two hours to get sleds set up and harnessed; orientation is also during this time.
The first day, 4 to 5 hours minimum is spent on the trail. Second day, two hours longer. Third day, same as second day. Night runs are often done if conditions and interest warrant.
The dogs are very fast and easily cover 20 to 40 miles per day. The number of miles vary depending on the travel conditions-- e.g. if there has been fresh snow the night before, thus "slowing the trail," you may travel just the twenty miles it takes to get to your nights destination. If the trail is fast you will take a different route and travel many more miles.
You must be moderately physically fit-- if you can walk several miles and have a sense of balance you can do one of our dogs sled trips.
We offer a recommended reading list on dog sledding.
Scheduled trips already filled are not available, of course; however everything else is.
Yes. While we are covered by liability insurance, we recommend all guests purchase travel insurance. We send a Travel Guard Trip Cancellation and Travel insurance application out with all trip confirmations.
Once: a guest fell off sled around a corner and injured her shoulder. As a safety precaution mushers carry FM radios that can reach the base unit at our office or 911. Sorry, cellular phones do not work in our remote location.
We are licensed by the USFS as Guide Packers. We were the first Dog Sledding business in the Superior National Forest (our area) so licensed. This is the only permit required.
Questions from the July/August 1996 issue of Mushing magazine.
© 1995 by Stellar Communications, Inc.
For subscription information: P.O. Box 149, Ester, AK 99725