Up On The Valley

“Now, it is -18C. It should be warmer up there.” Mel switched his look from the road to my outerwear, “Aside from your ski pants, you should be ok.”

“But this is already a snow pants”, I insisted.

“Hmm. Yeah”, he nodded but was obviously unconvinced. He turned the steering wheel to right and quickly the snow started to fall on the valleys of Fish Lake.

I’ve survived -40C in Dawson. What could still be worse than that?

Wind.

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A woman came out of the cabin tent of Sky High Wilderness Ranch and went to my side of the car. “Is she the one doing the multi-activity tour?” she bent into the car window.

“Yes but we’re early by 30 minutes” Mel answered.

“That’s ok. When you’re ready, come inside the office”, she flashed a bright smile at me, “She’ll be the only one in the tour.”

Oh! was the only word I knew that moment.

“You’ll have a one on one experience of the activities”, her reply to my surprised expression.

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The office was made of stacked woods with hanging racks for snowsuits and parkas, a corner entirely for helmets, another corner for mitts and a fireplace to keep the office warm.

“She said she already has snow pants but she still needs one.” Mel was making sure I will get enough layers.

“Well, sometimes I don’t give them a choice”, she assured Mel.

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She reached to me a navy blue one piece snowsuit. “Try this one but you have to remove your snow boots first.”

I then started putting down my camera and backsack, pulled out wool mitts, took off omni-heated snow jacket then the heaviest boots I’ve ever worn in my life.

This is heavy. All these clothes on me.

“And then you need parka on top of your jacket. I really like parka because of the hood” while looking through the rack of parkas hanging from the wooden ceiling.

Definitely. The hood of parka is the best cover for one’s head. The hood is mostly made of faux fur (or fake fur) so having this one over the head can prevent snow to fall down straight on the face while also gives off warmth for better breathing.

“Not used to this outerwear yet but will get through. I feel like I gained pounds with these layers.”

“It got warmer these days but your dog sled and snow mobile will really be windy rides. Those clothes will help you not to freeze”, she enthusiastically said as she studies my overall clothing, “Do you have mitts and toque?”

“Yes,” I pulled them out of my backsack. “Are these good enough?”

“That will be enough. So wait here for your dog sled. Jonathan should be here soon.”

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We had 8 dogs in my sled. They ran on the trails with a width of couple inches longer than my arm. I was sitting on a wood, had my camera on right hand and another hand grabbing a black strap.

“Lean on the right when we approach the curve there”, Jonathan said while standing behind me maneuvering the sled and making sure he can quickly step on the brake for any sudden outburst of the dogs.

“How do they know if we need to turn right or left?” I asked.

Jonathan has a tone voice I was sure not of Canadian. He probably came from a country in Europe. His words were packed with strong abrupt pronunciation.

“You say Gee if you want to go right and Haw for left. Like this..

Gee! (pronounce as Ji) then the dogs turned to the right.

Haw! (pronounce as Ha) then dogs turned left.”

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After 30 minutes of ride, we stopped at the campground of the dogs. “You can walk around here and play with the dogs. Gary will pick you up here for the snow mobile”, while he massages his dogs for the wild ride we did.

“Sure. Thank you!” I waved my hand.

“I’ll see you for the snowshoe later.” said Jonathan who I learned later was from France.

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