When was the last time you were a rookie?
“Ok. Put your foot on the brake, like so, and don’t let go until I say so.”
I shuffle into the ready position, hold my foot down and grip the bar, honing in on the guide’s instructions. My dog team’s yelps of anticipation echo through the fir trees and my partner turns his head to give me an encouraging wink. It’s my first time driving a dogsled and my heart is racing. But with a team of six huskies leading the way, I know there’s no need to worry. Here at the ranch, mushing is a way of life and these dogs were born to run.
It’s our first day in the Yukon and, after a short drive from Whitehorse, we already find ourselves in a winter wonderland. I try to stay in the moment, take it all in.
“Let’s go! Hike!”
I release the brake and the dogs launch into action, bounding into an almost instantaneous rhythm along lightly packed snow. The trail opens onto a frozen lake and suddenly I’m thankful for the sunglasses I packed at the last minute. Even still, I find myself squinting into bright blue skies as I look ahead toward two mountain peaks on the horizon.
With the dogs clearly in their natural element, I follow my leader and a feeling of calm washes over me. My nerves dissipate and I lean back and take in my surroundings. The wind against my face is crisp and chill but, wrapped in the warmest mitts, boots and parka, I relish it. I’ll learn over the next few days that, despite the temperature frequently dipping below double digits Celsius, the dry, cold climate of the Yukon supplies plenty of clear, bluebird days and—even more precious—space and time to absorb the tranquility of this place.
The call brings my trusty team to a sudden stop as we near the edge of the lake. The guide comes bounding back with news. “Keep your eyes peeled. There’s a moose up ahead.” We throw down the snow hook. Eager to carry on, the dogs leap and bark before settling down to wait. I hold my breath in anticipation and hurriedly reach for my camera. The snap of twigs, a fallen branch—and then I see her. Blending in amongst the forest bark, the moose pauses and turns her head towards us. The moment is short, maybe ten seconds, but it somehow feels frozen in time. Then she’s gone, fading back into the trees. A subconscious exhale escapes my lungs. A lifelong wish fulfilled before my eyes.
Here, night lights have new meaning
Returning from our wilderness trek, I unstrap my snowshoes and step into the cabin’s cocoon of warmth. The fresh snow on my boots quickly pools into puddles by the door. With tired legs and satisfied spirits, we make for the comfy armchairs and pull out our books. For a long while we sit in a cozy silence, broken only by the crackle of the fire. As fellow guests make their way back to their cabins, we find ourselves sipping on maple liqueur, recalling the day’s adventures. We pull out a pack of cards, why not? After all, a stack of freshly chopped wood sits by the woodstove. There’s no need to get up any time soon.
… Or is there? Turns out, the day’s adventures are not over yet. A flash of colour catches someone’s eye through the window. “They're out, they're out!”
In a flurry of activity, we throw on our parkas, tie up our boots and hurry outside. As we spill onto the deck, a feeling of wonder fills the air. We look up to find emerald ribbons weaving their way through a starry night. I’ve dreamed of this moment. Now here they are, dancing across the sky—the northern lights. To my side, I hear tripods click into position. But I don’t reach for mine. Riveted by the performance of the lights, I can’t take my eyes off them, even for a moment.
Slowly, the aurora dims and more stars brighten the sky. We head back to our individual cabins. I snuggle under my down covers and close my eyes, visions of tomorrow’s snowmobile trip already dancing in my head…
It could be that, for you, a winter vacation once meant a warm breeze and an ocean view. But with the changes in our world comes an opportunity to redefine your winter getaway. From guided, customized trips to equipment and cabin rentals, Yukon Wild’s collective of adventure tour operators have the perfect something for practically everyone.
For those who’ve had enough of normal, venture to Canada’s top left corner. Explore vast wilderness, take in breathtaking beauty and experience winter the Yukon way. Visit yukonwild.com and plan your getaway today.
Dare to dream Yukon-sized dreams.
COVID-19 update: As of July 1, 2020, Canadian residents may enter Yukon. However, those who are not residents of BC, NWT or Nunavut, or have travelled outside of those jurisdictions in the 14 days prior to entering Yukon, are required to self-isolate in Whitehorse for 14 days. For travel updates and details, visit travelyukon.com/covid-19.
This article was sponsored by Yukon Wild
Yukon Wild is a membership-based marketing program for wilderness tour operators. Our role is to support and promote our members and facilitate connections between potential visitors like yourself and Yukon Wild operators. To learn more, click here.