You’ll travel by dog team each day (with skiing and snowshoeing as optional campsite activities) and enjoy campfire chats with your guides and group each evening. You’ll camp in our Himalayan Hotel sleeping tents (or try an "igloo"), Siberian Chalet cooking tent, and our cozy Antarctic sleeping bags and strata-rest pads ("a toasty sleep at any temp"). We'll celebrate the trip with a festive final evening back at the lodge.
No experience or gear needed. Lots of learning and lots of fun! A “hands-on” experience during which you’ll have a chance to try it all – harnessing and driving dog teams, setting camp, fire building, outdoor cookery, building snow shelters and more. Open to anyone in good fitness (singles, pairs, groups), including families with kids 8 and older. Rental clothing and boots available. These are the trips that launched Wintergreen back in 1987 and they’ve remained a favorite of guests and staff alike ever since.
Participant Profile: Last year, half of these trips were booked by families, schools or clubs for their own private trip. Of the other guests, half were couples, 20% were pairs of friends or family members and 10% were singles. Ages ranged 8-68. About 20% had dog sledded before (generally on our lodge-to-lodge trips), about half had never been camping before (summer or winter) and a few had never been in snow before!
Group and Guides: Each of our "Classics" is facilitated by 2 guides plus support staff. Each trip accommodates one or two groups of 6 persons each. If there are two groups, training sessions are presented jointly at the lodge but on the trail the groups and their guides travel and camp separately. Generally, three freight sleds are provided for each group of 6. These large sleds each accommodate two drivers, who stand side-by-side on the back of the sled. Participants drive the sleds while the guides ski along between them to assist as needed.
Your Itinerary: (may vary with trip dates)
Day 1: Arrive in Ely mid to late afternoon by car or airport taxi shuttle. Stop at Wintergreen store for any rental clothing needs, continue to lodge for check-in and site tour. Meet your guides and dogs. Welcoming dinner at 6 pm followed by clothing check, equipment outfitting and trip orientation session. Topics include winter dress and layering systems, cold weather safety, nutrition and hydration, winter sleeping systems and comfort tips.
Day 2: Kennel care. Breakfast. Full-group seminar on sledding, dog handling and harnessing. Then small group hands-on field rotations involving instruction and practice in back-country winter travel and camping skills. Extended lunch break/skills review in lodge. The big moment arrives: Load sleds and launch the dog teams! Dog sled till late afternoon and select a campsite. Learn how to set up camp. Gather firewood, feed and water dogs. Campfire dinner, evening stories and skills review. Enjoy the night sky and watch for northern lights. Sleep in tents while the dogs bed down nearby.
Day 3: Dog care and feeding. Campfire coffee and breakfast. Discuss route plan and learn about minimum impact practices. Safety review. Break camp. Load sleds and launch. Midday trailside lunch. Travel by dog team till mid-afternoon with various stops for snacks/beverage, photos, skills tips and winter ecology info. Set camp at a scenic site. Dinner. Campfire stories and info about winter ecology, north woods wildlife and native American lore.
Day 4: Dog care. Campfire coffee and breakfast. Discuss route plan. Decide upon "circle route" or "base camp" option. If "circle route" option, then break camp, travel till mid-afternoon. Set camp early to allow time for snow shelter construction, skiing, snowshoeing and 'ski-jouring' excursions or other optional activities. Dinner and campfire stories. If "base camp" option, leave tents and camp set up to allow for a full of day of optional activities listed above as well as half-day dog sled excursion with empty sleds. Dinner and campfire stories. Sleep in tents or try snow shelters.
Day 5: Dog care. Campfire coffee and breakfast. Break camp, load and launch to sled back towards the lodge. Arrive mid-afternoon. Treat an water your dogs. Snack break, showers and/or Finnish-style sauna (with optional roll in the snow or dip through the ice hole) Celebration dinner and evening activities. (On Saturday evenings, when his schedule allows, Paul Schurke often shares an Arctic adventure slide show).
Day 6: Optional kennel care. "Bon voyage" breakfast buffet. Trip de-brief chat and "Mushers Graduation" event, kennel visit to bid your dogs adieu, check-out mid to late morning (or earlier if your travel plans require). Optional stop in Ely to tour International Wolf Center, tickets compliments of Wintergreen (winter hours: 10-4 Sat/Sun).
Check-in 4-6 pm 1st day, check-out 9-11 am last day.
* 5-Night Classics:
- Includes complete training and gear outfitting, 1st and last nights in lodges, 4 days/3 nights of guided wilderness travel and winter camping, 6 participants/2 guides per group.
- Freight sleds and dog teams
- North Face Himalayan Hotel sleeping tents
- Siberian Chalet cook tent
- Coleman stoves, cook kit, misc. camp gear, thermoses and water bottles
- Wiggies Antarctic sleeping bags
- RidgeRest foam camping mattresses
- Inner Thermax sleeping bag liner and outer Ultrex "bivvy sack" bag cover
- Back-country metal-edged skis with Berwyn bindings and poles (optional)
- Sherpa snowshoes (optional)
- Sled bags for packing personal gear
- Cell phone, map kit, first aid gear
- Winter boots with removable liner (available for rent)
- Snow pants and hooded shell jacket (available for rent or discount purchase)
- Insulating pants and tops (available for rent or discount purchase)
- Long johns, mittens, hat, socks (available for discount purchase)
- Flashlight, toiletries, journal, camera, day pack or fanny pack, etc.
Check-in 4-6 pm 1st day, check-out 9-11 am last.
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