Just about time for Dog Sled Mail Run

It is just a matter of days until the start of this year’s Mail Run. In Quesnel and Wells/Barkerville it has snowed almost non-stop since Christmas, turning a bleak moonscape into a winter wonderland…there’s lots of snow, with more in the forecast. Trail groomers have been out and about and day 1 and day 2 trails are packed, marked and ready to go. The grooming of the day 3 trails in Wells/Barkerville is being undertaken by the Wells Snowmobile Club.

Just about time for Dog Sled Mail Run

It is just a matter of days until the start of this year’s Mail Run. In Quesnel and Wells/Barkerville it has snowed almost non-stop since Christmas, turning a bleak moonscape into a winter wonderland…there’s lots of snow, with more in the forecast. Trail groomers have been out and about and day 1 and day 2 trails are packed, marked and ready to go. The grooming of the day 3 trails in Wells/Barkerville is being undertaken by the Wells Snowmobile Club.

Some cold weather will allow the trail base to set up. Currently the thermometer is at -15C, a temperature that is ideal for trails, dogs and spectators. However also in the forecast are warming temperatures for the Mail Run weekend, even if they do materialize, there is nothing that could damage the trail at this point (written with fingers crossed).

For the first time in a few years, it will be possible to start right at Umiti Pit at the approximately 1.5 km point on the Umiti Pit Road (1700 Road.) The run through to Cottonwood Trading Post is beautiful, there is no logging or logging truck traffic along the route and the complete distance is approximately 40 km. The first participant may leave from Umiti Pit for Cottonwood beginning 11 a.m., with the last team leaving before 1 p.m. It’s expected that all participants will have arrived at Cottonwood Trading Post by 5 p.m.

Contact information about Airport Inn’s extended discount rates through the Mail Run and other accommodation can be found on the Mail Run website www.dogsledmailrun.ca by clicking on the preparations and services button and then on accommodations.

Doors to the Musher’s meeting at the A&W on Two Mile Flat open at 5:30 p.m….participants are urged to come for supper, to pick up their registration packages and bibs, to purchase some “last minute” envelopes, as well as some 2011 souvenirs and to get caught up on the dog mushing gossip. The actual musher’s meeting where all of the details about the trail and the weekend schedule are discussed, begins at 7:30 p.m. There is a large parking lot at the A&W, with room for dog trucks and trailers.

Speaking of souvenirs, the 2011 mugs have arrived. They are the fifth in a series of mugs that have been produced over the years by Mail Run organizers…..no self-respecting musher would drink his or her coffee out of anything else. This year the artwork from the envelope has been replicated on the mug….that great 1920’s photo of a mail team in front of Quesnel’s Hudson Bay building.

The special Unveiling/Swearing In Ceremony is Friday morning Jan. 21, beginning at 9 a.m. in front of the downtown Post Office. The artwork for a Canada Post stamp commemorating the long Canadian history of mail deliver by dog team will be unveiled. This stamp will be issued in May, 2011. Please dress in your finest “dog mushing” gear, with lots of parkas, fur, fancy hats, mukluks and even snowshoes. Everyone who is transporting the mail over the trail must be there to be sworn in as an official Canada Post mail carrier.

A few other reminders for all who are interested in Mail Run activities. It isn’t too late to enter a team in the Musher’s Sports competition beginning at 4 p.m. at Troll Resort on Saturday afternoon. Your team should be comprised of at least five persons and the competition is designed to preserve those essential trail survival skills that have kept dog mushers alive for generations – judging will be based on speed, quality of final product and presentation – judges are being imported from the “big city” for this event.

Tickets for the Saturday night banquet, awards and auction are available for $15 (adults) and $10 (children and seniors) call Margaret at 250-992-9143 to purchase or reserve your ticket, or email her at Margaret@dogsledmailrun.ca. Socializing begins after the Trapper’s Sports at approximately 5:30 p.m., the meal will be served beginning at 6:30 p.m. This year’s auction will feature some one-of-a-kind treasures in the pile.

Finally, it will be possible for last-minute participants to register for the Barkerville Dash at the Wells helipad between noon and 1 p.m., Jan. 23. The Dash itself begins at 2 p.m. Remember, all participants in the Dash must also provide a prize and these will be all grouped together with participants making their choice of a prize based on their order of finish. All mail carriers will race from Wells to Barkerville down the snowmobile corridor that runs along the bank of Williams Creek before making two right hand turns that will put them in line for the triumphant (and emotional) trip down Barkerville’s main street. All mail carriers will stop in front of the Barkerville Post Office to turn over their mail to the postal superintendent. Participants should reach the Barkerville Post Office around 2:30 p.m.

For further information contact jeff@dogsledmailrun.ca or call 250 992-9143.

Jeff Dinsdale is a musher and Sled Dog Mail Run organizer.