A record number dogsleds and drivers slipped back in time to deliver mail the old fashioned way on the weekend, emitting a whisper of runners on snow, passing through forest and over mountain under ideal conditions.
“We enjoyed outstanding weather, with several feet of snow on the ground and ‘just right’ temperatures that allowed for both great dog mushing and spectator viewing,” Jeff Dinsdale, organizer and musher, said.
Forty-three participants, including mushers, skiers and skijorers (skiers pulled by dogs) took part in the 22nd annual running of the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run, taking with them more than 2000 pieces of mail.
The event extended over three days and three distinct trails, starting at Umiti, then moving to Troll Mountain on the second day, before finishing in Wells, where the mail is delivered on it’s way out of town, the province, and, for a few letters, an international trip.
The trails were fabulous, according to Dinsdale, with great snow and a firm surface for the dogs to run on. The great conditions stood in contrast to most of the races on the dogsled calendars, many of which have been cancelled due to lack of snow.
“We have some of the finest condition in western North America now,” Dinsdale said.
The trails through the mountain offered some challenging climbs to the teams of dogs, but no dogs were injured, said Dinsdale. And while the climbs were difficult, the views at the tops were worth it, with beautiful vistas of snow covered pine forests and mountains.
The event was also a success for those whose interests were of a more passive nature.
“Each of the venues was well attended, each day the parking areas were crowded as folks took in the dog mushing action,” Dinsdale said.
“In addition, the musher’s sports event, the banquet and auction, the pot luck supper and the musher’s meeting offered lots of fun and the opportunity to make new friendships.”
The finale on Sunday was equally well attended as the mushers and the dog teams entered the last leg and a town preserved as it was when dogsled mail delivery was a common thing in North America, instead of, as it is now, only done during the Mail Run.
“The streets of Barkerville were full of smiling dog mushing/Mail Run fans.” Dinsdale said.
“It is a memorable sight to see dog team after skier after dog team moving down Barkerville’s main street amidst eight foot snow banks and stopping in front of B.C.’s fifth oldest post office to hand the mail over to the postal superintendent.”
The none competitive nature of the event brought out an array of people, including families three generations deep and a team of veteran dogs, retirees after having faced the hardship of the Iditarod, among other races.
And, of course, the volunteers were as important as the dogs, mushers and weather in keeping the race going smoothly.
“Hats off to organizers, the almost 100 volunteers, all of the participants and the community supporters,” Dinsdale said.
“Everyone is urged to post their photos and to view them on the club Facebook page Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run.”