travel / adventure zone

The Adventure Zone

It was Herodotus, circa 500 B.C., who inadvertently set the standard for modern postal service. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night," he wrote, "stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." For the hardy breed of adventurer who dared to journey North in the 19th century, the vast expanse of frozen mountains, valleys and rivers made getting news from home a daunting challenge. Today, it's a pledge that still captures the North American imagination.

In honour of the good old days when sled dog teams were depended upon to deliver tidings from afar, northern British Columbians Jeff and Margaret Dinsdale and a cast of dedicated volunteers hold the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run each winter. The event, which is scheduled from January 21 to 23 in 2005, bestows Honorary Canada Post Mail Carrier status on participating mushers and serves as the only place on Earth where you can deposit a letter and know that it will be delivered to its final destination, at least in part, by dog team.


A multi-staged event between Quesnel and Barkerville, B.C., the Sled Dog Mail Run travels 100 kilometres over trails and logging roads that range from gentle rolling hillside to rigorous Hardscrabble Mountain. Launched in the early 1990s as a major mid-distance competition and qualifier for both the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest races, the event, now in its 13th year, has settled happily into an annual celebration of winter recreation that also welcomes snowmobilers, skijorers and skiers.

The event is also a chance for friends and families to take part in an action-packed weekend outdoors. Among the highlights, there will be a barbecue, overnight campout and a Saturday night gala banquet and fund-raising auction. The last-day Barkerville Dash, a five-mile sprint that is open to all three- to six-dog teams, skijorers, skiers, cyclists and snowshoers, is part of the Wells Winter Carnival.

Drawing particpants from western Canada, the northwestern U.S., Europe and even Australia, the Sled Dog Mail Run is an icy slice of Canada's past.

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