The 26th annual Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run went off without a hitch Jan. 26-28, with 14 teams carrying approximately 1,700 envelopes along the historic Cariboo Wagon Road from Quesnel through Wells and on to Barkerville.
The teams were a mix of traditional sled dog teams, with between two and 12 dogs, and skijor teams, in which one or two dogs pull a person on skis.
On Friday, the mushers and teams were sworn in as official mail carriers by Canada Post in front of Quesnel’s Post Office on Reid Street, and collected their bags for the route, which began at Umiti Pit, off Highway 97, north of Ten Mile Lake.
The teams then began their route, following the historic Cariboo Wagon Road.
They paused on Saturday at Troll Ski Resort for musher sports contests, which included timed relays with the mushers and dogs, as well as judged skills, like making bannock and brewing tea over a campfire. Seven teams participated in the fun, to the delight of spectators.
The teams continued on to Barkerville Historic Town on Sunday, where they dropped off their mail bags at the park’s post office. From there, the envelopes entered the regular postal system to be shipped across the region and the world.
Organizer Ric Raynor says Quesnel is the only place in Canada where mail is still carried by dogsled. He says the unique event went well again this year.
“It was fantastic,” Raynor said. “We had 11 dog teams and three skijor teams carrying the mail, including a dog team all the way from Arizona. This was only their second time mushing on snow.”
Kat Spencer and her dog Sprint, from Tappen, B.C., used the mail run as training for a skijor event in France in February, and some of her skijoring teammates travelled to take part in the event with her.
The mild temperatures on Friday and Saturday proved ideal, with the snow on Sunday holding off in the morning to allow the teams a pleasant run into Barkerville.
“The snow was starting to get heavier, so it worked out very well,” said Raynor. “We had plenty of spectators out.”
The specially designed envelopes, featuring artwork by local artists and stamped “Carried by Dog Team”, are now on their way to their final destinations.