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Saturday, February 17, 2018

“On King! On, you huskies!” at the Kearney Dog Sled Races; winter fun at Ontario Parks



   One-Tank Trip for Feb. 17/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   “On you huskies,” Kearney is about to go to the dogs again.
   Competitors from across Canada and the U.S. will converge on this community of 800 people in what is billed as the largest dog sled race in Ontario.
   This iconic Canadian tradition has races through the town on Feb. 24 and 25 on the western border of Algonquin Park, just north of Huntsville.
A two-day, 10-dog race is a feature of the Kearney Dog Sled Races.
   The Kearney Dog Sled Races are normally held on the first weekend of February but had to be rescheduled “due to unsafe trail conditions,” organizers said.
   There will be more than 70 competitive mushers along with novice and future mushers taking part in the sanctioned event.
   The race courses begin with a downtown start, challenging hills to climb, hardwood bush, and lakes and marshes to enjoy while racing through the natural beauty of the area.
   The highlight event is an overnight trek through the wilderness.
   It’s a two-day, 10-dog stage race covering about 60 kilometres a day, with the best accumulative time being the winner of a $5,000 purse.

   All the trails have been brushed, packed and groomed in anticipation of the races that feature four-dog and six-dog sprints and one-and-two dog men’s and women’s skijoring.
   In this case, skijoring is a winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by one or more dogs, with the term derived from the Norwegian word meaning ski driving.
Skijoring is a fun way to move through the snow being pulled by dogs.
   The event began 24 years ago as the Kearney Winterfest in what was formally a logging town.
   The logging roads “paved the way for the dog sled race trails and continue to do so today.”
   Organizers say there are “many things to see and do in addition to the races such as skijoring, children’s events, skating, a bonfire, fine food and fun entertainment.”
   One popular event had to be cancelled due to rescheduling problems were the dog sled rides from the Sugar Dogs Adventure Company. For more information: kearneydogsledraces.ca

   Park it
   It appears there’s still lots of winter left for outdoor fun at 26 Ontario Parks that are open at this time of year and 19 with cross-country ski trails.
   Special events this Family Day weekend are at six parks along with ice fishing, said Jeff Brown of Ontario Parks.
   This is the time to experience winter fishing as the Ontario government makes the long weekend a licence-free time.
Landing a big one while ice fishing. (Ontario Parks photo)
   In southwestern Ontario, join the fun at MacGregor Point, Pinery and Rondeau parks.
   At Rondeau through Monday, are owl prowls led by a park naturalist, making a suet feeder to take home and a park photo scavenger hunt.
   On the Monday holiday at Pinery, learn winter survival techniques and join a park naturalist on guided owl prowl and feed the chickadees.
   Warm up in the Pinery’s visitor centre and watch a special screening of The Messenger, a documentary film about song birds.
   MacGregor Point has 16 heated yurts for winter sleepovers and the park’s 400-metre ice oval is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
   Further afield, Ski Wasaga Beach’s groomed Blueberry Trails are available with ski rentals along with a scavenger hunt-on-skis.
   In the Toronto area, children will enjoy special Family Day events on Monday at Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville.
   The Children’s Farm and Nature Centre will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to meet the park’s farm animals.
   Visitors can “climb, jump and explore the children’s play barn” and make crafts. To learn about events, go to: ontarioparks.com/winter

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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