Taking Time to Celebrate the End of Winter at the Fur Rendezvous Festival

The Fur Rendezvous Festival – or Fur Rondy for short – is held each February in Anchorage Alaska. This annual winter festival is deemed the largest of its kind in North American and is meant to celebrate the beginning of the end of winter. This is a major event that has been declared the number on winter carnival on the entire planet by National Geographic Traveler.

Why Fur Rendezvous?

While sled dogs may like to believe that the name refers to their thick coats of fur, it is really a throw back to the past, when hunters and fur trappers would use the event as an opportunity to form swap meets and sell their labors of winter. This often included pelts of fur from the many wild animals living and roaming about the outskirts of Anchorage.

In the mid 1930’s, Anchorage had a population of just 3,000 and remained isolated from the rest of the world. To help bring the community together and encourage trade, a 3 day sports event was organized to coincide with the fur trading. This Winter Sports Carnival did increase interest and activity and help in further increase interest in the fur trade. Later, the name evolved and became known as only Fur Rendezvous.

Why All the Bearded Men?

Before the middle of the last century, it was commonplace for both miners and trappers to wear thick beards. This led to a rule that all men had to show up for the festival with a beard, or they would have to pay a fine. This was done in all good fun, with most men being happy participants. That tradition still continues today, with sales of beard balm and beard trimmers rising dramatically in the months before the festival. The Miner’s and Trapper’s Charity and Mr. Fur Face beard contest are a big hit at the festival, with beards being grown as long and eccentric as possible, using dye, decoration and beard shaping to garner the most votes and win the coveted prize.

In 2004, the organizers made the decision to extend the festival past its normal ten days and into March so that it could serve as a lead in for the Idatarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which also brings in visitors from all over the world to Anchorage.

Sled dog racing at the Fur Rendezvous Festival, Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

A series of events are scheduled each year during the festival including a number of competitions and races. Many of these involve the local sled dogs, who relish the opportunity and the attention it brings them from so many people.

This is a fantastic winter time event that can break up the bleak cold days and get you out there having fun. Make a trip to Anchorage this winter and see for yourself what makes this one of the most looked forward winter festivals in the world.

Dog Sledding in Alaska – The Ultimate Adventure Vacation

Most people don’t think of Alaska as an ideal vacation location, but nab some dirt cheap cruise tickets that head up the Alaskan shore, and you are going to be pleasantly surprised. This is a beautiful, albeit cold, area of the world that is rich in adventure for everyone.

As you traverse along the shores of Alaska you are going to be tempted by more side trips than you will have time for. There are glacier walks, sea kayaking, rock climbing and of course our personal favorite, dog sledding. There is something almost mystical about being zipped through packed snow by a pack of beautiful dogs who don’t seem bothered by the cold at all.

There is dog sledding all over Alaska, but you can also take a helicopter tour from one of the ports to further inland where the snow is deep and the breeze not so strong. There are a number of small towns and cities inside of Australia who rely only on dogs and the occasional snow mobile to get around. Anyone one of these towns is going to have a team of Huskies ready and waiting to take you on the adventure of a lifetime.

What to Wear for a Snow Dog Tour

Alaska is cold most of the time, but if you are there in the Spring or Summer, it won’t be like sub zero cold. Boots, a warm coat, hats and gloves should be fine. The most important thing is to cover as much of your body as possible, especially your face. Not to protect from the cold, but to protect from the wind. One husky can run fast, put 12 of them in a line and your talking race car fast. That wind effect can do some serious chapping to any exposed skin.


After the dog sled tour, it will be important for you to take care of your face and hands to avoid red and raw skin from the exposure. Instead of a strong soap or antiseptics use something soft like a konjac sponge to clean your face. You don’t even need a drying soap when you use a konjac sponge as it has natural elements that pull the dirt out of your pores while leaving the skin soft and clean.

It is that harsh environment and the possible consequences that keep so many people from wanting to visit this incredible part of the world. What they don’t realize is that all it takes is a bit of preparation and prevention, and they too can be yelling mush behind a herd of beautiful and healthy huskies.


Taking care of your beard during the cold season

Winter-beard-51363250668Once the temperatures start dipping and thoughts turn to winter sports and dog sledding a lot changes in our daily lives. We need to change our wardrobes, slow down when driving and pick hot cocoa over an iced cappuccino. We also need to make some changes in our typical hygiene routines, like applying more lotion and taking better care of our beards.

Cold Wind Sucks the Moisture Right out of Your Beard

Dry winds found in the winter time will dry out your beard a lot faster than a cool summer breeze will. This is where beard balm becomes your constant companion. You are probably used to applying once a day in the morning and forgetting about it for the rest of the day, but that is a big no no in the winter. Buy a small canister just for you to carry around and you will have a much healthier beard in the winter time. One of the tell tale signs that your beard is drying out is an afternoon chin itch. Once you feel that coming on, go ahead and pull the beard balm out.

Not only is beard balm keeping your beard from drying out in the winter, it is conditioning it as well. The bees wax and shea butter that are common ingredients in beard balm lock in moisture and keep whiskers tame. Plus, because of the thicker consistency than a beard oil, it stays on the beard better, giving you extra protection against cold winter winds. Don’t be scared to apply more than usual either. There is nothing wrong with overdoing beard balm when your beard’s health is at stake.

Will Your Beard Balm Freeze?

The beard balm is not going to freeze on your face, thanks to your body’s natural high temperature, but it may get a bit harder in the container. If you are finding it difficult to apply simply run the container under hot water for a minute or two and you will find it back to being its easy to apply old self. Just don’t overheat the beard balm or it will lose some of its nutrients and never, ever put it in the microwave. Trust me on this one, it won’t be pretty when you open the microwave back up.

Beards are great accessories to sport in the winter, as they provide you with some natural warmth. Just make sure to take care of yours right, and it will always look great while taking care of you.

Is a Portable Infrared Sauna Healthy for Your Sled Dogs?

Infrared saunas concentrate heat onto the body to remove dangerous chemicals and toxins from the system. There are portable infrared sauna units as well, and some dog owners have found that their pets seem to enjoy sitting inside as well. But the question remains if this is safe, and if your sled dogs would get any benefit from it.

What Veterinarians Have Found

In looking at the overall benefits of an infrared sauna on humans, veterinarians have found no plausible reason why they would be harmful to a dog. So long as used in the same way, for the same short duration, an infrared sauna will have no negative impact on the animal.

Your Snow Dogs and Toxins

There is a lot of emphasis placed on a clean planet, and the affect that current pollution is having on our health. Yet no mention of how this affects the animals that share the earth with us. Your snow dog is being exposed to toxins with every breath they take, not to mention from their food and drink. These toxins build up in the cells and can cause illness and disease. They are also the cause of premature aging. There is not much you can do to prevent this, but you may be able to release those toxins before any damage is done.


Does an Infrared Sauna Help an Injured Dog?

If one of your sled dogs sustains an injury, a few sessions inside of a portable infrared sauna will help it to heal more rapidly. The rays stimulate both blood flow and metabolic activity. This will help in easing pain and reducing swelling. Both of which are important in the elements of the healing process.

What makes it even better is that you don’t have to go and spend tons of money at the vet to help your sled dog get better. A portable infrared sauna can be kept where you keep the dogs so long as there is an outlet to plug into. Limit their sessions to 30 minutes, as more than that can cause the body to overheat.

It is also important that they drink plenty of water before entering the sauna and then again afterwards. The heat can cause dehydration which will be staved off with plenty of water during the process. Your dog may not seem comfortable at first, but once they feel the calming effect they will quickly grow used to it.

As an owner of a large number of dogs, it can seem difficult to keep them all healthy all of the time. Not to mention expensive. Yet if you are able to introduce natural healing methods into their treatments, managing the health needs of your sled dogs will become much simpler.

10 Terrific Tips for Winter Camping with Your Sled Dogs

There is nothing like the element of snow to make camping in Canada an unforgettable adventure. You can even take your sled dogs along for the ride and have them camp alongside you. Follow the tips below to have a safe, fun and adventure packed camping trip in the snowy hills of Canada:

  1. Dress in layers. Start with thermals and start packing on the clothes. If you start to get too warm make it easy to remove the outer layers to avoid sweating. The nice thing about starting with thermals is that you can strip down to these at night to sleep in, without exposing your body to the cold.
  2. Be extra vigilant when hiking in the snow. You never know what may be hiding underneath it. Take your time while backpacking through the brush and make sure that your backpacking backpack is well stocked with drinking water, a small amount of food, a compass, camping knife and medical kit. Streams and other bodies of water could freeze over and be covered in snow so be extra careful about where you are stepping to avoid falling in.
  3. Make sure that your outer layers are waterproof, especially your shoes. If it is windy keep in mind that the temperature will drop significantly so ensure that all of your body parts are covered, including your face. It does not take much more than moisture and a brisk wind to cause frostbite when camping during the winter months.
  4. Invest in a high quality family sized camping tent. You need to have a tent that is completely water proof and insulated to protect you from the elements as you sleep. Check camp gear review sites to find one that is meant to be used during cold weather.
  5. The same requirements should be met with your sleeping bag that you use for camping in the winter. Only use one that is waterproof, but lined on the inside for optimal warmth.
  6. Don’t forget to keep your sled dogs warm at night too. Moving around during the day helps to keep them warm, but at night they are just as susceptible to the cold as you are. Clear a space in the snow and keep a campfire going all night for them to sleep around.
  7. To further protect your sled dogs from possible predators, make sure that you keep your campsite clean. Wild animals are attracted to the smell of food, and will come sniffing around if your garbage is not properly disposed of.
  8. Bring along multiple flashlights with extra batteries. No one wants to be left out in the dark while camping in the wilderness. Even if you are staying at a certified campsite, you are still going to want to have light readily available.
  9. Bring along sunglasses. Many people forget that the sun reflecting off of the sun can be blinding. Bring along a pair of shades for better visibility during the day.
  10. Have fun. This is the most essential part of camping during the winter. Take in the sights and as many activities as you can to make the best of your winter camping trip.Tent-family-with-team-ready

Improve Your Lung Capacity – Improve Your Winter Sports Performance

Participating in high energy sports require the body to need and use more oxygen as the heart beats faster and blood circulates rapidly. Yet your lungs are only equipped to take in so much with each breath. And when you are exposed to the cold, their capacity decreases. There are however techniques you can practice that will make your lungs, and you, better equipped for the endurance needed to complete a dog sled race, hockey tournament or any other of the winter sports you love.

Breathing Exercises

Start by pushing out. Start with feet flat on the ground and bend over at the waist. Exhale as much air as possible and then slowly stand, inhaling at the same time. Once you feel like your lungs are full, hold that breath for 20 seconds before slowly exhaling. Do this for four times once a day to build on lung muscle strength.

Another method involves inhaling 3 short times through the nose without exhaling. Inhale once more, raising your arms to shoulder level at the same time. Inhale again while opening your arms wide, and one last time while raising them overhead. As you slowly exhale, circle the arms through the same positions until they are back by your side. This should be done 10 times daily.


Lying on your back, place one hand on your chest and another on your stomach. When you breathe in deep you will feel a pull in your stomach. The hand on your stomach should be higher than the one on your chest. Now exhale and then breathe in again, holding it for 8 seconds. Repeat this, squeezing your stomach muscles at the end to make sure all of the air has been released.

Sign up for online singing lessons. Singing builds the diaphragm muscle, which is essential for lung function. When you learn to sing online, you will also be learning how to control your breaths and build your lung capacity. Music is a great form of help in this case.

Exercise at higher elevations. Since there is less oxygen in the air when you are in a higher area, your body will be forced into increasing the capacity of the lungs. This can be hard on the body at first, but will provide great benefit. Studies show an increase in red blood cells in athletes who work out at a higher elevation.

Always try to be conscious of your breathing and breathe in as deeply as possible. This means always exhaling completely before taking a new breath in. If you practice this continuously, eventually it will become natural for you.

Athletes of all types have learned that breathing techniques will help with overall performance. For winter sport athletes, this may be even more important to achieve. Practice your techniques daily and you should see an overall improvement in your breathing and sporting abilities.

10 Natural Ways to Stay In the Game This Winter

We all love the winter, and the array of sports it brings, but no one likes dealing with the multitude of colds and flus that come with it. In order to stay in the game and boost your immune system naturally, add any one of these essential oils to your routine:

Oregano – Oregano has natural antiviral and antibacterial properties that ward off colds and flus. As an essential oil you can rub it on your temples and under the nose when you feel a cold coming on, or wear it around your neck in an essential oil diffuser necklace. Fresh oregano will also work at a stomach bug if make tea from the leaves.

Thyme – Thyme has antiseptic elements that allow it to kill any germs before they do a number on your health. By wiping out the bacteria in the air around you, they never have a chance to take root in your system. If you suffer a sports injury in the snow, thyme works well at stimulating circulation and promoting healing.

Eucalyptus – Strong smelling, eucalyptus as an essential oil is both an antiseptic and antibacterial. Bacteria don’t stand a chance when the crisp scent of eucalyptus is nearby. Rub it on your chest and back, and feel the natural soothing effect immediately as it reduces lung inflammation.

eucalyptusLime – Essential oils made with lime are a triple threat as they are an antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral. Wearing this strong, yet fresh scent, will keep you playing your winter sports well into the first thaw.

Frankincense – this unusual scent is actually very good at soothing a cough. When breathed in and rubbed on the chest, your lungs will feel instant relief.

Peppermint – The essential oils found in peppermint aid in keeping your digestive system in gear. Winter is not only for colds and coughs, it can do a number on the tummy too.

Hyssop – Winter is the time for bronchitis, pneumonia and a slew of other painful lung infections. Hyssop works at easing infections in the respiratory system, getting you back to breathing easy.

Lemon – Like its cousin the lime, lemons are a natural disinfectant and antibacterial. Infuse your essential oil diffuser necklace with this fresh scent, and you will never miss a day on the slopes. If you’d prefer, you can always put it in your diffuser when you get back to the lodge, firing up your ZAQ at the end of a long day will surely bring some relaxation!

Clove –  Clove is actually an analgesic, which work at relieving pain. It also has the power to bring down inflammation and kill bacterial. With its crisp scent, this is an essential oil to consider for the winter.

Ginger- Ginger is great for stomach ailments, and will even fight nausea. If a stomach bug is benching you for the winter, try adding some ginger into your essential oil mix.

The stakes are too high to miss out on winter snow days. Arm your body in as many ways possible to make sure colds and flus don’t take over and ruin your time on the slopes.

What is an Old School Winter Turkey Shoot Really Like?-Grab Your Recurve Bow to Find Out

Since the first Europeans touched North America, there has been an obsession with hunting wild turkey. A challenging sport in the winter, made even more challenging by the absence of hunting rifles. If you want to experience hunting turkey and other game the way our ancestors did, you are going to have to get out the bow and arrows.

Hunting is an all year sport that takes different skills in the winter. The woods are quieter, the air is cold and drifts of snow can be refuge for wild life. It is that quiet nature that makes so many winter hunting enthusiasts prefer the smooth shot of a recurve bow over the loud bang of a gun.

Turkey Shooting in the Winter

bow1One of the first obvious differences is of course the camouflage that you wear. Bright green and brown khakis are going to make you stand out. White is of course the fashionable color for winter hunters, and usually in the form of a full snowsuit.

The snowsuit is necessary of course to help you keep warm in the cold and should be made with waterproof material on the outside. You could be spending some time laying in the snow waiting for that turkey, and don’t need to get wet in the process.

Like mention prior, a real turkey shoot is done using a recurve bow and arrow. This is what native Americans used until the musket was introduced to the new world. Check with your local sporting goods store about recurve bows and arrows that are meant for winter hunting. As many of the elements as possible will be colored white, to match the snow you are hunting in.

You also must make sure that the recurve bow is built for someone of your size and stature. An expert will look at your arm length and upper body strength to help find you one that fits your body type. Once you have all of your gear, you are ready to sit in the snow and wait until that fat turkey comes gobbling into your path.

Winter Rabbit Hunting

Surprisingly, recurve bow and arrow hunting has become popular for rabbit game as well. While you may think this is too small of a target to hit, rabbits have a tendency to hop and stop, or stop entirely to try and become invisible. These habits make them easy pray for the carefully shot arrow.

If you want to experience winter hunting the way it was when hunting was a necessity rather than a sport, then a bow and arrow is the way to do it. Winter hunting is a whole other type of sport that is well worth exploring.

If hunting is not for you, click here for other winter sport ideas.


A Brief History of Dog Sledding and Modern Technology (AKA Wireless Dog Fences) That Can Help Train Your Dog Today

Dog sledding has a long and proud history, dating back thousands of years. Those ancient civilizations that resided in the snowy north quickly learned that harnessing the animals was a great way of traversing the land. Not only were dogs used for transportation, but they were depended on to help with hunting and trapping as well as companionship. Even then, dogs of all breeds were considered to be important members of the family.

Having dog sleds during that time was a great way of keeping those in the frozen north from becoming isolated with the rest of the world. There is even evidence of dogs being used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the 1800’s to patrol the icy frontier and by the postal service to help deliver mail.

During the 1925 diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska, dogs saved the day by transporting the essential anti-toxin that was desperately needed to stop the epidemic from spreading. There were a total of 22 dog sled teams used to brave the interior of snowbound Alaska, travel across the Bering Sea and get that necessary serum to the illness stricken town. Today you will find  a statue of one of those hero dogs in NY City’s Central Park. The inscription on Balto reads: “Dedicated to the indomitable Spirit of the sled dogs that relayed the antitoxin 600 miles over rough ice, treacherous waters; through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the winter of 1925. Endurance. Fidelity. Intelligence”. This is a testament to the true spirit of the sledding dogs, and their dedication to the men and women who drove them.


Today, dog sledding is more for sport than necessity, thanks to the invention of the snow mobile. Yet thousands of dogs are still in love with working in unison to get across the snowy terrains of Canada. As a result we see beloved pets and their owners participating in races and events all winter long. They are usually trained in the safety of their own home, with owners using and reviewing devices such as wireless dog fences to help them learn how to stay on track. This is an important skill to develop for dog sledders who are being trained individually or in a small group, as the snow usually covers the scent of any other clues they may use to stay in focus.

With the wireless pet fence system like this set up as a small trail, the dogs are forced to stay in line, a skill that comes in handy once they meet the rest of their sled pulling team. For dogs trained in this manner, staying focused on moving forward has been safely ingrained into them.

While dog sledding today is rarely used to save thousands of lives, it is still a lively and healthy sport for you and your pet. If you think your pooch has the stamina to handle it, contact a local race and see about signing him up. This is a great way for you and your companion to participate in a fun event together that is mutually gratifying.

Click here for more great winter sports ideas!  

Sporting Introductions: Curling

What is curling? What is the objective? How is it played, and what are the rules? Well this post will help you understand the basics of curling and how it is played. Curling is generally played indoors on a sheet of ice. While it may look like an ice skating rink, it is not. A curling court has a regulation standard rink and is played with large objects that look like large, thick disks. These disks are made of stone. And are pushed down the ice with objects that look like large brooms, because that is generally what they are.

The stones that are used in the game are made of granite. Weighted heavily to give the game a boost. There are four players on each side and of course there is a goalie. The rules of curling are similar to shuffleboard and the end goal is the accumulate the most points per game and there are an average of eight to ten games total.

Curling has been around for hundreds of years. It was originally played in Scotland during the medieval era and the stones came from the river. Because of the nature of the stones many of the games were based on luck rather then precision. Now the game is purely based on precision due to the fact that the stones are of regulation size and weight.

Curling has become so popular that it is now an olympic sport. It has gone far beyond Canada to all four corners of the globe. There are woman’s teams and mens teams; even teams that combine men and woman. These are usually championship teams, meaning, the best winners play together. The sport was introduced into the Olympic lineup fairly early on; around 1924.

Curling may look like a simple sport with the sweeping of the brooms but it is not. Each team member guiding the stone down the ice has to sweep the ice just right to ease curl and trajectory. The constant sweep pattern of the broom creates friction on the ice and that helps ease the stone down the center of the ice. The shoes are also unique. Each shoe is different. One helps you slide down the ice and the other keeps you stable on the ice so you don’t go down the ice with the stone. The stone, broom and shoes are the main components needed to play.

There are amateur curling clubs and leagues all over the country. There are clubs just for beginners and specialty clubs for top-notch players but it is a great sport to learn and can be an excellent hobby. It does not take much to start and it can be a great way to make new friends as you are playing in teams, yelling at each other (players have to guide each other) and working together. Find a curling league in your neighborhood and start learning the fun yet challenging sport of curling. You won’t be disappointed.