Mushing a dogsled has been on my bucketlist for years, one of those pipe dreams that I knew was attainable but I wasn’t quite sure how to make it happen. About a year ago I had heard that it was possible to mush a dogsled in Italy close to where I live. I did the research and found out that there were a couple places within driving distance. I made a few phone calls but unfortunately the season was over as all of the snow had melted. This year I was convinced I would go. I found the International School of Mushing in Tarvisio and made contact with Ararad, the quirky and friendly owner of the school. We made a plan to go for a weekend in January. For various reasons the weekend kept getting pushed back (I had other commitments, my car broke down, etc.). Soon it was the end of March and I thought I had missed my chance. I called on Easter weekend thinking all the snow must of have melted by now but sure enough he said he could fit me (along with two of my friends) on Easter Monday! I was pumped! He said that we need to arrive at 9am because of the fact that the sun has been out at the snow gets too slushy for the dogs to run. We woke up early and made the almost two hour drive into the furthest Northeastern corner of Italy (the school is literally only a mile or so from the boarder of both Austria and Slovenia). Once we arrived we signed a paper giving us the school’s insurance and making us members, paid our 25 euro fee and then waited for a little bit for the rest of the group to show up. Once everyone had arrived Ararad did a brief introduction to the sport, gave us a tutorial on how to mush the dogsled, and then we were off! He started with the biggest members from each group (so the dogs could pull the heavier people while they had the most energy), and each person went on about a 10-minute (2 kilometer) ride on relatively flat terrain with the gorgeous Julian Alps in the background. I literally had an ear-to-ear smile the whole time. I loved it! After you finish each of the dogs is rewarded with a treat and some love in the form of a good cuddle by the rider. Ararad explained to us that the dogs love to run and this is the only motivation they need, they are not whipped or treated poorly, they are “simply dogs that love to run and pull and are therefore motivated by heart”. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is interested in the sport of mushing. He also offers more advanced classes (at a higher cost) to people looking for a longer thrill ride. In the summer months he also offers trekking.
Wear weather appropriate clothing and shoes that are good for trekking in snow (think good traction and waterproof).
After mushing my friends and I headed to the Fusine Lakes a short couple miles from the school back towards Tarvisio. You can walk around both lakes (taking your time) in less than two hours. Because it was winter and the snow was crazy we walked around one and drove to look at the second.
To complete your day in Tarvisio I recommend taking the tram up to Mount Lussari. It is a gorgeous little ski lodge area located in the breath taking Julian Alps. For 14 euro you can take a return trip on the ski lift. If you go in the winter wear shoes that have good traction and are waterproof. Up there be sure to get some local grappa; I recommend the strudel or green apple (mela verde) grappa and have a warm apple strudel or slice of cake. There are lots of little places to get a drink and a bite to eat so this makes a great lunch or mid afternoon snack after a day of mushing/hiking around the lakes. Just be sure to finish before 4pm as the last tram back down the mountain leaves at 4:30pm.
Definitely one of the best Easter Monday’s I’ve ever had :)