Since I discovered the extraordinary and heroic role of sled dogs on the Hautes-Vosges ridges during the First World War, I am fascinated by the courage and beauty of these incredible doggies. On this March 6, 2016 I have the opportunity for the first time to follow a real Nordic sled dog race at the ski resort of Lac Blanc, on the heights of the valley of Kaysersberg, not far away from Riquewihr.

Sled dogs at the Lac Blanc race
The dogs are eager to please the musher. They fly over the track, all tongues out, with hypnotized eyes. Snow is their thing!

The event had already been postponed twice. The organizers always plan other dates in case of lack of snow but this time is the right one! This weekend, the snow falls in abundance. Even if access to the station is always quickly cleared, snow tires are essential and having a set of chains in the trunk is prudent.

Remparts de Riquewihr is a collection of 14 charming holiday gites in Alsace, France
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From the small studio to the large luxury apartment, the Remparts de Riquewihr is a collection of 14 charming holiday gites superbly located in one of the most beautiful villages of France.
Jewel on the Alsace wine route Riquewihr will be your headquarters to discover all the Alsace, the Vosges and even nearby Germany and Switzerland.
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The rendezvous, as every year, is given at the Auberge du Blancrupt. Many teams are already scattered almost everywhere. There are a multitude of magnificent dogs!

Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
This father came with his baby to let him get familiar with the dogs. Love and respect for animals starts like this.

1, 2, 4 dogs? Or more?

The track of the race follows about ten kilometers through the magnificent snowy landscapes. I was also told that there are several categories of teams and races. Today, in competition, only teams of Nordic breeds (Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed and Greenland Dog) are allowed. The three types of harnessings used are the pulka, a kind of sledge but not used at the Lac Blanc; ski-joering: one or two dogs are harnessed to a cross-country skier; and the dog sled with teams of four to 10 dogs or more. There are three main categories of events: the most common is the sprint, with a distance of less than 20 km. It is in this category that the Lac Blanc race takes place.

Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
Look how happy they are! They fly over the snow!

Moments of pure happiness for the skier and his dog …

Remparts de Riquewihr is a collection of 14 charming holiday gites in Alsace, France
[ Sponsored suggestion ][ CHARMING & LUXURY HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION on the ALSACE WINE ROUTE ]
From the small studio to the large luxury apartment, the Remparts de Riquewihr is a collection of 14 charming holiday gites superbly located in one of the most beautiful villages of France.
Jewel on the Alsace wine route Riquewihr will be your headquarters to discover all the Alsace, the Vosges and even nearby Germany and Switzerland.
Click to visit our holiday apartments
I knew the sled runs but it is at Lac Blanc that I discover the canine ski joëring, a discipline in which one or two dogs, pull a cross-country skier. At Lac Blanc they are the first to start. The cross-country skier provides power to the skis and sticks, and the dog adds extra power by running and pulling. The skier wears a harness and the dog wears a sled dog harness. The two are linked by a strap. There are no reins or other signaling devices to control the dog. The dog must be motivated by his desire to run and respond to his master’s voice for leadership.

Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
Ski-joëring : one skier and her malamute dog.

The master (or mistress, there are many girls, much lighter than boys, who run with their dog) maintains a fusional relationship with his dog. You must see the two companions together on the track: the dog pulls, the skier pushes on the sticks! The two fly in an immaculate and silent nature …

Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
Ski-joëring : one skier and her two husky dogs.

Harnessings of dogs flying over the track!

And then come competitors of a very different category: the large teams launched at an impressive pace! The role of the leading dog is essential: it is him who takes the team in his trail. And when I look into their eyes, I am impressed!

Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
The team of Didier Sioux. The leader is wondering about the strange guy laying in the snow and staring at him !

To make my pictures I left before the start of the race to settle in the snow, away from the crowd of people watching the departure and arrival. In the silent forest of big fir trees, I hear only the felted gallop of the dogs, the crunching of the snow under the skates of the sleigh and the encouragements of the musher to his team. The dogs are eager to please the musher. They fly over the track, all tongues out, with hypnotized eyes. Snow is their thing!

Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
Go go go !!!

This dog sled race is organized every year at the resort of Lac Blanc. Frankly, I’m glad to be here. You too, you should come 😉

In the heart of Alsace, our mountain Hiker apartment with a spectacular view on the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle
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Your headquarters to discover all the Alsace, the Vosges and even nearby Germany and Switzerland.
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What about you and your dog?

Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
Departure. Go go go!
When will you do the big strolls on the snow? When we look at the archives of the sled dogs coming from Alaska and Canada to serve on the front of the Vosges (the famous Poilus of Alaska which I had the occasion of telling the exploits some time ago ), one finds out that the most valiant dogs were in fact derived from crossbreedings because considered as much more resistant. It seems that any energetic dog of a certain size is able to practice this sport: Golden Retrievers, Labradors, American Staf and many crossbreedings have already been seen running with their master. Maybe you should speak to your dog about that? 😉
Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
Just out of the forest for the final sprint over and under the snow. What fun!

But, to attend the dog sled race of Lac Blanc, you will have to leave your dog at home. In order not to disturb the competitors, they are not admitted.

Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
Final sprint over and under the snow. What fun!

At the Auberge du Blancrupt

The Lac Blanc race is held in front of the auberge. The headquarters are there.
This Auberge is rustic and friendly !
The simple but well-heated rooms remind one of a hostel. Neither luxury nor frills: what is important is to be near the snow. The self-service restaurant is open to all with a good hearty cuisine to give energy to the snow lovers . The friendliness does the rest …

The ski resort of Lac Blanc

The Lac Blanc ski resort is a real and beautiful ski resort less than half an hour’s drive from the Alsatian vineyards. Downhill skiing enthusiasts, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing; Beginners or experienced, the Lac Blanc offers you beautiful moments and a breath of fresh air in a magnificent landscape. See our dedicated page with hints and tips about skiing in the Alsatian Vosges mountains.

Remparts de Riquewihr is a collection of 14 charming holiday gites in Alsace, France
[ Sponsored suggestion ][ CHARMING & LUXURY HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION on the ALSACE WINE ROUTE ]
From the small studio to the large luxury apartment, the Remparts de Riquewihr is a collection of 14 charming holiday gites superbly located in one of the most beautiful villages of France.
Jewel on the Alsace wine route Riquewihr will be your headquarters to discover all the Alsace, the Vosges and even nearby Germany and Switzerland.
Click to visit our holiday apartments

Where in the Vosges to make a ride with sled dogs?

Be aware that all activities have to be booked a very long time in advance (high demand in winter, especially during school holidays).

Sled dog race at Lac Blanc Alsace Vosges
A happy musher on his sled! Didier Sioux came from the other side of France to compete at Lac Blanc!

« Les Chemins du Nord » (The Northern Paths) is a small family company founded in 2008 by Anne-Lise and Frederic Dubray, specialized in the organization and supervision of activities with huskies and reindeer. With a professional experience closely linked to nature (Anne-Lise is a mountain guide and speleologist, and Frederick is a logger), they have done various expeditions with their dogs (Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and the Vosges Mountains), so they decided to share with the public their passion of nature.
Les Chemins du Nord – Anne-Lise DUBRAY – « La Petite Finlande » – 290 Schoultzbach – 68 370 Orbey (not far away from Lac Blanc ski resort).
Tel / Fax : +33 3 89 71 00 37 – Mobile phone : +33 6 20 06 39 15

The musher and his sled dogs rest between two races ...
The musher and his sled dogs wait for their appointment at the Schnepfenried ski resort …

At the Schnepfenried ski resort, it is possible to take a sled excursion drawn by the dog sledges of Rêve du Nord: Fabien, Marina and their pack of Nordic dogs offer you to share a unique moment of escape. But watch out, the sleigh ride is a very popular activity. You have to book a very long time in advance. But watching the teams progress on the snow is also a superb show.
Rêve du Nord — Tél 06 89 45 84 75.

Karpediem-emotion.com
tél 06 20 59 26 55
Between the Donon and Pierre Percée at BIONVILLE (54)

A malamut sled dog
A proud malamut sled dog
Remparts de Riquewihr is a collection of 14 charming holiday gites in Alsace, France
[ Sponsored suggestion ][ CHARMING & LUXURY HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION on the ALSACE WINE ROUTE ]
From the small studio to the large luxury apartment, the Remparts de Riquewihr is a collection of 14 charming holiday gites superbly located in one of the most beautiful villages of France.
Jewel on the Alsace wine route Riquewihr will be your headquarters to discover all the Alsace, the Vosges and even nearby Germany and Switzerland.
Click to visit our holiday apartments

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