With the arrival of winter and as the mountains become covered by snow, family expeditions take on a new dimension. This is the season for snowmobile excursions, snowshoeing and sledging.
Among the main outdoor winter sports activities, mushing or dog sledding is the one that stands out for its origins and characteristics. It is a centuries-old practice that has evolved from being a means of transport to become the sporting and recreational practice that it is today.
Origins of mushing: between Lapland and the Alaskan gold rush era
Mushing is the experience of dog sledding along circuits of snow-covered trails or forests. Although it is thought to have been practised in Lapland even before the discovery of the wheel, its origins date back to the gold rush era in Alaska and Canada at the beginning of the 20th century.
In fact, it is in this context that the term, which is still used today arose. Mushing comes from the French marché (to walk or move), which French settlers used to use as a signal for dogs to start running. The Anglo-Saxons adapted it into the term mush.
The activity quickly gained popularity in high mountain areas until it was established as a sport through the Iditarod event in Nome, Alaska. The event, which officially began in 1976, commemorates the 1925 Serum race in which medicines and supplies were transported by dog sled to care for the local population during an epidemic.
Become a musher for a day
Currently, mushing has become one of the most popular recreational activities in winter outdoor sports and one of the most popular for families looking for an authentic experience in nature. It is one of the disciplines in which the client is able to get closer to the natural environment, both because of the places visited throughout the expedition and because of the presence of the Nordic dogs that are in charge of pulling the sled. The activity is a great success with families because the dogs are also very affectionate.
At RocRoi these experiences take place at the foot of the Grandvalira ski resort in Andorra. The sledges leave from the Grau-Roig base, near the Moretó Forest. There are different offers depending on whether you are looking for a long mushing expedition through the mountains in Grandvalira to discover the most hidden spots in the Pyrenees, shorter rides or night-time routes with dinner in a restaurant.
Discover the best mushing routes in the Pyrenees
Specifically, you can choose from 2-kilometre routes aimed at families or groups of two adults and two children, 3 and 5-kilometre dog sledding excursions for all kinds of people, and 10-kilometre night-time expeditions.
“The star activity is the 3-kilometer tour because it is the one with the medium distance and the experience is well worth it. For the longer routes of 5 kilometers and 10 kilometers we offer the service with dinner in a restaurant”, explains Albert Panicello, director of the RocRoi snow vertical.
This is an adventure activity aimed at everyone and is not usually very difficult. Apart from the weather conditions, the Nordic dogs are prepared to be able to run in the snow at high speed.
The expedition, therefore, will last as long as it takes the dogs to complete the course. To this end, Panicello acknowledges that the type of snow has a big impact on their work. “Depending on the state of the snow, the pace of the walk can be slowed down,” he adds.
Andorra: the destination to spend the end-of-year holidays
Andorra, due to its location in the axial Pyrenees, receives millions of tourists every year from Spain. Especially from Catalonia due to its proximity, and France, countries with which the principality borders. It has become one of the top destinations to spend the year-end holidays because it allows you to spend a white Christmas and enjoy nature.
At this time of year, in Andorra you can visit the Poblet de Nadal, a Christmas fair in Andorra La Vella, from 25th of November to 31st of. December. You can also receive Santa Claus at various points in the country, such as the capital, Canillo, Grau-Roig and Soldeu, among other places. If you stop in Canillo, we recommend you visit its nativity scene, the largest in Andorra, which you can see until 15th of January.
If you are a snow lover, skiing or snowshoeing, motorbike and mushing excursions departing from Grau-Roig are a winning option. And, to say goodbye to the year after having done sport in the heart of nature, a visit to the Caldea spa is the best après-ski you can find.