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Quebec for the intrepid: Dog sledding…50 mph snow tubing… & ice climbing!

- Tyler

Now that winter is officially over, I want to share some great memories from our winter break from school. At the end of February, my family and I went to Québec, Canada for a three-day vacation. We have been to Québec before, but in the summer, when it was about 60-70 degrees warmer! So we soon discovered that the city is much different in the winter. It took us a little over seven hours to drive there from our New York suburban home, but it was definitely worth it. When we got there we checked into the Sheraton Four Points hotel and went straight into the “Old City” for dinner. Vieux Quebec; as it’s officially called, is surrounded by a wall that protected the city back when it was just a settlement. The city lies along the (icy) St. Lawrence River and is home to the famous Château Frontenac (a famous hotel that is the pride of Québec).

Our first major activity was a trip to a winter amusement park. The Valcartier Village Vacances was like no theme park I’ve ever seen. It’s a water park in the summer that converts to a snow-tubing wonderland in the winter. You basically ride inner tubes down some pretty crazy hills. At first you can start off nice and easy to get used to it. Then you can slide down in rafts and giant “round tubs” called the Tornado. And if you feel really daring, you can attempt the ‘Everest’ slide, a huge ramp that takes you down at speeds as fast as 50MPH! Aside from the amazing tubing and ice carting (think go karts on ice) you can also try ice-skating through the park along a half-mile of frozen paths.

The next morning we decided to do something equally as fun and fast paced: dog sledding. My brother and I each went with a parent with different dog sleds. Here is how it works: Each sled has about 4-6 dogs, but you only need to know the names of the two leaders. When you shout commands at the leaders for what you want them to do (stop or go), the rest will follow. You also have a break on the sled that can slow down or stop the sled when you step on it. You have to use this when you go down hills and banked slopes. Although it was a lot of fun, dog sledding can also be dangerous if you’re not careful. My parents crashed three times between the two of them. Despite this, I would recommend dog sledding to anyone who ever gets the chance. Besides, the dogs are awesome!

On our final day, my dad left to go ice climbing on a frozen waterfall. I was thinking of trying it, but it was really cold (and a little hairy). When we went to pick him up, I got a chance to see what it was all about. There are about four waterfalls that make up the Montmorency Falls. The tallest is actually higher than Niagara Falls! The biggest of the four falls was still flowing, but the falls on either side were completely frozen. My dad was going up one of the three smaller ones, complete with crampons and ice picks. It looked pretty challenging. Maybe I’ll try it next year, because after hitting the road back for New York, we all agreed that we are definitely coming back again next year for the Winter Festival, that’s held there every year.

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