In 1992 a group of volunteers were asked to put on a demonstration event for the BC Northern Winter Games to be held in January of 1993.
It was decided that they would also carry official “Canada Post Mail” which was hand carried in Quesnel, Wells and Barkerville and so was born the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run.
This was a fun event and people came from all over North America to participate.
After the 1995 mail run it was decided to make this event a 200-mile qualifier for both the Iditarod in Alaska and the Yukon Quest in the Yukon.
“Racers came from even further away to participate in the event,” said event manager Barb Bachmeier.
“Some even came from as far away as Germany, Italy, and Austria to take part in the race or to travel sections of the trail.”
The organizers ran the 200-mile qualifier for four years from 1996 through 1999.
The trail was expanded from Wells all the way to Kruger Lake out on the Bowron Chain in the fall of 1995 with the help of some dedicated volunteers to cut the trail like Tim Cushman, Bachmeier and Norm Bradley, and with further help from the Wells and Area Trails.
The trail was cut through on the backside of Two Sisters Mountain down the old 2300 road to the Bowron Road then on to Kruger Lake.
“The 200 mile race took a lot of volunteers, from timers, to checkpoints, veterinarians, dog handlers, hand cancellation crews, snowmobilers, trail and maintenance clearing crews and so on,” Bachmeier said.
“In 2000 it was decided to go back to a participation event and that year we had three teams participate which was down from the 20 or so teams the year before.”
Undeterred, the mail run volunteers have worked hard to build this fun event up and in 2015 we had 22 teams registered for the 24th Annual Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run and many more participants in the Barkerville Dash.
Through all of these incarnations of the event, mushers have “Carried by Dogsled” real Canada Post Mail.
“The mushers are always sworn in as honorary mail carriers and to protect the mail throughout the run,” Bachmeier said. “They hand their specially packaged mail bag over to a Canada Post Official in Barkerville at the end of the run.”
This year is the 25th Annual Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run, which takes place from Jan. 26-29.
Bachmeier is inviting anyone to participate by either volunteering, purchasing an envelope to be “Carried by Dogsled” or joining in as a musher, skier, snowshoer, bicycler or skijorer.
Envelopes are on sale now at various outlets for $3 each or five for $12 until the deadline of Jan. 25.
Registration, meanwhile, is still underway by visiting www.dogsledmailrun.ca or checking out the Facebook page by searching Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Association.