4 weeks, 500km, and 1 dog team: Iqaluit mushers complete epic spring trek

Jovan Simic and Victoria Perron recently finished a 500-kilometre, 27-day dog sled trek across the Arctic tundra. But they say the hardest part was coming back home to their day-to-day lives in Iqaluit.

"I like travelling by dog team because it slows the pace down," said Simic. "Everything is slower, you get to see the landscape, you get to hear the landscape which you don't on a Ski-doo."

It's such a simple life," he said. "There might even be an onset of a mild depression knowing that this is coming to an end and you're coming back to something different."

Over the month of March, the two travelled from Iqaluit to Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut, experiencing dry patches without snow, shear ice and blizzards along the way.

The first step was finding the right travelling companion, said Simic.

"It's really hard to find a partner," he said. "Often the response is, 'Yeah, that would be great,' until the point of commitment."

But last year while out on a short dogsled run, he realized Perron was the perfect person for the trip. She immediately told him she was in for the long haul. 

After weeks of preparation, they set out from Iqaluit on Feb. 27.

Life on the trail 

"The first day was crazy!" said Perron. "Running around in the morning, double checking, but not triple checking and then we just took off."

They started with a strong head wind and a 300-kilogram sled in tow. The team made their way across the frozen tundra towards their first stop, a hunter's cabin. When they arrived, it was not what they expected.

Submitted by Victoria Perron

"The cabin was full of holes," said Simic. "We had a blizzard overnight."

That first night opened their eyes, with the pair readjusting how they prepared to complete the trip.

The next two weeks to Pangnirtung went by in a flash, with near perfect weather and help from Inuit hunters and fishermen who gave them advice.

It's so important to check in with the dogs, because they are pulling, but they are not pulling machines.  - Jovan Simic

"We had distance goals every day," said Perron. "You would get up, melt some water, make your breakfast, pack up, get the dogs ready, put on your skies, go, keep going and then go a little longer."

The group used food caches left along the trail to keep the weight of the sled down and the two made sure their dogs were well taken care of.

"It's so important to check in with the dogs because they are pulling, but they are not pulling machines." said Simic. "Every dog has its limit."

Submitted by Victoria Perron

After reaching Pangnirtung, Simic, Perron and their dogs had a difficult stretch through biting cold and blowing snow before finally pulling into Qikiqtarjuaq at the end of March. They say they couldn't have done without the help of people they met along the way. 

"It's such a rich experience that you've gone through, that things that have happened a week or two weeks ago seem like years ago," said Simic. "When travelling by dog team you might be moving slow but you're living at 100 miles per hour."