2012 in Kananaskis country, deep in the mountains, on Christmas Day is where I first met Chris. A few of us showed up with our small teams of dogs to enjoy the solitude of the wild. A perfect run ending with fellowship on the back of the trucks, tired happy dogs at our side. I remember Chris as a very focused, determined young man.
8 years ago Chris arrived home to discover 2 unwanted and rambunctious Siberian Husky pups that had been dropped off in his garage. He had been asked to return them to the breeder by a friend, but for anyone who has ever been drawn under the spell of a husky puppy, well we know how this part of the story ended.
Alex and Star moved in, and the bond between the three was strengthened even further after Chris was laid up for 6 months after tearing his ACL while dirt biking.
Once recovered from his injury he knew he had to give up his past sport and began looking for a new hobby.
Chris built his first dogsled from a kit and in January 2011 was on the runners for the first time.
He was hooked and three years later, with an established kennel, Silver Star Kennels, out of Kneehill County, Alberta, Chris finished first in the 8 dog 200 mile Canadian Challenge.
His fondest mushing memory is from the 2014 Canadian Challenge. Leaving Johnson's Cabin with 6 dogs on the line they made the 70 mile trek in a single run underneath an impressive display of Northern Lights.
One of the questions I ask is, what is your greatest accomplishment, and for every musher it always comes back to the dogs and for Chris this is no exception.
His kennel consists primarily of pups he has raised or bred himself and he has enjoyed watching them mature into confident, loyal teammates.
Chris is excited to be running the 12 dog race in this years Challenge with dogs that he has bred, raised and trained himself. A personal ambition that he has been striving for, and is looking forward to this opportunity. Lack of snow this past few years presented obstacles that have had to be overcome, which left the team waiting to come back to the Challenge.
He is back this year and is pleased to be sharing his goal with his 12 teammates on the race trail as he watches all his hard work unfold into this successful sled dog team.
Chris will be bringing his experienced handler, April. She is just as dedicated to the dogs having worked with them this past three years, and from what I've been told she has laid claim to the team calling them dogs of her own.
Chris says he is looking forward to refining his breeding program and training with his dogs.
Be it in a race, or just for an adventure, Chris has been drawn to take his team North to the Yukon.
Photo Credit: Chris Walls, Kennel web page