This is the story of perhaps the best, and certainly the craziest holiday we’ve ever had—five days of travelling by dog sled through the wilderness of Lapland. Exhilarating, exhausting, challenging, inspiring, humbling and, of course, freezing. Travelling through snow carpeted forests and across frozen lakes we moved through this magical arctic landscape in almost complete silence. Only the sound of the sled runners moving across the snow and the faint panting of the dogs.
A thoroughly disgusting Easter (why does it feel so much colder than Lapland did?) has led me to investigate the wonders of making video slide shows, editing video and creating DVDs. As a result I now have a DVD with a short film on, featuring some of my favourite photos of the trip. Working on it has really brought back the magic of the trip.
Of course, the quality’s nothing like the real DVD, but here’s a web version:
Flying downhill through Arctic woodland on a flimsy wooden sled behind four joyous dogs; tilting into the bends; bent knees, absorbing the thudding bumps, bump, bump; dabbing the brake as the harness goes slack and the sled is moving faster than the dogs; reaching the bottom, taking the sharp bend, hitting the powder, feeling it tip, managing the correction, staying upright and pulling up laughing my head off… woo hoo!! The dogs grinning and bouncing their pleasure.
Since getting home I’ve not been on top of the world. I had a nasty tummy bug which opened up the sluice gates at both ends for the first part of the week. Whether that was from too much pickled herring at the Friday night feast, or all the handling of dog poo covered karabiners who knows.
You’ll recall how our taxi driver’s driving made us rather nervous on the way out to Harriniva, so when the same driver arrived to take us back to the airport we were a little alarmed. But as James pointed out (he and Freya had had the same driver on the way out), we weren’t likely to be late for the plane.
We spent the last two nights back at Harriniva. We weren’t all grouped together this time—Sophie and I had a small cabin, with ensuite sauna, down near the river Muonio. On Friday night there was a big celebration feast for the whole group. Unfortunately, although on the trip itself there had been a big effort to cater for our almost vegetarian diet, the message hadn’t reached the hotel staff; it was a bit of meat fest. I did enjoy the pickled herring, but have a suspicion it may have played a part in some rather unpleasant moments when I got home 🙁
I started the last day both sorry that it was coming to an end and happy at the thought of imminent rest! I had started the journey just getting over a nasty cold and it had been hard work throughout. There’s a lot to do to stay alive out here—fetching water, fetching and splitting wood, chopping meat for the dogs. And at these temperatures everything you do seems to require more effort.
It was a short day, and relatively gentle with little climbing. My dog’s were starting to flag and getting them up hills was proving hard work. Sophie and I had rearranged our luggage so that my team wasn’t pulling so much, but it seemed to make little difference to the dogs. The lack of ballast made a big difference to how the sled handled though, and I had some hairy moments on bends on down hill runs.
It turns out that Kuukkelinpesä is not far from a road, and on the road is a souvenir shop. It was the people from the shop who had left the beer on the table so naturally we felt obliged to visit.
In any long process there always seems to be a point in the middle where things go wrong. And for some reason it always seems to happen on a Wednesday.