Gone mushing

A husky adventure in Lapland


A day by day account of our trip through Lapland with a sled and a pack of huskies.

Getting there

Our journey began on a Sunday morning in Warwick, loading our rucksacks into the back of the car and setting off for Birmingham airport. A Sunday morning drive to Birmingham airport really shouldn’t be anything too stressful, but we’d booked off-site car parking, not realising just quite how off the site it was, nor that that there was a huge camping and caravanning show going on at the NEC.

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Meeting the dogs

After a hearty breakfast at Hariniva five of us assembled in reception to await the arrival of our guide, Raikka. Barry, Freya, James, Sophie and myself had spent the night in a small cabin a couple of km down the road. There were to be two French members of the party, but they had decided to join a different group that was largely French.

Raikka was a striking character who wore a Buff pirate style.

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The lady of the house

The lady of the houseMatinkämppa—Mati’s Hut—is a beautiful collection of wooden cabins nestled in pine forest at the edge of lake Torasjärvi. It is summer home to a local artist named Mati, and his work is all over. Including the most extraordinary fireplace I have ever seen.

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Further north

Our second day on the trail dawned bright and cold. The dogs were fed their hydrating soup, we ate a full breakfast and after shovelling up the poo and harnessing the huskies we set off north. Once again, the contrast between the cacophony of howling, excited dogs as we prepared and the total silence as we moved off was striking.

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Northern lights

With the dogs fed and the travellers revived in the sauna we sat down to a meal of meat balls (with veggy ones for Sophie and I). It was a clear night and the temperature outside was already below -20°C. As we ate the conversation turned to the possibility of seeing the Aurora Borealis tonight—clear skies are an important factor in being able to see the northern lights.

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Frosty trees and kuukkelis

I woke early and headed outside to be greeted by a quite breathtaking scene. The delicate branches of the birch trees surrounding the cabin were decked in a thick layer of frost. As the bright morning sun came through it glinted off the lake and twinkled on the frosty trees, creating the most magical arctic scene.

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Wobbly Wednesday

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.

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The Arctic Knife

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.

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The reindeer herder’s hut

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.

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Last day on the trail

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.

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