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Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby octocruiser » 06 May 2013 08:11

This was another adventure from the Northern Lights cruise - again perhaps it cannot be called our favourite but it was certainly different to anything else we have done and very memorable.

After our nocturnal Aurora chasing what else was there to do but take part in more of the Norwegian Snow Adventure ?

Once more girded with our five layers of protection from the cold we boarded the coaches to make our way to the Dog Sledding Centre. It was a brilliant day and the drive of a few miles through plantations of young conifers took us into fairyland. As we arrived the dogs were lining up and panting with excitement for the chase ahead.

The sleds were very rudimentary – 3 people on a sled with a musher up behind. They consist of little more than about 4 long parallel slats covered with reindeer skins and mounted on runners. We sat astride the slats in tandem with our feet on the runners. There was nothing to hold on to or keep you in place other than grimly clamping on to each other and hoping that instinct will help you to lean in the right direction as the dogs weave around bends and hillocks. A foot or a hand hanging loose could easily be lost for ever ;-)) The UK H&E Inspectorate would go into meltdown at the sight.

Our friend Judy sat at the back, I was in the middle and Mr Octo was in front. We were the last sled to load of a train of eight and there was little time to acquaint ourselves with the rudiments of correct positioning with the dogs straining to be away in hot pursuit of the other teams.

After a short while I was aware of a pungent sulphurous smell and I realised that one of the dogs had done a Doggie poo and the sled had squashed it under the runner releasing the odour into the virgin air of the snowfield. Not to be outdone the other dogs competed to deposit their own contributions – never pausing, just letting it drop as they strained along revelling in the chase. This was much to the amusement of the musher. The Norwegians have a rather earthy sense of humour.
Soon Mr Octo was slipping forward and lower with every bump and jolt – of which there were many - until he was in a semi-reclined position. I had my hands under his armpits and was trying to help keep him upright while also trying to maintain my own balance. Our patient musher paused for long enough to rearrange him, but he still kept on slipping. Judy by this time was overtaken by mirth - she commented afterwards that she was gradually getting a better and better view of the scenery up front as the back of Mr Octo's head sank lower and lower out of her view. I then elected to take the front position and another brief pause enabled us to change places while the dogs strained and panted to be away catching up with their kennel mates.

My feet being smaller and my legs shorter than Mr Octo's I was able to wedge my feet into a stable position using the very meagre support offered by the joint where an upright bar joined the runners to the seat so keeping myself in an upright position and all of us even more up close and cosy.

We were now away again, bumping and jolting over the snow covered rough terrain. The track was narrow in places and we swung from side to side, missing tree trunks by centimetres. The track went through copses of young conifers and over open ground, at one point we lurched over a small bank to find ourselves actually travelling on the snow-covered ice of a deeply frozen river.

Here we were in an icy cold crisp snowscape in broad brilliant sunny daylight. The sun was brilliant, the snow sparkled and there was a fantastic panorama across to the mountains in the middle and far distance.

I was wearing a peaked balaclava helmet which zipped right up so that only the small area round my eyes was exposed. I had over this a thick fluffy hat which pulled down over my ears. I was warm and toasty all over but once I was in the exposed lead position the cold air pierced into the small area of exposed skin around my specs like needles.

We covered about 10 km and all too soon we were back at base and hopping off the sleds while they were still in motion with the dogs baying to load up and be off again with the next group to have their turn.

We felt a bit apprehensive about how our lumbar regions would feel the following morning, but our fears proved to be groundless. I would go so far as to say the experience might even be therapeutic. (It seems to me that any slipped disk might well be jolted back into place by such a ride :lol:

We then piled into a circular wooden construction resembling a traditional lavvu tent where we sat on rough benches covered with reindeer skins and drank from quaint hand-crafted wooden mugs and ate more home-made cake. The drink was a rather ‘sturdy’ coffee brewed in an iron kettle over an open fire. The owner of the site shared with us something of the way of life of both himself and his family and of the dogs and their diet well loaded with protein.

He also told us about the big event which was about to take place the following weekend.

http://www.finnmarkslopet.no/front.jsp?lang=en

He had competed many times and the building in which we were sitting had been his prize after winning on several occasions. Subsequently after numerous more wins he had been awarded as his prize the nearby larger handsome square wooden structure which served as their living quarters.

This is not us but it gives a flavour of the experience.

http://www.visitnorway.com/en/what-to-do/active-holiday/ridi...

After our exhilarating ride we boarded the coaches again and paid a brief visit to a Sami ‘village’ where we could a get a glimpse of the life of the Sami people who used to lead a parallel existence but have now been integrated into the communities within these Arctic cities and villages. There we saw some reindeer and sleds. Reindeer sledding had been another adventure offered in the itinerary and I was glad we had opted for the dogs.

Those sleds were much more sedate and stately, rather reminiscent of Dr Zhivago with proper civilised carriage-like seats where two people could sit side by side under reindeer skins and take a short gentle ride with sleighbells tinkling. Not nearly as exciting as our white knuckle trip through the wilderness ;)

We had been told we should not on any account miss the dog sledding and once we recovered our breathing capability we were so glad we had been given and had heeded that advice. How else could we have become for however brief an hour part of this sparkling panorama of sun, snow, ice and mountains ? We sure couldn’t have walked it and it would be sacrilege to taint this silent world with motorised vehicles.

It had cost us £160 per person, but how could you put a monetary value on a few magical hours that were worlds away from our everyday lives – something we’ve never done before and we shall never do again ?

Octo
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Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby arkangel » 06 May 2013 08:18

Hi Octo. I'm not quite sure why your links are being truncated...

http://www.visitnorway.com/en/what-to-do/active-holiday/ridi...


...but I ought to mention that on Cruising Mates links must be enclosed in ExtURL tags in order to work; like this:

Code: Select all
[ExtURL]www.cruisingmates.co.uk[/ExtURL]


I hope that helps. :)
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Re: Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby octocruiser » 06 May 2013 08:23

Thanks for that - I'm afraid I haven't yet checked out how to insert links. I had copied the whole post from one I had posted earlier elsewhere.

I shall take a bit of time to study how to compose posts correctly for this board.

Cheers Octo
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Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby bobbyoscar » 06 May 2013 08:41

Hi Octo, thanks for posting such a comprehensive report. Poor Mr Octo, I could just picture it happening :D
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Re: Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby Judy3 » 06 May 2013 10:19

Brilliant report it brought back happy memories, looking forward to our cruise at Christmas

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Re: Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby khkate » 11 May 2013 16:06

What a brilliant report Kath - I had a chuckle at your description of Mr Octo slipping down and Judy's ever improving view. You are just so good at describing things.
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Re: Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby Judy3 » 11 May 2013 16:54

khkate wrote:What a brilliant report Kath - I had a chuckle at your description of Mr Octo slipping down and Judy's ever improving view. You are just so good at describing things.


Yes it was funny we really had a good laugh :lol: and poor Eric having to be squeezed in the middle of us :clap:
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Re: Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby octocruiser » 11 May 2013 18:21

Judy3 wrote:
khkate wrote:What a brilliant report Kath - I had a chuckle at your description of Mr Octo slipping down and Judy's ever improving view. You are just so good at describing things.


Yes it was funny we really had a good laugh :lol: and poor Eric having to be squeezed in the middle of us :clap:



Save your pity, Judy - I don't think he hated being up close and cosy between us. He never misses a trick :thumbup:

I don't think we shall be doing that at Christmas. But mind you - don't get too close to the mistletoe :shifty:

Cheers Kath
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Re: Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby Myklebust » 12 May 2013 13:10

I think Judy ought to be ashamed , laughing at a mans downfalls . I bet there were a few G&T s sunk back on board later on, with the excuse that they would help ease the pain.
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Re: Dog Sledding in Norway 2013

Postby khkate » 12 May 2013 13:16

More like a big slug or two of brandy in the hot chocolate - all for medicinal puproses of course - and to keep the cold out.
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