Expedition Log: Day 5
Loping wolf-like for five, 10, then 30 miles, the dogs willingly pull our wooden sleds with unflagging stamina. We stand, one foot on each runner, sliding over the snow-covered terrain and atop ice-hard rivers, leaning left, then right, shouting commands in Norwegian. It’s one man and four huskies per sled. The dogs surprise us with their eagerness; in the mornings, they jump and strain to reach the sled, barking excitedly as we strap on the harnesses, ready to burst into action.
Bundled warmly, our knees bent, we move to the rhythms of this isolated landscape, ducking under birch limbs and negotiating bumps in the glistening, trackless snow. On a hilltop, we come upon a cluster of huts, painted red, seemingly too tiny for anyone to live in; more like dwellings from a fairy tale. We fly quietly by, and then there’s only the whirling wind and the wide whiteness. Silent but for the sounds of paws on powder, we “sail” out from the scrubs and over a crest, bounding down into the valley. The sunset surrounds us in sweeping, dramatic swirls of pink and blue. We’ve seen no one else for days.
Odd Knut Thoresen has bred and trained polar sled dogs since 1977. After 13 years of making weekly sledding excursions to Skjaerhaug, he became a professional guide. With no official count in place, Thoreson estimates having led about a hundred dog-sledding expeditions throughout Lapland, including the Saami Lands, over the last 20 years.
Days 1 – 2
Bardufoss, Norway / Rundhaug
Arrive at Bardufoss and transfer to Rundhaug, where you join your guide for an expedition meeting. Get to know your canine team, review expedition equipment, and practice packing and maneuvering your sled. Your guide also instructs you how to care for your dogs while in the wilderness.
Oevre Dividal National Park by Dogsled
Transfer to the park, hitch up your team, and embark on the first leg of your dog-sledding expedition. The dogs hit their stride and you glide for a day’s run into the mountains through birch, then alpine forest, and finally above the tree line. Overnight in a group cabin, where your cook prepares a hot meal on the wood-burning stove.
Days 4 – 5
Lake Ravdo, Sweden / Järäme
Today’s run is your longest, crossing the high Arctic mountains (lynx and wolverine country) into Sweden. Spend tonight at a reindeer herder cabin, or, if conditions prove challenging, in a tent along the trail. The next morning, sled downhill to the tundra, populated with reindeer, to the Saami village of Järäme.
From the Arctic Tundra through the Spruce Forest to Övre Soppero
Sled across the frozen Lainioälven River and pristine mountain lakes to the Saami village of övre Soppero. Spend the next two nights with a Saami family in their traditional birch-log house, enjoying their hospitality, as well as an invigorating sauna and beautiful views of the river.
Reindeer Sledding through Saami Lands
After a briefing and instruction, take the reins for a brisk ride in a one-reindeer sled. Stop at a lavvu (teepee) for a traditional Saami lunch.
Days 8 – 9
Toast your experience with a cocktail in the bar at the ICEHOTEL®, which is built annually from ice-blocks. Depart for home the next day.