April in the north of Norway ...
We drive in the direction of the ice surface of the frozen lake ... Shortly before the lake we brake, the iron claws of the brake are crunching through the snow into the brittle ice. Only then do the huskies who pull our sledges slow down and finally stop a few meters in front of the lake.
The first carriage first moves slowly onto the frozen surface and checks its stability. Clear water forms puddles on the supporting, thick ice: "Overvann". A phenomenon that occurs when snowmelt starts and temperatures drop again. Water then flows over the edges of the lakes on the ice, although this is not yet thawed. It takes a brief moment of overcoming before all the team members finally steer their sledges onto the surface. The dogs are experienced and pull the heavy expedition sled along with equipment safely across the lake. In some places, the ice crackles under us. Otherwise there is absolute silence and our group moves slowly across the big lake in the middle of the Norwegian wilderness, here in the north of Europe.
Later, in the evening, we sit with a warm bowl of reindeer meat and potatoes to eat, listen to the silence of the tundra and reflect on the day's experiences, while a fire heats the Gamme, a small, peat-proven hut.
All participants arrive in a hut, which serves as the starting point of our expedition. From here we drive with seven sleds, five participants and two guides, in one of the great wilderness areas in northern Europe. From Tana Bru, a small town in northern Norway, we move further and further north over the next eight days to explore Ifjordfjellet - a vast fjell area broken only by simple huts, extensive lakes and dwarf birch forests.
Everything we need, from equipment to provisions, we packed on our sledges. Before we start into the vast and lonely wilderness, all participants will receive a lot of important information on the day of the introduction. In addition, the questions of the participants will be answered. Usually it's about the well-known and legitimate questions: How do I steer a dog sled? How do I behave on the sled? What are my dogs called? And most importantly, how do I provide my team?
The subsequent, thorough preparation day, on which we can explore even some meters of the trail with snowshoes, usually pays off later on the trip: Each team member then knows what quirks have their own dogs, which route we are following and where appropriate points for Breaks are.
In addition, we continue our route with the Sami reindeer herders, in order not to disturb the large herds, of a total of over 3000 animals.
In the morning, when the air is still glittering with ice crystals, all participants of the tour stand up. It finally starts. The work on our expedition will be split up: while some clean up the hut and prepare the meals, the others go outside to feed the dogs.
After a hearty breakfast and a day's planning, the trail starts to widen, sometimes hiding in the wilderness. It's an incredible feeling to travel through this endless space. Apart from the crunching snow and the other team members, you can not see and hear anything - far away from civilization and the associated noise and stress of our time.
In the evening we reach the next hut, bring the dogs to their sleeping places and look for wood in the surroundings for the fire.
After a short time dogs and humans on this tour become a team: While the huskies pull the heavy sledges daily seemingly unimpressed, people learn to interpret the behavior of the dogs. Is a dog hungry or does he need a short break? Does it perhaps need a layer more straw in the camp? Dog and human are mutually supportive in this snow-covered expanse, and so, as human beings, we stand every moment of this adventure with great respect and wonder in front of the animals.
The importance of this interaction as well as the trust between the team members and also the dogs is mostly shown in the different extreme situations. Already the next day we will depend on it in the snowstorm ...
After a nice night full of northern lights, the clouds are closing in on each other and a light wind comes on first ... Our goal on this day is actually the exploration of another big lake. But after a few kilometers the wind gets stronger and thick snowflakes cover our sledges. The view gets worse and then one of the participants shouts: Your sledge has strayed off the track and tilted. The dogs pull, but can not free the wedged sled. Together, they have to dig up the sled and put it back on the trail. The dogs know when to pull.
It takes time, but after a few tries, the sledge is back. As we look around, we see that the snow has thickened and a whiteout is coming in our direction. That phenomenon that causes all contours to disappear and a horizon is no longer visible. A big challenge for orientation. In order to avoid danger, we divert the sledges back. Our dogs instinctively know where we want to go and guide us back to the hut on a safe journey without our instructions.
The next day, we actually make it across the lake and experience a high level of Northern Lights activity in the evening, reflected in a frozen fjord. We watch the natural spectacle intently and can hardly believe our luck.
The next morning the last stage starts. Have breakfast once more in a relaxed atmosphere, discuss the day and feed the dogs until we leave for the finale. We all enjoy the last ride especially until we reach the end point of our expedition overjoyed.
But the next day we put on the snowshoes again and explore the surroundings of our base camp more exactly. Hereby we notice: This area still offers so many undiscovered corners and routes. We will be back.
If you would like to know more about us and our adventures or if you would like to participate, you can reach us via these profiles on the internet:
In March and April 2020 we will return to Norway and you are welcome to join us.
This time we will again explore the area around the Ifjordfjellet and connect two starting points of our previous adventures, which are not yet connected with a continuous sleigh route.
While you can observe Northern Lights in March, we will hold an Arctic Outdoor Course in April. Here, our participants can learn all about life in arctic temperatures: material and meteorology, route planning and the creation of own stages are trained as well as the handling of specific weather phenomena in the winter environment of the Norwegian tundra.
All our expeditions can be carried out without difficulty even for beginners without previous knowledge!