Dog sledding in northern Norway

After my rainy week in Lofoten with almost no blue sky and no northern lights, I had high hopes for good weather and Aurora when I arrived at the Huskyfarm of Bjørn Klauer and Regina Elpers in Innset (www.huskyfarm.de), just 180 kilometers further inland. I had planned on joining a group for an eight day dogsledding trip for a magazine story. Already on the busride the weather changed and the sun came out and when we packed our sleds that same evening, northern lights were coloring the sky.

And that was just the beginning. On our trip, the following two nights, the Aurora was amazingly strong and active – I have never seen anything like it before. Even Björn, our guide and a good friend, was amazed and said, that in 25 years living in northern Norway, with countless nights out in the wild, he had only seen northern lights this powerful once before. I was so very happy – especially because of something, that happened ten years ago: In 2002 I was on my first dogsledding trip with Björn. Like this year we spent the first night in a tipi-tent on the shores of lake Altevatn. When it got dark that night, a very powerful northern light danced on the sky, while a full moon lit up the snowy landscape perfectly. The only problem was my camera. It somehow did not work. And while Björn shot photos, that later became a cover for one of his coffee table books, I only had the memory of this green belt dancing on the sky and was mad for days for missing those shots. So the last weeks before I left this year, the one thing I was hoping for, was a northern light during the night at the tipi. And the dream became reality.

Together with Björn, five other part-time-mushers and 47 dogs I not only experienced this great northern lights but also days full of overwhelming beauty. Not only when the sun was out and lit up a beautiful winterwonderland in Råkkunbårri National Park and Øvre Dividal National Park but also on bad days with snowstorms and bad visibility that forced us to turn around and change plans.

The most amazing thing of all though was to experience the dogs on our journey. They are so full of energy and want to run and pull the sleds so eagerly, it’s hard to believe. Every morning, they go crazy because they want to go, they pull the lines as hard as they can, jump and bark and scream. Some dogs sound like birds, others like race cars in their excitement and it seems like they will loose their voices any moment. When 47 dogs do this simultaneously, it is very, very loud. And even when there is a break for hot tea and crackers after a long and exhausting climb, it doesn’t take ten minutes and the show starts again. More than once, my six dogs pulled my sled, which was turned on its side, while I was still sitting on it, drinking tea.

Photography was not an easy task on this trip, as the temperatures were not electronic- and bare-hand-friendly and went down to -28°C on the worst night. The cameras started to complain a bit, but with a few hours near the wood burning stoves and fresh batteries at hand, it almost always was ok. More trouble was shooting while on the sleds, as the dogs are not easy to handle, and you don’t want them to drag your turned over sled to the next team, to start fighting them for a better position in the pack.

Above, this is Björn, the guy who is god for all his dogs and the best guide you can imagine. He is not only calm in every moment of his trips and funny, he always knows what is best for his group and the dogs, plus his cooking is great and each night there is more than enough delicious food for everyone. Thank you so much for a great trip!

And thanks to the whole group for great company, always helping me with my work and not complaining once about me stopping again for another picture. (And in case you are wondering: in this hut, only three people were able to sleep inside, one of them on the floor – the rest of us slept in the tent.)

 

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