I promised this post ages ago, back in my Lapland post. But Christmas and returning to university got in the way a little bit. I’ve been super busy recently and I’m afraid the blog had to take the back seat for a little bit, but don’t worry, Im back!
So on the third day in Lapland, I got to visit the husky farm! We were told the day before what time we had to get the bus and which one to get, so when morning came around I begrudgingly put on my thermals and headed down for breakfast. Now I’ve got admit. The food in the arctic circle certainly wasn’t ‘special’, and I’d struggled the last few days quiet badly with trying to find breakfast foods that filled me up and that I enjoyed. But on this day I stuffed my face full with as much food as possible, despite the slightly bland plate in front of me. I was so excited to see the husky’s!
We made our way back up to our room and I abandoned my little brother to get ready with my parents, while I put on my under gloves, my suit and my boots. Then I realised I hadn’t brushed my teeth, so I had to take it all back off, before starting to lace those boots back on and zipping up the suit. Honestly, I adored not being cold outside but goodness this suit was a pain! When we finally piled onto the bus it was almost 9am (yeah – early starts in the far north!)
It was only a 45 minutes to the husky farm and I can tell you, we heard it before we saw it. When the couch pulled up, the barking and howling from the husky’s was rather haunting, it reminded me of something that ought to be from red riding hood. Honestly it was a little intimidating. We wandered down the hill and we could immediately see the huts. A field of them. And attached to each of them you could see the dogs. They were in every colour imaginable. White, brown, russet, black, cream. They were so very sweet.
We were instantly broken up to two groups, of which we were put in to the second. The owner took us into a sami hut at first, where we got given hot chocolate and fiery berry juice (the national drink of the Sami people). I was far more interested in the dogs to be frank, so I snuck out for photos of the sleighs and the puppies. One of the men noticed me and told me all about the dogs. He even let out the littlest one so I could have a snuggle. A little girl named Mishu. She was so very sweet! And the howling and barking was only excitement.
Every single one of those dogs, no matter how intimating they appeared, were some of the most living thing I will ever met. Before I went, I had heard about how under fed and menacing these dogs are, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, they are skinny, but they are working dogs! Not pets. These guys have been trained to pull sleighs with families on for 6 hours a day! Some can run 100 miles in 4 days. Its incredible. And yes the barking can put some people off but its excitement. You need only look at their beautiful pale blue eyes to see the softness and excitement.
After half an hour with the gorgeous dogs, it was our turn and we went for our brief lesson on how to drive the sledge. I won’t lie to you and tell you that I listened. I didn’t. I was under the impression that I wouldn’t have to drive, since both my dad and step-mum wanted to do it and we only got to switch once. Yeah. You see where Im going with this right? Yep I ended up driving. So a sledge can take 2 adults and 2 children. Except, I don’t count as a child any more. So I was too big to go with my family. Fun…
So I ended up paired with a complete stranger, a half blind elderly man and his grandson. And I had to drive the entire way.
I had no clue what I was doing.
I have to admit, I was completely terrified as we got led to the sledges. Because the dogs are taught to run and they love it, they have to literally tie the dogs and the sledge down. Meaning my sledge was halfway up a bank and tied to a tree… All I can remember of that moment when I stood on the back of the sledge, was ‘I cant tip this over. Please don’t tip over!’
So naturally in the first 5 seconds, I tipped over the sledge.
For some stupid reason, the light 19-year-old girl who has no sense of direction was chosen to go on the sledge that was halfway up the bank. So naturally I didn’t have enough weight on the top to balance it out. 5 seconds into the drive, the poor man and his grandchild was lying in the snow and I was standing awkwardly, watching my sled teach race off into the woods. Awkward is not a strong enough word for this. I felt so guilty. Luckily the kid thought it was amazing fun and the grandfather was super nice about it. So we got up, dusted ourselves off and started chasing the sledge on foot. Thankfully they noticed us far and soon enough we were on the back of a snowmobile and then back on the sledge.
Just a quick shout out to my dad, who upon noticing my empty, half turned sledge appear behind his own without us, exclaim ‘WHERE IS HANA! IS SHE OKAY?’ seconds before turning to my step-mum and saying ‘Did you get any good photos?’ Thanks dad….
Once I was back on, I was so scared to do it again, but luckily it was a pretty straight path ahead of me. So I got back on, held on tight and tried again. And it was amazing! Honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done. I loved it! Once I got going, I figured out which way to lean and how to get the dogs going quickly without them struggling. i cant explain how amazing it was. We went over hills at 60 degree angles and frozen lakes. We went through forest trails of snow and ice. It was perfect in everyday.
And it was over far to quickly.
I finally got to properly meet my team of dogs when I got off at the end. My lead dog was a beautiful russet husky with heterochromia, two different coloured eyes. One the palest blue and one the darkest brown. His name was Delta and he was tired but super snuggly. So very sweet.
If I could, I would do it again everyday.