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Trip report: ARCTIC NORWAY – Fiona learns to drive a dog sled team

February 2009

“I am still enchanted by the indescribable beauty of Arctic Norway, 200km north of the Arctic Circle, where I had a memorable experience learning to drive my own dog sled team!

 

Fiona Norway“Crossing the Arctic Circle and lining up on its final approach, the plane dipped low, first over deep fjords and then crossing turquoise waters with a backdrop of snow covered peaks where tiny bright blue, red and yellow cabins stood starkly against the rugged backdrop of Arctic Norway. Later, as we drove towards the Dividalen National Park, elk crashed through the forest and the sun dropped behind the mountain bringing early darkness and sending the temperature plunging to minus 29°C. I, however, soon found myself cosily settled into my delightful wooden cabin, thickly insulated and beautifully warmed by a small but efficient log stove and equipped with fluffy duvets and a fridge stocked with all sorts of tasty delights. This was to be my home for the next few days – an idyllic spot close to the National Park, some two hours’ drive from Tromso in the very Northern part of Norway.

Next morning dawned blue and extremely cold and I donned the thick felt-lined boots and all-in-one snow suit before starting my thrilling journey by dog sled through the surrounding hills and valleys. Without a doubt, my favourite track was one narrow trail which wound gently through whispering snow-clad pines back-lit by the weak sun as the wind blasted the spindrift across the surface of the frozen river onto which we had emerged. My trusty dogs, all eager and willing Alaskan huskies, were pulling and panting and there was no other sound to intrude on my thoughts except the crunching of snow and hiss of the runners under my boots – pure poetry!

My Norwegian friends took me to their enchanting weekend hideout – a perfect little log cabin perched on a bluff overlooking their very own ice-rink, a stunning frozen lake where we anchored the dogs and headed inside to drink hot black tea and enjoy a delicious feast of nutty bread and smoked meats, exhaling frosty plumes as we chatted – it was clearly warmer outside than in!

Before long there was chaos in the ranks as the dogs leapt and yowled, eager to be off once more and we set the sleds on a course for home to a welcome beer and piping hot plate of elk and reindeer stew, followed by an invigorating sauna and hot tub.  Racing madly through the snow from the steamy clutches of the sauna, to sink gratefully into the 70 degree waters, I ended my day bathing in the delicious warmth under a starlit sky wearing nothing but a woolly hat!

The only excitement that eluded me on this magical trip was the Northern Lights – well, there’s always next time!”