So off we set to the creatively named "Hemsedal Huskies", a little family ran business in a beautiful part of the Hemsedal area, in the forest and bordering a number of frozen Norwegian lakes that we would soon be sliding across under the power of our 6 dog teams.
We arrived and got fitted out in ridiculous looking clothing that not only protected us from the cold, but also the dogs wee and flying poo. Johan the owner/operator was fantastic and very funny with a sharp wit and easy going manner about him. He put us all at easy and then introduced us to the 38 barking huskies. Their all mad I tell you, take a look for yourself.
"You can't touch this" and "Look deep into my eyes, you are..."
As Johan proceeded to sort the teams he would pick a dog and ask one of us to get them. He asked Nik and I to get two dogs, I had spotted the brute of the pack earlier so Nik let me go and grab him. He turned out to be quite a calm animal once he knew he was going for a run. Nik's was also calm, so calm in fact that he took a very tactful pee on Nik's leg. Thanks to Johan for the suits.
Tim and Claire were getting to know there team and have the dog with the devil's eyes, but he actual is a bit soft, like the rest, just excited.
We were soon fitted out with a full team, 6 dogs per sled. I tucked in under the blanket with the camera and we were pretty much off.
Its starts of with the continued barking and carry on from the dogs that had started the moment we arrived. But soon as we enter the forest proper they calm down and start doing what they do......run and run and run.
The forest is a wonderful place to be and what a way to travel, it beats snow mobiles and cross-country skis any day, plus the dogs are good company and the pee master and the brute, lean on each other nearly all the time. Which keeps me amused, how lazy are they? As we weaved through the forest Nik has mastered the driving of the sled and I have almost got use to the jarring bumps and occassional drops that the passenger experiences.
I have the camera so I snap away, forward, back, left and right and managed to get some good shots and one of Claire, Tim and their team as well.
After a few short stops and a few little lake crossings we enter a large lake crossing and the view is amazing, the next lake crossing is even more so (picture below). It is at this point that we stop for a chat about the area and the ice and Johan show's us how to break through the ice. We all succeed, fatty here does it first time. But we are only breaking through the first few centimeters, there is then a layer of water and then even thicker layer ice below. So we are told anyway.
We change drivers and head off, now I get to see what the driving of a sled and 6 dogs is like. These dogs really just do their thing when they have a lead team, it is your job to keep the sled upright and at the right pace. No free rides here, up hills you get off, run and push, downhills you keep tension on the ropes, but don't slow the dogs down and you don't run them over.
We bounced, weaved and slid our way across the lake crossings and back into the forest. It was starting to get dark now, but I really didn't want this to end. But the track got a bit twitchy now and I managed to hold what could only be described and power slide, my mind focused a bit more as I didn't want to hurt any of these dogs or Nik.
After some more bouncing, a branch in the face and a lot of weaving we returned to yard. It had been an amazing 3hrs, I knew I would enjoy this, I knew we would all enjoy this, but as much as we did was an extremely pleasant surprise.
We gave the dogs lots of big thank you hugs and pats, the dogs returned the hugs and started barking lots again. We thanked Johan, climbed out of our fetching outfits and headed off back to Hemsedal, with massive grins on our faces and ready for a nights skiing and with a memory that will last a very long time.