(At our favorite spot in the lounge)
(Note, I'm wearing 2 hats)
and were ready to be picked up at 5. Our driver, Michael (please pronounce every letter as he is German and pronounces it funny), arrives and tells us we don't need to be wearing our coats as it's an hour ride out into the Pasvik Valley. A rather terrifying hour as Micha seems to like to drive fast on the snowy roads. Yet we arrive in one piece. We put on warmer shoes
Felted booties inside felted boots. Very wooly warm.
and then we head out to the dog garden to harness our dogs. In total there were 6 of us, 4 tourists, Micha and his girlfriend Franny, our guides. Franny has already made the list of dog sledding teams. Each is a team of 6 dogs, two lead dogs in the front, the smarter dogs, two in the middle who "run like the hell" and I forget what the two in the back are for. The dogs are all chained to their individual dog houses
(note this picture is from earlier at the ice hotel in the day light, obviously)
So you walk to the appropriate dog, unchain them, hold them by the collar so they are standing on their hind legs and walk them to the sled. Holding them this way, they know you're in charge - yeah, right. You get them harnessed to the anchored sled and head off for your next dog. Bree and I got our own sled. Before we left we were given these instructions:
Here are the two brakes, one is the soft brake for slowing, this big metal bar is the hard brake for stopping. The metal bar has hooks on it you try to force into the ground.
Then we were given these rules:
Rule 1: Don't let go of the sled. Even if you fall hang on!
Rule 2: Don't forget rule 1.
Rule 3: Make sure the rope holding the dogs is always straight, if it's not you're moving faster than the dogs, so then use the soft brake.
And that was it. Then we were off. I was the first driver and it was a bit scary at first, but thankfully my training has a teacher has enabled me to be able to commit rules to memory. So when we rounded a corner and I fell I held onto the sled. As I was being dragged along on my knees, Bree yelling "You ok back there" I remembered to hang on. After controlling my laughter, because it was actually quite funny, I stood back up and was in control the rest of the time. I drove for about 30 minutes then had the relaxing job of riding in the sled as Bree brought us back home.
Things they don't mention in the brochure:
After the sledding we ended with yet another fish dinner in a long house. There's a long fire place in the middle. Good thing too because the wall looking over the river was only covered with plastic for the winter. Dinner was fresh pink trout. Delicious :)
Down to one hat now!
The long fire.