After a horrid nights sleep, due to this flu that I had, we both decided that we couldn’t face sleeping in the ice hotel tonight, and would far prefer to stay in our cosy little chalet. It’s not the cold so much, but the fact that because the hotel is open to the public during the day, you can’t go to your room until about 7 o’clock, which means you’re stuck walking around for about 8 hours after checking out of the chalet. And of course, a cold snap hit today, and it’s -10C. Not the weather for walking around with a flu.
Flu or no flu, however, very little was going to be keeping us away from the husky rides. We had seen them taking off over the past couple of days and so we were quite keen to have a go ourselves. We got down to the river pretty early, so we could watch them harnessing up. The dogs are transported in these little cages, and are taken out one by one and hooked up to the sled. The whole time they are barking and jumping around like crazy because all they want to do is run, and they can’t handle the wait. Erik, our heavily bearded guide, said that once they are all hooked up, you have to go pretty quickly because if they aren’t running, they start taking it out on the other dog next to them in the line.
So we climbed on, and off we went in a flurry of ice, dog crap and snow. Because they are working dogs, they are quite adept at running along at 20Kph and going to the toilet. Thankfully Caren and I were at the back of the sled for the first stage, so it was an english couple in front of us who bore the bulk of the assault. (And because they are fed 1 kilo of meat and dried fruits a day, it’s not a pretty sight.)
But apart from that, it was one of the best things that we’ve done. The dogs are just so happy to be running, that nothing else is an issue for them. If we stop, they just want to start again. Apparently they can pull 1000Kg for 60-80 kilometres a day. So they are pretty fit dogs.
Even though it was -10C, Erik said that it was probably too warm for them today. They have a really thick coat, with multiple layers, and prefer running in -40C to -20C. As they are running along, they occasionally bend down and grab a mouthful of snow .. kind of like a drink on the run.
We stopped for a coffee and some cake at a camp on the lake shore and all of the dogs started rolling around in the snow, just to cool down a little. We sat and had a chat to our guides about the dogs. They obviously love the dogs, but they are working animals, so they need to treat them accordingly, and never forget the basis of the relationship. Still, the dogs are well looked after, and get to run to their hearts content.