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THE SLEDGERS RETURN WE DID IT!

•April 9, 2009 •

Were back in one piece it was the fastest seven days I have ever spent anywhere!! What an adventure, it was off the scale in everyway, scenery, challenge, and people, I was so sad for it to end although my muscles are glad of a little rest!

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The Sledging team; Helen, Judith, Alice Adam Bob llinios and myself

Leader; Per Thore, together with Sid and Jonathan the Doctor 

Well we arrived in Oslo on the 1stleg of our journey and made our connection to Alta around 1hr 40 minutes flight from Oslo. All seven sledgers travelled from Heathrow together and we were gelling very well indeed. Looking out the window past a rather large Norwegian man   I could see vast areas of snow frozen lakes and rivers and I could hardly contain my excitement I think the gentleman realised it was my 1st time and smiled politely at me as I strained to get a better look!!

 

The approach to Alta was stunning we came in along a fjord and suddenly the little town of Alta appeared. Now I know what a real snow dump looks like enormous! The atmosphere is very dry and there is so little moisture it really is very different to the type of weather we get here.  The baggage reclaim was tiny and the little truck carrying our luggage was there as soon as we were.

After taking a mountain of photos outside, Sid from Across the Divide Expeditions met us along with Per Thore Hansen our “leader”, our expedition Doctor would meet us the following day as the one that should have been joining us had been taken ill. We had a forty-minuet drive to base and our starting point at Gargia. It was a lovely place little log cabins dotted around for sleeping and the lodge where we ate and got our arctic suits and boots which we were to live in for the duration of the trip The dogs were all on their lines near the cabins we couldn’t resist the urge to go and see them and get an idea of what it was like to be around so many dogs they were all shapes and sizes the breed has evolved making the best of all the traits needed to make a good working dog, Huskies are a bit aggressive and not too easy to train as a pure breed, so by mixing the breeds you get the best of everything temperament and ease of training.

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We were to meet early to see how to feed the dogs and harness and attach your dogs to the sledge, we were all feeling a little nervous now and feeling tired from out travels and after a delicious dinner of reindeer stew and a quick drink we hit the sack to be nice and fresh for our 1st day sledging.

Sid our Across the Divide guide was very professional and knowledgeable and gave us useful tips and had a wicked since of humour, he could shout at you pretty good too! This would develop as the days, passed and of course we hadn’t met Jonathan our doctor yet! They would become an endearing double act!!

 

DAY 1 sledging Gargia ��" Souluvombi (Sledging ~30 km)

 

Up at 6am trying to pack only essentials for the slgdging leaving everything else behind. I put all my stuff in a waterproof rucksack (great piece of kit), as I would discover it was easy to carry and not heavy in the sledge other than that just a small bag with snack and spare hats gloves and thermos flasks.

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The dog food was a dried food soaked overnight each dog gets all the calories they require for the day you also have to encourage them to take the water with the feed as Huskies don’t like to drink water, some of the dogs pick up the bowl and tip out the food and eat it off the ground. This was something we would find in the coming days, the dogs that do this tend to perform the head in the snow ritual on the trails and believe me it’s a tad scary when one of your dogs takes off towards the deep snow and the other three don’t want to follow unstable wobbly sledge comes to mind!!

 

Let me mention that the moment the dogs know we are getting ready to leave they start to bark like crazy they can’t wait to go and they are watching Per the whole time and waiting for him to set off and if your not hanging on tight they will knock you flying they have mega strength!

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Simba and Ariel

 

My dogs; SIMBA AND ARIEL(GIRLS) CREAM AND LUCKY (MALES)The girls had a lovely personality the darker brown one is Simba, they got on really well with each other they ran side by side with their heads touching when they could or when stopped they would rest their heads on each other.  Then there is Cream guess he was called that because he is cream!! He had a boisterous personality he liked to jump over Lucky when he was stationary he had a powerful bark too but loved lots of fuss and then there was Lucky a black and white male very quiet I never saw him bark and he would just look at Cream when he was barking as if to say pipe down for goodness sake he had lots of battle scares and I would later find out that the was the oldest of Per’s dogs about 10 or 11 years old. He seemed to me to be the wise one!

 

 

 

We were given a talk by Per who explained the sledge was basically a 3,000 year old design used by the indigenous people and it worked very well indeed, well lets see how long it would take the magnificent seven to wreck one…

 

The sledge has two brakes one in between the two runners used to control your speed and help you come to a stop when needed. The snow anchor is to anchor your sledge to the ground when you stop for a while and when preparing the sledge. We were also given tips on how to handle the sledge and the dogs how not to let the lines get slack or let the dogs get tangled with the other sledges, how to stay close to the sledge in front so the dogs don’t go off piest if they see a short cut they are likely to take it. Our heads were buzzing with information the adrenalin was pumping as our sledges were lined up for the off and Per selected our teams, by all accounts he had us all sized up with in a short time of seeing us so he knew which dogs we should have. My sledge was next to Per’s so I had my two girl dogs (lead dogs) first for speed and then the two male’s at the back for the power. From this

day on I would have to remePermber my dogs and their positions and which harness or it could be a disaster

 !! I was the first to be done so went to the front to my lead dogs to do a bit of bonding and my heart was thumping while waiting and watching the others get their dogs.

 

I don’t know if I wished we could start quick or that we could stay a while longer as we were all feeling the pressure as Per made his way to his team of twelve dogs he had a large sledge to carry all the food and equipment we needed for the trip, we all knew it was time to go whether we liked it or not. I held on for dear life and was going over all the tips in my mind, it looked a bit tricky getting out onto the trail a drop with a sharpish left turn but what the hell here goes.  Per took off in a blaze of dogs and snow and I was next off the starting block’s with the snow anchor lifted I was off like a bullet from a gun. I felt the sledge bounce off the bank and into the sharp left turn foot on the break I managed to keep the sledge and myself attached soon I was on the straight and following Per, legs shaking slightly. We slowed and watched as the other sledgers came bouncing out one by one and a huge sigh of relief. We would find out later that we were the only group out of 11 this season that made it off the start without “carnage” (we were to here this word a lot in relation to sledging experiences)  

 

 

Listening to Per showed he clearly is a giant of a man in every way strong, quiet, relaxed un ruffled and very in touch with nature, the outdoors and his country. He has a great love and understanding of his dogs and tradition; he is an inspiration to me. We would learn so much from this man in the coming days. He is now on his way to the North Pole, we finished on Friday night and he left on Sunday with three others and 20 dogs. We were very lucky to hear first hand how the planning and preparation for this trip was going. Check out the website

 http://www.noruk-expedition.com/

 

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We were off and finding our feet it was going to be varied terrain today hills some flat various surfaces soft snow, ice and very uneven in places. The next thing to put into practice is helping your dogs, Per explained that your dogs look at you as part of the team and expect you to help with the pulling, putting this into practice meant “scooting” and running, scooting is what you see kids doing on their scooters with one leg. You found yourself doing this a lot on steep inclines and on the flat in the deep snow; this is where the fitness and training comes in. This was never an issue because you wanted to help. The arctic suit and boots were heavy but very warm and a complete necessity out here in these conditions. The trail lay ahead ant there would be thrills and spills before he day was done.

We found our “feet” on the sledges and at times tried to relax a little but you just never knew when the dogs might throw a surprise and off you came!! There were a few spills and falls all part of the getting used to sledging experience. My moment came at the very end of the day on a nice down hill into a sharp left turn I didn’t see coming add a couple of stationary sledges,  BANG off I came in a spectacular roll or so I was told, off went my dogs and sledge oh no the cardinal sin!! I didn’t stand a chance luck would have it they stopped when they got to Per and it was base for the night. I ran down the hill to grab dogs and sledge hoping Per wouldn’t notice. I think he did!!dsc01552

 

To add insult to injury I was helping Per attach one of his dogs to a line and the little devil slipped from my grip and made a run from freedom, I thought this is it not even the end of the first day and I have lost one of the dogs!! I didn’t even look towards Per and took off after the dog running as fast as an arctic suit would allow (that’s not very fast I might add) I spotted him sniffing something by the lodge and did the sneak up tactic I couldn’t believe my luck, for the countless times that day my heart pounding  I grabbed him by the collar and we walked back to base trying to look in conspicuous and not get noticed by Per. Fat chance, I bet he was having a quiet giggle to himself. p4040266That was a lesson learned never under estimate the strength and power of a husky!!! Our lodge was very comfortable and warm and we had a delicious dinner of arctic salmon oh and did I mention the delicious waffles! 

 

DAY 2     Souluvombi ��" Maze (Sledging ~25km)

Sunset

Sunset

Today sledging looks short but it is up hill all day and when we go over the top is high and very exposed, so you are likely to really feel the cold especially if it’s windy.The sledging  was more technical today. It had snowed over night and was still snowing this morning. Per and Sid told us at the briefing the previous evening that it was tougher going for the dogs in fresh snow, also we had to cross a road followed by a sharp left turn fairly soon after setting out, this had to go like clock work we all  HAD TO go in line, no gaps and no hesitating, they would be in radio contact Per up front Sid at the back, oh heck there goes my heart again after my tumble the previous evening I was a tad nervous but had a mantra going now “I will not let go of my sledge whatever happens”

Well,Doctor Jonathan arrived last night and we should feel safe and secure knowing he was on hand should the worst happen…or were we?? Let me just say he acquired the nickname Dr Death  in a very short time I will explained all later ;-)…..to be continued

Cream and Lucky

Cream and Lucky

This morning we were in charge of our dogs and sledges getting them harnessed and ready. The night before I made a note of which harness went on each dog. The big thing here is you must remember where you put your dogs and what they look like! I did think about taking a picture of them so I didn’t forget, but thought that was a bit desperate so I took my chances.
I was fortunate my dogs were different so I did remember.p4030232
 It was all a bit crazy, dogs barking and jumping wanting to go, at this point it was wise to make sure the sledge was anchored and your dogs couldn’t get near the other dogs once attached or it would mean teeth and hair flying, if they start fighting and get tangled they can hurt themselves plus its not easy un-tangling fighting dogs.  (This is not because they are vicious its more to do with pecking order). We managed to get through it though without any incidents and soon we were ready to hit the trails. almost as soon as we set out we were crossing the road and we all made the sharp left without any problems what a relief. Listening to the tips we were given paid off.
It was snowing and the wind was cold. We would be climbing a lot today, we were warned it would be cold high up on the exposed landscape so we took the advice and wrapped up well.  It was  cold as we crossed the hills, my dogs were struggling in the deep snow so I scooted and ran with them as much as possible I think they appreciated it ;-) . There were some nice downhills but some hidden bumps made it tricky at times. We all enjoyed the day, thrills and spills but all of us humans and dogs  arrived at our destination all to quick and in tact!  
Lake at Maze

Lake at Maze

 
The sun was shining as we arrived at Maze this was a beautiful spot on a large frozen lake nothing for miles only the cabin we were to spend the night. It was a bit of a jaunt straight up to the cabin where we would spend the night. We set about tending the dogs. Per prepared the meat for the dogs evening meal its frozen and has to chopped up with an axe, a steady hand and  a good eye is required needless to say Per did not farm this task out to anyone of us, not sure Dr Johnathan would appreciate having to re attach severed limbs so we just distributed the food to the dogs and put some straw down for them to lay on. p40101241We hauled all the stuff to the cabin, lit fires. made tea and later we enjoyed some free time walking and exploring the area it was a beautiful evening and a fantastic sunset. We ate some delicious food prepared by Per and later that night went to take a sauna which the guys had lit and got ready after getting water from the frozen lake.
 

Getting the water from the lake involved drilling into the ice with a large drill type thing which was worked by hand, it was around 16cm into the ice before striking water (I hope this is correct as I wasn’t there, us ladies were on washing up duty I think the guys got of pretty easy actually) The water was then carried up the steep hill to the cabin in buckets, this makes you appreciate it all the more when such an effort has to be made to get it! The sauna was a small wooden cabin at the bottom of the slope a wood burner and a bucket of precious water and we had a most welcome sauna, once we were hot enough, it was out into the snow and a basin of water over our heads, we thought about rolling in the snow but we were a bit close to the dogs and may have been rolling in more than we bargained for so we gave that a miss!

 

Day 3: Maze ��" Nedre Mollisjokk (Sledging ~60km)

 
Woken at dawn with the sun rising through a wooden Tepee outside the window it was a beautiful sight. It was time to feed the dogs and carry out the ritual of ” dog poo picking” this task had to be under taken before we left every day so we could leave the place as we found it nice and clean. It isn’t as bad as it sounds as most everything is frozen, but boy does it smell.  After that we had our breakfast pack up clean up and leave the cabin as we found for the
passing travelers to use.  dsc01423This was truly a  spectacular place I was sad to leave but another days sledging adventure lay ahead. Today  the terrain would be mountainous and above the tree line plenty of climbs and down hills Per said to look out for reindeer which would have been a thrill to see until he said that the dogs were likely to take off in their direction if we did, so I thought I hope we don’t see any! It was bright and clear start it was fantastic crossing frozen rivers and lakes the only wildlife we saw was the odd hooded crow, and the footprints of the arctic fox,  its amazing how these creatures survive in a frozen landscape where there is so little shelter let alone food. Once again we all survived the sledging challenges the day threw at us and arrived at Mollisjokk. p4010089The dogs were attached to their lines and we crossed the frozen river to our cabin  after feeding and giving them a bit of fuss and of course thanking them for getting me to another base without any carnage!
 Carnage refers to sledgers and dogs getting wrapped round obstacle’s like trees or runaway sledges (without their driver)wiping everything out in their path, something we all wanted to avoid!
THE DOC.

A little background to our time with Doctor Johnathan. He had a dry wit and a wicked sense of humour. After many conversations of how he might sort us out if the worst happened we all came to the conclusion that he would take the easy option to finish us off and leave us there, thus saving time and money. So whenever there was a fall or a spill you made sure you got up quick if you saw him coming, it really was a good incentive to stay on your feet! So he acquired the nickname Dr Death. Joking aside he was a fun guy and I’m sure he would have looked after us if we had needed it. Together with Sid we had some very deep conversations that covered most things including politics, Celebes, and religion,  let me tell you Margaret Thatcher and Madonna featured quiet high  as topics. I will leave that right there! 

       

sunrise

sunrise Maze

Mollisjokk was a nice little settlement there was about 3 lodges we were in the one furthest away from the main lodge which was ok. The Norwegian police force (the entire police force by the looks of it) were staying in the main lodge. Seems they were on some sort of course which involved a lot of beer drinking and exercises in the hot tub. We ate a delicious dinner once again cooked by Per, we sat around talking about the days sledging and the votes for the most spectacular fall had become a nightly event. It was a bit like scoring for  dancing on ice where we were giving marks out of 10 for originality! we also had time to play a game of  ”perudo” (a South American dice game of bluff and chance)  Bobs the expert soon had LLinos and Helen hooked! 
Per and Sid gave us a brief on the next days sledging. We were to sledge along the river to  Jiesjavri Lake the largest lake in Finmark.  

DOG NAMES It may seem that a lot of the dogs have strange names for Norwegians, that’s because many are named after previous sledgers! I wonder will there be a dog named after me some day?

 

Day 4 Nedre Mollisjokk ��" Jotka (Sledging ~65km)

 
Another beautiful morning greeted us there had been snow overnight, the dogs were always so glad to see us I’m sure its more to do with the fact we were feeding them than a deep affection, although they were very affectionate even when you didn’t have a bowl of food in your hand. The feeding ritual was very funny indeed.
feeding time

feeding time

We had the containers of food and we had to feed x amount of dogs from each container we would find ourselves almost counting out the nuggets of food so each dog got the same, usually 4 people were feeding the dogs with the supporting few doing the “poo picking”. Once again leaving the dogs to digest their food we went to fuel up ourselves.p4030214Once again there was a tricky start to the morning, a drop and straight into a sharp left onto the frozen river. Ice is really hard to sledge on you find it hard to control the sledge and breaking takes a tremendous effort because you are skidding all over the place. That brings back a memory of day two where we had to sledge down a steep frozen road it was very scary and I think I held my breath the whole way down with two feet on the break. I’m sure I blanked out the memory till now! Once again I found myself bouncing onto the river and negotiating the left turn ok and managing to keep myself dogs and sledge attached, off we went. It was very sunny and very cold you really had to keep your skin covered from the elements. 

  
THE PERALS OF THE COLD

We were told about what and how to look out for signs of frost nip and hypothermia. By all accounts you are the last person to know you are getting hypothermia so you have to watch out for signs in each other, like slow reactions, incoherent, difficulty performing tasks, all of which seemed to fit all of us as we trudged around in our arctic suits and struggled to hear each other through hat and balaclava covered ears….so this might prove difficult. Frost nip shows itself in white spots and a tingling sensation on the skin, once again we were to watch out for each other. Alas with faces covered it was hard to see anyone under all the gear but we would do our best.   

 
The days sledging had its challenges and surprises but all in all when on the flat you were able to loosen your grip take pictures, relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery it was so clear we could see far away mountain ranges on the horizon the peace and quiet was bliss!

CLOTHING The arctic suits and boots which were supplied were very warm really well insulated. Although you felt like an astronaut it really would have been freezing without them. Underneath I wore a thermal base layer, mid layer and fleece hoodie (all light weight)  light layers are better than one heavy layer your body heat gets trapped also a pair of fleece lined trousers, two pairs of socks and I can say I was very comfortable indeed. You needed your head and face covered all the time too. My best buy was a pair of leather gloves that cost £5 from the Army surplus shop I got them for handling the dogs and in the end they were so good I wore them for sledging too. I took several pairs of other gloves to ware when not on the sledge. I never needed to wear the arctic mitts supplied to be honest I don’t think I could have held on to the sledge anyway with them on they were very cumbersome but believe me if it was any colder you would have had to wear them!  It was quiet funny it was hard to know who was who as we all looked the same in goggles and balaclavas, lucky there were some very funky hats so we became recognisable by our hats.

 
A scene sticks in my mind after a short climb out of a river onto a frozen lake, there was two snow covered boats which seemed so out of place but I guess come the summer there will be water and river banks banks where we are sledging I would like to see this in the summerp4010091dsc01503
 Again the day seemed to have flown by as we rolled into Jotka our home for the night. Jotka had a homestead and  a few cabins dotted around the head of a frozen lake, a very beautiful spot indeed. We all settled into our cabin and went through the ritual of dog feeding, tea making, fire lighting and water collecting from the homestead this time, off we went with our  trusty buckets.p4030227
This was the first time we saw a river that wasn’t frozen.  The valley was surrounded by hills  it was a stunning sight Bob and myself decided to take a birds eye view and climbed a small hill behind the cabin, we could see the long river we traveled along earlier and the large lake it lead into. We sat there as long as we could as the sun got lower in the sky it started to get very cold indeed. That evening we were treated to a lovely dinner, once again cooked by Per, we chatted and mulled over the day and looked forward to the fun down hill day tomorrow!! I guess we should have suspected trouble when Per said we would be able to put into practice all our new sledging skills. As we left the cabin to retire the temperature gauge showed -24.

Day 5: Jotka ��" Gargia (Sledging ~55km)

We can’t believe its our last sledging day. It would be the last morning feeding our dogs and going through the morning rituals. We all sat together eating breakfast for the last time on the trail, it  felt a bit melancholy, still we had one last day of thrills and spills ahead.

Dogs and sledges poised ready for the off for the last time the magnificant seven plus our leaders took to the trails. Today was lots of down hill which may sound great and yes it is if its not narrow trails through forest and what I can only describe as a  toboggan run…. with sledge on ice and four speeding dogs.. wow it was a white knuckle ride down hills sharp turns followed by uphills after a short lunch stop we took off again as we turned a corner we hit ice and my feet lost contact with the sledge so I was on my knees hanging on for dear life I used all my strength to hang on and wondered how I could slow down and the closest part of my body to the break was my knee so I managed to jam my knee onto the break and pull myself up, once again I was in control you really couldn’t take your eye off the ball for a second. p3300022I narrowly missed being dumped in a snow drift as we came up an incline to cross a car park… oh yes Per was right we were using every skill we had to get through this one. The dogs knew they were near home and were on a mission. This really was a rollercoster a real  adrenaline rush. All too soon we were back where we started having completed the challenge I was sad for it to end.  We were the last sledging group for the season soPer was heading back to Thromso  with his dogs and of course to begin his trek to the North Pole.

THE DOGS

It was hard to leave the dogs they had become good friends and a vital part of the team. We would not have done this without them. It was a pleasure to care for them they gave so much back, they ran every day regardless taking us to our destination and ready to do it all again the next day. Each dog was unique and had its own personallity, I really only got to know my four and I will never forget them. I guessed Lucky was old so I had to ask Per the question, was this Luckys last season? and yes it was. I felt a bit sad as usually once the dogs reach the end of their working lives thats it. Per told me he was going to keep Lucky at home to train the puppies, I was delighted as I think Lucky would be perfect as I felt he truly was the wise one! I have my pictures and memories and the very special week we spent together.    

We stayed with the dogs for as long as we could and saw them safely into their transportation vehicle. They would spend the summer resting,  gaining weight and rasing puppies ready to start all over again.

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Sean with Per

SEAN Before I wind up this blog I have to tell you about Sean, who is Sean you might ask and why haven’t I mentioned him before?     Well Sean is one of the dogs and he had to have a special mention, because he was a bit “unique”. We were all drawn to him he was the ”beautiful one” all of us I’m sure have several pictures of Sean, (some more than others) ;-) If there were a “Next Top Model” programme for dogs he would win. We were all hoping he would be on our team, alas he wasn’t the Doc. got him. The Doc reckoned he was lacking in the brain department and a bit on the dumb side but I think he was just a bit jealous because he was so popular. 

He couldn’t understand when we said what he lacked in brains department he got away with because he was very cute. I think after this he thought we were barking!!There were times on the trail and when we came to a stop when you could hear the Doc shouting “Sean” and you knew he was misbehaving and  prone to doing his own thing which tended to get him in trouble. (He was obviously un aware of Dr Deaths reputation)  

Bob with Sean

Bob with Sean

 

Sean

Sean

!

 

  

 

 OUR GROUP

What a wonderful group, everyone brought their own unique personality, we laughed so much and shared the thrills and spills. I am so happy I took  part in this challenge with an amazing bunch of people  and to have shared their friendship. This really is something I will never forget.

Time to leave

Time to leave

 

That brings an end to my experience of being a dog sledger for a week, would I do it again? absolutely. If you get the desire to take part then sign up for the 2010 expedition on ;

 http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/friends/events/dogsledge/

The expidetion led by Per to the North Pole made it! read all about it on;

 http://www.noruk-expedition.com/

ALMOST MUSHING TIME!!

•March 25, 2009 •

Its almost D DAY and it is thrilling and exciting all in one. Embarking on something like this really makes you take stock. Firstly how lucky I am to be healthy and fit enough to consider doing it. Secondly, getting a chance to go to the arctic north with a bunch of people who must share a common interest and outlook.
Thirdly, the opportunity to see this unspoilt part of the earth while raising awareness of the important work carried out by SPRI. We all take travel a bit for granted these days, its so easy and cheapish to explore the world. Now more than ever travel is more accessible to the general population which is fantastic. I am very aware after spending all my working life in the travel industry that if it hadn’t been for the great explorers and adventurers heading to the unknown, maybe just maybe we wouldn’t be as privileged as we are today!
friends2

ARCTIC DOG SLEDGING CHALLENGE/COUNTDOWN

•March 24, 2009 •
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Me

 

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Bob

Im writing this blog about my preparation and reasons for going on a charity dog sledging challenge to the Arctic Circle …READ ON

The training has taken on momentum in earnest since Christmas. It’s important to have a good all round level of fitness, be physically fit and build up a good level of staina.  guidelines say you should be able to walk around 20 miles on two consecutive days in comfort. Well as the weather has been to say the least a touch on the arctic side it was a good reason to get out there and .

having a rest

having a rest

get 1st hand experience of what it will be like to be “working” in sub zero temperatures

As it’s not possible to get our hands on a couple of huskies and a sledge to get a feel for it, we had to improvise and revert to the trusty two wheels and take to the trails on the mountain bike’s (my prefered method of exercise anyway). I’m not sure it will be as easy to control a sledge and huskies though. I know the sledge has a break and ice ancor but where is the break for the huskies ?

My biggest fear is they (the huskies that is) will see me as a total push over and find myself being dragged along face down in the snow and worse still letting go of the sledge (which is a no no if you fall off you must hang on to your sledge at all costs) and having

 Simba and Ariel

Simba and Ariel

to chase after my team of unruly dogs!

We took to the hills and had 4 snow filled days in the Lake District the begining of February in what turned out to be the worst/best few days of snow fall for many years, excellent timing. We cycled, dragged, hauled and carried our bikes over once familiar trails now covered with pristine snow and ice. (that’s the stamina sorted!)

The walking consisted of walking the Monmouth Way and other local trails for times and distances dictated by time and shifts. This was excellent until the farmers ploughed the fields and I ended up with boots that weighed about 10 kilos each as they were thick with the lovely chalk/clay soil in this area. I looked and felt like Herman Munster as I clomped my way along the trails. (Thats the weight training taken care of)

That leaves the upper body. It was off to the pool to whack out as many lengths as possible before being thrown out at closing time or getting tired of dodging and being hit on the head by stray balls and inflatables at “family fun time” (That has the agility and manoeuvring covered).This might be good practice when it comes to trying to steer the sledge round bends on steep decents. The dogs don’t pull you except on the flat so it will be necessary to get off and push the sledge and run with the dogs on difficult areas.

With less than a week to go the nerves are setting in. It will be liberating to be free of the day to day routine. There are 7 sledgers 1 doctor 1 guide and a leader. Us sledgers are in the same boat its our first time and have no expectations. It will be good for the soul to leave the comforts of our day to day living and go back to bacics learning how to get in touch with nature and the simple things without running water and electricity on the days we are at our most remote.

The hours spent sledging you will be on your own enjoying the endless peace and quiet that is unless your huskies get all competitive and decide to overtake or undertake other sledges causing carnage in the process at that point the blissful silence will be broken by the crashing of wood, howling of dogs screaming of fellow sledgers and the wrath of our leader for being unable to control your team…………now for some interesting stuff!!

DESTINATION; The Arctic North of Norway!

THE CHALLENGE; 200km with sledge and 4 huskies

THE REASON; To raise funds and awareness for the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.

WHAT THEY DO: Well, it’s a first class institute for Polar heritage, research and has the worlds most comprehensive polar libary. http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/about/
 

It wasn’t just about getting there first. The scientific research undertaken on these expiditions and polar mapping is what we still use today, for example Scotts measurements were so accurate they are still being used today for satalite navigation systems. Not to mention the fantastic polar photography which was the first glimpse of these reagions for ordeniary people. http

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Crevice

When these expeditions went to explore and discover the Poles in the name of science they had very basic equipment and clothing. Most of the clothing was made of heavy wool not like today where we have fabric as light as a feather that can stop freezing arctic winds, the miracle of goretex and fleece waterproof and windproofing. No air lifting out if things went wrong or food drops if you were hungry. They were away for years with no contact with home or the outside world. The strength and determination shown by these early explorers it truly inspiring and fascinating.

 

 

 

Tom Crean

Tom Crean

 

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