in the finnmark

More than four weeks we are already in the north of Norway at the Holmen Husky Lodge. Lately, we’ve experienced a lot, learned and met people from different countries around the world and many for whom sledding is a very special experience … But I’ll start best at the beginning of our trip up to the north! After a month at home, we packed our backpacks again – but this time with lots of warm winter clothes and then we made our way north. In Tromso is our first long stop and the roads are slippery and icy, the snow is piling up on the roadside and we are heading for our shelter for the night, Patrick’s student flat. There we are welcomed by a group of European students, Patrick himself comes later and we have dinner together and learn more about the norwegian way of living. In the afternoon on the next day our bus drives to Alta, so we have a generous time window to explore the city of Tromso. We walk through the small pedestrian precinct and experience for the first time the effect of darkness on our body: around 11am it gets bright and at 1pm o’clock already dark again – suddenly we get tired and around half past two it’s already deep dark again. Almost the whole bus trip we spend sleeping.
 
We arrive at 9pm in Alta and are picked up by two volunteers and the owner Eirik at the bus stop. The next morning we meet all the volunteers: Kamala and Sam from New Zealand, Chloe from France, Lily and Waide from Australia and Bram, the manager, is originally from the Netherlands. We are slowly introduced to the daily routine: In the morning, the 96 dogs are fed, then comes the “Poo-Pick” – pick up dog excrement. The dogs all look different, but this is a typical feature of the Alaska Husky. The breed is bred specifically for dog racing and species are crossed with others to achieve special characteristics, for example Siberian huskies are used for breeding because of their dense and warm coat, shepherds for their strength and Border Collie for their stamina and speed. Each dog has a name and the siblings usually get names from the same group, so we have Curry, Saffron and Chili or Adidas, Nike and Fila or Achilles, Apollo and Athena. By hearing that we are expected to learn all the names of the 96 dogs, we start to sweat – we already have difficulties sometimes in the summer camp with the names of 40 children 😉
 
But already our first day is very exciting: we help with feeding and also take a tour on the sled. The dogs are put in teams of 6 in front of the wooden sledges. We pick up the dog in his hut, put it on the appropriate harness and bring it in front of the sledge, which is attached to the rear of a wooden pole with a clamping knot. As soon as the dogs realize that we are going on a tour, they start to bark excitedly and the noise is deafening – every dog ​​wants to come along. We are in teams of two on each sled, but on the first day Kringel and I are just passengers sitting in front and enjoying the view of the wonderful winter landscape along the river. Sometimes it goes “høyre” (right), sometimes “venstre” (left) – the individual loops through the forest seem like a labyrinth to me and I can hardly imagine that I will find my way alone here someday…
The first day ends with a dog fight in which “Solo” is injured so badly on the chin that it has to be sewn. The vet comes and we all watch, how the anesthetic works and the sleeping husky is patched together again. We also get to know one last inhabitant of the Dog & Cat Hotel: a rather large, copper-colored/white male cat, who occasionally goes out of his temper and tries to hit you with his paw, or greets you with a reproachful “maauuuu” as soon as you enter the hallway. Overwhelmed by all the impressions of the day we fall tired into our beds. The dogs all look different, but this is a typical feature of the Alaska Husky. The breed is bred specifically for dog racing and species are crossed with others to achieve special characteristics, for example Siberian huskies are used for breeding because of their dense and warm coat, shepherds for their strength and Border Collie for their stamina and speed. Each dog has a name and the individual siblings usually get names from a certain group, so we have Curry, Saffron and Chili or Adidas, Nike and Fila or Achilles, Apollo and Athena. At the sight of the 96 four-legged friends and the task to learn soon all the names we get big eyes – we have already some times in the summer camp with 40 children’s names difficulties 😉
 
But even our first day is very exciting: we help with feeding and may also ride directly on a sled tour. The dogs are stretched in teams of 6 in front of the wooden sledges. We pick up the respective dog in his hut, put him on the appropriate harness and stretch it in front of the sledge, which is attached to the rear of a wooden pole with a clamping knot. As soon as the dogs realize that we are going on a tour, they start to bark excitedly and the noise is deafening – every dog ​​wants to come along. In teams of two, we go by sled, but on the first day Kringel and I are just passengers sitting in front and enjoy the view of the wonderful winter landscape along the river. Sometimes it goes “høyre” (right), sometimes “venstre” (left) – the individual loops through the forest seem like a labyrinth to me and I can hardly imagine that I will find my way alone here someday … The The first day ends with a dog fight in which “Solo” is injured so badly on the chin that it has to be sewn. The vet comes and we all look interested, how the anesthetic works and the sleeping husky is patched together again. We also get to know one last inhabitant of the Dog & Cat Hotel: a rather large, copper-colored / white-eyed male, who occasionally goes out of his temper to hunt for you, or greets you with a reproachful “maauuuu” as soon as you enter the hallway , Overwhelmed by all the impressions of the day we fall tired in our beds.
 
In the next few days, one event follows another: We travel together on a quiet day in the mountains to get to know the route of the weekend trip and end up in a heavy snowstorm – we can not see the first dogs on our sled any more and we lose track of the path, so we have to turn back. Kringel and I fall off the sledge but luckily that nothing happens. We see the first northern lights in a freezing cold night, they dance in green swaths above us and flicker slightly. All together we take a trip to the ice hotel Sorrisniva and admire the in ice carved Viking figures and the fine reliefs drawn in the snow according to different Nordic legends. Although the beds in the individual cabins are equipped with reindeer skins, it is quite cold and when we come outside, we notice the temperature difference – suddenly it is “warm” outside. 😉 In the evening we have “Finnbiff”, a traditional dish from Norway with reindeer meat and a sauce from the slightly sweet caramel brown cheese “Gudbrandsdalost” – a few days later we even try moose fillet.We are slowly getting introduced in the daily tasks around the lodge: welcoming and dressing tourists, holding safety training, talk more about the the dog breeding, training, food and racing (especially the “Finnmarkslopet” here in Alta) after the tour in a cozy atmosphere, “Hotel work”: check in guests, show them around, serve breakfast or dinner to the guests, put new sheets on beds and remove old ones, clean tepees and provide them with firewood, fire on the sauna, refill the whirlpool …


Our days are varied and none is like the previous one: sometimes tourists tumble off the sled and we have to try to stop a running sledge, sometimes a dog bites its harness or a leash, dogs fight or climb, or other unforeseen things happen.
Slowly Christmas is coming and we enjoy two days of rest and relaxation. In a cozy and quiet atmosphere we celebrate Christmas and Lily (who is a trained cook) cooks a wonderful Christmas lunch with a little bit of every country: filled turkey, potato salad, pork roast, vegetables, salad; as a dessert Mousse au Chocolat, Panna Cotta and afterwards still a bulging cheeseboard … After dinner no one can move and the top trouser button is already open, but the bowls still look like untouched. Between the holidays we have a lot to do and there are several days where whole busloads of tourists are carted. We turn round after round with people from Indonesia, Holland, Australia, England, India and of course also from Germany.

The end of the year comes closer and we have New Year’s Eve and New Year’s free and can relax, laze and enjoy cards all day long. And then one morning, we are lucky while doing with the puppy training in the morning: a moose runs across the way. First he runs across the field and then we can watch him as we rush past him with the sled and he stares at us from the bushes …