I have always loved animals and on my recent trip to Finland the thing I was most looking forward to was a chance to mush my own dogs. That evening as I settled down in my glamping dome on the edge of Torressieppi lodge my thoughts turned to tomorrow’s activity and I hoped desperately that it was not going to be a disappointment. I wolfed down breakfast and then met my guide and headed over to the kennels. You can hear the dogs baying with excitement from a long way away and the noise continues right up until the point where you set off. After a safety briefing with the main instruction very much “do not let go of the sled” we help hitch the friendly dogs to the sleds and await the sign from the guide that we can get underway. As soon as your huskies see the lead sled move the urgency and excitement levels rise and when you remove your foot from the break the dogs pull in earnest and you are off. The initial burst of speed sets the adrenalin racing as we had downhill with various turns until we reach the frozen lake and the dogs pace falls into a mile eating trot that they can sustain for hours.
The whole experience takes on another meaning as you relax into the journey with the gentle panting of the dogs and the movement of your sled over the crisp snow the only sound for miles. The stunning countryside opens up as you gently glide through forest and enjoy a sense of serenity as you cover a surprising amount of ground. You still have to concentrate on your balance as you shift your weight through bends in the track and you get a bit of work out during the occasional uphill sections where you are advised to give the dogs a hand by removing your weight from the sled.
The guide stops at intervals to make sure everyone is ok including the huskies. It is at these moments with both feet firmly placed on the break that you get to look at your team and notice their odd quirks. Each animal has their individual bark some yappie whilst other a longer almost howl and you again feel the need they have to run and that they are enjoying the outing almost as much as their driver.
Your ears confirm long before your eyes that you are approaching the kennels and the end of an amazing day. You help unhitch your team and return them to their individual kennels for a much deserved feed and rest. I am given a lovely dog called Nanna who the guide informs me is blind and she almost clings to my leg as I hitch her to her home.
The experience is something that will live with me for a long time and I am desperate to get out on a multi-day trip staying in wilderness lodges and really getting to know the amazing animals and take in some more of this beautiful countryside.