Last weekend, we went on a weekend trip to the gorgeous town of Røros. Of course we got to see the picturesque little village, but our main goal of the trip was to go dog sledging. And oh my, what an amazing experience that was!
In the eastern part of Sør-Trondelag, Norway, you can find the small town of Røros. It’s a very old mining town and designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood, you should definitely go and visit. The small, wooden houses originate from the 17th and 18th century and are still in original condition. It’s a lovely sight to walk around the cobbled streets and explore all of the little passageways and enjoy the houses. Amazing to see is that the old houses are still in very good condition and all inhabited by normal people. Just lovely.
But, as I said, the main goal of our visit was to go dog sledging. So after spending Saturday exploring Røros and its surroundings, on Sunday it was time for the real adventure. Arriving at the “farm”, we are first shown to the changing room. There we put on thermal suits and winter boots. Though we are told not to dress too warm, I decide to keep my woollen sweater on. As I’m usually always cold, it is better to risk getting a bit warm then to freeze, right?
While we have to wait for two other people to join our group, there is some time to admire and pet the dogs first. It’s very nice to see how they all have very different personalities. Some are very easy-going, others extremely shy, and some are almost too friendly. One particularly sweet dog kept hugging me, and as soon as I tried to walk away, she would clasp her paws around me as if asking me to stay and cuddle a bit more. What a sweetie!
Then it is time to get ready. First, we get some explanation about the sledges and what to do. It’s not that difficult, or so it seems. You just have two different breaks, one for slowing down and one for stopping, and that’s it. There is no way of steering, you have to trust the dogs to follow the trail. Oh, and how to start? Well, the dogs will run anyway, so you just have to step off the brake, and then they will go. If that is not enough, a simple voice command “get up” will make them run again.
After the explanation, we get to tack up our dogs by ourselves, which is a nice way to get to know your team a bit. Our team consisted of six dogs, Mikok and Ulu were leading, then Anni and Rubi and finally Freya and Sita. They seem very relaxed, lying down while waiting for the rest to get ready. But when they realized the sledge was released from it’s hook, they were all attention.
Ready, set, go!
So, with the sledge released from the hook, only the brake is now holding us still. When we are allowed to go, my sledging partner releases the break and off we go! Sitting in the sledge as passenger for the first leg of the trip, it feels like we are flying over the snow. Up the hills, down a hills, around corners, all the while following the trail through the forest. Every now and then our guide slows down a bit to check if we are still following, and then we go again. Whooh!
When it’s my turn to actually control the sledge, I soon realize it is a lot tougher than it seems. Keeping your dogs working, but controlling they don’t go too fast, and at the same time keeping the sledge on the solid track and out of the soft, deep snow, it takes quite a lot of effort! Already soon I regret keeping on my woollen sweater, who knew it could be so warm in such an arctic environment?
After a bit, we keep having trouble with motivating our dogs, so our guide suggests a dog switch. With a new lead-dog we are suddenly flying over the snow again. But, our team still had quite some personality, so they would only start running again when we would give the sledge a firm push first. Fair is fair, they are working hard, so we should be too, right?
While controlling the sledge, you have to keep focus on the track and the dogs. But during the times when the other is in charge, you can sit and look around at the amazing nature we are in. Because of the sledge, we can see places you would never have reached by foot, as the snow is just too thick and soft for walking. The mountains and snow and trees surrounding us, it is all so beautiful. It is the perfect Nordic landscape. When the clouds make place for bright sunshine, it feels like a dream, just wow.
All too soon, we are back from our 16 kilometre trip. The dogs seem very happy and content after their afternoon of fun, and we cuddle them elaborately to thank them for their hard work. Afterwards, we all feel dazed, happy and almost ecstatic from the amazing afternoon. What a great experience!
Our tour was at Alaska Husky Tours, near Røros. If you would like to book a trip as well, or find out more, take a look at their website: www.huskytour.no