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01.02.2024

Ethics and Responsibility

Today it is a serious topic without beautiful pictures of happy dogs in the snow and sunshine, northern lights or what Lapland makes so special.

Because unfortunately Lapland – or more precisely the sled dog scene – also has dark sides. Many tourists who have always wanted to do a sled dog tour and especially those who have only recently had it on their bucket list since it has been “in” are not aware of all the pain connected with this business. Therefore, a little bit of clarification should take place today to create awareness and perhaps give one or the other sled dog a better life.

How do I get on it now? Two occasions are currently very present. On the one hand, Länsstyrelsen, the authority which is responsible for the controls of the sled dog kennels, has confiscated several dozen dogs in recent months due to violation of animal welfare regulations. Not for the first time, but currently it is growing again and affects well over 100 dogs. Who should all of them adopt? I don’t know it. On the other hand, our Rafiki is just undergoing a surgery because of a cruciate ligament fracture, where the veterinarian’s clear statement was that most owners rather take the decision to put the dog to sleep than to pay an expensive surgery with an uncertain outcome.

But now one step at a time. In contrast to Finland and Norway, Sweden has a very strict animal welfare law.

First, in Sweden it is prohibited to keep dogs on a chain. You can think this is positive or negative. In Norway, we ourselves got to know a perfect example of chain keeping, which in my opinion showed no disadvantages with regard to movement or social contacts and also has other advantages. However, we also got to know the opposite, too short chains (which were quickly extended before an announced kennel check, which was only possible because two thirds of the dogs were on tour) and no free run at all. Since the concrete design of chain keeping is often not sufficiently checked (can be?) and many kennels in the area of ​​mass tourism only look at profit, a ban on chain posture seems quite positive.

The regulations in Sweden are also very extensive in terms of kennel design. The kennel (in this sense not the complete kennel but the kennel where 2 or more dogs live) must be relatively large, there must be isolated dog huts with straw, wood chips or a similar surface or a dog stable, the dogs must have permanent access to fresh water in summer, they have to get free run daily, etc. Even if you might argue about some details of the regulations the approaches in the sense of animal welfare are definitely positive. Furthermore, there is a duty in Sweden to register every dog ​​with the Jordbruksverket and also apply for a permit for the kennel if you have more than ten adult dogs or are working with dogs (one is enough). But here we also come to a fundamental problem. I know very few musher beside us, that have registered their dogs, so that it is probably not known how many sled dogs there are at all. However, it is even worse that very many – unfortunately also many immigrated mushers – do not register their kennel, which is why it is of course difficult for Länsstyrelsen to control them if they are not even known. Now you could object, if nobody complains, there is probably nothing to complain about. But isn’t that too easy? Does every neighbor know what exactly the regulations look like? And why shouldn’t everyone have to stick to the regulations?

There is a similar problem with the big kennels that do not have so many dogs themselves and only take up mushers with their own dogs for the season, often of course with too little space for all dogs and avoiding the responsibility, to care for the dogs that make money in winter even in summer.

It gets even worse when you know that there are kennels in Scandinavia that “produce” puppies specifically for the winter so that their guests have something to cuddle with and take great Instagram photos. Not only is it better to have puppies in spring/summer, the worst thing is that these “photo puppies” are sometimes not even raised any further. There are cases where they are simply „eliminated“ after the season.

This doesn’t just happen to puppies, but especially to old and sick dogs or those who perhaps don’t work as hard or are no longer wanted for whatever reason. Unfortunately, in all three countries it is legal to euthanize or shoot dogs that you no longer want without medical reasons, as long as the dog is not tortured during the killing. Can you imagine that? As long as the dog is cute enough to take photos or pulls the sleigh on which paying tourists sit/stand, they are allowed to live, but when they only cost money, they get rid of them! What kind of world do we live in? Is business really more important than life?

Of course, we have often heard that sled dog tours are so expensive. Yes, they are not cheap. And I also come from an environment where many may never be able to afford such a vacation. It’s a shame, for those who are really interested in it. Nevertheless, you have to be aware of how many weeks a year a sled dog earns money and how many months a year it costs more or less only money, be it food, water, the equipment of the kennel, veterinarian, electricity, etc. Don’t forget one to one and a half years until the sweet puppy starts working and the years as a pensionist, which can be five years. Roughly speaking, a dog may earn money a quarter of the year in two thirds of his life, it costs the rest of the time. But does that justify us to make it an object of a “cheap holiday”? Definitely not! Our dogs are our family and they shall get whatever it needs. We would like our guests to participate in this life with our dogs. Yes, that costs. And we understand everyone who cannot afford it. It is also completely ok for us if someone goes “to the competitors”, because we don’t have this competitive thinking. But we just want to ask everyone who wants to do a sled dog tour – regardless of whether a few hours or several days – have a look at where you book, ask questions, about everything! Think about: Ten “Flagship Oldies” cannot be right if you have 300 running dogs, unless there is a plausible and practicable re-homing program. Even if you book through tour operators – which is totally fine – insist on more information. Because unfortunately not all tour operators think and ask enough themselves neither.

And now we let’s talk about Rafiki. This crazy sweet dog was actually scheduled to run at the Metsjövidda Fjällrace. Unfortunately he was injured at Christmas. Fortunately, not on tour with guests, so neither a guest has to blame him/herself, nor do we have to ask ourselves whether it is really good to let guests drive dogs. No, it’s banal, he simply jumped down from the hut – like he did 100 times every day. And probably landed badly. At first we thought it would go away after a few days, because apart from a slight limp on the first day, he immediately went back to running and jumping like a madman and showed no pain whatsoever when we examined him. However, when he was standing, you could see that he wasn’t putting his foot down properly. When things didn’t get better after a week, we went to the vet and the test was done under anesthesia: the cruciate ligament was broken and needed surgery. Not many vets carry out this surgery, but there is a specialist who is “only” 200km away from us. Well, we’re in Lapland, so it’s not that far. We then went there for a preliminary examination in the second week of January. The vet explained to me how the operation would go and that there was no guarantee for working (sled) dogs that they would be able to work again. Many dog ​​owners (especially from hunting dogs) therefore prefer to have their dogs euthanized rather than spend almost SEK 50,000 on a surgery with an uncertain prognosis. That’s just the way it is in Sweden. Hello? So we’re back on topic. Rafiki is three years old, an absolute “happy dog” and he should be put down because he now costs money and maybe doesn’t earn any more? Yes, of course these costs, which don’t even include rehabilitation, tear a big hole in our budget. But we know that after such an operation a dog can walk and run normally and is not in pain. It must not matter at all whether he pulls a sleigh again later or not. We didn’t doubt for a second that Rafiki would get the surgery and of course we hope that he recovers well because he’s already going crazy when the others go on tour and he can’t come with them. And if not? Then he’ll just become a cuddle dog! Apart from the fact that he is also a perfect photo model 😉 At this point we would also like to take the opportunity to thank some of our dear guests who supported us with a contribution to Rafiki’s operation, THANK YOU 🙏

And finally: every musher is responsible for his dogs, but if tourists also question more critically how the dogs live, at some point it may no longer be possible to offer mass tourism at the expense of the dogs. I wish so and I know that we have fellow mushers who feel the same way and guests who support us. But we’re not there yet. Therefore: don’t look away! Ask questions! Act!

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19.01.2024

Metsjövidda Fjällrace

We are back in racing 😃

It’s almost ten years ago that Yvonne started to work with sled dogs professionally. At that time she was mainly training race dogs for long distance races. And even if she also had some nice tours with guests those of you who know her also know that being out with the dogs alone for hours and hours is what makes her really happy. Of course, the last years when we started to build up our own kennel there were no possibilities to even think of racing. But when we got the invitation to take part in Metsjövidda Fjällrace organized by long distance world champion Petter Karlsson it was no question that we would love to do this. 

Initially we planned to take part with two teams to give a lot of dogs new experiences, one team on 320km and the team with the younger dogs on 240km. In autumn we could more or less train according to these plans but when the snow came it got more difficult. Even if it was very cold for relatively long periods already in October and November we still had crazy much overflow on the lakes the whole December and rivers were not frozen. So a lot of trails were not possible to drive and when we wanted to do long trainings we had to repeat the same trails all the time and rest was often in the kennel. 

Anyway until Christmas we were quite sure that everything will go like planned. But suddenly we had to think new. Rafiki started to limp, independent from training or tour, probably after jumping down from the dog house. We checked him and couldn’t find the reason, it looked like he had no pain and he was still running and jumping like crazy. But when he stood still you could see that he didn’t have weight on his back right foot. And since it didn’t get better after a few days we went to the vet in the beginning of the new year. The diagnosis was a chock. He has a fracture of the cruciate ligament. One of the most complicated surgeries on dogs with unpredictable future. When we were at the specialist vet clinic for the pre surgery examination they clearly let me know that most owners decide to put the dog to sleep instead of paying a lot of money for a surgery with an unknown result. That is of course absolutely no option for us. So, now we are waiting for the surgery, which is planned for the first of February, and try to keep Rafiki as calm as possible. But he is crazy, even if he lives inside now and is on the leash when we go out, he wants to run and jump. But of course, he was out of the team for racing. 

At the same time our main leader Barolo started to eat very badly. Probably because his partner Ruby was in heat and they couldn’t be together. We could try whatever we want, he didn’t take it. And of course he was loosing weight. So, it was questionable if our most important dog could start at the race. 

Then right after New Year we got a week with temperatures down to minus -40°. Not only that we spent our time fighting against freezing water pipes and trying to keep the house warm – that means not to be under +10° inside 🥶 – with those temperatures it was also not possible to do more long training runs. 

So, we had to think about our race plans. It was even in question if we can race at all but since we trained a lot and were really looking forward to it we decided that we want to start, at least with one team.

Since Rafiki was out we decided to fill up the team with Ruby who was planned to be the leader of the yearling team and Max, at the moment the most promising dog of the five yearlings. We also decided to shorten the distance to 240km so that it is manageable for Max too.

On Saturday we finally set the team together: Barolo and Ruby as main leaders, Max and Mavas as the promising youngsters, Timon, Pumba and Zazu as the always happy dogs and Luna and Stella as motivators and little engines in the back. 

So, the weekend we spent with cutting and packing snacks, preparing booties in the correct sizes for exactly this team composition, check and pack all the equipment, etc. 

On Monday we drove to Slussfors were it was cold, -29° and it was promised to be cold – and windy – also the following days. I was a bit afraid on how my feet and fingers will manage. But anyway, I couldn’t wait to go on the race. Of course, for us it was not a race in the sense of being fastest but to give the dogs the possibility to gain a lot of new experiences. 

The start of the race was on Tuesday at nine. Since it is a race among friends there was not a strict starting order, everyone could start as soon as he or she is ready. But if you plan to go not too fast of course you let the teams that you know are going faster start first. So, I went out with my team ten minutes after nine.

Right from the beginning it was an amazing trail, going a bit uphill through the forest and after the first road crossing along some lakes and rivers. In the beginning I passed a few teams and were passed by others, e.g. by Petter who I had supposed to have started before me 😂

The weather was cold but not too cold. I forgot to put a thermometer on the sled but I guess it was -20° or a bit below. There was some wind, but ok at this time. The trail was going up into the mountains and after a while I was alone with my team. The teams in front had some distance to me and also the teams behind, so I couldn’t see anyone and just enjoyed being out with my dogs in such a beautiful area. Of course, you couldn’t see that much of the mountains because it started to snow and was windy but anyway it was great. On one of the mountain tops we passed I tried to film with the GoPro, but since it was cold, it went off immediately. My phone was so deep in my clothes to be protected from the cold that I couldn’t reach it without stopping, so unfortunately I don’t have a lot of pictures or videos of the race. But I have the memories of it in my heart 🥰

My plan was to do a break after 60km before we had to pass a 20km long lake. Before the race Petter told me, that it might be cold down there so that it might be a possibility to rest a bit earlier. I realized a bit too late that there were a little cabin at about 55km where I saw Malin and Lars resting. For a short moment I thought about stopping earlier but since I didn’t feel cold at all I decided to stay with the original plan. The downhill to the lake was a bit like a rollercoaster, really funny trail. When we arrived at about 13:45 there were two teams resting but already in the preparation to start again. I snacked my dogs, put the booties off and made them beds of hay. Then I boiled some water to make a real meal for them. Since it was still in the beginning of the race they were not so eager to take the snacks but everyone was eating something. Some dogs prefer dry food, some meat or fat, some take it with water, some tip over the bowl as soon as they get it. Every dog is individually but as long as you know them and find the correct way for every single dog to make them eating it’s fine. Relatively in the beginning of our rest Malin and Lars were passing and the dogs stood up but after that they took a nap. We had a nice 3,5h rest and indeed it was not that cold. While I was preparing the dogs with booties two more teams passed. We left our resting place at about 17:15 if I remember correct. I supposed that the run over the lake will be boring and slow because usually our dogs are not that fast on lakes – except if you have frozen overflow. But they were extremely motivated running with 15-17km/h. So, after a while we came to the two teams that have passed by before we were out again. Usually Barolo passes a team without interest in the other dogs but this time it was not that easy since there were girls in heat in several teams. During the race it more and more turned out that he was distracted by all these new experiences, new dogs and probably most by the females. So, after having passed the lake we went much slower on the up hill parts because Barolo‘s nose was on the ground all the time 🙈

After a while I got a phone call from Angela, that one of the mushers in front of me has lost a snow hook and that I should be careful not to run over it. After having not seen it for quite a long time I was almost sure that I had passed it already and relaxed a bit and where not searching anymore… and suddenly there it was. I put it on my sled so that no one else had the risk to crash into it. 

During the evening the wind and snow got more and on the open spots the trail started to be blown over. Not that it was a problem, because mostly the trail was marked and I had it on the GPS too, but weather got worse. When it was about 5-10km to the checkpoint Danasjö at 120km my GPS was a bit strange and I was not sure if it’s actually showing the right trail (it was always zooming out when I tried to see details). So I somehow managed to take out my phone and checked if I am close to Danasjö. And also saw a message from Angela that due to the weather and upcoming storm the trail is changed (originally it would have been the same way back). But while driving I was too stupid to understand the message. Let’s say, I understood that the trail is changed but not where it goes on. So, I was just hoping that it was meant to be changed after the checkpoint not on the way to it 😉 but it was not that far anymore and after a while I reached Danasjö, I guess around 22:00 or 15 minutes earlier maybe (sorry, I have forgotten the exact times). Again, the dogs got snacks, food and hay and could sleep for a while. Luna was the only one – again – who doesn’t want to lay down. Later on, I discovered that it was the dog coat she was not comfortable with even if she has slept with it on tours already. During the break I tried to get half an hour of sleep myself but I am very, very bad at this and couldn’t turn off my had. After another 3,5h we were starting on the next stage. As said it was not the same way back but an 80km loop coming back to Danasjö and after that half of the loop and going home. Since 80km at once with a part over the mountains in the second half seemed to be a bit much I planned to do another break after about 40km.

The start of this stage was quite ok. After a while you have two bigger lakes again. Not comparable to the 20km from before but anyway some kilometers over lakes. But even here the dogs did a good job and the speed was fine. After the lakes there are some kilometers on forest roads and that was really boring. I had to change the leaders to keep the motivation up. And of course it didn’t help so much that I got a bit tired myself 🥱 so, we went on and after 50km we stopped for another 2,5h rest. After having taken care for the dogs I took my extreme bivy bag and rested on the sled, trying again to get some sleep. If I remember correct it was around 8 when we started again so it was getting daylight again what made it easier for me. Now the next mountain part was waiting. We were a bit slow uphill but constantly moving on, so all in all totally fine. On top of the mountain it was a lot drifting snow and wind but on most parts you could still guess the edges of the trail. Here it was not marked, so to be sure to stay on the right trail I was constantly checking the GPS. But the dogs did great. First Ruby was showing Max how to find an overblown trail, later Barolo took over from Ruby. The last 12km of this stage back to the checkpoint the dogs recognized that they know it and went fast and motivated. Here we met six teams that have started out from the checkpoint and again some passings were not perfect due to crazy dogs 🤣 but we reached Danasjö in an extremely good mood and highly motivated to go on. For a moment I thought about skipping the break here and maybe do it later on the trail, because even if we now had completed 200km I knew that it will be a bit more than 40km back home (I estimated about 50km, in the end it was 59km). So, I gave the dogs another 1,5h break before we started again. 

They started good but already after a few hundred meters Barolo and Max didn’t want to run further together. First I tried to change the lead completely but in the end it was Barolo in single lead who brought us further. I did a snack break before the two lakes and after that put Ruby back to Barolo. The snow was more now but still possible to find the trail. The next snack break was on a boring forest road and there the dogs were not so motivated to go on but did it. Unfortunately only a few minutes later, short before the next lake, my headlight battery broke down (probably because of the cold the upper part with the cable got off the battery itself), so I suddenly had no light until I picked the extra battery out of the sled. And this time the dogs used to roll together and sleep. I gave them a lot of extra snacks what they took really good but anyway I was forced to give them a break. I checked the GPS and saw that it shows exactly 240km. Maybe the dogs took the distance too seriously and haven’t understood that the changed trail was a bit longer 😉🙈 By the way, also my phone battery got empty even if I had charged it in between and tried to hold it warm under several layers of clothes. So, I was a bit nervous about my GPS. Since it was so cold it showed only one of four possible lines for the battery immediately after you put in fresh charged ones. Until this part of the race they had anyway lasted long but after one light battery was broken and my phone off, I was afraid to also loose my GPS because the weather got worse and I was not sure if it will be possible to see the trail or markers on the next lake and further on. 

After about three hours Petter who was on the last part of the 320km came and passed me and behind him the dogs were eager to run again. So we did the last 20km together and reached the finish line short before 23:00. I can’t imagine a better support for me and the dogs 😉

The dogs did a great job over the whole race. Especially our yearling Max did great, learned to eat during the race and was still happy at the finish. Of course that applies also to the „Rangers“ Timon, Pumba and Zazu. Even after the finish it seemed that Pumba just want to go on. But of course all are superheroes, running through difficult conditions in an area they have never been, meeting many new teams and dealing with so many new experiences. It was a great training and preparation for the future. 

I am extremely thankful that I got the chance to take part in the race. It’s such a nice area that you are passing and it was absolutely great to experience this together with our own dogs. A big, big thank you to Petter and Angela for the invitation, organization and support. 

And of course, I am also thankful, that Raffi was my handler, trying to make sure that I eat and drink enough and possibly get some sleep. Not an easy task with me, I know 🙈

Now we are looking forward to the rest of the winter season and already make plans for the next year. 

As written I have almost no videos or pictures from the race but you can see a short reel on our Instagram account. 

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21.12.2023

December – a Month Full of Joy

Today is the shortest day of the year, so why not do a short recap of the actual month?

December started with a half day tour with guests we already know – or at least one of them, because she was our first guest in autumn 2022 and last winter guest 2023… seems that we do something right, if someone who was initially a bit afraid of the cold can’t resist to come back again and again ☺️

The same day our first week tour guests for this winter season arrived. And we really can’t complain, more nice guests for us and the dogs. And I guess also the guests will not complain… trails were still a bit bumpy and difficult but already on the first tour they could combine a sled ride with a moose safari 😃 later on they experienced real winter with temperatures below -30°, exactly on the day of the overnight tour. But one thing they forgot before it got warmer again: to throw hot water in the air… so we did it for them some days later.

The next days we used – beside more preparation for the season – for longer training runs with the dogs. At least when it was possible. Partly we had a lot of overflow on the lakes, then it also got very warm again. But the first 120km run was no problem at all, even for our yearlings. On the last 1km before we reached the kennel, my dogs started to go crazy, barking, screaming and pulling so hard that I had to use the metal brake to control the sled. And while I am writing this text, Raffi is out with “my” team, so the team that I will run at Metsjövidda Fjällrace, for another 180km training.

But let’s come back to December, the month of the dark. Not for us! Yes, it is the month with the smallest amount of daylight hours, but the colors of the sky are just magical. We had sunrise/sunset for several hours each day, we were blessed with polar stratospheric clouds – that are much less common than Northern Lights – several days in a row and we had spectacular Aurora Borealis. There are no words to describe the beauty of Swedish Lapland.

Tomorrow we start our Christmas and New Year tours for external guests that are staying in Arvidsjaur, and on Sunday our own Christmas guests will arrive and enjoy a week (plus some days) full of adventures and new experiences.

So, last but not least, we want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas time. Forget the daily stress and commercial pressure on these days and just find your calm and enjoy the time with family and friends. And after that: have a great start into the New Year 2024. We hope to see you here with us next year 😊

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14.11.2023

November-Update

It’s now been three and a half months since the last post and a lot has happened since then… But as always, there is rarely time to devote to the blog. That’s how it is right now in the middle of the night as I write these lines. But before the winter season really begins what is in two weeks, you should get another update.

So, let’s try it chronologically: anyone who follows us on Facebook or Instagram will not have been able to avoid getting to know our puppies. On August 13th Lumene had three puppies, Tornado, Chinook and Blixten, actually in that order. The dad of the gang is Storm, our new addition from April. And yes, this litter wasn’t planned. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that Storm was digging his way between cages to female dogs in heat. But whatever, the combination was very interesting genetically and Lumene was such a great mother back in the “Lion King” litter that we had no doubt that everything would go well this time too. And so it was. The puppies were very large at birth at 470g to 510g and were therefore agile. That changed a bit after two or three weeks, when we thought that they would definitely climb out of the box soon, but they were rather sluggish. But that was probably because they were still too heavy for their legs. This time the choice of name was almost obvious, on the one hand because of their father Storm, and on the other hand because of the stormy and thundery weather shortly before their birth. We first thought about the Swedish words for lightning and thunder – Blixten and Åska. But then we decided against Åska because we didn’t think it was suitable for guests. Because if you don’t know the Swedish alphabet, you probably read Aska or hear Oskar, both of which are kind of stupid. So we chose Tornado instead, appropriately the same word in Swedish and German. The name for Chinook – a wind in the Rocky Mountains – was chosen by our friends at Korpkullen Huskies, to whom he moved when he was just under nine weeks old. Blixten and Tornado are now three months old and currently live with Rafiki, whom they can terrorize with their stormy nature. But they are still too small to come up on the hut, where Rafiki loves to lie and relax and observe the surroundings.

What else has happened: on the first weekend in September we were in Rovaniemi, the first time together away from our kennel for a day and a half. There we visited the sled dog symposium, which was held for the first time… and of course Santa Claus with Joël 🎅🏻
The symposium is of course not comparable to the one in Kiruna, but there were still some interesting and inspiring lectures and the opportunity to exchange ideas with other mushers. The most influential thing for the rest of our autumn was our conversation with Petter Karlsson, world champion in long-distance racing and, among others, multiple winner of the Finnmarksløpet. We almost worked for Petter a few years ago, so we had been in loose contact for a while. We now had the opportunity to talk to him and his wife Angela about, among other things, building our own kennel and the idea of perhaps racing again… and we promptly received a personal invitation to take part in the 320km long Metsjövidda Fjällrace organized by Petter and Angela. Who could resist that? But first we had to do a bit of organizing. Because just two or three days before the symposium, we had promised regular guests an overnight tour, which would have been exactly the day after the race. Luckily, their friends, who will also be there, hadn’t booked their flights yet, so we were able to move this tour backward a week. At the same time, a friend who is currently with us has agreed to look after Joël and the remaining dogs for the duration of the race. So we were able to plan to take part with two teams. Funnily enough, just two or three days after the confirmation, guests from last year asked for a tour this very week – although we thought the date would be quite practical at a time when there wasn’t so much going on 😂🙈 but so did these guests were flexible and are now coming after the race… so we hope that everything goes as planned and that we can finally get a taste of racing again in mid-January. The race is absolutely not intended as a race for our dogs, but rather to gain experience, practice checkpoint routines in “real life” and get to know the atmosphere of a race. Accordingly, the strategy will be very restrictive and only focused on creating a positive experience for the dogs, regardless of the time we need. But more on that later.

Of course, we had already started training before the symposium, but now we are working even harder towards a goal. Because let’s be honest, just to go on tours, the dogs wouldn’t have to train according to a set plan in August and the training distances that we do now wouldn’t be necessary either. So you could make your life easier – since there’s always not enough time for everything anyway… But you should also know what you’re doing something for. We want to make dreams come true for our guests, as our name suggests, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your own dreams. so, we are happy to accept the additional pressure we put on us ourselves.

At the end of September we had our first guest for autumn training this season. I would say that despite a few tours and stays at other kennels before, he was still able to learn a lot 😉 During a training overnight stay in the tent, our (older) puppies, Maya and her siblings, were able to practice what it’s like to sleep on the stakeout on a tour for the first time… and four out of five mastered it confidently. Only Max somehow didn’t feel like it. Not that he was jumping around at the stakeout or anything, no, he just wouldn’t stop crying. And since Raffi and Joël had joined us for dinner, we decided to postpone Max’s exercise until another time and he was allowed to go home. But he was just as unhappy alone in the cage… so Raffi quickly put Nala to him. After some wild playing, there was actually peace at some point. By the way, Max is now a perfect dog during breaks in training and lies down to relax, not always, as our dogs often think they’d rather keep going, but at least he’s one of those who is basically calm for the time being.

So here we are again at training… which has been happening on white ground for about a month now. So far so good. However, while it feels like it’s snowing a lot all over Scandinavia, here it’s either moving southeast or northwest and we still have just a few centimeters of snow. So while everyone is happily posting pictures of sledding, we are still training with the atv. As much as I want to go sledding, it didn’t make sense from a time perspective if it was only possible with a small team, because then I would have to essentially clone myself in order to train all the dogs according to the plan. So I’ll probably have to be patient and freeze on the atv… because there’s no shortage of cold and you feel it much more on the atv than on the sled 🥶 But what won’t you do for your dreams 😉

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30.07.2023

What is Time? – or: my short time-out on the Kungsleden

What a question! Everyone knows: 60 seconds is a minute, 60 minutes is an hour, 24 hours is a day, etc… Yes, but have you ever wondered if we measure time in the right unit? Is every day, every hour of our lifetime equally valuable? Before we lived them, potentially yes. But when we live them, don’t hours and days often take on an entirely different meaning? Why do we say “time stands still” or “time flies by”? Maybe because we often use the time wrong? Have too high expectations? I don’t want to exclude myself from that, on the contrary, I’m someone who lets the time – or rather the clock – stress me out very often because I can never switch off, but always have in my head what there is still to do , so that I often can’t really enjoy the really nice, relaxing moments. So what do you do about it? Waste time… or say it more friendly: you use it consciously, not because you have to do something important, but because you decide to do something time-consuming. In my case a hike on the Kungsleden, together with my favorite dog Zazu.

Already the planning was time-consuming, but in a positive sense. First I had to decide which part of the Kungsleden I wanted to walk. Since there are 24 other furry friends and a husband and child waiting at home, I only have about a week. Well, really crazy people run the whole trail in 15 days, but I do not only miss the time for that, I also don’t have the physical constitution. Ok, so from where to where? I already know the area around Abisko and Nikkaluokta a little and think it’s really beautiful, but since I needed to go in July – Raffi has vacation and the dogs aren’t in training yet – the northern entrance was ruled out from the start. Because there are so many people out on the trail at that time that you could easily feel transported back to the time of the migration of peoples. Ah yes, by the way, the Padjelantaleden would have appealed to me too, but dogs are forbidden there, even on a leash. So, next consideration Hemavan – Ammarnäs. This part is divided into six stages by the STF (Swedish Tourist Board). 78km in six days? Sorry, what? At the Marka24 in Oslo nine years ago – phew, how time flies 🙈 – I walked 80km in 23h. And this is where my typical me came in again… Shouldn’t I go as far as Kvikkjokk, or at least Jäckvik? That would then also go well with the bus arrival and departure. And what do I do if the daily stages only last three to seven hours, I don’t have cell phone reception to work, and mosquitoes are annoying me? It actually took a while before I decided to really only walk Ammarnäs – Hemavan. One reason was the high temperatures at the time of planning. I was afraid that too much sun would be bad for me and Zazu, especially if we were going relatively far. And of course then came the self-doubt a la “I’m not fit enough to walk 35 km a day”.

So, after the route was determined, I started planning the equipment… and since I’ve had back problems for a long time, I naturally wanted to carry around as little weight as possible. At first I briefly thought about only sleeping in the Biwi, but that would be stupid for Zazu in the rain and in the afternoons when the mosquitoes are annoying, too. So I needed a tent that is lightweight but still has some room for Zazu. When that was done, the next pieces of equipment and clothing came under the magnifying glass – or rather: on the scales. I hadn’t decided which shoes to take until the day before the tour. Raffi swears by mountaineering boots, but since I’ve never gotten along well with high boots, they were not only eliminated because of their weight. But the decision was still Goretex hiking shoes or the 130g lighter running shoes. Due to the predicted rain, it ended up being the Goretex. Whether that was a good choice, more on that later. Next, the food was prepared and weighed on the exact gram. You should get a lot of energy for little weight. Of course you could now say why spend so much time for a few grams more or less. First of all, a few grams quickly add up to a few kilos in the end and secondly, I’m a planning nerd 🤣 for me, planning a tour is almost exactly the same as carrying it out in the end. That’s why I used to plan vacations and moves, and I still help our family today when they fail to find the most sensible travel connection. Of course, our guests have also benefited from this already.

Now that everything was packed, we could start. At first I wanted to take the bus to Ammarnäs, but in the end Raffi and Joël drove me there. Since the first stage is only 8 km and the bus would not have arrived until the afternoon, we also left later in the day. Quarter to two Zazu and I both had our backpacks on and were ready to start. The description said it was going steeply uphill… a Swede must have written that 😅 I was prepared for a steep climb, but it was actually very fair. You probably can’t compare Sweden to the Alps… We hiked through the forest and as soon as we saw the first bridges over rushing streams, it was clear that these wouldn’t be Zazu’s favorite parts of the trail, which is why there are no photos from the bridges. A little later the vegetation became sparser, instead of trees there were now almost only bushes… and cloudberries. But I hadn’t seen any ripe ones at that point, so I thought you’d probably never see ripe cloudberries by the side of the trail because the tourists who don’t know them probably always pick them too early… but more on that later. After a last small climb, the Aigert hut came into view. We walked once around the lake and then looked for a nice spot for our tent. We spent the rest of the afternoon taking a short walk to the viewpoint above the hut, cooking food and… doing nothing. What a waste of time you might think and for a moment I was inclined to write the first part of this blog post, but then I thought there will be time for that later. And this doing nothing without thinking about the next tasks is much more valuable than an hour on the sofa, when you only think that you better have to do something the whole time. Those people who can really relax while watching TV, for example, can be happy, but I have to be out of reach of work in order to get it out of my thoughts – at least temporarily… Later in the evening first a bird made Zazu crazy and after that Zazu made me crazy. Since the weather was still nice, Zazu slept next to the tent attached to a tree until a cheeky bird sits directly above him and chirps incessantly. No well-tuned singing, no, an annoying beeping. When a few drops of rain fell a little later, Zazu was allowed to come into the tent. What can I say? With Zazu in the tent is about the same as with Joël in a 1.80m wide bed, for me there are 20cm at the edge 😬 I don’t even know how Zazu managed it, but at some point he was lying on my sleeping mat and I next to it.

The next day was the longest stage with 19 km. It started with a slight climb all the way up to bold fells, from where we could enjoy the view to the surrounding mountains. In between there were some downhill parts and it became clear that such a full-grown sled dog might not always be so practical. Because when Zazu pulls, you have to stand against it quite a bit to not fly. The other way around when we met people, because as soon as he saw someone, he stopped pulling and wanted to hide. At some point he started to walk more beside me than in front of me like his dad Ranger, which is more or less possible on the fells, but was really annoying in the forest area that started again with paths only two feet wide. About two kilometers before the finish we had to cross another bridge over a roaring waterfall, so I almost had to carry Zazu. The last two kilometers were really a fight, who is running in front, because side by side was not really possible – but Zazu is just stubborn. Arriving at the Serve hut, I quickly set up our tent, because it was teeming with mosquitoes and small flies. Zazu didn’t want to go out anymore and when it rained he slept so well that he even forgot to push me off my sleeping mat.

The next morning we were both up early and so we started the next stage before 7 a.m. First it was a bit uphill, then mostly flat through more or less dense bushes. Due to the previous rain, the trail was very muddy and sometimes the wooden planks, which are supposed to bring you through the swampy passages with dry feet, were also under water. So it didn’t take too long until I had wet feet despite Goretex. In addition, I discussed – what felt like 90% of the way – with Zazu, whether he was walking in front or behind me, but he only switched between right and left, but there was no space on either side 😬 In the end the trail was downhill through the forest to Tärnasjö , where we reached the hut in good time before lunch. Of course we could have just taken a break and then continued hiking, but instead we decided to have a good time in the hut. The “dog room” was in a separate cabin that we had all to ourselves. So we could hang up the tent and Zazu’s backpack to dry. I washed some clothes – taking a quick dip in the lake on the occasion – and took clothes and shoes to the drying room in the main cabin. In the afternoon we alternately relaxed in our hut or at the lake and on the way there we also nibbled a few ripe cloudberries, which line the way from the hut to the sauna and also to the beach. Ah yes, I also cooked in between, but somehow I wasn’t hungry the whole time. Actually, my backpack should lose weight every day because food comes out, it did, but not to the extent calculated. Apart from muesli bars, for which I had planned a re-supply in Tärnasjö – but didn’t need it – I still had so much to eat that I could easily have extended the hike for a few more days…

Although we didn’t get up until an hour later the next morning, we still started ahead of most of the others. Before that I got my things out of the drying room, but my shoes were still not dry even after about 18 hours in the drying room. The decision whether to goretex or not will definitely be different next time 😉 The stage to Syter first led through a long flat birch forest, interrupted by some open swampy areas. After a while you come to a great beach where we could enjoy the view of the mirror-like water and the reflecting mountains in the background. After about two thirds of the way you reach the Tärnasjö bridges, several suspension and wooden bridges to change the side of the lake. Still not Zazu’s favorite, but since the water underneath was still, it was a little easier to master. After that it went steep uphill for a short time, but the view back to the lake landscape definitely makes up for it. It continued flat over the fells with a great view to the opposite mountains, some of which were still covered with snowfields. Shortly before we reached the Syter hut, it started with some raindrops. I was considering if it’s worth taking out the rain jacket and covering the backpack, but you never know 🤔 and it was good, because the last 500m – if not less – it poured like cats and dogs. And since the weather forecast – there was cell phone reception on Syter – also announced thunderstorms for the evening, we spontaneously decided to stay in the hut instead of camping. Otherwise everything in the tent would have been wet immediately, because Zazu shouldn’t have stayed outside in the rain. And trying to rub him dry in the pouring rain is also a rather pointless endeavor. Hence the luxury version again. Incidentally, later sun and rain alternated, but the announced thunderstorm did not materialize.

Before we continue, I would like to share with you a few thoughts on the subject of time that came to me during the obviously not so strenuous stage – if you can still philosophize on the side 😅 What is the importance of time for us? That is certainly very individual, but do we ask ourselves the question at all? Everyone talks about “work-life balance”, a phrase that is used a lot when it comes to working in a large law firm – but not only there. Does the work-life balance really always depend on how many hours we work? Isn’t it more important what we do with our free time? If I only work five hours a day and sit around the rest of the day trying to figure out what else I want to do, do I really have a better work-life balance than someone who works 12, 14 hours but then pursues his hobby for three hours that totally fulfills him? What is work and can work be fun? Of course, work should at best be fun, but even a great job has tasks that aren’t that great… that’s why you get paid. If work is always fun, isn’t it a vacation that you would have to pay for yourself, or at least a hobby? The question comes up automatically with a job like ours, doesn’t it? Of course, nobody should work themselves to death – not even for money, but shouldn’t we rather focus on making better use of the available time than on work? It doesn’t matter if it’s five minutes, an hour or a whole day. Tackle the long-awaited meeting with grandma right now, not when there is a whole weekend to spare. Cancel the mandatory brunch on Sunday with a large group of friends in order to sleep long, read a book or do nothing. Free yourself from social constraints, from the definition of time as others see it. I’m certainly miles away from always using my time sensibly – another term: who decides what makes sense? But realizing that you have to find your own meaning, your own way of counting time, is perhaps a first step. Although I’ve wanted to do this hike for a long time, I thought about going until the very end before the start because I can’t do so much else in this time what have to be done. I’m glad my stubbornness prevailed. Not because I can’t think of 1000 things to do along the way, but because I have time not to do them…

And then day 5 came. On the last stage – or actually the last two – time caught up with me or maybe my typical way of dealing with it. Actually, the route is divided into two stages of 12km and 11km with a stop in Viterskalet. But since you had cell phone reception on Syter and could check the weather forecast, I was tempted to combine the stages. Because even for the last day thunderstorms were announced for 2 p.m., which I didn’t want to sit out in the tent in the mountains. But I didn’t want to spend the night in the hut again. And then maybe there was also the fact that I found the previous stages relatively short and two even shorter ones at the end would somehow not have been a challenge. So when the weather forecast in the morning still predicted thunderstorms, I decided to walk through to Hemavan. The only problem was that there would be no bus going to Arvidsjaur that day and Raffi would have to pick me up from Lycksele later. I had already checked the bus connections for the next two days, and the bus left in the (later) afternoon, so it was relaxed anyway if you started around seven. Said and done. First we went up the hill. Following an intuition, I thought I would use the existing cell phone reception here again to check the exact departure time of the bus… and was then a bit surprised that it was supposed to be leaving at 1:20 p.m. Ok, so I had a little over 6 hours for the route, could do it. If necessary, I could also camp in Hemavan (and stay somewhere inside during the thunderstorm). So first we crossed the hill, where the downhill passage in particular was very muddy and I had to ask Zazu several times not to pull like he did. Somehow he probably had the feeling that it should be the final stage. After 4km we turned off into a long valley, which was lined left and right by – by Swedish standards – high mountains. Also known as the southern entrance porte on the Kungsleden, this U-valley is relatively easy to walk. You cross countless smaller watercourses, which are sometimes wider, sometimes less wide. In order not to slip on the wet stones, you shouldn’t walk too fast. The valley stretches almost to the next hut. At its end you climb a small hill and from there you can already see the Viterskalstugan. There we allowed ourselves a short three-minute break… we were quite well in time, it was just after 10 o’clock. So we had made our way here in the lower end of the specified period of time, even if we – of course – took time to take some photos.

The last leg to Hemavan is said to take three hours so it wasn’t looking too bad. The stage is not strenuous either, as you first cross the fell at the same height for a longer period of time. But here, too, there were more watercourses, muddy spots and smaller rocky ups and downs that you should approach carefully if you don’t want to risk injury from a stupid slip or sprain in the last few kilometers. Relatively quickly we reached a signpost that pointed out 5km to Hemavan. So we were very well on time. A 4km signpost followed and from here we met a lot of people, some with small children, and I thought that they were already hiking nicely walking up to here. I was a bit irritated that despite the alleged only 4km left, the ski area was not yet in sight… that was not too long in coming and offered me the explanation for the many children on the mountain: the lift was in operation. There was also a new signpost with kilometers: 4km to Hemavan… although the last one was more than a kilometer back. I began to have doubts as to how far it really was to the end of the Kungsleden, which was the longest way down into the valley. There would have been shortcuts to get to the bus stop faster, but I didn’t want to take them. Maybe the mileage was just an average. And from the end of the Kungsleden I also had to go to the bus stop. Although I had signal again in the ski area, I didn’t want to google the route so that I could concentrate on the route and the people. Zazu is super nice with everyone, but since you never know if someone is afraid of dogs, we always stepped aside when we met someone. The last part of the way took quite a long time and there it was again, the time pressure. In theory, another night in the tent wouldn’t have been a problem, but missing the bus by 5 or 10 minutes would have been kind of annoying. Exactly 12 minutes before departure we reached the end (or the beginning) of the Kungsleden, where we of course had to take the obligatory photo. At the same time I googled the way to the bus stop: 19min 🙈 ok, we’ll try. We were able to shorten the first two serpentine turns, but after that it wasn’t really clear which way to go. It seemed as if a large number of the houses were newly built and the course of the streets had changed or Maps was just inaccurate because it constantly showed us between the houses and the walking direction was not reliable either. But since you sometimes go in one direction and sometimes in the other direction on serpentines, it was not so self-explanatory where we had to go. Time was running out and we weren’t quite on the main road when the bus should have come. A few meters before that, hikers asked us if we wanted to catch the bus and I thought they would say that it was already gone. But the opposite was the case and so we hurried the last few meters to the bus stop. A minute later the bus came. Being not in time doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. I am definitely a person who values being in time very much, but in this case the bus had adjusted to my time, which I was very grateful for.

It was Zazu’s first time riding a bus, but he did it with flying colors. We took the bus to Lycksele, where Raffi and Joël picked us up. When he got home, Zazu went to his kennel with Max, where they played wildly. Two must have missed each other. But about an hour later the dogs were noisy again, unlike when Zazu and Max are just playing. And who is that sneaking up to the house? Zazu (who hasn’t moved into his new, hopefully escape-proof kennel yet) seems to have figured he’d rather sleep with me… well, today’s exception is the sofa. Kennels will be swapped tomorrow 😂 By the way, Max wasn’t happy about it and cried because he missed Zazu (which he probably never did in the last few days). A little later the dogs were restless – and loud – because the moose were visiting… so you had them back quickly, the usual background noise of 25 dogs 😉

In case you’re wondering if my last day wasn’t counterproductive to the previous days, when it was all about deceleration and the importance of time: no, not at all. Because for me it was an incentive to run against the clock. I enjoyed it and it was a very good use of my time. Now I have a little more time at home for all furry friends.

If you are interested in the tour now… we will also offer it for guests next summer. I started writing the text “live” during the tour. Only the last two stages are still missing 😉

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20.06.2023

“Med naturen runt hörnet” – Why We live Where We Live

Until now it was mostly German or Swiss media that wrote about us, now our first Swedish interview was published.

The magazine AJR is completely new and covers stories and information about business and development in the region. It was established by our municipality Arvidsjaur and the title is the abbreviation for the airport here that itself has a big impact on the region and business activities. With this magazine Arvidsjaur wants to show what possibilities one has in the municipality but also highlight and appreciate the hard work of all entrepreneurs. We are happy to be a part of this first edition and hope that it spreads the spirit of Swedish Lapland even further than just within the municipality.

Since I know that most of our followers don’t speak Swedish, I will translate the text for you. Probably next week the magazine will be available online and a tiny bit later also in English. But maybe you don’t want to wait… 😉 Nevertheless, before I start with the translation I would like to take the chance to say something more about Glommersträsk, the village we belong to.

As you might know we live in a small village called Moräng and this village belongs to Glommersträsk. Not only that we have the nicest neighbours in Moräng that you can wish for but also Glommersträsk has deserved to get a bit more attention.

So, maybe I have to explain first that we mainly use the word Glommersbygden when we want to talk about the village itself but at the same time about the surroundings with even smaller villages like Moräng, Järvträsk, Brännberg, Svedjan, etc. Compared to Germany Glommersträsk is quite small with just a bit more than 200 inhabitants. Anyway, we have kindergarden, school until class 6, a shop with all you need like food, work tools, garden or car stuff, pharmacy and even alcohol as local station of Systembolaget (the only shop in Sweden where you can buy alcohol – light beer not counted), café, restaurant, fuel station, atm, and so on. Beside Lapland’s beautiful nature itself we have trails for hiking, cross country skiing, dogsledding, snowmobiling, we have an ice hall in winter and an outdoor pool in summer, numerous lakes for swimming, fishing or other water sports, we have great spots for watching Northern Lights or enjoying endless summer nights. We have entrepreneurs who live for the business they do… and most important: we have great people loving this place and working hard on its future.

Four months ago this idyllic picture was in acute danger. Since Arvidsjaur couldn’t find a legitimated teacher for our school they took the decision to immediately (about a week later) start driving the kids from Glommersträsk to school in Arvidsjaur – what is 45km ONEWAY, even more if you live a bit outside! It was not the first time that there was pressure on the school to be closed down, but this time it was real. We took meetings within the group of businesses in Glommersträsk, that of course are also affected by a closing of the school, and with all inhabitants. Due to the initiative of two locals a teacher could be found who jumped in until summer and saved the school from immediate closing. But that was no long term solution. So, how could we solve the problem?

In March we set up a project group, named „Glommersbygdens framtid“ (means the future of Glommersbygden). Nine dedicated women – meanwhile we are ten – decided that we won’t give up, we will safe our school. But out of this first aim it turned into the strong will to make whole Glommersbygden even more attractive, keep it alive and get more people to move here. So, it’s not only that we are still working on the school topic, beside this we invent houses and properties so that we know there are open spots if people are interested to move, we do a lot more marketing especially on Facebook and Instagram, we build a new homepage or better two – one especially for moving here, one for all who search for information about what to do, what is happening, where to find things, etc. We do activities for people from Glommersbygden and visitors – the first big one was on 6th June when it was Sweden’s 500th birthday, Sweden’s National Day. And of course, we try to convince all people from Arvidsjaur municipality that Glommerbygden has the potential to grow.

In the meantime the pressure against our school was even bigger since Arvidsjaur had asked a kind of revisor to do an inspection about the equality of education here compared to schools in Arvidsjaur. The report was far away from an analysis according to academic principles and did not anyhow compare anything, nevertheless the school committee had proposed to close down our school latest at the end of the year. But with the help of some engaged politicians that we had already convinced of our project it was possible to prevent such a decision. Yesterday the municipal representatives decided not to follow the proposal. But that doesn’t mean that we can stop working. They set a number of kids our school needs to have from „Förskoleklass“ to class 6. If we lay under this amount the school will be closed. That means for us that our work has just started, now it really counts to make it happen that people come and live here, first of all family with kids.

Why I write this here? Not because I think that everyone who reads this should immediately move here. First of all it’s a bit the same idea as with the AJR magazine: I want to tell about our project group because it’s worth that many people see how much work the group members put into this, voluntarily in their free time, all of us beside having kids and/or jobs. And maybe someone has a good idea what else we can do to reach our goals or can help him-/herself or knows somebody who is looking for a place to start a new life or just share what we are doing to reach even more people.

If you want to follow us on Facebook and Instagram look out for „Glommersträsk“, „Flytta till Glommers“ and „Relocate Lapland“. Our new web page with more information is www.relocatelapland.com, feel free to take a look 😉 and if you want to contact us you can write an email to boiglommers@hotmail.com.

Thank you for waiting so patiently for the translation and great thanks to my team members in the project group for all your great work and thanks to everyone else helping us to reach our goals!

Med naturen runt hörnet – with the nature around the corner

Family Illien moved to the little village Moräng in autumn 2020. Yvonne comes from Germany, Raphael from Switzerland, but it is here in North Sweden where they want to live.

Side text „Tips“: recommendations 

Make compromises > it can be difficult to find the completely perfect place for the perfect price. Think of what is most important for you, and act.

Language > To learn Swedish has helped us a lot and is really appreciated by the locals.

Main text:

Yvonne and Raphael always liked to be outside in nature and met 2015 in Finland when they both worked with sled dogs. They moved around after that, to Norway and Kiruna, until they spend a year in Germany in 2019, when Yvonne was pregnant. When Joël was four months old we travelled up north again. It was planned to travel around some months, visit friends and check different places since we wanted to start our own business, says Yvonne. With a baby and two dogs they started to look closer on different properties in Norrbotten and got interested in one property in Moräng, a little village in the southeast corner of Arvidsjaur municipality. We visited the house end of June and moved in in September, says Raphael. But to move was not completely without concerns. They think that there are many prejudices and biased opinions against sled dog businesses. That it why it was always important for them to have a good relationship to the neighbours and locals. The perfect place for sled dogs can often be too expensive or also too far away from everything else we need. Independent why you move and if you have a business, you should think about what is really most important and out of that find a compromise, says Yvonne. There are living several people in Moräng, and all were nice and helpful to family Illien. We have neighbours quite close what can be challenging with the business we have because we don’t want to annoy anyone, of course. But it works really fine and our dogs are really quiet, says Raphael. The dream property would have been a bit more away from a bigger road and neighbours but they also emphasise how important it is to match the facts with the needs. Even if they live in the countryside, they have it close to much. Just this place means that we have it close to the airport, train station, school, supermarket, and other service. We save so much time, both private and in our business, since we have everything so close, says Yvonne. Raphael also thinks that having it both, live in the middle of nature but have it close to most, is something that makes family life and work easier. If we go out on our yard, behind the dog yard you find moose, beaver and other animals. It is a nice and quiet little village with very nice neighbours. Guests get a very good experience here, because a lot of time can be spend with what they are coming for instead of long transfers.

Exactly like their own lifestyle they will give the guests a relaxed and family like experience. They can have three guests at a time today but want to go up to four guests. For this they need some more dogs. We have another niche for our business than many other sled dog companies. We offer mainly longer tours, often one week or even two. This is another type of guests compared with these who do only a tour for few hours, says Raphael. Beside the property (in Moräng) they have also bought a separate house for guests in Glommersträsk that is nearby. The guests appreciate to have some time to experience the surroundings on their own, to se and get an image of people living here and how it is to live here. It is another form of community in a small place, and guests like this. If they are here others often know that it’s our guests and welcome them. That leads to the fact that guests feel themselves seen and appreciated, says Yvonne. Raphael and Yvonne think that it is important that guests get in contact with the locals, maybe buy something and contribute to the local economy in several ways. And our guests like the supermarket here so much, Finnbergs. The guests often tell that they have met Ove who works there. This is also something we really like with living here, many contribute to a good hosting of our guests, says Yvonne.

The biggest difference between the life now and five years ago is, of course, son Joël, but also that they have a home. We do not longer live out of a bag. Now we really have a home. If you have been somewhere you come home. It is a big difference compared with before when we didn’t know where we will be in the next season, says Raphael. Even if it’s long to their families in Switzerland and Germany do they think that it’s easy to travel there, or for their relatives to come up north. We have the airports close by, both Arvidsjaur and Skellefteå. To the train station in Jörn it’s just 30 minutes to drive. We know that we want to live with sled dogs in the north, that’s the lifestyle we want to have. So, we will stay up here, says Yvonne.

Beside building their own business both work for other companies what works very good and reduces the pressure while establishing ones own. To build up this kind of business is expensive, with food, equipment and continue building what is needed. Since we work with animals it’s recurring costs, so in winter I spend a lot of time with guests, but otherwise we both work full time at other places. But taking into account that we started during the pandemic it looks like we have been coming quite far with our business, says Raphael. No one of them had previous experience in starting an own business, but this part of the process experienced they as not that difficult. A part of it may be that both of them have learned Swedish, and Yvonne has a background as a lawyer. So, I am used to interpret laws and rules. Additionally, we had experience from working in similar businesses, we had a business plan and really clear what we want to do. And we are soon there, says Yvonne. Since they moved during the pandemic it was difficult to get a connection and meet people, especially to train Swedish. In our opinion the most important with moving is that you speak the language. With this you are also accepted within the local community faster, says Raphael.

The winter is the most intensive season, spring is really relaxed and summer is mostly the time for construction projects and preparing the next season. They think that autumn is a fantastic season and also the time with most potential to expand for guests. Already in September the Northern Lights season starts. There is always something here that you think guests should experience. So, in deed it is season all year round, says Raphael and Yvonne agrees. Except living a life with family and dogs in focus, the drive is mainly to get guests experiencing the magic in nature. Raphael has guided many guests and experienced their reactions closely. In Sweden and up here many people are used to live close to nature and are out there. But the guests that we have, mostly from Germany and countries around, can come from a big city without experiences in nature. They come here, sleep outside in a tent, in the middle of the forrest, under the Northern Lights. They have never before experienced something like this. This is an experience they will never forget. And also not me, even if I have experienced it before.

Side Text: Fast with Yvonne

Nice People: Specially with our kind of business we were concerned how it will be with neighbours, how they will react on us, but everything went really fine. We have so great neighbours, and for us it’s important with god relationships.

Close to much: Some people think if you live on the countryside it’s far to everything, but even if we live in the middle of nature, we have it close to most we need. It saves us much time in our everyday life.

Friendly community: Many people here contribute that our guests have a good experience, they feel themselves seen in a totally other way than at a bigger place.

Uncategorized

31.05.2023

How Far Would You Go?

While I was thinking of posting the question where you live to create a map how far around the world we have spread the beauty of Lappland already I realized that my question is so much deeper than planned. 

My idea was to ask where you are, how far it is to visit us and if you can imagine to take this step – if not already done. And then to tag a friend who lives even longer away from us asking the same question. 

But then my thoughts started to reflect my own answer. Of course, not the answer how far I would go for visiting us, but for letting my dreams come true. You know, our slogan is ”when dreams come true”. 

When I decided to quit my job as a lawyer to move to Scandinavia and work with sleddogs everyone was saying that this is such a tough and brave decision. And I was always thinking that it’s not brave, it’s just logical. I followed my heart. But now – 9 years later – I slowly start to realize that it might have been harder than I thought. Was it brave?

Do you make plus and minus lists before a tough decision? I have never done this before. And I hadn’t planned to do it in this case either but since so many people gave me the advice to do I did it for the first and last time. The special thing with this kind of list is, that – of course – there are points more or less important. So it’s not only the amount of plus and the amount of minus to take into account but also the weight of every point. Honestly, I don’t remember what was on the list but I definitely know that it was much more minus than plus. Some examples: you quit a job that is very good paid, that is safe, that you are good/successful, you have a great reputation; you leave your family and partner; you leave your friends; you leave your cozy apartment; you give up your hobbies like sports and swimming (hiking doesn’t count because I still do it); you give up a safe life. And the plus side? I remember only one thing: you live your dream. Of course, you can split this to have more points: plenty of dogs, beautiful nature, real winter, work outdoors, authentic lifestyle, … But honestly, does this prevail all the minus points? For me it did. The list was worth nothing because the decision was already made, from my heart ❤️ 

So, indeed, in that moment it was not a brave decision. It was easy for me, maybe more difficult for my family, partner, friends and colleagues. 

And now, 9 years later?

Have my dreams come true? Honestly, that’s maybe the most difficult question. 

Yes, since almost three years we have our own house, we have built up our own little kennel, we have established a company and do tours with guests. We have wonderful dogs, nice and helpful neighbors, beautiful nature around us, a lot of snow in winter, northern lights and midnight sun, wildlife, berries, … an endless list. Of course, we spend time on training and tours, many of them creating memories for a lifetime. 

But? Every medal has two sides. We both do jobs beside our life and work with the dogs to finance food and equipment for them, we spend by far too much time for that work. We are far away from our families, haven’t seen most of them for minimum three and a half years. Many friends from former times we have no or not much contact anymore, we just live in another world now. We work like 24/7, of course, also we need sleep so it’s a bit less than this, but if you criticize work-life-balance in a big law firm than you should not look at us. We cannot go on holiday together. We have absolutely no security. We are calculating all the time if we really can effort to have this business, this life and maybe that’s the point I struggle the most: the question if all this makes sense, if it’s worth all this. Would I change back if I could? It would be so much easier to have a safe job, a safe income, a safe life. But do you know? Something would be missing. It’s hard to find words for that: it’s kind of freedom, kind of piece, when you are out with your dogs, silence around you, endless snow, just the beauty of nature. 

So, maybe that’s the answer. Of course, it’s not always everything like in paradise, but it’s our paradise and what we make out of it. 

Back to the question of courage. I think, I have found the answer. It was not brave to go, to start this adventure; but it is brave to stay, to fight for your dreams to become a bit more true every day. 

And I am happy whenever I can transport this feeling to our guests. Letting them take part in our life with our adorable dogs, showing them the beauty of Swedish Lapland. Let their dreams of unique holidays come true. 

What about you? How far would you go?

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20.04.2023

What a Season

Spring is coming, so time to throw back to this years winter season. And what a season it was…

At New Year Raffi was on an overnight trip with nice guests and the big tent. Since we had no pictures from it in use before I asked him to take some. And what I got left me speechless, the tent in front of an exploding sky with Northern Lights. If you show this picture to someone, one can easily think it’s photoshopped, indeed it’s just a simple picture taken with his mobile phone. Anyway, even Helsport is now using it on their webpage to promote the tent ⛺️😉

In the beginning of January we did some more shorter tours with not much snow but right in time for the week tours to start there came a lot of snow. Honestly, too much at once for making trails to all cabins we are using. We were the first out to prepare the trails, of course including being stucked with the snowmobile in heavy overflow on a lake 🙈 and it took us almost a week to get all dog cages more or less free of (too much) snow beside making trails and doing tours. (Sorry too much work for thinking of taking photos)

But we had great guests who enjoyed their adventures and mastered the challenges even when it was hard in deep snow and on uphill parts. And of course not only the guests but especially the dogs did a fabulous job, breaking through one meter high snow drifts and finding the trail where no obvious one was. 

The winter continued quite warm in February. Even if the weather didn’t always feel like „Winter at it’s Peak“ not only our guests on the „Dogs, Cold and Northern Lights“ tour got to see Aurora Borealis, but luckily guests on every tour we did 😊 but also the days were nice with lots of sun, light bows or just winter magic.

The last „Springwintertour“ was again special. Usually it’s the time we recommend for people who might be a bit afraid of too cold temperatures like in January. But indeed this year the last week tour was the coldest tour of all in the average of the whole week 🤔

At Easter we did a special for our school in the village and invited the school kids to a tour like we did short before Christmas for the kindergarten kids. We made the loop not too long, but it seemed they had fun, because almost everyone wanted to do a second loop 😄

Not to forget that also Joël enjoyed going on tour with our „puppies“ regularly now. He even wanted to do a long tour like we do with the guests, so of course, we also realized a tent night. And if I judge correct he has slept almost better than inside the house…

We ended our guest tours with a day tour with our guests that we started the season with in autumn 🍂 

After that it was planned to do a tour in the mountains together, Raffi and me, first longer tour together since four years. Of course, we needed to make sure that Joël and the dogs that stay home are taken good care of. So, we planned already last summer to have Raffi’s mom here for a visit. 

We wanted to take the chance to check trails and possible accommodations for mountain tours with guests in the years to come. But this plan was almost canceled already before the start because the weather forecast for exactly this week promised warm temperatures (depending on the concrete place up to plus ten degrees) and even rain. We were afraid if we park the car at the planned spot and are on tour seven days that we might not come back to the car because of melting snow meanwhile. When we drove up to the mountains we realized that it might be even worse than we expected. At the initially planned starting point the snow conditions were already too bad, so we decided to drive further to the Norwegian border and started from there, like I did last year. Already at the parking space you could see big differences to last year, even if I was on tour two weeks later then. The trail from the parking was only dirty, slushy snow, no real trail.

Since we started in the evening we had no fix plans how far we go. We passed Ikkesjaure and went into the direction of Mavas. Short before we reached the lake we camped between some trees, using only a bivouac gave us the possibility to watch the sky full of stars ✨ right over our heads. 

The next morning we headed further to Pieskehaure where we talked to the keeper of the cabin and some guests who came from Vaimok and Kvikkjokk and got confirmed what we have already been afraid of. Too many stones on the way from Vaimok to Tarredalen and anyway too less snow there to drive dogs. 

After this stop we headed on to visit the Sulitelma glacier what was Raffi’s main goal for the tour. Our way started with sun and interesting light and views between the mountains but suddenly there was everything foggy around and you could hardly see more than ten meters. Not the best conditions to hit a trail that is not marked. But with GPS and patience to wait for an open spot on the sky we made it there. Since there was already a little steam with open water Raffi took the very rational decision not to go to the more impressive blue ice but stay at the edge of the glacier where it was only a bit blue and more grey. And since he grew up in the mountains and has much more experience with this I agreed even if I would have loved to see the blue ice. But at least I have a picture from a blue ice floe 😉

After the glacier we went back into Pieskehaure direction and after passing the cabin found a really nice camping spot. Comfortable for the dogs and great view for us 😊

The next day we drove up to Vaimok. Last year this stage was really demanding with steep steps up the mountains. This year with almost no snow and relatively hard trail this morning it was really easy, not even as demanding as a local hill on our week tour 😂 so it took us only a bit more than an hour to get to Vaimok. There we had a nice chat with the keeper of the cabin before we headed back. Our plan was to go from Pieskehaure over the lake to Miekak and from there back to Mavas. About 5km from Pieskehaure cabin we found another nice camping spot at the lake. We spend the afternoon in the sun and it felt like 20 degrees. Having in mind the weather forecast from three days ago – we had no phone connection to update it – we were already thinking that we might need to change plans again.

And indeed, when I stood up at 5 o’clock it was raining and even at night temperatures had not been below zero. So, we decided not to go further on the lake but back to the main track. That was the only reasonable decision. On the trail from the day before the dogs were sinking into the snow up to 20cm or sometimes even deeper when there appeared holes. We were expecting that this would be much better on the main trail but it stayed exactly the same, except where the snow was anyhow only 5cm 🙈

To not risk any injuries for the dogs and be sure we have snow until we come to the car we decided to drive back straight without another night on the trail. The dogs did a great job, first of all our main leaders Barolo and Ruby in Raffi’s team but really important to name also Mavas – yes, she is named after the lake we passed – who run in lead for me the whole tour even if she is just 21 months old and run her first season. But also all other dogs: Luna, Mufasa, Storm, Pumba, Nala, Rafiki, Arox, Stella, Rubin, Zazu and Mose. Thanks so much to all of you for a great tour!

And just to complete the story… good decision to go back, the steep hill down to Mavas had not much snow left… and now we had to go uphill. Would have been no fun if you had to push the sled 🙈 and around Ikkesjaure there was even less snow on the trail than three days before…

So, yes, sad that we had to shorten the tour that much after we were longing for it for so long but DOGS FIRST, always! And anyway, we have taken great memories from that tour.

Now the winter season is officially over and we want to say „Thank You“ to our dogs, our partners and to all our guests who made this winter to what it was. We are happy to welcome you back. And all the others who haven’t been on tour yet… check out our tours and contact us for your next adventure, the dogs are waiting for you 😃

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26.12.2022

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

We know, you are waiting for a new blog post 😉 and of course, we want to wish all of you a merry Christmas 🎄and a very happy New Year 🎊 

Seems strange to repeat the same things again and again but we are still waiting for more snow. On Christmas Eve we did a nice run along the Glommersträsk trail enjoying the sunset over the lake and the mountains. But for yesterday’s tour with guests we had to stay on our „usual“ trail in the other direction. Because on the trail to Glommersträsk there are a lot of drainage ditches that are about 1m deep and 50-80cm wide. With enough snow you don’t realize them but now it’s a great risk for injuries if you are not used to drive a sled and watch the dogs carefully. So, we still hope for more snow every day ❄️

When we were not training the last weeks we went on with the renovation of our guest house and in two days the first guests will move in. Time to show you some before and after pictures 😃 there are some pictures from not used rooms even worse than what you see below but since we don’t have “after” pictures yet we leave them out here 😉 a deeper description of the house you can find here. When it’s not season for the winter tours it’s possible to rent the house with or without other activities, just write us an email if you want to spend your next holiday there. 

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18.11.2022

Still No Snow

Winter is here with first time -20° this morning 🥶👏 and while most people turn around in their beds and take the blanket a bit closer around their bodies we go out and are happy. These temperatures mean that the lakes are freezing and also the swamps that usually safe a lot of warmth in the ground and hopefully also the smaller water steams that don’t appear that difficult like a big lake but in reality it needs more icy temperatures to freeze the running water to a safe level to cross it with the sleds. 

But one part of winter is still missing: the snow ❄️ we had a bit of snow last week but on Friday and Saturday it was plus degrees and raining… and after that we have perfect conditions for ice skating but not for training. A huge part of our trails are pure ice so we are forced to do a break in the training. Maybe some parts would work, but of course you need to get there first and that’s the problem. Even if you put the dogs in the trailer and drive a bit, we still have icy forest roads or the trails are very short so that it doesn’t make sense to go there. And you have to keep in mind that the dogs are on a good training level, so you don’t win anything with bad training now but you risk serious injuries when you let them run on ice. Almost every autumn you have this time, when you have a week that you can’t train and you just need to be patient until the conditions are getting better… patience – not my strength 😂🙈 anyway, we do the best out of it, spend a lot of time in the free run or on walks and we even had time to catch the sunset over Glommersträsk 😊

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05.11.2022

Autumn Training Week

The last week we had our first guests for an autumn training week and this week had it all… except of snow 🙄❄️🙈

Our guests arrived on Friday afternoon and we started with a normal atv training run. Short after training and feeding the dogs got a bit nervous and a minute later we saw them… more visitors were on the yard. A female moose with her two calves and a huge male. But not enough with this, suddenly the sky exploded and we had great Northern Lights – ignoring our plan for the next evening 🤣 so, the dinner had to wait a while 😉 After dinner our guests went to bed but not we. The moose were still around and there was even one more young male. The dogs were not that loud but it seemed that the moose were right behind the kennel for a while. And indeed, suddenly you could hear a noice from the fence of the free run… we waited a bit and then took our head lights to check it. And… oh no, what we feared before had happened. The huge male had crashed into the fence and even took out the pole in the corner (with two side poles for stabilization) 😬 while we thought about how to fix it – we were not sure if we had enough fence left – the moose went to the fence behind the grill hut… but luckily this time they stayed outside. And we went to bed to get at least a few hours of sleep. 

The next day another training run followed, partly with nice sunshine ☀️ and of course we repaired the free run. Beside this we walked and played with the puppies and explained a lot about growing up your own dog team, training and socialization. For the evening the Aurora forecast was quite good and we had planned a little Northern Lights tour. But even if the sky was clear and full of stars ✨ in the beginning we waited without success. But of course, nature is not always predictable and you must be patient to reach your goals. So, we changed location, left Glommersberget (the hill of the village) and went to Skogsträsk (a lake we cross with our winter trails) and guess what happened? Lady Aurora started dancing again 😃

On Sunday we did another training run and together with our guests we prepared a new sled for the coming winter season. So they could learn how to make the lines for the sled, and what equipment belongs to it. So, if sleds are ready, why do we still miss the snow ❄️❓

The next day we spent with dog care and puppies. Checked claws and cut where necessary what was mainly the puppies and Stella because most dogs are shortening their nails while training on sand and stones. So, in autumn you should not cut too much to not risk bloody nails in the next training. We also used the time to fill up wood chips in some dog houses and the dogs really enjoyed their new comfortable beds 😴

Tuesday was the only sunny day this week while the temperatures where a bit lower so that the water holes on our trail could freeze. But that didn’t last long… with rain and fog the next days they were open again and dogs look like they joined a mud party after training. Slowly they are getting tired of being that dirty all the time… at least their faces look like this 😏

The only good thing with this bad weather is: you have a good reason to take a puppy inside and relax on the sofa 😊

Additionally we also did some kickbike training to show our guests the variety of training and were happy about the fat tyres because meanwhile the trails are so muddy that it’s quite hard to ride a normal bike 🙃

Anyway, our guests were happy about all the new experiences and maybe the snow was missing to give a reason to come back in winter? 😆

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20.10.2022

Where is the Snow?

Autumn training is in full swing and we are waiting for the snow to come. But even when it’s finally some degrees below zero at least at night and the ground is frosted in the morning – on some places even the whole day – it doesn’t really look like winter is coming 😬

We enjoy the colorful mornings with beautiful sunrises and frosted plants around us but for the dog paws that’s horrible conditions. Especially since we had so much water on the trail in summer we still have big water holes between 1,5 to 3km after start. That means that it doesn’t make much sense to put booties on the dogs before the start because when they get wet you need to change them. So, only the dogs who already have some sore feet get booties at the start. After 3km we stop and change these booties plus put booties on all other dogs who are a bit sensitive what are quite many in these conditions 🙈. But that takes time and the dogs are not really patient short after start of training 😂 anyway, they enjoy running and dreaming of real winter

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03.10.2022

Kiruna Sleddog Symposium

The last weekend I stayed in Kiruna for visiting the Kiruna Sleddog Symposium that usually takes place every two years but since Corona stopped everything it was already three years ago that it took place last time and additionally we couldn’t join the last one because it was short before Joël’s birth and 2017 we stayed in Norway. That means, the last time I had the possibility to be there was in 2015. So, maybe you can imagine how happy I was to have the chance to go there ☺️

For all of you who are a bit interested in dog mushing or the musher’s scene I will write a review about the symposium and be sure, you don’t want to miss the next one.

First of all I want to emphasize how great it is that the Kiruna Sleddog Club organizes this event every other year inviting not only local mushers but also speakers from the US and Canada.

This year there were new speakers on the podium with very impressive stories but before I talk about this I want to say thanks to US-veterinarian Dr. Jerry Vanek, who was also a speaker this year (like many other times) but couldn’t be on stage in person. But anyway I met him at Mats’ kennel where I stayed for the weekend. I know Jerry as long as I am working with sleddogs what is now more or less exactly eight years. He taught me a lot about the physiology of a dog, the influence of equipment on dogs, best possible dog care, etc. He is not only a veterinarian and teacher in the field of sled dogs but also a very experienced race vet. And I was really happy that I could assist him with his harness and movement studies in 2018/2019 and with his work as race vet at the Lapland Quest 2019 learning so much from him. And after we haven’t met since February 2019 it was great to have him back in Sweden now 😃 At the symposium he hold two lectures about the sled dog spine what is a part of the body that is easily overseen because it’s much easier to realize a limping dog than to see issues related to the spine. Of course, not everything was new to me after having worked and listened to Jerry for many years but anyway it is always good to be reminded and strengthen your knowledge in all those fields. I am already now looking forward to the next time we meet.

Ok, let’s go on to the mushers who were speakers this year. First one was Rob Cooke. Initially he is from the UK and 25 years ago he just wanted to buy one Siberian Husky as a pet dog. You know what follows? Yes, one dog needs a companion, so you get a second, but having two in front of the training cart or sled you might take one more, or two and within no time you suddenly have ten dogs. Sorry Rob, that’s life with dogs 😂 In his first speech Rob talked about how he started having dogs, about his experiences in sprint and mid-distance mushing in the UK and how he finally ended up in Canada, having a kennel with about 50 Siberian Huskies running Yukon Quest and Iditarod always finishing with a very happy dog team. In his second speech he spoke very, very open about how you get to the starting line. That means starting with breeding, over feeding, training, preparations and ethics. Even if the time was too short he gave a deep insight in how and what he is feeding, how he train and socialize the dogs and much more. For me it was really impressive how much happiness and joy you could read in Rob’s eyes when he was talking about his dogs. He emphasized how important it is to always have happy dogs, and that you can see on every single photo and video he had in his presentation. The dogs were always smiling, laughing or jumping around, not only before the start but also at the finish line. A great musher with a great attitude to his dogs. If you want to read his full story visit the Homepage of his kennel Shaytaan Siberian Huskies.

Next speaker was Malin Strid who together with her partner Lars Hoffmann runs Cold-Nose-Huskies where we have our dog Mavas from. Malin talked about her way from childhood over handling for Petter Karlsson to starting her own kennel and finally being part of the top elite of long distance mushing. Finishing 3rd in her first attempt of Femundløpet 650km this year behind the great Norwegian champions Thomas Wærner and Robert Sørlie can indeed not been seen as a loss just because her lead dog refused to overtake Robert, being on the podium with these idols is a success itself and just more motivation to go on follow your dreams, what by the way led to another 3rd place in Finnmarksløpet 600km the same season. Malin pointed out how important it is to have a plan and follow it. Yes, it can be necessary to change to plan B or C or D, but if you take every little problem or setback as excuse for not training, not racing, etc you will never reach your goals. I totally agree on that, follow your dreams no matter which complications make adapting you the way. But only if you keep your goal in sight you have a chance to reach it. Dreams can come true but to work for it helps a lot than just waiting for being lucky to reach it by accident. And we will see, maybe somewhen in the near future Malin will also stand on the starting line of the Iditarod.

Next one on the stage was Dan Kaduce who finished Iditarod 2022 on 4th place with all 14 dogs in harness. For some people – including me – that is almost as good as winning the race, maybe even better. In his first speech Dan let us participate in the race by going from checkpoint to checkpoint showing impressive pictures and videos he took on the trail. The second speech focused on questions Dan got from the audience what covered everything from breeding, feeding, training and equipment. One question he got from many mushers was related to the harness he uses, because it is a so called short harness, in Scandinavia almost all long distance mushers use X-back or similar harnesses. So, Dan explained the advantages he sees in this kind of harness but also pointed out that it’s important to look at every single dog, because some harnesses just don’t fit a dog even if it is the right size in theory. That is why he also has other harnesses for some dogs but, of course, because the line setting is totally different for short harnesses you can’t mix them with X-back or the stick harnesses that have become very popular here, even if he is quite interested in trying this too. But this harness topic can fill a whole symposium itself, so let’s get back to the dogs and mushers 😉 If you want to know more about Dan visit the homepage of Dew Claw Kennel.

Another speaker on the symposium was Anny Malo together with her husband Marco Rivest. They talked about their live with their dogs and two sons what means that the whole family is involved in the sports and travels around for taking part in mid distance and stage races. Anny is probably the best Canadian race musher in this category and shared here experiences and thoughts about how to prepare your team and yourself for these races. But to be honest mid distance and stage races are not that interesting for me so I can’t tell you the details of her training because it’s nothing I would adapt for me. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from her because topics like how you bond with your dogs are completely unrelated to races or tours, it’s just a general question. And Anny as all the other mushers on the scene showed the same happiness when talking about her dogs what’s great to see.

Last but not least Lina Hallebratt was on stage. She is not that well known as a musher because she just started in this field. However she was named the Swedish Female Adventurer of the year twice with a lot of really interesting expeditions almost always accompanied by one or more dogs. Beside some other expeditions by foot, by bike or by kayak she completed the White Ribbon – a trail of 1.200 to 1.500 km over the Swedish Mountains, from Grövelsjön in the south to Treriksröset in the north, already eight (!) times, two times in both directions what means 3.000 km. That is really, really impressive. Especially when you hear that she hasn’t grown up in an outdoor or animal family. The last White Ribbon was first time with a team of sleddogs and standing on a sled what lead to already ten own huskies right now… mmh, I think that reminds me on my comment to Rob’s speech 🙈 

Beside listening to interesting speeches the Kiruna Sleddog Symposium also has a trade fair where all the big (and smaller) companies who are active in the sled dog business show their products, are there for talks and information and with a bit of luck you find things you need for a good price. It’s always nice to get the possibility to see some products „live“ instead of try to imagine how they look and feel in reality when you just see them on the screen.

Before I end this article I have to tell one really funny story: the Kiruna Slädhundklubb who is the organizer did a lottery where you could win a sled. In fact it was two lotteries, one for an Axaeco sled where all participated automatically who had registered before a certain date and one for an Oinakka sled where you could buy lots during the symposium. And guess who was the lucky winner of the Oinakka sled? No, not me… It was the producer of Björkis sleds, the other well known sled company in Kiruna 🤣 so what should he do with an Oinakka sled? He gave it back to the club for an auction to the audience with the goal to collect money for the kids in the club. And with the help of Jodi (Dan’s wife) a spontaneous auction was held in Kiruna’s Folkets Hus. Probably the last one because the Sleddog Symposium was the last big event in this building in the old city center of Kiruna. Almost everything around is already closed because since some years the town is moving to give the iron mine the possibility to go on with their mining without risks for houses and people in Kiruna. A whole city is moving – that’s indeed a topic for another article.

But if anyone is not infected of the sled dog virus after this weekend please let me know, I can’t imagine that this is possible 🐕🥰 and keep in mind: don’t stop follow your dreams, they only come true if you work for them.

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27.09.2022

It is autumn

What do we wait the most for during the warmer months of the year? Yes, snow 😃❄️ it’s not yet here but we cross our fingers 🤞 that it will not take that long anymore…

Meanwhile autumn is clearly visible. We had about two weeks with beautiful autumn colors 🍁🍃🍂 but also a lot of rain 🌧 and muddy training trails. But so what, we can train again and that is what matters 😊 and of course there is also some sunny training runs in between ☀️🐾 

Additionally we had some nights with magical Northern Lights and a sky full of stars 🌌 and even if we can lay in bed comfortable while watching Lady Aurora dancing sometimes you just need to go out and look into the sky above you, not even always with a camera 📷 but of course, we also took some pictures for you to let you dream of your next adventure with us 😉

The puppies are growing and the first one already moved to her new home two weeks ago. Alba (former Katie) is now with our friends in Vilhelmina and got a warm welcome by the dogs there. Telma and Loo (former Jackie and Charlie) will move to a friend in Finland this Friday. The rest of the Antarctica litter will stay with us. Maya as the leader, Shadow as beauty queen, Shorty as the little brave girl, Buck as big boy and cute Max, as the smallest of them all in the beginning he will always stay my baby 🙈

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25.08.2022

Summer News

Soon it’s autumn, so time to look back on summer at what has happened or is still ongoing. 

First of all, the dogs: our puppies are growing 🐶They are now 6,5 weeks old and explore the world. Of course, they also try to do stupid things like chewing laces or trousers and jackets 🙈 now and then one of them follows inside to get used to be without the siblings and also to be in the house what is usually no problem because they are relaxing/sleeping on the sofa like they do nothing else 😂

The big dogs are still waiting for the start of serious autumn training. Long time it was much too warm, even at night, to do a regular training according to a plan. And now, when the temperatures are finally ok in the late evening or early morning we are fighting with this stupid virus we managed to avoid for 2,5 years 😬 so, it’s more free run and individual activities than training with a big team. But we hope that we soon can follow our normal training plan and enjoy the beautiful autumn colors together with our dogs 🐕🍁

Summer time is also berry time. It started with the cloudberries, followed by raspberries and blueberries 🫐 and soon lingonberries are ready. We collected a lot of all, partly we produced delicious jam out of it, partly it’s in the freezer to use it for baking or desserts in winter. Beside the berries we also made jam from the big rhubarb plants on our yard, syrup from fireweed and dried mushrooms 🍄 no, not fly agarics 😉

But the biggest news are that we finally found a guest house 😃 now we have enough space to accommodate our guests for winter tours, plan programs all year round or just rent it out if someone wants to visit to calm down from everyday life. 

It was a long process with this topic. First we thought to use „Gammelgården“, the old house on our yard as guest house. But it turned out that the substance is not good enough to make so big investments in a renovation reasonable. Therefore it’s now our dog food kitchen, food and equipment storage. 

Next idea was to build a small guest cabin on the yard. But with the unbelievable high costs and delivery problems for construction material since 1,5 years and restrictions to get a financing during Corona that was also not possible within the next few years. 

So, we thought to buy a house. First we looked for an alternative in Moräng, but at the end weren’t successful. Then we took Glommersträsk into account. The first house we were thinking of was not possible to have a look inside for several weeks, so we contacted the owners of another house that we had heard to be for sale. And in the end we decided to take this one. It’s a bit bigger than what we initially planned but so we also have the possibility to have e.g. a bigger family or a group of friends there in summer. And for winter we can, if guests wish, offer single rooms for everyone 😉

The house is placed in the nice part of Glommersträsk not on the main road. From a part of the yard you can see the lake and from some windows the hills in the area. It’s perfectly situated to walk up the hill to Toppstugan and the snowmobile trail in winter that we also use on some dog tours is passing only 50 meters from the yard 😊

Of course, like always when you buy an old house, there is renovation needed, some rooms only some details, some a bit more… so you know what we do the next weeks when we are not training 🛠

When everything is ready we will have four sleeping rooms for guests, a living room, a dining room with fireplace and a big kitchen. Moreover there are many smaller and bigger storage places and a basement with possibilities for future projects. There is also a little annex building with a separate sleeping/living room and toilet. And on the yard you can sit and enjoy the quiet around you or collect rhubarb, raspberries, currant (black and red) and apples depending on the season of course. Maybe we will plant some strawberries too 🍓 

We know, you are expecting pictures but that has to wait until everything is nice 😉

Last but not least, we want to point out that we opened up all winter dates for tour bookings after we now know that we have accommodation for the time before and after the tour. You can find the tour descriptions here. We will do specials for Christmas, New Year and Easter, also suitable for families with kids from 6 years. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding the tours or would like to adapt a tour to your special wishes. We are happy to welcome you. For all who are already thinking about spring and summer: these programs will be announced during autumn but you can contact us already now if you don’t want to wait 😊