Norway and I have a somewhat difficult past. About a year or 2 ago I had a flight booked to Oslo at 8am but coming home drunk at 5am I never made it to the airport in time. Then, a year later, I was given the opportunity to visit on three different occasions within a matter of just a couple of months but never managed to squeeze it into my busy calendar. So when last week I finally managed to board a plane to Oslo I was overjoyed.
I went on the trip with my writer friend Rabea. Our 4-day snow escape had been an idea of the Norwegian tourism board who wanted to show us Norway as a true winter wonderland. For this we headed straight up a few hours north of Oslo to a small place called Hemsedal which is among the most popular locations for skiers across Norway and Europe.
Telling us about all the things there were to do, someone dropped suddenly the magic word – dogsledding. I’d been wanting to do this ever since I was a kid, so to actually be able to do it came to me like a gift. There is something very special about the idea of dogsledding I think and it turned out a really unique experience that will live with me forever.
We were picked up at the hotel by Johan, our guide from Hemsedal Huskies who answered all of our questions and patiently explained everything there was to know. He gave us massive suits to wear on top of our ski clothes (it can get cold easily, so you best be warmly wrapped) which were not exactly attractive but kind of fun to pose in.
Then the huskies got picked one by one from their little huts and attached to the sleds. The dogs all seemed very excited to be going out and quite a few of them seemed to be barking, jumping and wiggling their tails as if to say “Pick me! Pick me!”. It definitely was a lot of fun to watch. Johan explained that a dog who doesn’t feel like going out will simply stay calmly lying down by his hut, that way Johan knows which dogs are up for a ride and which ones aren’t.
Needless to say that this guy was happy to come along.
Adding to my excitement to see more of Hemsedal’s beautiful surrounding nature by this very unique way of transportation was the fact that the sun was just rising, shedding the most beautiful light upon the scenery, the snow and the dogs. We were told that the sky had been mostly cloudy the previous days, so this was one lucky coincidence.
There are always two people going on one sled, ensuring even distribution of weight. One person sits inside the sled and enjoys the ride while the other stands on the back fearing for their life making sure to hit the brakes when going downhill or getting close to an obstacle (trees!). Not always an easy thing to do but manageable. Johan (in the orange cap) and his pal are riding in the front, ready to heroically jump to help you, should you lose control over your sled.
What can I say, it was magical. With the sun right in front of us we crossed a frozen lake that was completely covered in untouched snow, with only our sleds leaving traces in these fields of white. I admit I got all sorts of romantic associations of freedom and feeling at one with nature as I always do when I get to do amazing things like this.
I could post a million more photos, but I won’t because you can see it all in this short video I edited during most of time I wasn’t riding the sled myself. Enjoy!