Dog sledding in Norway was one of those magical experiences; a “pinch-me” moment because I couldn’t believe that I was lucky enough to be there, riding through a snow field with a pack of dogs running with joy in uncharted territory, pulling me behind them as the sun set on a December afternoon.
I booked a half-day tour with Beito Husky Tours. It required me to take a 4-hour bus ride (included in my fee) from Oslo to their base camp in Beitostolen. Here we donned thermal jumpsuits and boots over the thermal under garments we’d been advised to wear.
Since there had been little snow recently, we didn’t begin our sled ride on the frozen lake where they usually start. Instead, they decided to take us higher up the mountain, past the ski resort to an expanse of white horizon, untouched as yet.
The dogs were especially rowdy as this was new territory for them. I’m not sure who was more excited: us, or them.
The five of us on the tour helped harness the dogs to their leads. Each sled was pulled by five dogs with two people on the sled; one “driving” the sled and the other sitting in the front behind the dogs. Since I was there alone, I was paired with one of the dog trainers and she and I lead the way since there were no trails to follow and the snow was rather deep.
The dogs anxiously pulled us. They were ready to go, but we needed to start slowly and make sure the other two sledders behind us were comfortably ready and balanced to begin. I quickly learned once I was the driver that it’s not as easy as it looks. The wooden handle of the sled is rickety and allows a lot of give. You’re supposed to keep one foot hovered over the brake since the dogs run very fast and need to be controlled a little as we approached rocks and curves in the landscape.
I must confess: when it was my turn to drive, I let the dogs run full-speed. It was much easier to stand with both feet on the runners than to balance on one foot, ready to brake. Besides, I wanted to glide full-speed through the incredible white landscape. The moon was up. It was 3:30pm and I was in Norway!!
We sledded for an hour and then sat around a fire built into the snow and enjoyed a bowl of the best stew I’ve ever eaten.
“You should go on one of the 3-day tours,” our host said.
Oh, yes. Yes, I should. I could happily spend weeks or months being pulled by dogs through the snowy, northern nighttime tundras. I relive the experience almost daily, looking through the pictures and videos I took. It was one of the highlights of my life.
Is dog sledding something you’d do?