This article is part of the series “2023-03: Svalbard”.
Last night I dreamt that a heavy polar bear was lying on top of me. It had sneaked into our sleeping room. In reality a polar bear could never have approached the cabin unnoticed. We have seventeen polar bear guards outside: the sled dogs.
It is half past seven. I just started a fire because the inside temperature of the cabin in Tverrdalen has dropped to 5.7 °C, while it is -20 °C outside. It is the second day of Annika’s and my dogsledding tour in Svalbard and despite some stormy gusts of wind the weather looks quite promising.
Snow is blown around the dog sleds. Most dogs are still sleeping, some of them half snowed in. Snow will keep them warm, it is a good isolator. Not all dogs have slept outside, some have slept in wooden boxes to be protected against the wind.
I hurry to go in again, the glove livers were much too cold in the cold wind and my fingertips hurt. The next hours we are busy with taking breakfast, packing things, tidying the cabin, putting our clothes on and taking care of the dogs. While we are outside the wind is calming down and the sun shines on the snowy mountains round Tverrdalen.
We say goodbye to this wonderful place and start our journey back to the dog kennel in wonderful winter weather. Annika and I have put the bulky isolated anoraks into the sledge, they were too warm the day before and use our own windproof jackets. The fur-rimmed hoods are a good protection against wind and coldness.
We take a lunch break at the Scott Turner glacier, but before that we visit an impressive ice cave. I’ll write an own blog article about that later.
After a warm lunch break – Real Turmat outdoor food only needs hot water – we walk the dogs to the sledge and start our last stage of our dogsledding adventure.
It is not only the great weather, the beauty of the valley Bolterdalen and the mountains around, it’s the dogsledding itself that is great fun. After only a day Annika and I know how to work together, help the dogs, shift weight, brake and release the brakes again. Now we hardly have to help the dogs by pedalling or pushing the sledge. It goes downhills and the dogs know that they are on their way home where they will be rewarded with treats. So we glide effortlessly through the snowy landscape enjoying this extraordinary experience. And then we are back at the dog yard, were our sled dogs are eager to get loose and run around a bit, greet friends and wait for their goodies.
Annika and I get to know Foxi as well, the famous dog that led Tommy’s sledge on the Iditarod race and has also been at the North Pole. While Tommy and Adelheid are taking care of both dogs and other tourists Annika and I are sitting in the living room of the dog yard’s cabin and are chilling. Adelheid’s jeep needs a jump start – it does not like the cold – then she brings us back to town.
@ my colleague Y.: Thanks for the tip. Great tour. We enjoyed every minute!
@ Janne and Tommy: Thanks for the organisation of this extra tour!
@ Adelheid: Thanks for the guiding and cooking! It was a pleasure meeting you!
@ the dogs: Thanks for your hard work and your relaxed attitude 🐾!