I don't know where to start.
Perhaps with some sad news: the dog in this icon (bigger version) is dead. His name was Alin. One of the dogs who made up my team of four last year, Bandit, is gone too. The wheel turns, up there in the Arctic Circle. Last year's 'poppies' are lean 14-month-old teenagers frantic with energy and just starting their sled dog lessons, while a new batch of five cuddly, flop-eared little biters takes their place in the nursery pen.
I'd like to write an account of a typical day's huskying, and a little about some of the individual dogs. Until I pull that together, here are some highlights of the trip:
- Falling off the sled and not letting go (the golden rule) despite crashing into a small tree
- Driving the snowmobile - straight through another of those pesky little trees
- Climbing naked into a frozen lake under the Northern Lights
- Sitting in the sled nursing a dog too tired to run further
- Buying Plopp chocolate bars in the Gällivare supermarket
- Reindeer crossing the road in front of the car on the way back from the supermarket
- Reindeer on the trail and the dogs going bananas
- Lotti complimenting me on my 'dry British humour who come out'
- Mushing around local mountain Avvakko and descending what felt like a near-vertical 50-foot drop, hard on the brake and knee-deep in snow - the best roller-coaster ride ever
- Seeing an Arctic hare on the way to the airport