Finland, Lapland – Riding the Dogsled
Hetta village is situated in Enontekiö region in the northwestern part of Lapland, Finland. The best possible way to travel there is by car for supermarkets and other stores are solely situated by the main roads in Lapland.
570 people live in Hetta, once an important Sami center of strategic location. The village is about 2 hours of ride from Tromso town, Norway, Kiruna, Sweden, and and iRovanemi. Here you may rent a wooden cabin and make use of this great location for a trips into the surrounding areas.
The small town of Hetta features an Enontek church from 1952. Its interior mosaic depicts the people of Lapland. Moreover, there is a small supermarket and a restaurant focusing mostly on tourists as Laponians do not eat often out. In the supermarket, there is mostly local products smelling mostly of licquorice, anise candy, reindeer meat which can be used for steaks. It tastes great and, to our surprise, is of ferrous color.
Lapland in winter and summer are two different lands. In summer, atmosphere is optimistic and locals get filled up with good mood for the coming winter months. Festivals and exhibitions take place, lakes thaw out, snow uncovers vast forests stretching to the horizon. It is important to have a head lamp during the winter months. There are only 3 hours of daylight in winter, it gets dark fast and soon. However, snow fields glitter under the moonlight. This is great too for you may do many activities such as cross-country skiing, racket treks, building igloos, catching fish, and many more.
Huskies, a dog farm is about 5 kilometers from Hetta housing 148 Siberian huskies, and Alaskan malamutes. Dogs are tied to a cabin and bitches live in hutches. It can be as cold as minus 40 °C outside without them even feeling winter. So, how does riding a dogsled works? Originally, dogs were used to move material and people in Arctic and Antarctic regions. Mushing, is a sports activity nowadays. Two or more dogs pull the sledge and their musher.
We put on warm gloves borrowed from the owners of the homestead. The temperature is minus 25 °C. We help to hitch the sleigh. The strongest dog leads the yoke. I split my wieght on wooden laths. Peterick gives the dogs the signal, his whistle spreads into the landscape. Dogs set out! They are fast, intelligent, and loyal. They don't bark, they howl like wolves. Their thick fur help them to move around in this climate.
Snow covered land and low temperatures are outweighed by dry air. I lean slightly to the right. The entire yoke immediately reacts and crosses over to the right track. The sun makes amazing glow of purple and gold colors reflection on the snow. And then I spot a herd of reindeer. Beautiful.
Reindeer with their long antlers search for food at tree trunks. Upon a 12 kilometers off amazing ride we return to the farmstead as it is getting late. Gladly we accept an invitation to the wooden cabin with fur blankets inside. Our freezed fingers and toes get warm slowly.
We return to our rented cabin with a sauna. Every Lapland house has a sauna as a firm tradition. It is very pleasant to warm up in such a thing as we realize. However, this is not how our day in Lapland ended. Everybody is up shortly before midnight. Nature lights up with Aurela borealis. We have the honor to watch it for the very first time in our lives. What an amazing event. Green strings seemingly move with the skies creating amazing images.
Text and photo: Šárka Vacková
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