“Yap yap, kom igen!” Come on, shouted Lina. The cacophony of howling and barking suddenly ceased and we were instantly engulfed in silence as our troop of huskies took to their heels. All morning, this was what they had been waiting for: running with all their might, with their tongues wagging, saliva dripping in all directions.
And off we went, swooshing through the thick snow into the pine tree forests on sleighs led by our trusty canine hosts. With Abisko National Park as our destination, we headed high up into the slopes, leaving the stunning Lake Torneträsk behind us. We zipped through snow-covered bridges, over frozen water channels and slippery ice chunks. Towering mountains surrounded us at all times, with the Aurora Sky Station perched high up on Mount Nuolja at the edge of the fjord.
Throughout the way, our huskies never slowed down their pace, winding through the snow trail and sprinting up and down slopes with much excitement in their eyes. The winds whipped against our hair and crystals of snow grazed our faces. as we shivered in the chilly cold (despite being wrapped up in overalls), but the huskies stood strong and continued to blaze their trail in the snow. I laughed and cheered, thrilled to see the dogs enjoying themselves as much as us.
As a dog lover, I had my doubts about dog sledding prior to this trip. All sorts of questions filled my mind: Are the dogs being treated right? Is this animal abuse? But once here, it was obvious that I had nothing to worry.
Huskies live to run. Every day they run for miles, not just as a race with their peers but also for the fun of it. Lina said, “To them, running is their way of having fun. Huskies barely need to train – they’re natural-born runners. They have so much energy wound up within them that running is the best way for them to release it. They also have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. We can never make them run if they don’t want to.”
Huskies live to run. Every day they run for miles, not just as a race with their peers but also for the fun of it.
A Dog’s World
Earlier that morning, we familiarized ourselves with the pack of huskies while helping Lina strap them up to their harnesses and place them in position. Even before we took them out of their cages, they would bursting with so much excitement. Some yelped in short excited bursts while others moaned eagerly. We got acquainted with two of the strongest and biggest huskies of the pack, 11-year-old Haldi and Alfa. Once of their cage, the two dogs were dragging me along with all their might, eager to get into position. I had to use all the energy I had to hang on to them and calm them down.
There is much camaraderie within each pack of huskies, with two leaders leading the pack and several followers behind to balance up the dynamics of the group. The leader of our pack was Lady, Lina’s personal favorite. At only 1 year and 4 months old, Lady is very young but already has the ability to lead the group. Lina had adopted Lady when she was just a puppy and had watched her blossom into a confident and beautiful teenager. With a coat of beautiful black fur and sharp blue eyes, Lady exuded a sense of confidence and chirpiness that few could resist.
When we stopped for a break, Lina took time to show some affection to the huskies and reward them with hugs and kisses. As a husky farm owner, she knows each of her 60 huskies very well. “It is very important for us to understand their personalities so they are happy and we are happy too.”
Finding the Key to Happiness
It was easy to see that Lina had formed quite a bond with these dogs and that she was more than just a leader to them. Originally from Southern Sweden, Lina had moved to Abisko over three years ago to be a nature guide after as falling in love with the huskies and the great outdoors on her first trip here. She now runs Abisko Dog Sled with Morgan and usually brings her huskies out once a day for sledding trips like these. The huskies take a break for a few months in summer and then gets ready to run again come winter.
Back on the snow, the huskies were already eager to set off, barking for our attention. We got back onto our sleighs swiftly and set off back towards our lodge; once again the huskies broke into silence and we whizzed through the pristine landscapes of Abisko.
I asked Lina what her favorite part of the job was, she responded without much hesitation, “This! Being outdoors, on the sleigh with my dogs!”
Lina’s face beamed with happiness against the glow of the snow. I looked around the sparkling white mountainscapes and I think I understood every word she meant.
This sledding excursion was part of our Aurora Hunt trip with The Aurora Zone. The four-night trip costs £1895 (US$3100) for twin sharing, including flights from London Heathrow, transfers, a snowmobile safari, two Aurora hunts in heated minibus, visit to the ICEHOTEL®, Aurora snowshoe, and a husky safari.
Disclaimer: Our trip was made possible by The Aurora Zone and Eurail.com, but all opinions expressed are our own.