Sunday, December 10, 2006
Training dogs in the Polar night.
As I start my first entry in this blog the so-called Polar Night surround us. I say the so-called, because we still have a lot of light. We are not surrounded by a pitch-black night, but by a lot of light. There is more or less 6 hours of light, going from dusk to dawn, 6 hours whit the blue colors that is so significant for dusk and dawn. On a clear day you se the orange glow of the sun in the south (although it is under the horizon),going over to pink and then blue up in the sky.
As long as you get outside there is plenty of light for those who want to go out and play. But of course, if you spend the day inside you get the impression that it is a dark day outside.
The last days I have been up in the mountain in Dividalen National Park whit some friends and our dogs. There we are combining training for the Finnmarksløpet (www.finnmarkslopet.no), and transporting wood to Dærtahytta, one of Troms Turlags cabins (www.turistforeningen.no/tromsturlag). This is a roundtrip of 45 kilometers. Whit good snow conditions the roundtrip takes us 4 hours. Going in to the cabin the sleds are loaded whit about 150 kg of wood, the sled itself is about 45 kilo and the lazy musher standing on the sled is 90 kilo. And in front 12 alaskan huskies that love to work.
Training up in the mountains gives the dogs a lot of good experiences. They learn to travel without a fixed trail, which is a good quality in a lead-dog. And when the weather gets tough, the dogs get tough. On one of the trips the combination of atrong wind and snow gave us almost zero visibility. Make it a headwind, and it is tough for the dogs. This is when you appreciate a good lead-dog, and its also a good opportunity to give new lead-dogs the necessary experience they need to become good leaders. And on top of it all you ad 200 reindeers (looks like Santa is early this year). The adult dogs know that reindeers is something you are not hunting, but the yearlings had to learn. And what is better for them than being pulled by the adults trough all this potential food?
Well, back to the Polar Night (which in my opinion is no night). The next day the wind had died, and the sky was clear. For me there is no better place to be on a clear day than above the tree line. You are traveling through a blue light, a constant dusk that slowly transform into dawn. Its a landscape whit no shadows, the snow is a bluish kind of white. The low horizon is going from orange to pink. You are traveling in solitude, you are alone whit the dogs. Nature is hibernating, or almost hibernating. There are always some grouse taking flight when we are coming and some of Santa´s reindeers (or maybe its the Sami´s reindeers) are feeding in the hills. This is a good place to be this time of the year. And in a couple of days I will be back up in the mountains together whit the dogs.