Day 5: unleashing all the dogpower

Today I had my debut as a “musher”, i.e. the driver of a dog sled. It was fantastic.

When I booked our activity, I didn’t think much of it honestly. I thought to myself: cool, dogs! And that was it.

What I did not expect was to meet a passionate guide and experienced musher, Tommy Jordbrudal, and all his 50+ awesome four-legged “best friends”. They were all Alaskan Huskies, a breed of dog which is one of the best for endurance dog races.

Tommy telling Laura all sorts of interesting things about Svalbard and dogs

One of the dogs that pulled our sled had even had a book written about her: Foxi. Tommy introduced her as his best dog, and she was truly wonderful. All the dogs were, to be fair, but you could tell he had a soft spot for her. And how could anyone blame him!

Tommy also told us stories of his expeditions to the North Pole and participations in the Iditarod dog sled race, which can last for about 10 days and goes on for a whopping 1600 Km. Quite impressive stuff!

Every few kilometres we let the dogs stop to refresh their tongues with fresh water

After a short descent from Tommy’s house to the main “road” that connects Longyerbyen to the Advent valley to the East, I finally got to drive our “wagon”.

The dogs soon started to pull and it was weird to think about how much “horsepower-equivalent” we were unleashing on the muddy ground below us. The driving was easy to be fair, but still exciting, especially on the more rocky bits. The suspensions on the wagon were also surprisingly good.

These dogs run on 100% sustainable fuel, and they even help plants grow where they stop

When our trip with the dogs was over, Tommy still took some time to explain to us all the different aspects of living in a cabin out in the wilderness. We also looked at all the different type of sleds he uses, depending on what kind of trip he needs to take, from a simple race to carrying a fresh hunt back to base.

We even jokingly discussed building a sled with bits of carbon fibre – I’m sure the dogs would appreciate that!

All in all we had a great time. If you are curious, check out Tommy’s website: Arctic Husky Travellers. There you can learn more about what he does, and see pictures of all the huskies!

This was sadly our last planned activity for the whole trip. At least the weather is getting worse, so we won’t feel as bad. Tomorrow we have a day to rest and prepare for our travel back.

However, there is still one thing happening tomorrow that will be worth checking out: the Longyearbyen Pride.

The idea of attending such an event with all types of people, on this island, is exhilarating. I am really looking forward to it.

It will be one last hurrah before going back to Italy and to “real life”, whatever that means.

I’m sure that can’t be correct tough, because this felt a lot more like real life to me.