day 2 part 1 – dogs!

first things first: i made a photo set on flickr. go, look.

yesterday, i mentioned that the neighbor tomas offered to take me dog sledding today. i said yes right away, and today around 330p local time we went.

there are two things about dog sledding that you need to know. first: you sit in a small sled while dogs pull you and your guide steers standing behind you. you can’t see your guide, you just hear him and see the dogs. more on this in a second. the second thing you need to know doesn’t require any embellishment: these dogs eat a lot and use a lot of energy and metabolize like crazy, and there is no time to stop for pooping or peeing. so, there is a decent amount of pooping and peeing in front of you. its pretty reasonable when you break it down, but its also a bit goofy.

now, back to that first thing: listen, you aren’t listening, just listen: you are on a sled and these dogs are pulling you up and down hills and across frozen rivers and through forests and you have no idea where they are going and there is nothing holding you down or keeping you from flying off this sled except your guide has done this a thousand times and you trust him but you can’t even see him so i guess you trust in the dogs? this is basically why i don’t understand religious people, but i kind of respect them.

i got to tomas’s house and he put me in a snow suit and all 26 of his dogs (honestly, i didn’t count but it seemed like a lot more than 26) started barking and getting excited because they knew some of them were about to get to go on a nice long walk. tomas picked out 6 dogs and got them all linked up, and then he had me get in the sled and his house dog (the only dog that wasn’t initially tied up) ran ahead and led the group and we started. so i didn’t put anything about my previous first dog sledding fact together until we started. as soon as i sat down i realized “wait, i hate roller coasters, what the fuck am i -” and we were off. and man, those dogs start out of the gate fast, running and then going down these hills and then crossing a frozen river and back up the river bank and then running through an open field until tomas settled them down into a trot. at one point i realized being afraid was stupid because “man if those dogs can run down that hill i sure as shit can get pulled down it by them”. which… i’m not sure if that makes sense, but here we are and i’m alive and i definitely stopped being afraid at that point.

so like i said, we went through open snow and across frozen rivers and streams and through forests and up and down hills and i got to see the backcountry of this already country region. it was thrilling and fun and awesome and … well, bumpy at times too i guess. it was great. the dogs were great, they are so well-trained and so capable – they did 30km like it was nothing, with little more than a 4 minute break at the turn-around point. and they were so unbelievably happy the whole time. at the turn-around point, tomas mentioned to me that normally he would take 16 dogs out for this ride, but only 6 today because there wasn’t enough soft snow and the ground was too hard to control 16 dogs. i cannot imagine having 16 dogs in front of me. 6 was plenty.

back to yesterday: i mentioned one of the things i was afraid of while traveling, but here is another – without someone else with me, would i do fun things? i’m not talking about not sharing this with someone else. i’m talking about pushing myself to do fun things and actually taking advantage of this vacation. this melts away really quickly when i remember that of all of the people i know, i’m the crazy gambler. this vacation is a casino and i am not here to just toy around.

i’ll post part 2 in a little bit, and it will be mostly concerning food. i’ll dig into how beautiful it is here tomorrow, i hope. look at the photos though – you can tell how beautiful it is.

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