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FP 2014: Day 4 – Haway the Dogs

By Phil on 2014.04.28 In Fjällräven Polar

Thursday 10th of April 2014:

I had a great night’s sleep, probably the best I have had for a very long time. So good that both Phil and I had slept in. We should have been up at 6am, but instead woke just before 7am. Maybe that’s the secret to my sleeping problems, I need to sell my house and just live in a tent for the rest of my life in the Arctic Circle. If only…

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After waking Phil up, he once again showed his military instincts by jumping out of sleeping and tent as fast as lightening to get cracking on our morning tasks of feeding the dogs, having breakfast, packing up tent and our sleds.

Our fellow team members Madeleine and Jostein had obviously woke up on time as they were sitting having their breakfast with their sleds just about packed up ready to go.

We soon caught up on our schedule, and after a hearty breakfast of chilli con carne and energy bars we were all packed and ready to head off to our next camp on the lake at Kattujärvi. Not my preferred choice of breakfast food, but was more than happy to eat whatever Phil threw at me.

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The first half of the day was a lot flatter than the previous day and as my confidence of controlling the dogs and sled grew, it gave me more time to take in the stunning scenery and appreciate the absolute silence, where all you could hear was the faint panting of the dogs and the sound of the runners on the sled cutting through the snow. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so quiet while out on the sleds, it really was a surreal experience. A real sense of being shut off from the outside world, something which I think we should all take time to experience once in a while. My home life really felt a million miles from where we were at that point, which was such a great feeling.

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For some reason my dogs seemed a lot slower than the first day, which was causing me to drift some distance behind Phil as well as slowing Madeline and Jostein down behind me. Amanda also noticed this and did a bit of dog switching and gave me a new lead dog and move my big lead dog to 2nd row, which seemed to do the trick. But we had also been told to shout words of encouragement to the dogs in order the help them push on. Not being an expert in Norwegian/Swedish dog encouragement phrases, I opted for the only phrase I thought they might understand which was “Haway”. As my fellow North Easterners will know that this is often used to encourage our football teams during matches and in other forms of local conversations. Well it also seems to work on Husky dogs too, as I they seemed to understand it perfectly.

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Although we were all in teams of four and a musher at the front of each team, you really don’t get a lot of chance to communicate with each other as you are travelling. You need to follow each other in a straight line and you have to have enough space between your dogs and the sled in front of you, so you often feel isolated, which gives you a lot of time to think about things. Luckily for me Jostein had a loud enough voice which enabled him to shout at me to remind me to drink plenty water every time he did, which was good, as your mind can easily wander in such silence and the environment around you and can easily forget to keep yourself hydrated.

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Despite most of the day involving travelling through vast open spaces, it was just my luck that my dogs decided to pass very closely at a marker post, obviously forgetting they were pulling me on a sled behind them, which resulted in my sled hitting the marker post head on and cracking the front of my sled before throwing me and the sled to the ground. Much to Jostein’s amusement as I heard him laughing loudly behind me as I tried to pick up the damaged maker post and examine my sled.

During our lunch stop, we got a little bit more time to chat to other teams as we relaxed in the sun. It was also a good time to have a photo opportunity with the Sun FM radio flag which they had given me for the trek. As my Norwegian team mate Madeleine had managed to pick up my Sunderland accent, she felt as an adopted Mackem that it only right she should get in on the photo opportunity.

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Madeline and me flying the Sun FM flag

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Tuomo from Finland chilling in the sun

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“Ah me face is burning man. Give me some cream” shouted Jostein in his newly acquired Mackem accent

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Team Sweden/US in their wind shelters

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The second half of the day involved heading fast down narrow bumpy slopes, which resulted in me banging my knee on the sled while trying to be clever and take photos instead of concentrating on the sled and dogs, before we arrived at our lake camp at Kattujärvi.

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My dogs also decided to drag my sled into this fence following the marker post incident earlier

After getting my knee checked out by the doctor, we set about our nightly tasks. We were really starting to work well as a team and it really didn’t take us long at all to feed dogs and setup camp, before me and Jostein headed to the hole in the middle of the lake to fill all our water bottles and flasks. As we ate our dinner, Jostein shared his story about his time in the Norwegian army and how they like their soldiers to ration the use of toilet paper to just one sheet. Which had us all creased with laughing.

Our water hole in the lake

Our water hole in the lake


Our water hole in the lake

The African water carrying women Petra and Katrina

The African water carrying women Petra and Katrina

Stunning view across lake from our tent

Stunning view across lake from our tent

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Mushers making us reindeer meat

Mushers making us reindeer meat

The night ended with another excellent session by Johan Skullman on how to increase comfort levels when sleeping outside in the winter as well as how to build a campfire using fire steel and birch bark before being served a piece of reindeer meat in bread by our mushers around an open fire.

Official Fjällräven Polar Day 4 page

Next: FP 2014: Day 5 – Northern Lights… Camera… Action!

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    Welcome

    Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

    My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

    I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

    I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

    If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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