“But isn’t it cold there?” is probably the most frequently asked question when we explain where we live and where we travel. Some of our friends and family never understood why we moved in this direction and not southwards, or why we keep on crossing the Arctic circle every time we can instead of enjoying the beach on a warm summer day. So what is it that draws us up here?
Northern Europe is an astonishing place to travel around. Sometimes I have the impression that many people are unaware of the natural beauty they can discover close to home. We don’t need to fly halfway around the world to find a mind-blowing view. Up here, forests are vast, national parks are desolate and people are few. Travel off the beaten track and you are able to you disappear for weeks at once. You can go and discover your own trails or paddle to settlements that have no roads connecting them to the outside world. It is a world apart from what lies further south, one in which both of us feel alive and free.
After finishing my studies I realised that office jobs are not my piece of cake. Locked inside an office all day, staring at a computer while daydreaming about escaping to the nice weather outside was just not the kind of life I wanted to set myself up for. Unfortunately I have studied political science, so I had turn things around a bit. PJ had been working at a store and thought the same. And by coincidence, or by faith, we ended up at the same place soon after.
In the winter season of 2013 – 2014 we both got the opportunity to work as guides. Most of the guiding was on half or full day tours, with a few overnight opportunities. It was a nice experience working with snow mobiles, cross country skis, snow shoe and ice fishing activities. But it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. Besides of the guiding we spent a lot of time helping out at the company kennel, taking care of the 130 huskies that lived with us. And that’s were it rang. That’s what we were going to do.
So after finishing our adventure in New Zealand we returned to Lapland to become dog sled guides. After spending our first season in the kennel we are now living out in the woods with a pack of 35 huskies, doing mostly 3 and 7 day tours. It is a hard, a physical, and an exhausting job, but every day we stand on a sled and explore the trails and the hills of the Kiruna area while seeing the mountains shining in the sun over the frozen river makes it all worth it.
It’s been a path with many ups and downs. I think it’s fair to say that during our time here, we experienced both the best and the darkest days of our lives. But it’s deliberating not to spent time locked in an office. It’s inspiring to be out with people who have never done anything like this before. We’ve seen many people crossing their personal comfort border by coming on one of these trips. It’s not always easy to be outside at temperatures below -30, to stay in cabins without running water or electricity. The dogs, the scenery, and the experience of living off the grid in this frozen world make it all worthwhile.
Curious how we manage the cold? Have a look at our Arctic Mushing gear list.