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Our expedition leader Johan Väisänen has the looks of a Viking with the vigour of Ben Hur. The latter also refers to the sled on which he skilfully balances while zipping through a cold and silent, white landscape. Johan is a modern charioteer, with the only difference that the carriage is a wooden sleigh pulled forward by six hyperkinetic husky dogs. The territory of these dogs and their eight, extreme warmly dressed sledge drivers, is a quiet area around Kangos, a Swedish village 150 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. Johan runs with his family Pinetree Lodge, an intimate hotel with its own husky kennel. They live far away from busy and touristy Lapland where most travellers go. Kangos village is a couple of streets with a handful of typical wooden houses where according to the tradition; small lights are hung inside in front of the windows. It’s a gesture of warmth in a wintery landscape where temperatures often plunge below -35 degrees Celsius. This secluded area consists of nothing but dense forest, clear rivers and more than 150 lakes. During the winter months, everything morphs into an abstract, white entity. A wilderness of snow sculptures that were once trees, icy plains that change during the summer in lakes and quaint fishing huts that now serve as refuges to escape the -25 degrees nights. Pinetree Lodge is cosy inside. Far too cosy. Outside everything creaks under the extreme freezing temperatures and staying inside, close to the fire, seems the only human activity that is acceptable here. Within two days our group will leave on a three-day husky expedition. Everyone is hoping for a clear sky and maybe some northern lights. Don’t think you can go out in casual winter ski pants or a dress. We get special suits and giant boots as if we are going to walk on the moon. Thermal underwear is a man’s best friend here, believe me. Once you step outside to enjoy the majestic landscape and surroundings, you have to be prepared. Especially when leaving on a husky expedition.dog sledding in Laplanddog sledding in Laplanddog sledding in LaplandFans of blue-eyed huskies should come here. Johan has his own kennel with more than 100 dogs. They are well groomed, are in top condition and have three full time carers who are working with them. Alaskan Huskies are not really lazy, on the contrary. Jumping, barking, crying, fighting, pulling … The next three days we will experience that standing on a wooden sled, pulled ahead by a few huskies on speed, isn’t a piece of cake. You soon feel that balance and flexibility are important and yes being fit, because when it goes uphill, you need to help the dogs. If you don’t, they will look at you as if you are a big lazy bastard. To hang casually on your sled, is not an option. We whiz past trees, under low-hanging branches covered in snow, through endless, shimmering plains where you will have to stay on the track or you disappear into the deep soft snow. Johan demonstrates his Viking skills and pops out his Sami knife to build a smouldering campfire for lunch. Reindeer skins serve as a bench in the snow, a pot of hearty soup hangs on a branch above the open fire. Shortly after sunset and on arrival at the wilderness cabin the only thing you want to do is get inside and warm up. But first the dogs have to be fed and put into bed, well, nest of hay, protecting them against deadly, cold nights. And the nights are long and dark in Lapland. Unless the Northern Lights decide to pop-up, then you will have to get out of the warm wooden cabin and stand in the freezing cold to see the spectacle. In case of frostbite, there is always the sauna to heat up again. Or the bottle of Aqua Vit or Jenever that one of our fellow guests took along on the trip. Life can be simple in the high north. dog sledding in Laplanddog sledding in Lapland

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