After a surprisingly good nights sleep I lumbered out of the tent to find everything freshly coated in snow. It was the start of daylight saving so while we lost an hour of sleep we would now have more light in the evenings.
Looking down on our camp among the trees.
Our five tents with our dog teams branching out into the white snow.
The frozen Lake Devddesjávri with our camp centre-bottom.
And the vast winter landscape stretching out in every direction.
Melting some snow on the Primus to heat water for my sachet of porridge for breakfast. We also filled up our thermos flasks with drinking water for the day.
And making sure the dogs get plenty of calories as well to fuel a hard day of mushing.
After packing up camp Tor gave a briefing for today.
Today's plan was to head initially east and then south-east for a total of 22 kilometres.
My six dogs with the two girls to the right and the four boys in the back. Note the gap between the two sexes to prevent any night time puppy-making!
We then put the harnesses back on the dogs and attached them back to the sled ganglines. I was beginning to get a knack of it now, knowing which harness went on which dog and how to correctly attach them to the main gangline via the tuglines (at the rear of the harness) and necklines (at the front of the harness).
All suited up and ready to go!
Struggling to keep my dogs from bolting while we wait for the other teams to get ready.
And finally on our way! I was now confident enough to hold my large DSLR camera with one hand and take a photograph while holding onto the sled as it sliced through the snow.
Nigel and his team following just behind me.
Tor was up front leading us in the right direction and was guiding his dogs by shouting right and left (Gee! & Haw!). As he was leading and cutting a path through the fresh snow he had a team of eight dogs to compensate for the harder workload.
It was amazing to see such endlessly white and barren landscape and it almost felt we were on the moon or on a far-off planet.
Around about 2pm we stopped and put down the snowhooks (anchors) to give the dogs a breather.
And a few snacks I had stuffed into my jacket pocket for lunch on the go.
On our way again and the weather quickly started to deterioate with wind and snow making it hard to discern between the ground and the sky.
At about 4:30pm with the wind picking up to 40-50 kph with plenty of snow, we stopped seemingly in the middle of nowhere to setup camp.
With the total lack of trees I was wondering where we would tie up our dog line. This was solved however with a quick lesson from Tove where we first dug a deep hole in the snow, tied the end of the dog line to a plank of wood, then buried the plank in the hole.
Hvit and Rød curled up with their red coats on.
After sorting out the dogs we went to work putting up the tents. With the high wind we helped each other to get them up without them blowing away.
Hvit and Rød now blanketed in a fresh layer of snow.
A fresh pot of snow melting on the Primus inside the tent.
And making sure each of the dogs get some dinner.
With the weather not so great we were stuck in our tents for the evening. I took the opportunity to have a rummage through our food bins to see all the different rations we had.
For dinner I opted for the chicken and potatoes while Nigel tried the finnbiff (sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam), a traditional meal from northern Lapland.
Ted out diligently with a shovel making walls of snow around the dogs to give them some shelter and respite from the strong cold gale.
With the howling wind and snow outside I had an early night and curled up into my sleeping bag to warm up and get some rest at the end of day 4.
After a wild and windy night in the tent, I pulled on my coat and pants and went outside half-expecting the dogs to be frozen solid. Luckily they were all alive and well, although with a thick coating of snow.
My sled (on the left) had managed to be blown over and was half buried under the snow.
Our tents, sled and dogs from above, almost resembling a christmas tree in the snow.
The perspective from above really highlighted how alone we were in the barren winter snow landscape.
Three kilometres south-east of the camp with Sweden visible in the distance and only ~8 kilometres away.
The vast white terrain stretching out in all directions.
The barren white landscape that surrounded us was slightly intimidating but so serenely beautiful.
My dog team slowly awaking with the morning sun.
And Tor with one of his lead dogs who got special treatment by being allowed to sleep in the tent!
Some warm porridge with a generous heaping of sugar to fuel up for the day.
Followed by some bread and Nugatti (the Norwegian version of Nutella), freshly squeezed out of a tube.
And making sure our 69 dogs had their breakfast too.
Tor with the map for the morning briefing for today's plan. Unfortunately Kelly was suffering from some food poisioning so we would head towards a cabin to stay at tonight to allow her to properly rest.
Today we would head east along a valley towards the border of Sweden for a total distance of 23 kilometres.
We then set about collapsing the tents and getting the dogs ready.
O2 and Baktus with their harnesses on, the tow and neck lines attached and ready to go.
And off again for another day of mushing!
Passing by a Sámi village. The Sámi herd reindeers in the region and we saw a few of the reindeers roaming in the distance.
It was a good day for mushing with little wind, a bit of sun and some amazing scenery.
The snow was alot harder and more compact today so we made good time and speed.
Tor off in the distance as we make our way through the valley.
My race-tested dogs were in their element and the other teams were struggling to keep up!.
Stopping for lunch where I helped myself to some of the cheese, pastrami and ham in my food rations.
And some hot ginger tea from my thermos.
Continuing on our way under the winter sun.
Taking a selfie as we glide across the snowy plain.
The dogs keeping up a good pace.
In the late afternoon we arrived at the hut and where there was a sled and dog park!
There wasn't enough room for our ten sleds and dog teams so I dug a hole in the snow again to hitch up my team.
Feeding the dogs after the good workout today.
Our cabin for the night, complete with outhouse in the background. The cabin only had four bunk beds so the four guests, myself, Nigel, Kelly and Sarah, would have the luxury of sleeping inside tonight.
Kelly getting the fire ready to help dry out everyone's gloves, mittens, boot liners and clothing.
After being jealous of Nigel's finnbiff (sautéed reindeer) the previous night I decided to have some tonight as well.
And a hot solbærtoddy for dessert.
Tor in the evening briefing the team on our progress for today and the plan for tomorrow.
I then climbed into a top bunk for some much needed sleep and to be ready for our longest day of mushing tomorrow.
The sun shining through the cabin window on the morning of day 6.
And starting to rise into the sky.
Filling up the bucket to melt some snow on the cabin gas stove for some drikkevann (drinking water).
Looking to the mountains to the west with our cabin and camp bottom-right.
With the border with Sweden less than 2 kilometres to the east.
The cabin (middle-left) is located right beside Lake Rostojávri, now frozen over during the winter.
Up in the mountains beside Lake Rostojávri.
Looking north along the snow covered cliffs above camp.
Everyone now up and about to start the morning tasks.
My dog team of Lynet, Sei, Hvit, Rød, O2 and Baktus below.
My third morning in a row with porridge for breakfast so decided to add some chocolate and lingonberry jam for a bit more flavour.
And reading the note we left in the cabin visitor book.
Tor briefing us on our second to last day of mushing.
Today would be our longest day, covering 33 kilometres as we return west to the edge of Lake Devddesjávri. We would also have to tackle a bit of an elevation change as we headed through the mountain range.
Everyone lined up and waiting for the signal from Tor to start the day's journey.
And into the whiteness as the dogs race ahead at full speed!
It was easy to just stare in the distance at the surreal and otherworldy landscape as we sped across the snow.
Following a trail marked by tree branches that the Sámi use for their snowmobiles.
And starting to head uphill as we rise up through the mountain valley.
The going got pretty tough as the incline increased and I had to help the dogs and push the sled for the first time. The snow was quite deep too which made it all the more harder.
After about an hour of hard climbing we made it to the top however and paused to catch our breath.
And for another trip selfie. It was quite bewildering to seeing nothing but white in all directions, both above, below and all around us.
Snacking on some protein bars and nuts for lunch.
My dogs taking a well earned rest.
We then made the final push west for our destination Lake Devddesjávri in the distance.
Continuing our descent as the lake comes into view.
My brake turned into a mini snowplough with all the downhill mushing.
As we approached the lake we managed to come across a ~2 metre cliff in the snow! My dogs disappeared over the edge but made it down ok but I was too nervous to follow them with the sled.
After mustering the courage I launched myself and the sled off the edge and promptly went flying off into the snow for my third and final crash of the trip! I wasn't the only one to crash though and it took a while before we were able to get going again.
We then had to negotiate some narrow gaps in the trees which resulted in a few tangled ganglines amongst us when one dog decided to go right around the tree and the others went left!
We finally made it to our camp just after 6pm. Tove promptly pulled a bottle of Jägermeister to give us each a shot of 'medicine' after the hard day of mushing.
The snow was quite deep in some places and even up to my waist but I finally managed to get the dogs tied away.
And then put the tent up for the last time of the trip.
Melting snow on the Primus.
Feeding the hungry dogs after all the day's exertion.
Tasty salmon and peas for dinner.
And raiding the ration boxes for some chocolate and Oreo's for dessert.
Sigrid adding another log to the fire. We sat around the campfire into the night and talked about the highs and lows of the last few days.
We were also treated to one last 'singing' performance by the dogs. One dog would start howling, then neighbouring dogs would start too and it would soon catch on until all 69 dogs were joining in!
As we headed to bed I spotted a whisps of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). It was my first time seeing them and it was quite a thrill.
During the night I got up at 1am and unexpectantly discovered that the aurora light show was now in full swing across the sky.
After the mediocre weather so far on the trip I wasn't expecting to see them at all so it was a nice surprise on our last night out camping in the snow.