Dog sledding with my camera through a snow covered forest in Swedish Lapland, moments don’t get much better!
As we drove along passing endless fields and forests of white I had no idea what to expect from the day of dog sledding ahead of me. My dog Nellie has been part of my family for 15yrs, she’s practically a human (yes I’m one of those dog ladies) so I was curious what a team of ten Alaskan Huskies would be like. Aggressive? Cuddly? Working so hard they don’t have time to stop for a treat?
Pulling up to the kennels the dogs started barking loudly in excitement the moment we arrived because…their dad was home. With only 20 dogs Bill’s Guide B-O is one of the smaller tour companies in Kiruna that offers dog sledding but in my mind this only meant these dogs were happier, loved and well fed.
After putting on extra 10kg of clothing and grabbing a balaclava to face the freezing conditions we were allowed into the yard and were introduced to our team of huskies.
Ranging in age from 8mths old to 14yrs, it was immediately evident each had their own personality and energy level. Some were chilled out whilst others were absolutely ready to run. Having done the job for so many years the older dogs know it’s wise to rest up before a trip and sit patiently. The younger dogs simply can’t contain their excitement and tug at the reins eager to go.
With the dogs all harnessed and the wooden sleigh tied up Bill ducked back to the house to grab a bag of snacks to take with us. Asking us to stay with the dogs we had no idea the hysteria that was about to ensue. As the owner of a Staffy I know dogs can get emotional and have a little whinge when their owner leaves them…I never expected a group of huskies to do the same.
The moment Bill was out of sight it was like he had left and was never, EVER coming back. Loud crying mixed with desperate barks took over as they pleaded for their dad to return and I couldn’t stop laughing. These tough working dogs were a little wimpy at heart and they instantly had me wooed. Trying to pet them to calm down, some were happy for a cuddle, while others were just far too worked up in a mix of excitement and worry.
He was only gone for about three minutes in total which made it even funnier when he returned to a tangled mess of emotional huskies who were now on top of each other with their tails wagging because he had returned.
Sitting on the little wooden sleigh I hung tight to my camera and without any hesitation off we slipped into the forest.
The instant rush of cold air on my face and the gentle sound of the dogs paws hitting the snow had me smiling (under my balaclava) from ear to ear. Dogs + a winter wonderland + a sleigh ride + snow covered forests…an experience I’ll never forget.
About thirty minutes into the trip we stopped for a tea break in a little wooden hut with a fire burning inside.
The dogs immediately all lay down in the snow to rest up, giving me the perfect opportunity to photograph their cute little faces covered in frozen drool.
Warming up with a cup of lingonberry tea as snow gently fell through a tiny hole in the roof, Bill told us stories about his dogs. Among them were the brothers called Tom and Jerry, Jerry is a one man’s dog and loves his dad so much that he isn’t super friendly to anyone else who comes near him. Tom on the other hand is much happier to meet new people!
Before setting off we put out some crumbs in the snow and I waited with my camera until little wrens appeared on the tree branches above. I never expected to see tiny birds out in the freezing cold conditions but scattered throughout the forest are tiny bird houses made of wood that they use to hide in when conditions become unbearable.
Back on the trail the trip back to the kennels was just as fun although it was understandably a little slower. The slower pace gave me more time to take photographs of the surrounding scenery and to sit back and just stare in awe of a landscape so white and wintry that it felt like I was in a snow globe.
Here is a small video I made of the trip following by a collection of photos from my adventures with these cuties in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden…
Hello! I’m the founder and photographer behind The Wandering Lens.
With 17+yrs experience as a professional travel and landscape photographer, all advice found on this site is from my personal experience on the road. I hope it’s useful for your own travels and would love to hear in the comments about your trips and experiences around the world.