Day 2 dog sledding and we woke to a temperature of minus 22 degrees, cold; but at least there wasn't any wind. It was a beautiful calm day, the wind had stopped and the sun was shining. A glorious day in Liverpool Land, Greenland.
Breakfast was toast, left over musk ox mince, hot drinks, muesli if we wanted it. We had all slept reasonably well and were all eager to get started.
The dogs now have to be hitched up to the sled. Each day starts in a very hectic way. They are eager to get started and as soon as the musher/guide shows any sign of getting the lead ropes organized they go frantic, barking. Once one dog starts, they all start howling and jumping around on their chains. Of course this spreads to the other team's dogs. They are impatient to get hitched up, and after they are anxious for the other dogs and start running around the sled often tangling and pulling the lines. All this is going on with us sitting on the sleds and dogs barking and pulling around us. Once the final dog is hitched the musher must untie the rope that has been the brake. When this is done the dogs are off and the musher has to quickly jump on. We are away. Usually the start is down hill ( because the cabins are in an elevated position), bumpy, fast and furious. Hanging on is definitely recommended. I assumed my now customary rear position on the sled, much to everyone's amusement, and Aaron in the middle, with the guide up front.
We are headed for the outer coast, through some of the most spectacular landscapes I have seen. The water is still frozen in the fjord and we also travel over frozen lakes. The valley gets narrower as we climb up to the pass before the descent to the coast. Mountains are all around us and the dogs are working extremely hard in the sometimes very soft and deep snow. We had to get off and allow the dogs to make the final climb to the top of the pass. The walking in the deep snow was hard enough for us, and the dogs thoroughly deserved their rest at the top; we enjoyed ours too. It had been a good morning's sledding, shifting from side to side to get comfy as much as possible; hanging on for the fast bits and enjoying the scenery. From the top it was a fast ride down hill along a frozen glacier to Horsens Fjord. The dogs really enjoy their work. Some of the best moments sledding are when the three teams are together and dogs from other teams come up on either side of you. They are pulling hard, tongues hanging out, occasionally scooping up snow in their mouth. Going down hill they break into a gallop like a horse; it is beautiful to see them enjoy themselves. We were all traveling well today and despite the cold we were really enjoying the experience. "Are we having fun?" As we are now on the frozen ocean, large icebergs are visible, stuck there when the ocean froze. Some we saw were so huge, both tall and long, it was amazing. We would stop every 2 hours or so and the guides would dig a hole in the snow, set up the primus stove, scoop up snow to melt for drinking water and melt for hot water and hot drinks, with more chocolate and biscuits. And of course we were encouraged to pee, to help keep warm. I think we must have been getting used to the temperature as although it was very cold it was more bearable than yesterday as there wasn't any wind. Today's journey has been 32 kilometres and after yesterday's long 38 kilometers in the weather that we had, we all felt a sense of achievement when we arrived at Kap Hoegh. The cabin is on a stretch of land that in summer-time separates the ocean from the fjord. Today of course it was all frozen. A similar size cabin to last nights, but it also had large boxes of supplies obviously positioned for some future expedition. It was still cramped for the five of us and the three guides, so we hoped that no one else would arrive. The stoves were soon lit, hot water on the boil and dinner was being organized. Tonight it was chunks of musk ox, boiled in water, spaghetti, hot drinks, chocolate, biscuits and more musk ox! It tasted a little like lamb.
Aaron and I woke during the night feeling hot and sweaty, and we both climbed out of the sleeping bag and laid on top - for a while anyway, until we got cold and climbed back inside again. In the morning we found that the others had done the same thing - the sleeping bags were very good, if somewhat difficult to climb into because of the outer liner.
The remoteness of where we were hit us quite profoundly. It is an experience that won't be forgotten. I like going outside, seeing the mountains around us silhouetted against the sky, seeing the dogs and experiencing the stillness of it all.
Photo is of Greenland Dog, as they are called, ready for a day's work.