Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tobacco Trail 2012 - Part II - "The Trip to Kiruna"

After spending what seems like thousands of hours, or more likely an eternity of packing, The Crew (who did a super job) managed to get all the dog food, snacks and gear (read my previous post Tobacco Trail 2012 - Part I - "Pre Race Madness") to see an example of what needs to be done and made for one 300km race) loaded into the dog truck and finally it was time to bring in the twelve chosen athletes. 

We let the boys run around the dog yard, to stretch out their muscles and do their "toilet business" freely. The problem was three girls on the team were in heat with Ziggi being in standing heat, trying desperately all options to get bred. After a short fight within myself, my inner feeling won, and on the very last minute, we loaded the "old man" Frostie on the truck instead of Ziggi. A hard decision to make such quick switch of plans, but as it turned out, a wise one.

These are the twelve athletes and the line up in which they will run:


Four hours later than our original planned departure time, we are heading out of the yard and up north.

As the bright sunny day turned into dusk, a pale distant northern light appeared on the horizon. It grew on intensity and eventually turned into the most impressive display I have ever experienced in my entire life. An arch similar to rainbow ran across the sky from left to right, and since the sky touches the ground in the land around the arctic cicle, it was an impressive and breathtaking phenomena. The deep green supplemented with pink shades and the lights changed form from a bow into a "smoke" tail, then danced from left to right, before settling back to the overwhelming arch.



We made a quick stop at fellow musher and Tobacco Trail competitor Birgitta Sandin and her husband Mikael, who gave us a very warm invitation and treated us to an excellent moose stew and coffee. Birgitta and Mikael operate the Nymanen Siberian Husky Kennels and Tours and Birgitta has an art studio where she produces some of the most fantastic glass art work. Before continuing up north, we met with their daughter Emilia, who will be Birgitta´s handler in the upcoming race. What a nice girl - Jachym will have a good "checkpoint buddy" :)


We pushed a bit further up and when we reached the arctic circle, we stopped for the night. Now the wind picked up and it started blowing. We fed the kids, then ourselves (we made a century-discovery of canned ravioli which can be easily heated on our interior car heater pipe, an excellent and quick solution for "dining" on the go), and dropped the kids for the last time before crawling into our sleeping bags.

the interior of our dog truck cabin is small (the dogs have majority of the place), but very cozy and thank to our wonderful friends Jörgen and Maria Pålson, it has a bench and a foldable table/bed for two. We have also put in a number of hangers and storage baskets .  It is a tiny, but great "home on wheels" and most importantly allows us being with the dogs all the time and being able to stop and overnight just about anywhere

The next day was very windy and Jachym did a great job driving on the arcic roads, full of reindeers, scattered all around - some laying by the road, some walking or just hanging out at the road. It was like a safari.






Nine km before the town of Gallivare, many control lights went off on the display in the truck and it stopped. We ran out of gas. Great. But even that obsticle was solved and thank to kindness of poeple, Jachym managed to get a ride to town to get some gas and then back to the truck, and all that took a bit over an hour. It wasn´t a pleasant feeling standing in the middle of the road, wind blowing, and having the kids in the back of the truck, I worried what if a car did not see us in time and hit us from the back.

Fortunately, all went well afterwords (and here is time to say a very, very special thank you to Jachym´s mom for helping us out and sponsoring the fuel needs of this trip! - we are so deeply grateful!), and we made the final push to Kiruna.


Dropping the kids for their evening pee, stretching out and dinner.



We stayed by the club house owned and operated by Kiruna Sled Dog Club, who also hosted and helped organize Tobacco Trail. What wonderful group of people, who made us feel so welcome!


View of the city of Kiruna, from the KSHK club house and sprint trail system.


Kiruna´s Arena Arctica.


We went to get more gas for Jachym´s travel between checkpoints, and buy a few more things and walked by this beautifully lit up laavoo and treas in a small park downtown Kiruna.

Few last things needed to be organized and sorted out before we could call it a day, and get a last long rest before day D.

To be continued... Look for Part III :)

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