The Irish postman

Our last day. We have another long trek today, back to Harriniva.

A few minutes after we started this morning, one of the dogs had a problem with one of his ears – not one of mine, one of Helle’s. So Sanna switched dogs around. The one with the ear got to ride on the lead sled and David got to drive five dogs driving Sanna’s sled. Sanna had switched sleds as well because Helle’s was so damaged it was very difficult to drive. Helle had David’s. All of this took a while and my dogs were NOT happy just stopped in the track. It was difficult from where I was (at the back) to have any idea what was going on and I had to wait till we got back to find this out.

Had a stop along the way for reindeer soup. When we set off again, Rudi decided she wanted to check out the remains of soup in the fire so she started pulling the team into the snow drift. This was fine as I had some control over them by now. However, because I was applying the brake between drags of the sled, and the snow drift was about a metre deep, the brake got caught up underneath the sled. Then the dogs started back in the right direction. Great, I think, now I have no brake! I start thinking what is going to happen next time we hit a big hill or when the others stop. Sure, I can drag my boot but will this actually stop me?

On the move again

But no great problem after all. The next time we all stopped I moved right up to Helle’s sled and yelled at her to hold the lead dogs. When she’d grabbed them I quickly jumped off, lifted the sled and pulled the brake free, then back on. Took about a second. The timing was immaculate as the next thing we did was cross a highway.

We had to go one at a time and (obviously) watch for traffic. Helle went across with her brake on and there were sparks flying from the back of her sled! I had to wait for a car to pass then went skidding across. Having been on hard snow and grooved ice for the last few days, suddenly hitting icy bitumen was pretty wild. The sled was suddenly not happy following the dogs and decided to go swinging out. The dogs pulled valiantly and managed to get us back to rights. On the other side of the road the track split into two and I had no idea where the others had gone. Domino decided we were going right so I let her choose. It was a good choice.

The rest of the run was along River Muonio with Sweden on our right. All was going peacefully until just outside the town when two huskies came bounding out across the snow, intent on mischief. Kilka started carrying on but I managed to keep her going forward. Then as the stray dog drew level with my skids I kicked out at it, sending it bowling over. This turned out to be the right thing to do. If the dog had managed to catch my dogs there would have been an almighty fight. Anyway the owners turned up on a snowmobile and caught them and took them home. Sanna said later that it’s actually against the law to have huskies running free. She almost praised me for doing the right thing.

After that it was pretty much plain sailing back to where we started. We unhitched the dogs, unpacked the sleds and made our way back to the centre, a little world weary but feeling contented. I headed for the bar. Deb & Dave went to reception and were told by Eva Braun’s sister that we were to be installed in a cabin 3 kilometres away. Dave thought this was a joke. Silly boy. We had a couple of drinks (well, 4) then a taxi transported us and all our stuff to a couple of cabins on the edge of the river. They were attached, cabins 5 & 6 and we thought, great a bit of room, at last. D&D took 5 while Helle and I took 6.

We were sitting watching a Danish film. Well I was watching and Helle was explaining what was happening. We had showered and changed and felt terrific. There is a big farewell dinner tonight for everyone from all the teams and the taxi is due back at 6.30pm. Then the Germans arrived.

Alas, we were all supposed to be in one cabin and the Germans (6 of them) in the other. A quick tidy up of all our stuff and we invaded D&D’s cabin. We had to laugh. At least we all knew each other. It would have been a bit weird if it was our first night.

The taxi picked us up and we sat at the bar and drank a lot more. Sanna turned up at 8 all dressed up. This means she wore jeans and a bright red western style shirt.

Dinner was very nice and proved that there are millions of ways to serve reindeer. Sanna left at 10, after dessert as she has an early start in the morning (5 am) to take fresh dogs to her husband about 50k away on another trek. We drifted into the pub by the river and were entertained by a bunch of French people disco dancing to appalling music and a drunk Irish guy in a frightful yellow hat. It seemed the only two things he could say were “Fook” and “as me auld gran mudda always said!” usually both together. Dave called him the Irish postman – I have no idea why.

Eventually I collapsed drunk onto the lounge in the cabin at about 1am. I started watching a bit (about 1 minute) of a another Danish movie then slept. David snored most of the night. Unfortunately Debs DIDN’T have another nightmare.

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