Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mush mush!

And then it was Official day 1. We had a big day planned, so I'll break it into pieces so you're not reading forever.

After making ourselves a hearty breakfast we set out. Soon we were in an empty snow-covered field where we could hear dogs.

Yes that's right. Dog sledding was #1 on the we-are-here-let's-do-this list. Pretty excellent.

Awkwardly it was the last thing we booked because there was so much back and forth in our group about the price. We originally wanted the 3 hour tour, which would have costed a whopping £190 per person. As fate would have it, it was unavailable on the date and time we had planned for it. So we downgraded to one hour. £90 and so worth it. Really happy we went with the one hour instead of three. Our guides even reassured us afterward that the three hour wasn't really worth it (so it's official!).

Our session began by meeting the dogs, who were lined up in preassigned packs, sleeping until it was go-time. We got to meet all of them personally. They're so cute! Husky and mountain dogs, about three breeds were represented in total:

After our dogs were clipped to the sleds we divided into pairs and threes. Olive decided last minute that he couldn't just be our photographer and sit this one out, so he paid up and joined us. Pretty excellent stuff.

And then we were off!

To be honest it's pretty much like you imagine it being, regardless if you are on the sled itself or in the back holding on with the driver. They pull you and you yell commands (or in this case, our driver yelled the commands). You pick up speed.

Some hilarious tidbits that we learned:
The dogs know to get all of their business out of the system within the first 1000 yards or so of the route they're on. So let's just say for the sake of brevity, that first 1000 yards was smelly and very...not white. Some of the better trained dogs just go while they're running, while others kind of sniff around still and find the perfect spot, stopping the sled.

The dogs that we were meeting had originally been owned by a Danish guy, so all the commands were in Danish. Since not many people in Iceland speak Danish (though oddly, our driver, a retired policeman, did), they were slowly converting the commands to English (apparently the universal language of the world). We'd hear our driver say things like "Da da! Right Right! There's a good girl!". It was hilarious.

Our driver in general was pretty awesome. Very friendly in the typical Icelandic way. Despite being a retired policeman he was still up in spirits and liked what he did. He decided after a lifetime of being a policeman, it was better to do something satisfying and peaceful. Taking care of husky dogs was that. And he had a pretty good view from his office. ;)

Halfway through the run we stopped, took lots of pics of each other and the dogs, and switched positions. About half the way back to camp we were caught in a downpour of snow. It wasn't windy luckily, but the speed of the sled meant extreme snow in the eyes. We were all squinting too much to really see after that. Good to have ended at the one hour.

After we arrived back we took more pics until the cold shut us down (or me down, as it happened...apparently I'm too thin to take this weather anymore..it was only just around freezing that morning, maybe +3C, so it's not like it was cold).

A hilarious other tidbit - one of the dogs had been used in David Guetta's music video for "SheWolf" and ever since had been a bit of a diva with the other dogs and drivers. Hilarious. She was a gorgeous specimen, no doubt, but pff, no amount of fame will erase a spirit that is not into team work. She definitely let the others push for her. Pshaw.

So overall, dog sledding, checked off the bucket list. I am so happy about this.

And onto more Iceland adventures!

For the curious, we used this company.

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