The Fan Hitch      Volume 15, Number 2, March 2013

          Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog                                    
In This Issue....

From the Editor... Turning Dreams into Reality

In the News

Return of the Far Fur Country Project Update

Another Inuktitut Word for Snow

A Condo for Dogs: The Evolution of Our Dog Houses

Antiquity of the Inuit Sled Dog Supported by Recent Ancient DNA Studies

A Different Type of Sledding

Astrup’s Harness: A personal voyage to understand an old sealskin sled dog harness, Part 2

Movie Review: The Stories of Tuktu: Tuktu and His Eskimo Dogs

IMHO.... Why do we do this?

Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch

Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Defining the Inuit Dog

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
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My four eager dogs have no trouble pulling the boat. Our starting
point on the lake Femund is seen in the background.
                                                                                  Photo: G. Uren

A Different Type of Sledding

by Gisle Uren,
Røros, Norway

At the beginning of the winter of 2006 I promised some friends my dogs and I would help them freight a new boat to Skarpastjonna, a small lake a few kilometres within the boundaries of Femundsmarka National Park in Norway. We would also try to freight out the old decrepit wooden boat that had been there for many years.

The original plan was to make this trip before Easter, when the snow would be compact and still hard enough to easily carry the dogs. With a little bit of luck the night-time frost would leave a nice hard icy crust during the first part of the day. Things don’t always go as planned, so the trip was postponed several times until we finally managed to find room for it towards the end of April.

                                        The Norwegian Mapping Authority

Since Skarpastjonna is within the national park, snowmobiles are not permitted
 by anyone but the Park Rangers and the Sami reindeer herders. On the Femund Lake however snowmobile permits are issued, so the boat was easily brought to the eastern shoreline a few kilometres north of the river Roa. 

Having no dogsled big enough to accommodate a 10 foot (3 meter) fiberglass boat, we decided the best option was to hitch the dogs directly to the boat and drag it along like a pulk. The mooring hook placed at the bow of the boat seemed ideal for the purpose so we tried this as our first option, hoping it would hold. I assumed the boat weighed somewhere around 150 kg (330 lbs.), perhaps more, so we also hooked a few extra ropes and straps to the sides of the boat to help the dogs pull and steer it whenever necessary.

Kåre Torres (r) and his son Vidar (l) are quite
pleased now that their new boat is safely in
place and the old one is on its way out.
                                                    Photo: G. Uren

I was a little unsure of how this whole project would turn out, so I popped my sled into the boat in case we somewhere along the way would have to leave the boat behind. Better safe than sorry I thought, having no great wish to skijor with four dogs back to a sled left at Femund.

Without taking notice to whatever insecurities I had, the dogs took on the task with all their usual eagerness and energy. My doubts were quickly put to shame, and the boat was not quite the super tanker I imagined it to be. The fiberglass boat actually performed beautifully, just like an oversized pulk.

In spite of the heavy boat and the soft snow, the dogs had no problem with the weight of the boat. In less than an hour we had covered the 3 km (1.9 miles) or so to the lake and placed the boat securely to await thawing of the lake.

Fearing we might have to “abandon ship” somewhere along
the way, I popped my sled in the boat to be able to safely
bring the dogs back.                                   Photo: G. Uren

After a short lunch break we started to prepare for the return journey. This of course was equally exciting, because now we were dealing with an old, cracked and somewhat waterlogged wooden boat. This time the gang line was thread through a hole in the bow and fastened securely to the front seat and spun. The old boat was considerably heavier than its fiberglass counterpart. I was a little uncertain about whether the dogs would be able to pull it up the first steep hill. Would the boat stay in one piece or would the dogs just simply pull it apart?

Once again everything went beautifully. Following their own trail, the dogs were extra eager, so in spite of the now heavier boat, the greater friction and the dogs partially swimming through the deep wet sugary snow, we practically sped back up the hill and down the other side. Before we knew it we were back on Femund and the job was done.

Freighting like this was quite different from ordinary sledding, but it fully shows the versatility of a dog team, even a small one.

Despite a heavier boat and even softer snow,
the dogs have no trouble following their old
trail back to Femund.            Photo: G. Uren
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