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Dog sledging in Granö

Posted in Västerbotten E by
Huskytocht Granö Beckasin

One of the winter activities planned for my press trip to Umeå and the surrounding area (February 2020) was a dog sled ride. We were expected at the lodge early in the morning (well, around 9am) for the briefing. We were to drive the dog sled with enthusiastic huskies ourselves! I had previously obtained my reindeer driver’s license (basically just a certificate that shows you did this) after a round of reindeer sledding in Finland and had read about a husky ride in advance.

huskytocht

Husky sled and animal welfare

One of my concerns, as always when there is something on the agenda with animals, was whether the animals really like it. In a previous life I worked as a zookeeper in a seal rescue center and although my diploma takes a completely different direction, I there learned a lot about animal behavior and repetitive behavior.

Now, I expected the Scandinavians to work with respect for nature and animals. And that was immediately apparent too. The stories of the dog keepers showed the love for their animals. There was also a lot of transparency. You can just walk between the spacious enclosures of the huskies. That gives confidence.

Huskytocht Granö Beckasin

Moreover, despite their hard work, the enthusiasm of the animal keepers showed that they only want the best for their animals. So I was immediately reassured. And when I saw the dogs’ enthusiasm to run with the sled, the last doubt was gone. These huskies love to run! That way I could enjoy this husky trip a lot more myself as well.

The brake of the dogsled

Uitleg over de hondenslee

The guides explained how we could drive the husky sled. For example, it was important that someone always stood on the brakes when we stood still. So while all the dogs were led to their place in the sled, one of us was on the brakes, while the other was able to greet the dogs. The dogs could barely overcome their enthusiasm to start running and if you let go of the brake, they are gone! We also learned how to help the huskies when it was uphill. Yes, you also have to work when riding a dog sled!

De rem van de hondenslee

I was quite nervous, but I soon got the hang of it and really enjoyed the environment. Contrary to the snowmobile ride, after a while I was really on my own ease. It was wonderful to work with the huskies.

Through the forest with the huskies

Although it is not difficult, it proofed not to be very easy either. That became clear when the dog sled in front of us tilted. A little later they also didn’t have the brakes properly and the dogs were almost alone! Fortunately, the supervisors were alert. I myself suddenly lost my hat. The husky ride went through the woods, along narrow paths between (and sometimes under) the trees. My hat had been caught by one of the branches of the tree! I didn’t really mind the loss but we made a round back so I could get my hat back. And of course it was better to collect it so it wouldn’t lay around in the woods.

Huskytocht Granö Beckasin

It was a beautiful sunny day and it was not cold at all. Halfway through the tour, we changed drivers and I was allowed to take a seat on the sled. I was able to take some beautiful photos. I even had one of them printed on canvas and I can’t wait to give it a nice place in my new home.

Huskytocht Granö Beckasin

After the dog sled ride, there was still time to pet the animals and take pictures. We talked a bit with the caretakers and then it was time for us for the next activity. I now secretly dream of a multi-day husky trip!

Huskytocht Granö Beckasin

Practical information: dog sledging at Granö Beckasin

At Granö Beckasin you have the choice between 4 options: from an hour and a half to half a day or a full day and an evening trip in the moonlight (with the chance of seeing the northern lights but then you don’t drive yourself). You can borrow warm clothing on the spot. You can also take a husky trip in the summer months. The sled is then on wheels. Prices start from 850 SEK (about 85 euros). More information can be found on their website.

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Dog sledging at Granö Beckasin
20 January 2021
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Vasaloppet, a popular cross-country race

Vasaloppet Mora

Vasaloppet is a popular cross-country ski race that is organised in Dalarna (Central Sweden). The event takes place on the first Sunday of March.

Cross-country skiing is a combination of ice skating and skiing. You have long, narrow skis at your feet, you slide your feet forward and make a specific cross-country movement. You can also use sticks to speed up movement by pushing your body forward on arm strength.

From Sälen to Mora

The cross-country skiers of Vasaloppet cover a ninety kilometer route. With a start in Sälen and a finish in Mora, it was the longest of its kind for a long time. It is also the oldest cross-country skiing race (since 1922) and the one with the most participants. It is a gigantic event and everyone can participate. Both top athletes and ordinary citizens can register. Every year there are also famous Swedes who participate, often for a good cause.

Thousands of people participate in the Vasaloppet or come to support the participants. Due to great success, the organizers created different variants. Nowadays you can also run and cycle the distance in a competition at the end of August. In Mora you can also visit the museum about the Vasalopp.

Vasaloppet Mora

About kranskulla and blåbärsoppa

The lady and gentleman who may hand over the crown of victory to the winner are called kranskulla and kransmas. They are real ambassadors for the event.

No less than 50,000 liters of blåbärsoppa (blue currant juice) are served during the Vasaloppet week. The participants get this at the supply stations.

Gustav Vasa

With the Vasaloppet contest they commemorate the flee of the later Swedish king, Gustav Vasa, by the Danish king Christian II and his troops. In the winter of 1520-1521, Gustav Vasa made this same trip on skis, but in the opposite direction.

Stockholm bloodbath

Source Wikipedia

In 1520, the young nobleman Gustav Ericsson Vasa was fleeing from the troops of the Danish king Christian II. Much of the Swedish nobility was in opposition to the king, and had nicknamed him Christian the Tyrant. In a move to silence the opposition, Christian invited the Swedish aristocracy to a reconciliation party in Stockholm, only to have them, including Gustav’s parents, massacred in what came to be known as the Stockholm Bloodbath.

Gustav fled through Dalarna, fearing for his life if he were discovered by the king’s troops. He spoke to the men of Mora at a gathering and tried to convince them to raise a levy and start a rebellion against King Christian. The men refused to join the rebellion, and Gustav started out west, toward Norway to seek refuge.

Lars & Engelbrekt

However, the men in Mora changed their minds after hearing that the Danish rulers had decided to raise taxes, and now they wanted to join the rebellion with Gustav as their leader. They sent out the two best skiers in the county, two brothers from Mora, Lars and Engelbrekt, to search for him and they caught up with him at Sälen.

On June 6, 1523, Gustav Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, after defeating the Danish King Christian and dissolving the Kalmar Union. Since that day, Sweden has been an independent nation.

Although Gustav traveled from Mora to Sälen, the modern race is run in the opposite direction arriving in Mora. Vasaloppet is part of “En Svensk Klassiker”, about which more here.

Are you up for the challenge? You can register via this link.

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Vasaloppet
18 January 2021
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By snowmobile through Västerbotten

Posted in Västerbotten E by
Tussenstop met de sneeuwscooter in Västerbotten

A few years ago I drove a snowmobile through Åre and the surrounding area. I wrote extensively about it (whether you need a driving license to drive a snowmobile, what to wear in terms of clothing, what it is like to drive a snowmobile,…). You will also find such practical information there. Today I want to show you some pictures of a snowmobile ride at Granö Beckasin.

At Granö Beckasin you can not only spend the night in a Bird’s Nest, it is also the starting point for many winter adventures, like a snowmobile tour. We got warm overalls, warm winter boots and extra warm mittens. Then we got explanations about the snowmobiles and how to drive it.

Explanations on how to drive a snowmobile

Snowmobiles

Snowmobiles aren’t really for me. I knew that from last time. I was happy to leave the steering to my partner during this press trip to Umeå (February 2020). Last time I felt quite comfortable on the back, but this time I really wasn’t.

Onderweg met de sneeuwscooter

Was it the tension, the steering or a combination, I don’t know but I quickly felt nauseous. When we stopped along the way for ice fishing and then drove to the other side of the lake for a cozy fika, I was very relieved. It took a while before I could relax again. The surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful! So it was worth it, lol.

Ice fishing

IJsvissen Granö Beckasin

I had already done ice fishing in Finland. Then none of our group caught anything. This time we had better luck. We made a few holes in the ice and started fishing.

Vis gevangen bij ijsvissen

Fika

Fortunately, a fika was provided with sandwiches and coffee, because to be honest, we wouldn’t have survived if we had to do it with those few small fish. We need more practice!

Fika by the fire

These are really the nicest moments in Scandinavia in winter: a fire in a snowy landscape and then something tasty to eat and warm up with coffee or tea.

Practical info: by snowmobile through Västerbotten

At Granö Beckasin you can choose between a 2 hour introductory tour or a half day tour (which we did) with a stop for ice fishing and coffee with a sandwich. Other options include an evening tour with the option to see the Northern Lights or a full day by snowmobile with lunch and ice fishing. Prices via the website.

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4 January 2021
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