Life behind “doggie” behinds
I've been very lucky to get to join Siri Christine Fredriksen on a dog sledding trip. I have often wondered what it would be like to be a musher, having seen fantastic images from races and recreational sled dog adventures with beautiful weather on TV. With Siri I got to learn how much work it really takes to embark on a trip or a race like that.
Siri has been mushing for 2 years now and is quickly gaining experience. She mushes for Mesna Trekkhundklubb, Her kennel is Urban Huskies, which comprises of 16 dogs in total, 10 adults and 6 puppies. When I asked her how much time she spends on the sport, Siri replied, "Most of my activities revolves around the dogs and mushing. I'd say it's much more of a lifestyle than a hobby".
After having followed her around for a day, it's clear to me that mushing indeed is more of a lifestyle than anything else. She gets up early to feed the dogs breakfast, cleans up any excrements from their pens and grooms them. Then the dogs and all of their gear for the trip needs to get moved and packed into the trailer. After a long day of mushing, nightfall is already upon Siri and the dogs as they return to the kennel. Then it´s time for dinner, and they get kibble. While the dogs are eating, the mushers will cut up meat for them, and once the last piece of meat is devoured the lights are out in the kennel while the mushers hang the equipment up to dry, getting ready for the next day. To be able to do all this the mushers would need a compatible job, and Siri is currently working shift work which allows her extended periods of time off that she can spend with the dogs.
Even though the day-to-day life as a musher may seem exhausting, they seem to be driven by an inner force that rewards them in time spent together with the dogs as if they are all one big family, as well as unique time spent in the outdoors. I can sympathize with all of the factors making this a desirable lifestyle, including the bond between musher and dogs, the wilderness with all kinds of weather, beauty, wildlife encounters and amazing adventures together.
Mushing is also a competitive sport, and so far Siri has participated in the "Gausdal Marathon 200km" as well as twice in the "Gausdal 5 mil". She is now preparing for "Vikerfjelløpet" and "Jotunheimløpet". When I ask her about her goals, she quickly replies, "I wish to give this my all, to do well in races. Right now I´m still starting out from the bottom, but I wish to build a good team that is able to place in bigger races. The greatest dream is to participate and complete "Finnmarksløpet"."
Siri is a tough lady with a healthy dose of competitiveness. She sacrifices time and money to do this, putting all her effort and extra time into the dogs in order to reach her goals. I am confident that she has what it takes to reach her greatest goal and that we´ll see both her and her dogs on the start- and the finish-line of "Finnmarksløpet" in the near future.
//Christer Nannestad - Youtube & Instagram: Nansen_Bamsen
Translated by Bergljot Sindredottir Støer - Instagram: bergy_b