Alle bilder: foto: Anne Karang- hjertelig tusen takk!!!
Også megatakk til handlersjåfør Terje D og pakkehandler Oda I. uten dem, intet løp!! Vi gjør det gjerne igjen –
here in English:
Sitting at the window at the Solvang Camping before departure watching the dog team resting and Terje packing. This Year’s Finnmark 500 is history. But it was so great. I only have those 7 trained dogs plus a borrowed one, so I have been careful to avoid injury all winter. They felt fresh and eager after Femund 400 with Marte, and driving up with Terje was a pleasure! We stopped over and slept (and had some beer) at the start of Polar Distance with Sigmund and Kenneth on a boy’s trip. Reaching Alta we arrived at beautiful Solvang Camping on the riverbank, where Trond Hansen’s team and Finland based teams also stayed. Our friend Hallgeir runs the place with warmth!!! Terje and I went for a nice training round at Jotka.
The time before the start is always a bit hectic, but with Ingvild, Oda and Terje on board, I was ok. Up to Jotka we had a nice, fast run, difficult to stop the “eager to climb hills” ability that we have spent hours training for in Vektabakken………….after Jotka it got very windy, and I mushed on together with other teams in the dusk of day, increasing wind and plumpy trail that disappeared under drift. Speed slowed down deliberately to avoid exhausted dogs. Skoganvarre is like always, drunken Saturday party locals toghether with not so tired dogs and chaotic place for handler, eating, drinking, drying, trying (to sleep), and strategy. Rumours from handlers who had driven cars over the hills said it was a chaos of snow and drift on the next leg. Yes: they were right. I left out pretty alone after a planned 5 hour rest, and found myself having to go carefully from marker to marker, slow and concentrated in the drift. But Nanana and Kobuq don’t fail me; they found the way.. Going first, against the wind, is hard, and I was, after some time up up and away, caught up by Leiv and Yvonne SH mushers, and some other mushers. My GPS did not want to work for me that night, so I relied on markers and memory…..and a little information from my competitors. Joined Yvonne and a few others on the long run until dawn, to find that there is still a way to go. Slow, slow (Beda was already dropped at S due to her short legs and knowledge of possible trail conditions:she doesn’t run on soft plump). The last stretch to Levajok, down the creek, a little faster. The Tana river gave some unconcentrated dogs due to pee & and; shit and eat snow, warmer and no glide. But at Levajok they all settled down nicely, ate well and slept. I gave them an extra hour (had planned 5, gave 6) becauase of the previous storm and snow, and started out towards Karasjok at the end of the daylight. I did rest, but not sleep at Lavajok myself. Up the Tana River we had excellent trails and I went on alone for a LOOOONG time:that place is DAAAARK!!! Got caught up by one team after a snack rest stop, and followed closely behind him the last 40 km. Slow, easy, light snow, cool steady running with Sapian and NENANA in lead, Kobuq failed me at the end of the river last year, and got to go wheel this year just to be safe, which he liked for a change. Arriving Karasjok, my handlers still slept in a rented hotel room (bless them) and my bags were all ok, checkpoint routines easy as allways. My dogs are very good at checkpoint routines…..we did not leave on the assigned time, but allowed for another 5 hour rest as planned, and had a quick easy run up to Hundevidda. Down from Hundevidda I noticed that young Sajo got a bit stiff, and that Bardus had front problems, so I had to slow down quite a BIT. Reaching Jergul I immediately decided to leave Sajo behind simply because she is a very young dog and I want her to be happy. She did feel stiff! We spent the mandatory 6 hours here, Oda and terje patiently waiting while I slept a few hours, sun shining, dogs resting well, eating well, not needing their coats.
Right before departure I also took that leave behind decision for Bardus, as he weights a LOT and if he could not go on, he would be BIG in the sled bag. So I left with Kobuq in front, and the four finishers from last year, a safe deck of cards. Going up to Mollisjok is always beautiful, sunset and winter night, northern boreal lights, and the nice cabins…I LIKE. Neither Kobuq nor myself like Iesjavvre, and with poor GPS contact it felt like forever. Kobuq had to return to wheel, and Sapian went up front …..but tracking 4 km/hour was GPS fault, and all of a sudden the dogs speeded up and in a few minutes I was at Jotka. Snacking and changing battery for lamp, giving up GPS, and going over the lakes was easy. Going down again throught Detsika was hard, as Sapian also showed a sore shoulder on downhill. Slow down again, but getting there anyway. At the river, Kobuq wanted to sleep, but finally they saw Øvre Alta and knew we were soon there, and speeded up. Finish line one hour into the new day, in tightly falling snow, to a 28 place? GOOD!!! All five dogs ate a lot at the finish line! I have good eaters.