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this  7  day  trip  basicly  had  it  all…

it´s  getting  spring  in  svalbard  and  the  valleys  are  filling  with  melting  water  making  traveling  tough. however, as soon as you go a bit higher and into the smaller valleys, you still find great trails to run on. wearing rubber boots and using an older rugged sled would be the choice now. despite the difficulties, it´s still beautiful out there and seeing the team coming together and gaining strength is a rewarding  feeling.  sure,  we  had  some  set  backs,  since  the  boys  were  fighting a few times. having a team of young males, brothers, isn´t easy at times. especially when they are 15 months old and in “high puberty”! but nothing serious. i  was  running  them  again  in  a  2-4  hour  schedule,  then  shut  them  down  for  4-6  hours,  to  run  them  for  another  2-4  hours  depending  on  the  trail  conditions. you can over due young dogs fast, so it is critical to find a good balance of rest, so they keep on going and still keep the spirit up. sometimes i caught myself wanting to push on, since i´d prefer seeing more land, traveling more like a race, covering ground. but there is no use for it in this envorment. trails are mostly heavy going and if you just focus on the goal you miss out on the beauty around… so, taking it easy, and simply see it as training and camping trip is what it is in the end. testing out material and methods are secondary things to figure out. my  traveling  routine  is  basicly  the  following,  now: getting  up  at  around  8  to  let  out  nipi,  putting  him  on  the  stake  out  and  say  hello  to  the  other  boys.  then  i  boil  water  and  listen  to  some  audio  book  tunes, which most likly will be ALF, the tv series from the 80s. i don´t know why, but i like that show… it takes me about 1hour to boil down the snow for 6liters of water to prepare dog food, 2 thermoses for myself and my morning müsli. then i feed the dogs, pet them a bit and go back inside to eat and relax for a bit longer. breaking camp and hooking up the dogs takes time too, so i get out at 11, approx… running  them  still  involves  lots  of  short  stopping,  eating  cookies  and  chocolate  and  drink  a  cup  of  tea.  especially  now  since  it  got  warm  and  progress depends alot on how good the trails are. each valley differs and it´s alot of climbing and decending. this trip had maybe 2.500meters elevation gain, maybe more… if we say i would run them 3 hours, 2oclock would be time to stop. i basically make it depend on the status of the dogs and on the trail ahaid of us, obviously.  but  also  on  where  i  can  secure  the  team  and  set  up  the  tent.  i  don´t  bother  about  the  stake  out  and  just  secure  the  pulling  line.  snack  them  and set up the tent, throw my gear and rifle in and one of the other boys  for some quality time,  too. 3hours are filled  with  naps  and  some  reading  as  i  wait  to get going again. it´s always nice to have one of the other boys inside. time to bond and see that they all enjoy the time with me inside. starting  out  is  normally  around  7  again,  to  run  another  3-4  hours  with  a  little  snacking  before  going  again. the biggest issue is to find a spot to set up the stake out line, later, as there are many reindeers in the valleys now. and those guys are curious. not afraid at first,  instead  coming  really  close  to  a  bunch  of  barking  dogs  from  5km  away…  find stones, ice to set an ice drill or even some pipes out of mining times makes  it  possible.  using  the  ankers  and  the  tipped  sled  for  extra  security  lets  you  sleep  well… after setting up the tent and storing the gear it is time to melt snow for dog food and thermoses again. while listening to ALF again i usually change socks and stuff wet gear in my sleeping bag, check the maps and maybe read a bit about Svalbard history. after  feeding  the  dogs  with  dry  food  and  some  melted  butter  out  of  my  cooler  I  will  eat  myself  and  bring  Nipi  inside.  he  knows  when  i  come  out  and  when i  unhook  him  he  right  away  launches  into  the  tent  and  lays  flat  right  away  next  to  the  sleeping  bag  with  a  bit  of  his  front  body  resting  on  the  insulation mat,  every  time!  he  enjoys  it  as  much  as  i  do.  he  is  used  to  it  too,  since  he  used  to  hike  with  me  alone,  sleep  in  my  bed  in  cabins  and  apartments. having Nipi next to me knowing that my first  bear  alarm  system  is  outside  safe  on  their  stake  out  line  and  the  second  is  in  my  tent  makes  me  sleep  like  a stone…  until  the  next  day  and  another  travel

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