Visit Västerbotten

The Call of the Sorsele Wild

The trip begins in Ammarnäs. Up onto the Ammarfjället mountain and straight out into silence. You hear only the swishing of the sled and the dogs panting. Come along on a dog team adventure in true Jack London spirit.

The trip begins in north Ammarnäs, along the road that in summer takes you up onto Ammarfjället mountain, past the Bijergenas reindeer enclosure, where the Kungsleden trail begins. Just today, the summer road has not been cleared of snow. This time we are standing on a dog team sled.  It's very quiet. Thunderously quiet. We can hear the sound of the sled swishing through the snow and the dogs panting of course.  But thirty minutes ago when we were harnessing the dogs, the sounds were quite different. Forty dogs full of energy and raring to go. Forty dogs who can only release their pent-up energy by barking, howling and fighting with each other. In a way, this is the price you pay for harnessing them to a sled. Frustration. But as soon as we release the brakes and begin to move, as soon as the dogs start to run, everything is quiet. Complete silence except for the swishing of the sled and the dogs panting.

"The world he had so recently left, with its busy nations and great enterprises, seemed very far away ... recollections of marts and galleries and crowded thoroughfares ... men and dear women he had known, -- but they were dim memories of a life he had lived ... on some other planet."

We can only say that this trip on a dog sled from Ammarnäs into the Vindelfjällen mountain nature reserve with our guide Matthias Schnyder is a journey to another world. Mobile coverage ends after Höbäcken. Your updates on Instagram will have to wait. You need to concentrate on what's going on instead. Concentrate on the experience. If you would like a tip (even though I know you won't listen to me), the best way to enjoy the experience, the moment, of your trip is to leave your camera at home.
    Because if you have your camera with you, you will be looking forthe picture. But without your camera, you see things as they really are, experience the sounds, the scents and the movement. We are on our way to Vindelkroken, along the frozen ice of the Vindelälven river. We will spend our first night at Dalovardo and then travel all the way to the Norwegian border, to Grans sameby's summer settlement at Vindelkroken where Ingrid and Per Nils Pilto are already waiting for us. Ingrid, known to many from Per Morberg's "Matresa", who in so many ways can be called the Sami people's housekeeper. A true food ambassador. 

"As I say, we came thus through the forest, till the smell of the camp smoke was in our nostrils."

Our guide Matthias Schnyder is from Switzerland but he has lived in Sorsele with his family for many years. When Matthias and his wife Barblina were looking for a place to start their company he probably wanted to move to Yukon, to the home of the dog team. But Barblina thought Lapland was better. Just as good for the dogs but a simpler social life and closer to their customers in Europe. So they looked for a place with the social service they needed for a family, close to the kennel facility they needed for their dogs.
    They found everything they needed in Sorsele and today Mattias runs trips from December to May. He loves his dogs, his wilderness and his life. We love the experiences on offer. And things only get better when two days later we arrive at Vindelkroken where Per Nils and Ingrid have set the table for dinner. Char grilled on their wood-fired stove. Some grouse are hanging in the hallway; tomorrow's dinner. Later during the week we enjoyed other specialties like spiced fillet of reindeer, sausages made from cold-smoked reindeer mince, several other smoked reindeer delicacies, blood pancakes, marrowbone and a real old-fashioned reindeer fry-up. To paraphrase Carl Jonas Love Almqvist: "Everything's just fine". 

"There had been no snow for many days, and the sleds slipped along the hard-packed Yukon trail as easily as if it had been glare ice ... I d like to have you go along."

Unfortunately, all journeys have to come to an end. This one is no exception and we will soon begin our journey back to what is generally known as civilisation. But I don't think any of us really wants to go back. We have learned to take things easy. No mobiles, only simple things like fetching snow to melt to give the dogs water or feeding the dogs before having our own meals. The dogs are everything, or at least a priority, as much today as in Jack London's time. And Matthias of course has a "Buck", even if he doesn't run off into the forest with a wolf. There are so many ways to experience a dog team but travelling into the wilds where there are no roads, staying with Ingrid and Per Nils, who really offer something spectacular in all simplicity, and being in an area with very little snowmobile traffic makes the trip even more special.
    And travelling by dog team into the Vindel mountains is something new. In the old days Sami and pioneers skied, following reindeer or flocks of grouse, and then the "advance settlers" travelled to Norway to buy supplies at Meyergården. And then came the tractor, the car and the snowmobile. But now we're travelling by dog sled. It feels as if it belongs here somehow. Natural. There are many dog sled operators in Västerbotten offering world-class experiences. Matthias is one but there are three more in Sorsele alone. There are others in Lycksele and also in the valley to the south in Storuman municipality.
    But just today we are not concerned with where other people are, we are with Matthias on an exciting adventure that is not over yet.

All quotes are taken from Jack London's The Son of the Wolf and The Call of the Wild.