During the half-term holiday, some St David’s College students travelled to the Arctic region of Lapland in Sweden to take part in one of our more unusual expeditions within the Outdoor Education Department. Braving average daily temperatures of around -10C to -15C, the group set off on a multi-day expedition, travelling by sleds pulled by Huskies.
Before ‘roughing it’ out on the wilderness trail, this year, the team got to enjoy what was possibly the most luxurious start to a St David’s expedition, when we got to celebrate Chloe’s 18th birthday at the world-famous Ice Hotel. But after an introductory day of fine foods, drinks, an incredible birthday cake and some breathtaking ice sculptures, it was back to business of looking after our dogs and getting ready for life in the freezer.
A day of training was all it took for everyone to bond with their individual dogs, learn how to attach their harnesses, chop the frozen meat (big sausages made from cows intestines!) to feed them and get to grips with steering the sleds. It was a lot to learn – especially as just keeping warm was hard enough. In the evening we had to strim down our expedition bags to the bare essentials before setting off on our journey the next day.
As well as the challenge of looking after our wonderful dogs, this year, the journey gave us a bit of everything the Arctic had to offer. At times, the sun shone and the snow crystals sparkled. At other times, we had the full blizzard and white-out experience. We drilled holes in the ice of a frozen lake and tried to catch fish, we stopped for lunch in a ‘lavu’ (think big tee-pee), we stayed in remote cabin in the woods, collected water from under a frozen river, chopped wood to keep the cabin warm and most incredible of all, we got to see the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky. Memories and experiences beyond belief!