On February the 22nd, 2016, Musher Raphael Fiegen and explorer Bert Poffé departed from the village of Hemavan to travel almost 500 kilometers on the famous Kungsleden, with arrival planned in Abisko. Their intention was to travel Kungsleden unsupported, with one sled and 10 dogs, including food and gear for themselves and the 10 dogs for 20 days. However, things didn’t go as planned. The combination of the (too) heavy sled for the slopes of the Kungsleden, deep fresh powder snow, the absence of a good frozen trail, and a dog team that was making its last trip before retirement made the team quickly realise that these circumstances would not allow them to cover the 500 km to Abisko.
Fearing for the health of the dogs, especially the acute risk of hip injuries and exhaustion with even more severe consequences, the musher Raphael wanted to continue, but finally opted for the wellbeing of the dogs, which Bert agreed with fully. Eventually they decided to interrupt the expedition at Ammarnäs, a small village of three streets and a few houses deciding that this was the best place to pull out and return to civilization. After Ammarnäs, continuing the expedition would have taken the team and dogs into terrain would go straight uphill, and also making any cancellation and pull-out much more difficult and dangerous for the team.
It takes time to come to terms with the fact that they didn’t reach the goal they set for the expedition but the expedition did not ‘fail’. The team travelled through one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and all came back safe and sound. Raphael and Bert learned a great deal from this experience, perhaps more than the adventures and expeditions that successfully achieve their objectives. The two explorers and last but not least the 10 dogs, Kenai, Ikuma, Magic, Chill, Alfa, Faruk, Iki, Kila, Nayeli and Yuma, and l film director Roman Gierenz; the man who had to learn snowmobiling in just one week and had to film in sometimes severe and harsh conditions without any support of a film crew, have become friends for life.