Sleeping outdoors with dogs

In Norwegian there is a word describing the close connection of the people and nature. It is called “friluftsliv” – directly translated “free air life” which is an important part of Scandinavians culture (you even have univerity courses under this name!).

I am a big fan of being outdoors, especially with my dogs, so I quickly tried to acquire the friluftsliv feeling. The possibilities are great in Norway, there is loads of untouched nature to explore and wild camping is also allowed, so everything is given to make some great memories outside.

In this post I want to show you, that camping and being outdoors does not necessarily mean a long trip or getting out of your comfort zone. Of course, a lot depends on where you live and you do need to prepare a bit, but it is not always as hard, as it seems like. Sometimes it takes only a short night out. Because that is what friluftsliv is about, simply getting outside.

The Easter holidays were unfortunately really busy for us, but we have decided to take a break from studying and spend a night out in the forest. The weather had been amazing for days and we were all eager to get out a bit. Since we still had to finish our assignments, we decided to only take a small trip in our home area, so we only left in the afternoon, around dinner time.

Before starting to pack we quickly checked the weather forecast. It was very promising, with quite warm temperature, it only predicted a bit of rain for early morning. Still, we packed some warmer clothes in addition. The most important thing I have learnt about camping and hiking is that you should always be prepared. Weather can be really unpredictable at times.

We decided to skip tenting and just bring our hammocks, but we brought a tarp to put over us, so we would not get wet over night. We also packed our warmer sleeping bags, and a foam mattress and our reindeer pelt to put under us.

For dinner we packed sausages to grill over the fire, and some lompe (a kind of potato tortilla) to eat them with. To make our Norwegian hot-dogs even more authentic we have also brought some fried onion and ketchup (and mayo, because I am that kind of weird person, who eats everything with that).

The dogs were fed early afternoon, so we would not have to carry their food too. I tried to leave as much time as possible between the feeding and the departure, so they could digest in peace and I would not have to worry about bloating.

As they also slept outside with us, we brought their stake-out. This is made of wire (we usually use it on races), so it is heavier than a regular leash, but even though my dogs are not the chewing types, I wanted to make sure they will be at the same place where I left them before going to sleep.

Once we were done with packing we could hit the trail. I thought by spending only one night outside we will “travel light”, but we had two full backpacks and an additional dog backpack in the end. Well, at least we were well-prepared!

The dogs were harnessed (except Koda, who was carrying the dog backpack) and attached with a bungee leash to our belts. We usually hike like this, it is called dogtrekking. This way the dogs may pull, since they have their harnesses on, which makes uphills more fun and downhills a bit harder.

Even though our trip was made in the middle of April, there was still quite loads of snow on the track were walking on. The dogs loved it, I on the other hand fell hip-deep into it, so I had a bit of struggle, especially since the dogs were pulling me in the meantime. Still, we have managed to make it to a nearby ridge, with a nice spot for a bonfire and with a view to some local mountains.

 

We put the dogs on the stake-out and went looking for some fire wood. The conditions were quite wet, but we have managed to find some dead trees that were dry enough to light a fire.

We set the fire in the snow, so it was unlikely, that it would spread onto the surroundings. Always make sure it’s allowed and safe to light a fire and that you never leave it unattended. Many of the wildfires are caused by irresponsible people that are not paying enough attention.

Our hot-dog dinner got ready really quickly and I must say, everything tastes better outside, even if it gets a bit burnt. We even boiled water next to the fire in a small pot, so we could top our gourmet experience with a cup of hot chocolate.

Since we left quite late, once we were done with food and drank the last sip of our warm drinks we were ready to hit the bed. We put up our hammocks and the tarp over them and changed to our pyjamas (which basically means our base layer, thick socks and a hat). The huskies were already sleeping, Tivo even dug a small bed for himself. They have thick fur, so they feel comfortable about colder temperatures, but if you have shorthaired dogs I recommend you to consider putting a jacket on them.

We had a nice and calm night. I was a bit scared of mooses, but I was assured that they smell well and would not come close, so I slept like a rock until early morning. I woke up to the sound of the rain. It was around 8 o’clock, but the others were still asleep. I decided not to wake them up, but to take a small nap until our black and white, furry alarm clock (usually called Tivo) will start whining.

It seems like the dogs also enjoyed sleeping outdoors, because they  were only up around 11. I can’t recall the last time I have managed to rest this much, it felt amazing. Fresh air really does the magic.

We did not pack breakfast, since it only took us around half an hour to walk home, so we quickly packed our stuff together, to get back before hunger hit us. We made sure not to leave any litter behind and that the fire is fully out, put on the dogs’ harnesses and we were ready to go.

The dogs were eager to hike again and they pulled us all the way back home.

There we took out our gear once again to hang and dry them before packing them away for the next adventure. Take proper care of your equipment and they will thank you by serving you for a long time.

To finish off our mini-adventure we made waffles and had a nice brunch on our veranda. We were well-rested and ready to go back to studying refreshed.

 

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