Tuesday, March 9, 2010


A "pulka" is a small toboggan that can be dragged by either a human or a dog. I have two, both around 4 feet long (1.30 m). Above is one I use mostly around the cabin, to transport firewood and, when cleaning the dog houses, hay. It looks like just an oversized kid's toy, but this very make has been used on expeditions to the South Pole so it can't be too bad. I just use some rope to drag this one around.

Below is the one I use for trips and my low-scale expeditions, kitted out in this case to accommodate a man-harness. (More about hooking this up to a dog in a later post.) With this I can easily transport three times as much as I could carry in a backpack.

There is a blurry distinction between pulkas and dog sleds. Some larger pulkas are equipped with a brake and I've seen them hooked up to as many as four dogs. When mushing came to Scandinavia in the wake of polar exploration in the early 20th century most dog drivers chose to combine sledding with skiing, leading to the so-called "Nordic style". Even the largest sleds were constructed without runners to stand on, instead the musher would use skis and be attached to the sled with a rope. Doing anything in the snow without skis was considered just too weird, "Nome-style" sledding didn't catch on until the 1980's. There is even a style of competitive mushing called "Nordic" with skis, one or two dogs, usually German short-haired pointers, and a futuristic-looking pulka entirely useless for any serious transport.

I used a pulka today while walking to the train stop, the gravel has started to stick out of the snow on the logging road so I'm not skiing there unless it snows more. Using a pulka while walking is considered real village idiot material but my neighbours are used to my experiments in transportation by now.


Anonymous said...

I read the piece in Hundekjøring. But I sort of disagree. I met up with Bembo's son Sniff on his way to Finnmark; in a parking lot in Eleverum yesterday. He spent his first year with me. He was very happy to see me, and really said he recognized me sooo much! Tail waggie waggie. My oldie Chigga ran away from my dad's house if she could, every time I traveled, to go to my job site to see if she could find me there. They do attach to people very much, at least some!

Anonymous said...

I have seen a big pulka pulled by 8 dogs (with a brake). I have also seen a nansen sled for 8-10 dogs and a skier.