Fjӓllrӓven is a word few have ever heard or can pronounce. But that’s not stopping Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduate (2008) Emily Rae Carter from competing in Fjällräven Polar, a four-day dog sledding trek across the Arctic tundra.
Starting in Signaldalen, Norway, 20 daring participants, 100 Alaskan huskies, and resident survival expert Johan Skulman will sled through low-lying mountain terrain and tundra in sub-Arctic wilderness and sleep in sub-zero temperatures, learning basic survival skills along the way.
Ms. Carter, who now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and describes herself as an adventurer and lover of all cold weather activities, described the trip as the “opportunity of a lifetime.”
“I have always wanted to go to Sweden,” Emily told The Times. “This is kind of a unique opportunity to try something new and get to go and see something different, that I probably wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.”
Emily’s desire to travel to Sweden is deeply rooted. “My great grandfather was born in Sweden, and it’s a part of my heritage that I’ve always been interested in learning more about,” she said. “So that makes it especially meaningful for me.”
Competition is steep. Emily is competing against 817 adventure seekers, including 40 Americans, each of whom submitted an entry that consists of a short video or a photograph and an explanation of why they should be chosen to go on the trip. Through December 10, visitors to the website are invited to vote.
One applicant has received close to 11,000 votes. Others are in the thousands, many in the hundreds. One person from each country with the most votes will automatically be awarded a spot. A second applicant from each country will also be selected, based on their creativity and the content of their application.
“I think this makes it fair and less of a popularity contest,” Emily said.
In her video, Emily asks a friend to teach her some basic Swedish phrases such as “how are you” and “goodbye” before putting on her ski mask and gleefully looking into the camera and saying “Okay, let’s do this.”
The 300-kilometer adventure will begin on April 8, 2014. At some point during the fourth day, mushers we will reach their final destination and be welcomed by a sauna, warm beds, and a festive meal.
“That’s not the exciting part,” Emily said. “The fun stuff is getting to sleep out in the snow. It’s definitely going to be difficult. But it will be worth it, and at the end, I can say, it was challenging but I made it through.”