Archive for April, 2012by Northernmost on April 23, 2012 in Activities & Work, Gemma, Hilary, Lyra, Titan, Tuisku with No Comments
We have typical April weather here in Lapland – blue skies and sunshine one day, and heavy snowfall the next. On clear days we make trips to the mountains and when it’s snowing we work the dogs on the forest trails starting from home. Yesterday Fredrik took the 5-dog team out for a run while I enjoyed a lazy day in the cabin. After more than two weeks of daily working activities my legs are starting to feel a little heavy and it was nice to take a break from the trail, reading a book in front of the fire instead. We’re at the end of our winter and we have had a really good sledding season this year so I won’t miss Lapland too much when we head home this week. I’m ready to stow away sleds and skis and begin preparing for spring and summer!
Titan and Gem in wheel, Lyra and Hilary in the middle, and Tuisku in front. Tuisku has been working in single lead several times this season and has done really well!
Titan and Gem resting during a break on the trail.
We went for another trip in the blue world of the mountains this evening. The top layer of the trail was a bit soft from fresh snow and perfect for skijoring with skating skis. We had planned to ski down to Sioskuru but had to change our route as the trail was closed due to avalanche risk in the area. Instead we climbed to the top of Ounastunturi to admire the views of Enontekiö. On our way down we bumped into a group on mountain bikes who were going on a fell expedition on two wheels! Biking in the snow looks odd to me, but they seemed to have a good time. Hopefully the weather will stay cold during the next few days or else they’ll find themselves stuck in deep snow
Yesterday I took the trio for a ride in the beautiful low fell area surrounding the village of Näkkälä. The temperature was around -2C when we left home but due to the wind chill factor it dropped down to -20C about halfway into the trail. Must have been the first time ever that I wasn’t geared up for the weather. Dressed for spring, I was like a frozen icicle when we returned home in the evening.
My small team of Malamutes – Tuisku, Gem and Titan.
At least I didn’t have to worry about cold feet as I was wearing these fantastic boots. If you’re looking for something warm for next winter I can highly recommend the Swedish Jörnkängan. These boots are handmade and quite pricey but warmer than any boot I’ve tried so far.
Three happy tails
Another stunning day in Lapland and perfect weather for a picnic! We packed our rucksacks and skijored to nearby Lake Ullajärvi with the pups and Tuisku and enjoyed a lazy day in the sun. It was a good opportunity for socialization as many people passed our lean-to shelter on the skiing trail and the pups had to practise being passive and quiet, also when other dogs were passing by, which isn’t always that easy. We also had company of four curious Siberian Jay birds who came to feed off our picnic. After the trip we headed straight for the wood heated sauna. In other words, a very typical day in Lapland
Yesterday we harnessed up Tuisku, Gem and Titan after dinner and went for a ride in the mountains. This time of the year the sun doesn’t set until 9.30 in the evening and with every day we have about thirty minutes of more daylight. Around midsummer the sun doesn’t set at all for several weeks and if the snow remains on higher altitudes we can go skijoring under the midnight sun. I’m surprised sometimes that so few people have discovered Lapland – we often have the trail and the views all to ourselves. Last night we spent two hours climbing before reaching the plateau where we enjoyed about an hour of leisurely skijoring before it was time to start the long descent home. When skijoring without a sled or pulk, going downhill is almost as tough as going uphill as you have to constantly use your legs and feet as brakes to slow down. Our Mals are always extra eager when we set out on a mountain trip. I guess they can sense the adventure the same way we do and the wind that sweeps through the valleys carries all sorts of interesting information for scent-oriented Malamutes. We didn’t see any reindeer or wild animals last night, but in Lapland they are never far away.
We travelled to a village near the Norwegian border today and went for a short run with the sled along the Arctic Trail which connects Finland with Norway and Sweden. Lyra and Hilary are SO good in harness, feels like they are professional sled dogs already! I had to look in their Puppy Training Gallery to see how many times they’ve actually worked on a 3-dog team (I save photos from all their working activities in this album, just to keep track) and found that this was actually only their second time in front of the sled. Wow, makes me even more impressed! Tuisku did great in single lead and we had a lovely day in the sun. On our way home we discovered some new trails that we haven’t tried before so I’m keen to go back to explore those. This weekend I’m skiing with my mom and we’re also taking Tuisku, Titan and Gem for a longer ride. Wish the holiday could go on forever!
On Sunday we brought the pups and the sunny weather with us and travelled to Sweden to meet with our friends Sara and James Barstow of Ayakulik Alaskan Malamutes. Sara and James are currently on a Grand Tour of Lapland together with their three Alaskan Malamutes so we decided to meet up near Jukkasjärvi in the heart of Swedish Lapland for a wilderness weekend. Sara and James own Lyra’s litter brother “Xion “(Sledog Dream Factory) so this was a great chance for the siblings to get together for a playdate. We had amazing weather during both days and besides chatting about Malamutes and having saunas we managed to squeeze in some sledding and skijoring too. Hilary and Lyra gained some more valuable trail experience and had plenty of fun playing with the very sweet and handsome Xion. Thanks Sara, James, Oakley, Kiska and Xion for a great weekend!
We woke up to -23C and clear blue skies and were quick to get ready after breakfast. Cold weather means perfect trails and we had fantastic skijoring today, completing 33km (20.5 mi) along our “local” trail that connects Hetta in Finland with Kautokeino in Norway. The dogs love the cold weather and needed fewer breaks to cool down than yesterday. The hard trails meant effortless skijoring but the intense sunshine takes its toll and I think we’re all having an early night tonight!
Our Easter Holiday couldn’t have started better – perfect dogs, trails and weather and happiness all around. It’s days like these we dream of during the dark winter and that make all the hard work worthwhile. Tuisku, Gem and Titan have been on a sledding picnic today and our youngsters, Hilary and Lyra, have been trying out working independently in harness on a skijoring trip on the lake. We stay out from dawn to dusk to make the most of our time in Lapland. To us this is true bliss!
Minus ten degrees celsius, sunshine and LOADS of snow. We’re in Malamute paradise! While the fur kids are busy exploring their new surroundings, we are shoveling snow, filling up the dog houses with fresh straw, fetching water, and keeping the fire going to warm up the cabin. Always plenty of work to do before we’re settled in but come Easter and we’ll be ready to hit the trail!