Archive for the ‘ACTIVITIES & WORK’ Categoryby Northernmost on April 15, 2012 in ACTIVITIES & WORK, Gemma, Lapland, Nature, Skijoring & Sledding, Titan, Tuisku with No Comments
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!
Spring has arrived with a bang! There’s open water on the lake and the whooper swans are keeping us awake at night with their loud “whooping” calls that can be heard for kilometres. Another sure sign of spring are our females in season. We are keeping our fingers crossed they’ll all be in and out of season before we travel to Lapland later this month. This weekend was filled with fun activities; we went to an interesting and rewarding puppy class on Saturday and enjoyed a long sunny walk afterwards. On Sunday we put our skis on and conditions are really perfect right now – we can ski anywhere on the hard frozen crust and are not limited to any trails. When you’re skijoring behind an eager Malamute, with the wind at your back and the sun on your face, it’s easy travelling
We’ve been on a weekend trip to Vålådalen in Jämtland to meet with our friends Aimee Campbell and Ian Elliott from the UK. Ian and Aimee are on holiday in Dalarna in Sweden so we decided to meet up about halfway between Dalarna and our home for a fun “Malamute weekend”. Sweden is a relatively big country so the journey from our home on the coast to Vålådalen is 580km (360 mi) single way. I wish we had been closer as then we would have been able to spend more time together.
Ian and Aimee are the owners of Twisp and Leader (Mountain Home’s Packice Twisp WTD WPD WWPD and Mountain Home’s Lead Dog at Packice WTD WPD WWPD) who are full siblings of our girl Hilary but from a previous litter. They also own Dash, who is the uncle of our Titan, and senior girls Breezer and Kia who are related to Dash. It was therefore natural for us to bring along Hilary and Titan on this trip and also our girl Lyra, who is related to the Packice dogs through both Mountain Home and the UK bloodlines. Talk about a family reunion!
From left to right: Leader, Breezer, Dash and Twisp.
We had all kinds of weather during our stay in Vålådalen – snow, rain, strong winds and a glimpse of the sun too. I didn’t use the camera much because of the weather but I know Aimee took some pictures so hopefully we’ll get to see them later. We had a lovely time together and made two short trips along the local trails. The Packice Malamutes have superb manners and are perfect trail companions so it was an ideal opportunity for our gang (who very rarely encounter other dogs when out working) to share the trail with these friendly Mals. Hopefully we’ll be able to have a similar “family reunion” another year!
Puppy training update:
Hilary and Lyra worked really well in harness throughout the weekend and we are very pleased with their performance – they are true naturals in harness! While the girls haven’t completed many miles they have nevertheless experienced many useful things during their first working season:
- Working on a 2-dog skijoring team
Working on a 3-dog sledding team
Different terrains – flat and hilly
Different weather and trail conditions
Working alongside unknown dogs
Encountering snowmobiles, people and wildlife on the trail
To us, puppy training is more about “trail socialization” than actual physical training. Most important is that all early experiences are of a positive kind so that the harness, sled and skis is associated with having fun! We feel that Hilary and Lyra now have a good foundation for the future and during the rest of the season we can focus more on training our adult dogs. You can view photos from the girls’ first season in harness in their Working Gallery.
After a couple of days with cold temps the trails are hard again and Thunder, Tuisku and Leia have been out sledding during the weekend. This winter we try to avoid lakes and rivers as much as possible as ice conditions remain extremely unsafe due to the mild weather we had in the beginning of the season. Instead we have been exploring the forests near the coast, searching the map for long, uninterrupted stretches with few road crossings. So far we have been trying out a new trail almost every week, which is great for the dogs who get extra energetic when exploring new territories. We hope the weather will stay cold during the 4 weeks before we travel up to Lapland for our spring vacation. Would be great if we could get in top form for the big trails.
March has arrived with southern winds and above zero temperatures. There’s no risk our snow will disappear completely as we have plenty of it, but the trails are mushy and wet and we need a couple of days of cold weather before we can hit the trail again. I’ve added some mixed photos from the last few days; before the mild weather arrived we went on a skijoring excursion with Titan and Gem, exploring the trails of a neighbouring village. There are also a few pics of Hilary and Lyra hanging out in their playarea. The pups play outside for a few hours each day and then we bring them inside for the night. The original plan was to let them move outdoors permanently around this age but we’ve become so used to having them in our kitchen that I’m not sure we’re ready to let them move outdoors just yet. Are we spoiling them??? Nooooooo….
We introduced our puppies to sledding today and they did great! The sun was shining from a clear blue sky and the trail was hard-packed and frozen so the conditions were perfect for hooking up Hilary and Lyra in front of the sled. Tuisku worked in single lead and did a good job of keeping the gangline tight and showing the girls how it’s done. We only let the pups run a tiny distance since they are still young, instead the purpose of training right now is to get them accustomed to the set up and make sure they look forward to their next time in harness. Lyra and Hilary showed they are natural sled dogs by keeping their tuglines tight and staying focused on the trail ahead. Well done pups!!
Mild weather and punchy snow – not ideal conditions for sledding but Tuisku, Leia and Thunder nevertheless had a nice day out on the trail today.
Our Big Bear, Leia, will be seven years old next week (February 27th) while Tuisku and Thunder have their birthdays in July; Tuisku will be seven while Thunder will be eight. Where have the years gone??
I hope they will stay healthy and be able to work in harness for many years to come.
Today it was time for Lyra and Hilary’s second run in harness and they did amazingly well. I tried to keep them at a steady trot but it was hard as they were eager to run. Below are some mixed pics from today, it was a beautiful Sunday!
You can view a short clip of the pups on YouTube: