Archive for the ‘Skijoring & Sledding’ Categoryby Northernmost on April 8, 2014 in ACTIVITIES & WORK, Hilary, Lapland, Lyra, Skijoring & Sledding, Titan, Wilder with No Comments
Someone said that Lapland is a place where heaven touches the earth and I think it’s true, especially on a sunny day in spring. When the sky is blue and you’re up above the treeline, it feels as if you could almost reach out and touch the candy floss clouds with your hands. We had a wonderful time out on the trail and I’ve taken lots of photos that I’ve uploaded to a gallery. Below are some of our favourite moments from a trip that can be summed up by “perfect weather and perfect dogs”
Hello mountains here we come!
The dogs ran like clockwork, despite not having had much training on snow this winter.
Titan and Lyra teamed up well.
Me & our Miss Congeniality aka Hilary.
Fredrik setting up our tent in the snow – clear skies meant a cold night but we managed with reindeer hides and down sleeping bags. I kept my feet warm wearing nuvttagat.
From left to right – Wilder, Hilary, Titan and Lyra.
This was Wilder’s first multiday excursion and he did everything we asked from him – worked like a pro in front of the pulk and slept quietly on the stakeout at night. His big sis is a good teacher!
You could almost touch the sky here.
This was around 8.00 o’clock in the morning – we got up when it was still dark to feed the dogs and when we hit the trail a couple of hours later we had it all to ourselves.
Love my new small-sized Polaris sled – it glides on the snow like a dream.
Lyra found herself a good lookout spot – she likes to keep an eye on everything that’s going on.
Titan doing his signature snow roll ;-)
♥ Happiness is tired dogs ♥
The yearning for snow became so strong that we decided to travel up to Lapland for a couple of weeks of real winter! There are HEAPS of snow in Lapland and everything is just the way it should be in April: heavy snowfall one day, brilliant sunshine the next and the trails are still frozen and fast. We’ve brought along Hilary, Wilder, Lyra and Titan and look forward to a fun holiday together. Lapland in April is pure bliss
Finally some snow !!!
We went skijoring this morning but the trail was too soft and punchy for the dogs and we had to travel slowly to avoid injuries. Can’t believe how mild this winter has been…we have hardly had two weeks of continuous cold weather since November! Today we had +4°C which is much too warm for double-coated Malamutes. The forecast for next week is rain and even higher temperatures, I wonder if there will be any snow left by the end of this month?! I’m glad we still have our holiday in Lapland to look forward to as we haven’t been able to complete many miles this winter. But, why stress about snow and mileage when the dogs are happy and healthy? It’s not like we’re training for the Iditarod…
Pretty Gem at nearly 6.5 years of age.
It’s too hot!!!
We continue to add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to Gem’s food and her coat looks great!
We’ve been away on a quick visit to Dalarna to meet with Ian and Aimee and Mark and Allison from the UK who are in Sweden on holiday together with their Alaskan Malamutes. Ian and Aimee own Hilary’s full siblings Leader and Twisp (from a different breeding) and this year it was premiere for Twisp’s pups, Rolo, Sasha and Rossi, to gain some working experience on snow. We spent two sunny days together in Drevdagen in northwestern Dalarna which has plenty of beautiful trails and is quickly becoming a popular vacation spot for mushers from all over Europe. It was a lovely break from the dull weather we have had on the coast this winter and a great chance for Hilary and Wilder to share trail with two teams of friendly dogs. We had plenty of opportunities to train passings and trail etiquette which is an invaluable experience, especially for a young dog like Wilder. It doesn’t look that far on the map but it took about twelve hours to drive down to Dalarna (including breaks for the dogs) but it was well worth it!
Wilder and Hilary together with Leader and Twisp.
Ian with the Packice team – Leader and Twisp in lead, Sasha in team and Dash and Rolo in wheel.
Mark and his team out on the snowy trail.
On the first day Fredrik and I skijored with one dog each. The trails were quite heavy in some places.
Hilary and Fredrik passing by!
So much snow – the dogs were in seventh heaven!
On the second day, Wilder and Hilary worked in front of our new Polaris Nordic sled.
Wilder at 13 months of age.
It was fun to spend some time with “the twins” and we could see many familiar Mountain Home traits. Leader and Twisp were born in 2010 and are one year older than Hilary.
It was also fun to get to know Twisp’s lovely nine-month-old pups. Rolo is the name of the handsome boy looking through the fence.
Fredrik and I stayed at the cosy Mon Gård in Storbo, just a short drive from Drevdagen.
Snow is lacking in many parts of Sweden this winter – but not here!
Thank you Aimee, Ian, Allison and Mark for a great time! We hope to see you again next year!
We’re having a mild spell here on the coast and during the weekend we took the chance to go skijoring for the first time this winter. The fun but rather unsteady first run of the season always makes me think of Diane Gayer’s wonderful article about skijoring, “Communing with Raw Energy”, which was published in Mushing Magazine March/April 1998. In Gayer’s words: “The rush, the lack of control, the immediacy – these are what make skijoring worth doing.” During the first few minutes at least, you do feel out of control. But gradually your balance is restored and you start moving in synch with your dogs, rather than being dragged behind them. It makes for a magical experience when it all comes together.
Fredrik took Tuisku and Lyra for a premiere 5 km run – pure joy for the dogs!
When Lyra was a puppy, Tuisku set the pace and showed her what fun it is to work in harness. In the coming years, when Tuisku gets older, it will be the other way around – Lyra will set the pace and make sure his enthusiasm doesn’t fade. As skijoring dogs, they are a perfect match!
We normally introduce our dogs to skijoring when they are pups, to make sure they get accustomed to the equipment during their important first formative year, but this winter the weather hasn’t cooperated and Wilder turned 13 months on Sunday when I took him skijoring for the first time.
Luckily he’s the kind of dog that doesn’t bother to look what’s behind him – he just takes off and keeps his eyes focused on the trail ahead. I think I will need to use a Nordic sled with a handbrake when training Wilder, as he doesn’t respond 100% to left and right yet and is so strong that I can’t slow him down by snowplowing or by pulling the line. I should probably work on the Whoa! too!!
There’s a lot of power in this package!
Hopefully the mild weather will continue for a couple of days so that we can pack the trail with the snowmobile and make it wide enough for our skate skis. If you haven’t tried skijoring with your dog yet you must do so this winter – most Malamutes love it!
I’ve had a stubborn cold for the last couple of weeks and haven’t been out and about much lately. Today I felt a little better and went out to help Fredrik get the dogs ready for a run. We don’t have ideal conditions for sledding yet, since there is no base underneath the powder it is difficult to secure a snow hook, but it works okay to sled on the lakes surrounding our home. Hopefully February will bring some more snow so that we can go on longer runs – fingers and paws crossed!
We placed Tuisku and Lyra in lead, Gem and Thunder in swing, and Wilder and Hilary in wheel.
Wilder was hooked up last and nearly screamed his heart out when he thought he would be left behind…a Mtn Home dog that screams?? Must come from the *other side* of the pedigree LOL!
Lyra does well in lead together with Tuisku. As always – dogs learn best from other dogs.
Wilder is a typical yearling – he has a lot to learn about pacing himself and saving energy for the way back. But with some training we think he’ll be a fantastic sled dog, possibly even a leader.
Gem and Thunder are often paired up as they keep the same pace and work well together.
A bonus picture of Thunder for his fanclub
Tuisku did a good job keeping the gangline taut during the hookup…
…after eight winters in harness, he knows all about conserving his energy before work ;-)
We woke up to a Winter Wonderland this morning! Heaps of new snow on the ground and in the trees. We quickly got our clothes on and I took Leia, Thunder and Tuisku for a run with the sled while Fredrik went out to pack the trail with the snowmobile. Going out after the first big snowfall is always magical.
Woohoo – winter at last!
The “snow cannon” hits us each year when large amounts of cold air comes in over open sea in the Bay of Bothnia and meets the relatively warm sea air. Just ten minutes north of us the storm dumped more than 30 inches over the weekend.
Leia dug a hole while waiting for me to get the lines in order.
The icy wind was still blowing today but the trees in the forest protected us from most of the weather.
Tuisku was eager to go – as always.
On our way home.
The only thing to put a damper on the start of the sledding season is the thickle in my throat that could be the onset of a cold Hopefully some warm tea and rest will make it go away fast!
We’ve been away on a wilderness adventure with Lyra, Hilary, Tuisku and Thunder, travelling on the ice of the frozen lakes of Tjaktajaure and Laitaure and making daytrips into the magnificent Sarek National Park in Swedish Lapland. Fantastic weather, amazing views and happy, hardworking dogs – what more could you ask for? The only hiccup on this trip were our sleeping bags that didn’t perform when the temperature dropped down to around -20ºC (-4ºF) at night. But with a warm dog to snuggle up to it wasn’t a huge problem. We learn something from every trip; about ourselves and the gear, and what needs to be improved before we set out on our next adventure. We can’t complain about the dogs though, they went like clockwork from day one, displaying the drive and stamina which we have come to expect from them, even though they always manage to amaze us just a little more on each trip. Without our Alaskan Malamutes, we’d sure miss out on some great adventures in life!
We had fantastic weather during most of our trip…
…but we started the journey in an almost complete whiteout which forced us to rely on the map and compass for navigation as we couldn’t see much of the surrounding landscape, just snow and mist and a myriad of trails to choose from.
The next morning, and during the rest of our trip, we had brilliant sunshine and temperatures around -12ºC (10ºF) – ideal conditions for the dogs who could work at a good pace without getting too warm.
Lyra and Tuisku with the Sarek National Park in the backdrop.
We set up camp in the woods near the mountain of Tjahkkelij where we found a spring with crystal clear water for us and the dogs. Having access to water is a luxury on winter camping trips as melting snow for drinking and cooking can be a time-consuming process.
Our dogs took turns sleeping in the tent and did a good job keeping us warm at night.
After setting up camp we were able to leave our gear behind and go on fun day trips to explore the landscape. In this photo Fredrik is on his way to Nammásj – a holy mountain in the Sámi tradition.
Hilary and Thunder, with Skierffe’s peak in the background.
We could have stayed on the trail for many more days, continuing the trip further into the Rapa Valley, but unfortunately work and other duties called us back to civilization.
While most people probably prefer to have their holiday during the summer, our ideal would be to have the whole month of April off, to be able to go on longer journeys into the wild. Maybe next year?
To view more photos from our trip, visit our Aktse April 2013 Gallery.
Fredrik’s new skis arrived just in time for Easter so he’s been trying them out on daily trips along the coast this long weekend. After having skijored with a pair of budget combo skis (mix between cross-country and skate) for the last few years, Fredrik decided it was time for an upgrade. His new skis, Breidablikk from Norwegian Åsnes, are especially made for skijoring with a dog in backcountry conditions. They are wider than ordinary skis and lack the metal edges that most other touring skis have, and that could potentially injure a dog in an accident. They are also very cool looking – even though I would of course have preferred a Malamute on the front rather than a blue eyed husky
Maybe we should ask Åsnes to create a Malamute edition of Breidablikk for 2014?
We had a nice picnic by the coast on Easter Eve – wearing sunblock is a must this time of the year!
Titan enjoyed his one-on-one with Grandma.
Lyra found a mermaid. Who do you think is prettier?
A snow roll before it’s time to go home.
With the goal of keeping my mum company on the trail, Fredrik and I brought only one dog each on this picnic trip. I still had to stand on the brake not to overtake my mum (who was skiing without a dog) but for the most part we were able to keep the same pace. Lyra and Fredrik travelled faster so they did some exploring on the ice while waiting for us to catch up.
Lyra is always eager to go…
It’s been a BEAUTIFUL Easter here on the northern coast of Sweden.
We woke up to fantastic weather today and hurried to change into skijoring gear and hit the trail. I Skijored with Tuisku and Fredrik with Thunder and Lyra. A fast, fun and sunny day with the wind at our backs. I fell over once and dropped the camera in the snow (glad it’s waterproof) but apart from that we had a fab day!
After an unusually mild February, March has been a more normal month with morning temperatures around nippy -25C (-13F). Since a couple of our girls are in season we try to get the boys out as much as possible, so that they can relax and think about something else for a change. Having bitches in season is stressful for everyone, but most so for the males. We give Johnson’s Bitch & Deodorant Tablets to our girls when they are in season and that seems to minimise odours and reduce the interest from the boys at least a bit. In Sweden you can buy these tablets from Häromi.
Notice the length of Tuisku’s tug line – we decided to extend it to see how it would affect the rhythm and speed of the team. Tuisku seemed to enjoy the “freedom” up front and put in an extra gear this morning. I think we’ll extend all tug lines from now on, as it seems to increase their pulling power.
On this strech we usually see two elks by the trail, but not this morning.
Tuisku was in a hurry – bet he worried about the girls at home ;)
♥ Best buds – Tuisku & Fredrik ♥
Now and then, and especially when the girls are in season, we take our dogs skijoring one by one. For our younger dogs it’s good training to work independently without having another dog to rely on for decisions and speed. Lyra has no hesitations about working alone, she keeps the line tight and is always eager to go. We don’t take this quality for granted though, as even though a pedigree may show a lot of promise, you never know how a puppy will turn out as an adult. Lyra, however, is turning out to be a great sled and skijoring dog, even though she’s still very much a teenager in body and mind.
Lyra at 19 months of age.
Lyra starts off with plenty of power and speed…
…before settling into a nice, steady trot.
My mum and my aunt were also out skiing on the village trail but we said goodbye to them early on, as Lyra wasn’t very keen on waiting for them to catch up ;-)
Our neighbour has created an excellent skiing trail for everyone to enjoy. While the
village is small, the people who live here are very active and outdoorsy.
Heading home – our house is behind the trees at the end of the trail. I’ve been skijoring
a couple of times this winter and so far my back is coping really well. So, fingers crossed,
it looks like the operation was a big success! :-)