Archive for the ‘Skijoring & Sledding’ Categoryby Northernmost on March 15, 2013 in ACTIVITIES & WORK, Daily Life, Hilary, Lyra, Skijoring & Sledding, Thunder, Titan, Tuisku with No Comments
It’s been a beautiful week with calm weather and clear blue skies. We’ve been making the most of every day as we’ll soon need to take a brief break from sledding due to our girls coming into season. This week we’ve also been busy thinking hard about what to name our puppy who will be joining us later this spring. After writing down a long list of options, we ended up choosing the name that came first to us. But more about our puppy news later, have a great weekend everyone 🙂
Fredrik has travelled many miles on the Skidoo this winter, working hard to keep our trail open in between snowfalls. Right now the trail is in great condition so fingers crossed we’ll have no more snow this winter! I think what we have right now is PLENTY!!
We went on a trip along the coast yesterday, skijoring on the ice of the Bothnian Bay with Gemma, Thunder and Tuisku. We call this stretch of coast our own “Little Greenland” and each time we visit we’re surprised there are no other visitors there, as this beautiful world of snow and ice is a fascinating place to explore. Skijoring on the ice can be tricky though, as in some places the ice is covered in a deep layer of snow and in other places the slippery surface is exposed which makes for a rather uneven ride. Since the ice can break up quickly due to strong currents we make sure always to stay on the landfast ice closest to the shoreline. Adventures are fun as long as they are safe.
On our way to “Little Greenland”
The snow covered chunks of sea ice in the distance look like the stiff peaks of a meringue pie.
Tuisku & Gem kept a good pace.
On the icier sections it was best to just stand on our skis and let the dogs pull us forward. None of the dogs slipped during our trip, seems they can handle ice pretty well.
It’s fun to run!
We found a sheltered spot where we stopped for a quick lunch break. Tuisku watched closely as we unpacked the picnic to see if there was something there for him 🙂
Thunder in front of a beautiful ice formation.
Miniature fells or meringue pie?
When travelling on skis, the ups and downs of the pack ice can be a real balancing act.
We spotted a lonely cabin on the easternmost point of the coast.
Wonder if this cabin is available for rent? Would be nice to stay here overnight to admire the sun set and rise over the sea while the wind is blowing outside. That’s my idea of a romantic weekend 😉
Gem and Thunder teamed up on our way home.
We had a great day by the coast and will be going back for more adventures later this spring. Judging by the conditions today, it looks like the ice will last well into April.
A lovely mild day today with huge snowflakes falling from the sky. A perfect day for skijoring! While soft trails are bad for sledding, this type of trail is ideal for sailing behind two eager Malamutes. Powder on the trail means it’s easy to brake (if you have to) and the soft snow means you’ll have a smoother ride. Skijoring is so much fun and the dogs love it!
Fredrik hits the trail in the heavy snowfall.
Lyra is like a younger version of Tuisku – there’s only one direction in her head and that’s forward.
Breaking trail in the forest is a perfect opportunity to train left and right commands.
Heads down and ears turned back to listen – good dogs!
This winter, snow has become our worst enemy. We are trying to maintain our 42 km (26 mile) trail but each time the trail is starting to look decent, we receive a new big dump of snow and have to start all over again. Of course, Malamutes don’t need a groomed trail to go sledding, but anyone who has experienced the difference between sledding with a small team on a hard packed and frozen trail vs. on a soft trail, with an unpacked powder base, appreciates the difference. Yesterday, I went on one of the toughest runs of the season with Tuisku, Thunder and Leia. Saturday’s storm had brought 30 cm (11 in) of fresh snow and the trail had only been packed once with the snowmobile on Sunday morning so it was still really soft. When I tried to help the dogs by kicking I sank to my knees in powder so I quickly gave up trying. But the dogs did well and we enjoyed a well deserved snack break to recharge our energy at mid trail.
Maybe it’s time we put a lead dog title on Tuisku? I think he has earned it, many times over 😉
Some pics from today’s outing with two 2-dog teams. What’s nice about Malamutes is that you don’t really need a big team, as two dogs, and sometimes just one, is enough to get some action on the trail. Today’s run was 18km (11 mi) with a rest break at midway point – a suitable distance for our youngsters Hilary and Lyra who are now 18 months of age. We try to vary their training as much as possible, working them individually and on teams of 2-4 dogs, and exploring new trails as often as we can to make the training more exciting for everyone. As soon as my back is stronger we’ll also be skijoring more, as skijoring is really what we enjoy most.
Tuisku and Hilary in front and Titan and Lyra behind.
Our Sledog Kids work really well together.
And they play well together too 😉
It’s clear that Lyra has inherited her sire’s lead dog ability, we’ll be trying her in lead position soon.
This girl always has full focus ahead.
The goal of today’s excursion was a lean-to by the coast where we stopped for tea and a sandwich.
Tuisku looking dreamy in the snow.
Hilary looks sleepy too – maybe it’s the fresh sea air that is making us all a little drowsy?
Two fuzzy butts getting ready to go home.
Love our winter weekends!
These photos are from yesterday when the sun came out for a while during our morning run. Today when I went sledding with Lyra and Titan the weather was grayer than gray. It was so cold and windy that I think the dogs were almost happy to return to the cosy calm of their dog houses. According to the termometer it is only -15C (5F) outside but the wind chill must have added at least another ten to that, brrr! Now I’m going to cuddle up under a blanket with a big cup of chocolate and finish the book I’m reading.
I’m expecting Fredrik home later this evening with news from the Swedish Alaskan Malamute Club’s annual general meeting in Jämtland which he has attended this weekend. Always interesting to hear what’s been said and what’s been decided. Fredrik is now on the club’s board, hopefully that will help us move the club in the direction we hope for – towards a stronger focus on preserving the Breed Standard, highlighting health issues, and making the club more democratic for all involved. Since it is my birthday today, these are my three wishes!
We had a big dump of snow this week and had to spend Friday evening and all day yesterday “rediscovering” our snowed over trails. Maintaining and grooming trails is time consuming, especially when you’d rather spend time with the dogs, but it’s nice to have decent trails to sled on so we try to keep them open the best we can. This morning our hard work was rewarded as we woke up to clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine. I took four of our dogs out on a fun ride while Fredrik went ice fishing. A perfect start to February!
Hilary, Thunder and Lyra wait while I get the sled and the lines ready.
And off we go!
Hilary and Tuisku in lead, Thunder and Lyra in wheel.
Few things are so beautiful as nature on the first sunny day after a storm.
We stopped for a break in a sunny spot to practise “settle down”. We try to include a brief rest stop on every run to make our youngsters, Lyra and Hilary, accustomed to the stakeout. This type of training will come handy when we go on overnight trips and need to secure the dogs at night. Thunder, good boy, already knows how to settle down.
Sledog Dream Leaper, aka Lyra, will be 18 months of age next week.
Flirting with the camera or just sun in her eyes?
Hilary, also 18 months in February, with some sugar on top.
Tuisku looked sleepy in the sun, I think he was still a little tired from Saturday, when he ran off leash alongside the snowmobile while Fredrik was grooming our trails.
Going home in the afternoon, the sun was still visible above the tree tops.
February means longer and brighter days and more time to spend on the trail.
Oh happy days!! 🙂
We went for a picnic today with Lyra, Hilary, Tuisku and Thunder. The sun was well hidden behind the clouds but it was still a nice day for an outing. We followed the forest trail to the sea bay and sledded along the shorelines of the islands in the archipelago. It’s a different experience sledding on the flat expanses of the ice. Not as exciting perhaps as a mountain trip but still an adventure. We saw a cliff island that we want to return to later in spring. Bet it’s a nice place to soak up some sun in March or April.
Heading out on the sea bay near our home.
Tuisku and Lyra worked together.
And Hilary & Thunder.
Tuisku had to work hard to keep up with eager Lyra who pulled like a locomotive today.
We stopped for a picnic where the bay opened up to the sea. This is where the trail ended and we didn’t want to be the first to break trail on deep water ice.
While Fredrik and the dogs ate most of our picnic I had fun taking photos.
At eight and seven years of age, Thunder and Tuisku have never been more beautiful.
Sweet like sugar 🙂
Hilary too did well today and enjoyed working with her older buddy Thunder.
Thunder has taken a fancy to Hilary and spent every available moment courting her – licking her ears and grooming her coat, and she’s not even in season 😉
We had a nice Saturday in the snow, now it’s time to take the rest of the family for a walk and then end the evening with a good movie. Happy weekend everyone!
When I went out to fetch the dogs at noon I was greeted by this smiley face. When Tuisku sees a harness he knows we’re going sledding!
I took Tuisku and the Big Bears for a run along the village trail, a perfect way to spend my lunchbreak. It was only -8C (18F), that’s mild weather for January.
Three elks crossed our path but the snowhook held the team in place. In Lapland we had reindeer encounters practically every day, so Tuisku, Thunder and Leia are quite used to wildlife. But of course, elks look and smell a bit different from reindeer. And they’re bigger too!
Despite the mild weather the ice conditions are good this year and we can travel safely on lakes and sea bays. This gives us more options for sledding and means we can vary our runs more.
So far this winter we haven’t had more than one week of really cold weather. The temperature has rarely dropped below -20C (-4F) during Nov-Jan. I guess that means February will be really freezing!
The weather forecast promised sunshine and unusually mild temperatures for January so we decided to make the most of it and go for a weekend trip to Borgafjäll. This small mountain resort is situated by Lake Borga which is surrounded by two massive fells; North Borgafjäll and South Borgafjäll which are situated on the opposite sides of the beautiful Lake Borga. The border between Lapland and Jämtland is drawn across the lake, placing North Borgafjäll in Lapland and South Borgafjäll in Jämtland. We spent most of the weekend on the northern side of the lake, skijoring along the trail to the Slipsiken mountain hut, and to Saxnäs in the opposite direction.
The picturesque peaks of Klöverfjället provide the backdrop for the village of Borgafjäll.
The weather forecast was right – clear blue skies and no wind. A perfect day to climb the mountain!
On Sunday Fredrik went for a run with Tuisku, Thunder and Gem while I stayed in the cabin to rest my back a little. Fredrik reported that there wasn’t a single soul out on the trail that day, despite the amazing weather. Maybe the Borgafjäll villagers are still in hibernation?
The snowmobile season was just kicking off which meant that some trails were opened but most of them were still pretty soft. If you want the scenery all to yourself, and are prepared to sometimes break trail, then January is a good time to visit southern Lapland. However, if you want to travel on hard packed trails, you had better wait until March or April.
My sturdy Åsnes skis worked well on the crusty mountain trail. These skis are a few years old and Norwegian maker Åsnes now has a wider model called Breidablikk which is specifically designed for backcountry touring with dogs. Maybe I’ll add them to my birthday wishlist?
The weekend was a nice mix of work and play – Tuisku looks pretty chill doesn’t he?
We had a great time in Borgafjäll and would definitely like to return some other time to go on a longer excursion. There are trails in every direction starting from the village and if you have a week to your disposal you can ski or travel by dog sled to Klimpfjäll and Stekenjåkk in the northwest, to Marsfjället in the north, and to Frostviksfjällen in the south, or tour the entire area in a circle. It’s a real musher’s paradise, especially during the early part of winter, before the snowmobilers have invaded the trails. To see more photos from our weekend, jump to our Borgafjäll Gallery.
It was way too beautiful to stay home today so I went for a gentle run with the dogs in the afternoon. To avoid putting any strain on my back I stood completely still on the runners and let Tuisku, Leia and Thunder do all the work. My back is healing well and I’m fine walking and standing up now. Sitting down, however, is not comfortable so I try to avoid that as much as possible. The dogs have noticed from the way I’m walking that I’m a little fragile right now so they didn’t jump up to greet me in their usual boisterous way. But they were eager to hit the trail and we had a nice run through the wintry forest. S n o w = h a p p i n e s s 🙂
The trail was groomed to perfection yesterday but more snow fell during the night.
Happy Mals – Leia & Thunder
Tuisku takes a breather.
Travelling home through winter wonderland.