28 January 2017

Small steps

Me and my six-dog team. 













I am sometimes afraid of driving my own dogs. I will tell you why.

Joskus minua pelottaa ajaa omilla koirillani. Kerron miksi. 

I have seven dogs. I am training them for trekking and racing. This winter my goal is to drive a mid distance-race (2 x 45 km)  with six dogs. It is a new thing for me.

Minulla on seitsemän koiraa. Treenaan kisoja ja vaelluksia varten. Tänä talvena minun on tarkoitus ajaa keskipitkän matkan kilpailu (2 x 45 km) kuudella koiralla. Se on minulle uutta. 

In the previous years I have only done a few sprint-races. Sprinting events have been more easy to attend. I have done them with four dogs and often in one day. In four-dog-class the track is about 7 km long.

Aikasempina vuosina olen kilpaillut vain muutaman sprinttikisan. Sprinttikisoissa on helpompi käydä. Olen osallistunut niihin neljällä koiralla ja useimmiten vain yhtenä päivänä. Neljän koiran luokassa kisarata on yleensä noin 7 km pitkä. 
Four dog team with a heavy load.












Going for mid distance takes more time and resources from me and my family. I am lucky to have a husband, who has agreed to be handler in my team. Still, making the plans for this winter has not been easy. I need to fit the races in the calendar with our working times, trekking-trips and - let's face it- money.

Keskipitkän matkan kisoihin osallistuminen vaatii enemmän aikaa ja resursseja sekä minulta että perheeltäni. Olen onnekas, koska mieheni suostuu toimimaan handlerina. Silti ei ole ollut helppo suunnitella aikataulua kevättalvelle. Kisat pitää sovittaa kalenteriin meidän molempien työaikojen ja retkien kanssa, eikä kustannuksiakaan sovi unohtaa.  

My plan for 2017 is to drive Robur Sprint with four dogs in February and Kuusamo MD with six dogs in March. I want to try and finish bot races both days and do them in somehow good speed.

Suunnitelmani tälle talvelle on ajaa Robur Sprint Taivalkoskella neljällä koiralla helmikuussa ja Kuusamo MD kuudella koiralla maaliskuussa. Haluaisin päästä molemmissa kisoissa maaliin kumpanakin päivänä ja mielellään ihan kelpo vauhtia, niin ettei se mene ihan köpöttelyksi.

Six dog team coming home from 30 km loop. 












I understand that training for sprint and mid distance  have a lot in common, but I don't find it easy to train my team for all this. I am often in doubt. Am I doing the right things? There are so many decisions to make: What kind of exercises and when, how fast and how much of them.? If I wanted a challenge, I surely got one. There is a lot to think.

Tiedän että sprintille ja keskipitkille matkoille harjoittelemisessa on varsinkin alkukaudella paljon yhteistä, mutta minusta ei silti ole helppo treenata koiriani kaikkeen tähän. Epäilyttää usein, teenkö oikeita asioita. Millaisia harjoituksia pitäisi tehdä ja milloin, millä vauhdilla ja miten paljon? Huomaan, että olen ottanut itselleni haastavan tehtävän. 

Training my dogs there are two things I believe in. First: I trust it's good to do many different things with them. I drive long and short loops, I drive fast and slow speeds, I ski,  I drive in deep snow and on good track. Sometimes I teach my dogs to do tricks, and sometimes I  just take my snowshoes and let them run free around me. Yesterday I drove a six dog team with a light sleigh. Today I drove a four dog team with a heavy loaded sleigh.

Uskon koiratreenissä kahteen asiaan. Ensinnäkin monipuolisuuteen; Siihen, että koirien kanssa on hyvä tehdä paljon erilaisia harjoituksia. Ajan lyhyitä ja pitkiä matkoja, nopeita ja hitaita lenkkejä, hiihdän, ajan lumessa ja uralla. Joskus opetan koirille temppuja tai menen kävelemään lumikengillä ja annan koirien juosta vapaana ympärillä. Eilen ajoin kuuden koiran valjakolla kevyellä reellä, tänään neljän koiran valjakolla reellä, jossa oli lastina kaksi isoa koiranruokasäkkiä.

Snowshoeing with family and dogs.













Secondly I trust in small steps. I like to start training with short and easy loops and then stretch them longer and heavier. For example, I have a new young dog in my team. He has just run an hour in the team. On his next long run, I can not ask him to run for two hours. Maybe an hour and 20 minutes.

Toiseksi uskon pieniin askeliin. Aloitan treenin lyhyistä ja kevyistä lenkeistä ja sitten vähitellen venyttän niitä pidemmiksi ja raskaammiksi. Esimerkiksi minulla on uusi nuori koira, joka on juuri juossut tunnin lenkin valjakossa. En voi seuraavalla pitkällä lenkillä pyytää sitä juoksemaan kahta tuntia, vaan ehkä tunnin ja vartin. 


Skiing with a dog.
















Diversity makes training fun both for me and the dogs. I really enjoy going out with them. Driving my team and seeing the winter nature around me is still like heaven to me. Otherwise there would be no point in the sport. There is only one problem: Also I am a member of this team. I can not ask too big steps from myself, either.

Monipuolisuus tekee treenaamisesta hauskaa sekä minulle että koirille. Minä todella nautin siitä, kun pääsen koirien kanssa ulos. Talvisen luonnon keskellä oleminen ja oman valjakon ajaminen on minulle vieläkin kuin taivas. Muutenhan tässä lajissa ei olisikaan järkeä. On vain yksi pulma: myös minä olen tiimini jäsen. En saisi pyytää itseltänikään liian isoja askeleita. 

When I have been successfully training four dogs with heavy load, and I then put six dogs in front of a lighter sleigh, that might be it. I don't know if I can manage the team. If the track is fast, can I steer the sleight without falling down? What if I need to stop and fix something? Snow anchor does not always hold. The dogs don't always listen. Trying to tie a rope around a tree is always a big risk.

Kun olen onnistuneesti treenannut neljää koiraa kerrallaan vetämään painavaa kuormarekeä, ja sitten valjastan kuusi koiraa kevyen reen eteen, se voi olla liikaa pyydetty. En tiedä pärjäänkö itse. Jos vauhti on kova, hallitsenko reen kaarteissa? Entä jos matkalla pitää pysähtyä, miten selviän siitä? Lumiankkuri ei aina pidä. Yritys sitoa sieppausköysi puuhun johtaa helposti vaaratilanteeseen. 

Welcome the new dog, Igor.












My biggest realization right now: It is not enough to train the dogs, you have to train the musher too. I am a member of my team, and I don't want to be the weakest link in it. I would rather study and learn safe ways to handle strong dogs and light sleigh. With small steps and open mind it can be done.

Suurin oivallukseni nyt: Ei riitä että treenaa koiria, pitää treenata myös musheria. Minä itse olen tiimini jäsen, enkä haluaisi olla sen heikoin lenkki. Mieluummin haluaisin oppia turvallisia tapoja käsitellä vahvoja koiria ja kevyitä rekiä. Pienin askelin ja avoimin mielin se voi onnistua. 

08 November 2016

Musher in the dark

Let's face it: Despite of the pretty winter pictures, for many of us most of the dog training happens in the dark.

This time of the year  we have daylight from eight to four. After teaching all day at the school and cooking at home, I'm ready  to go out at five or six. Then it is completely dark.

A good headlamp makes most of the kennel-work easy. My choise is a rechangeable Petzl Tikka RSP, which is very bright, and also liberates you from bying one-way batteries all the time. But compared to daylight, it still takes more effort to check the dogs. To see how they are moving or feeling, you have to find them in your spot light one by one.

Harnessing and driving the team you need to be carefull. It's not only dark- it's  also cold and icy. It's good to wear clothes and shoes that are warm and safe. I like work wear like Patron, Dimex or Blågläder on the training season. They are strong enough for working with dogs.

For safety it's important to use reflective materials also in dogwear and other gear. To prevent injuries it is important to walk the dogs before and after the training and also to keep the teams and speeds small enough when training in dark and icy conditions.

Sometimes my friends ask me, if I'm afraid of going to the forest alone in the dark. First of all I'm not alone. I have my dog team with me. And secondly: There is nothing to be afraid of in the forest. I am much more afraid of walking on the street in a city, because violent people are the only thing I am afraid of. In the forest there is no-one, so it is a very safe and friendly place also in the dark.

After weekdays there are weekends and holidays. Then I can go out in the morning and, if I'm lucky, drive my dogs in the sunshine. That is when all those nice mid-winter pictures with snow white sceneries are taken.








24 August 2016

Mountain biking in Syöte

Pytkynharju

If you want to bike in National Park, hiking areas and old forests, Syöte is the right place for you. There are three mountain bike routes and four biking routes in the area. The mountain bike routes are marked paths in the forests and hills, varying from easy to difficult.

Marked routes












In August I did a trip to the easiest one of them with my family. The route is called Syötteen Kierros and it is 17 km long. The route starts from the Visitor Centrer and goes first a few hundred meters on walking road. Then it turns to the forest and soon you have the first of many duckboards ahead of you. For me it was scary to drive on them, but I soon got the hang of it. 
Scenery to Syöte












After that you cross the road, which goes up to the top of the hill Iso Syöte, and dive in to a very old forest of evergreen trees. The path is very good, and it is a pleasure to bike on it, wriggling among the trees. 

Hanhilampi












After a swamp with more duckboards the route starts to climb up to Pytkynharju, which is the main sight on this route. It is a high an narrow hill surrounded by ponds. Going up and down the horseback hill surely makes your sweat, but the scenery is worth it. On the top of  hill there is an ancient shaman tree, a big pine witch must be hundreds of years old.

Old pine




















There are ponds on both sides of the hill and there are two lean-on-shelters, where you can stop to make fire if you want. This time we only stopped to admire the view and then went on, but I think I will come and stay a night there sooner or later.

Latvalampi











Route done, time to pack


09 August 2016

Every month with huskies

My dogteam 2012


















When you think about huskies, your first thought probably, thanks to Disney, is a fluffy dog team running in the snow white forest with Northern Lights on the sky. What about in real life, when you live with your dogs every month of every year? What do you do with them all year round to make the team work and run in winter?

In our family there has been huskies as long as children: 18 years. First ten years it was mainly for my husbands work. He worked as a wilderness guide then, but after he studied to be a fireman, some of the huskies stayed for our own trekking and as my dear hobby. 

During these years in our pack there has been 6-12 huskies all the time. I made a list of things I usually do with them every year. I start the list from august, because that is now and also because in many ways it's the begining of the season.

MONTH
TRAINING
HOW MANY DOGS 
AT TIME
THINGS TO LEARN
august
Running free on field
2
Come back to kennel
september
Short loops with PAWTREKKER
1
Turn left and right
october
30 min loops with ATV
3-4
Stop, go slow
november
First loops with sleigh
3-4
Go fast
december
1 hour loops with sleigh
6
Pause, wait
january
Add skiing trips to training
1-2
Go steady
february
2 hour loops, also with load
6
Pull weight
march
2-6 days trekking
2-6
Travel, stay overnight
april
Competition or happening
6
Meet other teams
may
Short loops with ATV
3-4
Cooling down
june
Running free on field
3
Relax with each other
july
Resting, running only in fence
6
Come, sit, groom

 Here are pictures from every month. It took me two hours to find them in all the old albums!


August: Running free on field 2010
September: Paw trekker 2011

r
October: Training with ATV 2013

November: First fast sleigh rides 2009


December: driving with six dog team 2014

January: Add skiing to training 2015




February: Pulling the boys coming from a cabin 2012

March: Trekking on King's Trail 2014

April: Kuusamo Sprint 2013

May: Cooling down after last ATV loops 2013
June: The whole pack running free 2012
July: Lulu and Kirka relaxing in kennel 2008




05 August 2016

How to pack for Kebnekaise


Fjällräven Akka Dome, Trangia and Primus, Salomon shoes












This post is all about packing and gear. I hope it helps people, who are planning to summit Kebnekaise or any similar mountain in summertime. This is our complete packing-list for two persons and for two or three days in the mountains.

SLEEPING
- tent (Fjällräven Akka Dome 2)
- two foamed plastic mattresess
- two down sleepingbags (Marmot Saw Tooth and Marmot Angel Fire)

KITCHEN AND FOOD
- cooker (Trangia with one full gas bottle and only one kettle)
- 2 plastic cups and 2 plastic spoons
-  4 portions of breakfast (Mountain House Bacon and Eggs, Eloveena Porrige)
-  4 portions of lunch (Homemade sandwiches, Lämmin kuppi -soups)
-  4 portions of dinners (Mountain House, Real Field Meal)
- 12 portions of snacks (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, raisins, chocolate)
- instant coffee,some teabags, sugar, salt, pepper
- empty plastic lemonade bottles for water 2 x 1.5 l and 4 x 0,5 l


CLOTHES TO WEAR FROM START:
-  t-shirt, sweatpants, hiking socks
- light trekking shoes (Salomon)
- a hat and sunglasses

CLOTHES BOTH HAD IN OWN BACKPACK:
- merino wool underwear with long sleeves and legs (North Outdoor)
- jacket (Fjällräven Eco-Shell)
- light windproof trousers
- a light long sleeved hoodie
- Puff and gloves
- a light travel -towel
- one set of clean underwear, socks and t-shirt

OTHER ESSENTIALS:
- Maps and timetables (In paper and in phones)
- Phones (Samsung Galaxy S5 with lifeproof covers)
- Power Station for loading phones (Absolutelu great!)
- First Aid Kit
- Repair Kit
- Hygienic Kit
- Mini-size sun lotion and mosquito repellent
- Toilet paper

RENT FROM THE MOUNTAIN STATION:
- two pairs of hiking poles

BUY:
- meals when driving the car to and from Nikkaluokta
- one or two meals from the mountain station when trekking

We carried all the things on the list from the Mountain Station to Kitteldalen. We both took our own clothes, sleeping bags and sleeping mattresses. I carried the food, first aid kit, hygienic kit and some of the water. My backpack in the beginning was 11,5 kg. My husband carried the tent, the cooker, the snacks, the repair kit and most of the drinking water. His backpack weight was 19 kg.

You may wonder why we carried water, but we decided to drink only from the brooks that came straight from the glaciers. I think it is not safe to drink water on the hillsides of Vierranvarri  and Kebnekaise, because so many people walk there every day, leaving their waiste on these hills. In Kitteldalen there is plenty of clean water coming straight from Björlings- glacier. Going to the top that is the last place to fill the bottles. On a hot day you need to take at least 1,5 liters of water per person to the summit. We prefer normal lemonade bottles to real drinking bottles, because you can roll then really small when they are empty and they never leak in the bag.

To summit we only took jackets, merino wool underwear, hats, gloves, water and snacks. On a hot summer day it may seem silly to carry warm clothes in your bag, but I would never go to a mountain without them. This time we did not get any of the  heavy winds or a thunderstorms the forecast promised, but what if we did? You start to get cold really quickly, if you are only wearing a t-shirt and shorts. It takes many hours to get down from the mountain, and there is always the possibility that the weather gets so bad or so misty you can not move. A wind sack is good for that.

I am ashamed to say we forgot one really important item at the tent: The first aid kit. It is a fact that many people hurt their knees or ankles trying to climb these stony paths. Not to even mention how often one needs a bandage for blisters, when you walk for eight ours! Luckily we didn't need any of these that day, but next time I won't take my chances. Fist aid is not only good for you, but also often to help someone else on the way.

After the summit I had planned we would buy one or two meals ready. Yes, in the Kings Trail that is possible in some places. The day we walked back to Nikkaluokta, we had a hotel-like breakfast in Mountain Station and a super tasty lunch in a new burger place, which you can find by the boat station in the east end of Laddju lake. It is an experience worth taking to have a look at their modern sami style interior and to enjoy their famous reindeer burger, before walking the last five or six kilometers to Nikkaluokta.

food




packing snacks

Snacks packed

Making sandwiches
Sandwiches packed




Power Station

My clothes, sleeping bag and mattress
Hygienic and first aid kits













Boat timetable




Helicopter timetable




29 July 2016

To summit Kebnekaise

KEBNEKAISE 2106 m















It was not planned, it just happened. One Monday in July a colleague of my husband phoned and wanted to change shifts, and suddenly he had the rest of the week free. What shall we do? Wild idea: summit Kebnekaise on Friday. 

Yes it's a short notice, but we have been skiing around it so many times, it would be crazy if we never tried to go to the top, if we are given a chance. Since we had to cancel our skiing trip in March, I have been sad thinking I didn't see the mountains this year - What a perfect compensation this would be! 

It was possible to pack and to get ready in two days. We have all the gear for trekking in winter, and in summer you don't need that much. I have studied the map and been reading about the Kebne area since 2013, when we went skiing there for the first time. I even had some dried meals in the cupboard, that were originally meant for this years winter holiday.
A quick way to reach Mountain Station 














The weather forecast promised a sunny Friday morning, but rain and thunder storms after that. It helped us to decide the timetable and logistics: we had to hurry. On Thursday we drove to Nikkaluokta. From there we took a helicopter to Kebnekaise Fjällstation.  Instead of walking all day, it only takes ten minutes. In July the copter flies every morning and every evening. One person one way costs 89 €. A baggage max 20 kg is included.
Leaving behind the Fjällstation in Laddjuvaggi 















On the Station we asked do we need crampons. The answer was no; this time of the year the snow on the top is soft enough for shoes. You just have to be careful in last  few meters. So we hired only poles, which proved to be very useful. I really want to recommend them. One pair for one day costs 15 €.
Hiking up towards Kitteldalen















For my mind it was hard to follow so fast, but walking with my backpack up the hill slowly I realised we really are here. On Thursday evening we carried our backpacks up to Kitteldalen, which, to me, was like heaven.
Kebne-shoulder on the background















After a very stony and difficult path we came to a valley with ice-cold brooks, green mosh, stunning view  and Kebnekaise herself in front of you. It felt like luxury to camp there with no any other people. We cooked risotto and slept very well for eight hours. 
Our camp in Kitteldalen















And then it was Friday, the big day. Woke up at six, had a big breakfast and started to climb at seven. We left most of our stuff in the tent. We only took jackets, merino wool underwear,  2 l drinking water each and snacks like sandwiches, nuts and dried fruits in our packs.
On Vierranvarri















The weather was very hot. I counted it would take me at least 4 hours to reach the top in that heat, and I was right. First you have to go up and down Vierranvarri, which is a  1711 m high mountain. Then you are down in Kaffedalen, and can start climb Kebnekaise.


There is the Top!















We reached the top at 11.30, before most of the people, who had started from Fjällstation in the morning. There was no queue, no wind, just sunshine and a clear view to every direction. I think it must be very rare to stand on the top of Kebnekaise wearing a t-shirt and enjoying silence. I felt blessed.
On the top

Drakryggen




























They say when you are on the top, you are only half way. In Kebne it surely is true: Going "down" means going up and  down Vierranvarri again. There is not a clear path on these hills. All the time you have to try and find a place for you foot between sharp or rolling stones. It is really tirying for your leg muscles.
Scenery to Laddju-lake and Nikkaluokta















Luckily we had the poles to take off some of the weight. You can adjust the poles shorter for uphills and longer for downhills. Their support helps you not to fall down or hurt your feet. 
Going down from Kebnekaise















At three o clock we were back in Kitteldalen. Eight ours of walking made me really tired. I dipped my feet in the ice-cold water and lied down in the tent. My husband made food. After eating we slept for half an hour. 
Having a rest















At five we packed the whole camp and started carrying our gear down. Finding my way across the big stones, I really felt the baggage heavy in my back. I had to stop often to rest, but a little after seven we made it to the Fjällstation. After sweating all day,  I was so happy to go to shower!
Coming to Mountain Station after a 14 hour day















We slept in our tent near to the Station. On Saturday morning we had the loveliest breakfast in the Hotel and then there was only the long walk back to Nikkaluokta in front of us. No helicopter-ride this way, but the boat-ride on Laddju lake gave us a very nice an hours break in the middle of walking. 
Waiting for the boat in Laddju lake















We started walking from the Fjällstation at about eight and came to Nikkaluokta at two. It was still somehow difficult to believe we did it. My legs were hurting, but it was nothing a little rest would not cure. Markku went to get the car from helicopter-place. I took my shoes off. 


Back in Nikkaluokta, once again!
















Sitting in the car, my main wish was - again - to get clean. Where to wash? We started slowly driving our car. About 20 km from Nikkaluokta we found a perfect place to wash and to relax our musckes, a natures own jacuzzi. What a perfect ending to a perfect trip. 

Nature's own jacuzzi















Markku drove our car to Finland. On the way found a nice place for overnight with geocatche. It was a beautiful beach. As the sun went down, I started slowly thinking about tomorrow, going home and then... future adventures.

 Here is a film with some of the feelings: To summit Kebnekaise