31 March 2013

Result

It was a fine competition.
I was fifth!
I'm very happy about that.
It took me and my team 26 minutes to make the 9,5 km loop.
That is something like 22-23 km/hour.
You can't expect more with a trekking-sledge and trekking-dogs.
Here is how the day went:
The teams started to arrive to the area at eight o'clock. 
I put my dogs to stake and gave them something to drink. 

At Mushers Meeting at 8.30 we got our numbers
and some information about the track. 
I was difficult to warm up the team. I took them for a walk
 one  by one and then put coats on them. They seemed  relaxed. 
10.42 was my time to start. 
The 9,5 km track was in exellent condition. 

At 11.08 my team crossed the Finish-line


After the race I took the dogs again for a walk,
to the forest, one by one. 


At about 12 I stretched my dogs and gave them drinks.
And then it was my turn to have some coffee!

For the rest of the day I watched the six-dog class.
There were some wonderful sprinter- dogs and mushers!

28 March 2013

Expectations

Huh! Week at work is done.
Very busy days!
It's time for Easter and four days off. 
Tomorrow I'm going to pack 
and then it's saturday, the day of the race.

What do I expect? 

I don't have a racing sledge.
My sledge is a trekking-sledge. 
My dogs are good alaskan huskies
but they are more used to pulling heavy loads to wilderness cabins than sprinting fast. 
I am not a racing- driver. 
I hope I don't get lost on the way. 
It's only 9 kilometers. 
I hope my dogs run well - 
I know on a good day they can gallop all the way. 
I don't want to be last on the race. 
I really hope I can beat some of the samoyed or siberian teams.

I expect it to be a nice and exiting day. 




26 March 2013

Preparations

Training for the competition

The basics: 
Lots of short loops in autumn, 
then  longer and longer trips to the forest. 
Our dogs run every week 2-4 times. 

Beginning of March:
After the trip to Sweden Mora and Miilu first needed rest. 
Soon after that came really cold weather. There was more than -30 degrees every night. 
We had to take the dogs inside (to the stable) every night for a week and feed them more so that they would not loose weight. 

Last week: 
Better weather and nice runs! We had some friends visiting and all our dogs worked to give them nice and slow sleigh rides. I also packed my racing team to my car and went for a very fast ride in different place than usual, to practice travelling, packing and starting on my own. That was like a simulation of the real day of the race.  

This week: 
I'm only going to drive one loop on wednesday. Something like 10 kilometers with brake on - quite slowly. For the rest of the week I let my racing team rest and build energy. Maybe I let them run 5 minutes free on friday - just to keep then relaxed and to have a nice contact with them. 


22 March 2013

Team

I'm going to take part in four dog class.
Here is my team: 
Miilu

Miilu you already know.
She is my young best leader,
born in 2010.
I can trust that she will be
full of energy,
and I hope she won't be
too nervous when starting.






Tete

Mora

Kirka
Tete is the most racing type of sleddog we have. She is born in 2008. 
Her breeder is Sari Ikonen. 
I can trust she will be fast, 
and I hope she will concentrate 
and turn right and left. 






Mora you already know. He is Miilu's brother, born 2010. I can trust he will be easy to handle
and strong, I hope he will be at his best also with speed. 











Kirka is the son of my old best leader Aku. Kirka is same age as Tete, born 2008. I can trust he will do his job - he always does - and I hope he will be happy and eager - he normally is!

21 March 2013

Next Stop: Kuusamo Sprint

The next thing I'm going to do with my huskies
is to participate in a small sledog race called Kuusamo Sprint
in the end of March.
The race has been arranged a few times allready,
and is situated about 100 km from us,
but this is the first time I'm going.

Why to compete - or why not to? 

We have sleddogs for trekking.
We could also live without them -
but our farm would not be as rich without them.
When I say rich I mean rich with opportunities
 to pet, care and learn life with these lovely dogs
but also to ski, trek and move in the nature with them.
Racing is not a goal - but it can be a good tool
to train and to get to know your dogs better
and to meet people with similar interests.

Experience

I have almost none.
I have gone to a competition only once before this.
It was Kolmiloukko Valjakkosuunnistus 2011.
That was not a traditional race:
It was about finding as many checkpoints as possible in four hours,
almost like in orienteering.
I came second with four dog team.
Veronica Börlin won. She said to me:
- See you next year.
I said to her:
- Win you next year.
Maybe luckily for me this competition was not arranged any more :)
In my team then was Tete, Aku, Kirka and Tarzan. 

17 March 2013

Feelings

Here is video from the trip.
No words needed - just feelings :)
I hope you enjoy it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_DQFwW0jds&feature=youtu.be
And now that it's done,
it's time to start thinking about new adventures.
In two weeks I will be attending a small sledog race in Kuusamo.
Maybe you would like to hear more about that?

14 March 2013

Tuesday the fifth

Tuesday the fifth - Back to Nikkaluokta 
Signi - Fjällstation - Nikkaluokta 35 km

Tuesday morning was cloudy.
It looked like a good day to be heading back.
We packed the pulkas and tidied the cabin
and then we had to say goodbye to it.














It was snowing.
There was one snow scooter track,
but in the first uphills wind had covered everything with snow.
I thought it might be quite a long day untill we get to the Fjällstation.
We decided to take it easy and stay the night in tent some place soon after Kebne.














Everything was white.
We could hardly see the sun giving some light from behind the clouds.
And the sun was below the mountaintops!
There was no way to tell where the horizon was.
Going downhill it was impossible to see, what the hill was like.
It was not easy with the dogs and pulkas.














But we were lucky: After skiing one hour, when we were having a short break,
the sleddogs passed us in a valley. We followed their track,
trusting that the guide would not take his guest and dogteams to any dangerously steep downhills - and we were right.

Mora and Miilu liked to follow the path that other paws had printed.
They were full of energy and it all went almost too easy.
We got to Fjällstation, and it was hardly noon!
I said:
- Let's have a long break here.
 I wanted to use the service house and have a shower - first time after friday. It felt so good! We cooked lunch in the house too. There was a fully equiped kitchen and everything that a trekker can need, including a drying room. Using the house only costs less than 10 € per person.














After this luxury rest we felt ready to ski again.
And so did our dogs:
During the break they had their coats on, a good lunch and a sleep under the veranda.

After first downhill we were lucky again:
Two track vehicles going to Fjällstation came from Nikkaluokta.
There is no better track for skiing!
Miilu and me went fast, but I could see that the heavier load
was affecting Mora and Markku at this point:
They could not keep up with us.
So I tried to slow down and ski together with them.
We could see that Mora is not 100 % OK:
He was not going straight, like there would be something wrong with his left back leg.
We tried to bend it and look at it, but we found nothing.
I thought maybe we could try an other kind of harness for him.

It was getting dark, but we were already so close to Nikkaluokta
there was no point in camping anymore.
We arrived to the car at about six.
I massaged and fed the dogs.
They were happy to go in the car.
We packed the pulkas, changed some of our clothes and
started driving back home.
















We both felt we want to come back here.
Maybe with boys, maybe with a dogteam?
In summertime it would be maybe summit one of these mountains.

Wednesday the sixth -Coming home
After midnight slept in a B&B in Tornio, because we could not drive any further.
Our dogs were allowed in, and they slept in the bathroom.
It was amazing how well they behaved: At home they are never in the house.
There was only 250 km home from there, so we arrived home at noon.

Things that worked wellon last days: 
- Nice tracks to follow
- Long day did not feel long because of the wonderful lunch and rest at the station
- Mostly downhill, quicker than we thought
- Viking Shoes and merino wool socks: Not any blisters, not any frozen toes

Things to consider next time: 
- Once heading for the car in fog or snow, there is not much point in staying one more night, but you still need to stay the night somewhere: after skiing all day it is too dangerous to drive all night
- It's better to come home rested than tired
- Minding Mora more carefully; He did not eat as well as Miilu during last day. It was good that I had  nice sausage he couldn't resist!
- Way to make it even for the dogs, if the other pulka is lighter. Why not change the dogs for a day or sometimes connect them together?

13 March 2013

Monday the fourth

Monday the fourth - A sunny, happy day
Signi -Rabotsglaciär-Signi 25 km

I was so tired I slept well.
I only woke up once in the middle of the night to check the dogs.
In the morning the host of the Signi cabins came to meet us and to give the weather forecast.
It said the day will be sunny and beautiful, but the night will be very cold again.
I said:
- Let's stay an other night here, so we can make a daytrip without pulkas.
So we did. I let my husband choose where we go today.
He wanted to see the Rabotsglaciär,
which is situated about ten kilometers from Signi.

We packed our backbags for daytrip:
- dowjackets
- thermoses
- windsack
- cooker
- first aid
- lunch (also for dogs)
- snacks
- tea and coffee
- extra socks and mittens
Ready to go!















It felt very light to go without pulkas. Too light, actually:
At first I was afraid of the speed.
The sun was shining, the surface of the snow was as hard as ice
and out dogs were running like hell.
But soon I got used to it, and it got easier also as we starter climbing up.
At the same time saw maybe the best sceneries of the trip.
Kuopervaggi














Valley Kuoper was so wide, that there was no danger going there.
I said all the time:
- I enjoy this, this is wonderful.
My husband was just smiling!














We got up to about 1000 m.
Our toes could fell it was cold there.
We saw the North Top of Kebnekaise (2097 m)
and the wall where the plane crashed a year ago.
On the wall at the Kebnekaise Mountain Hotel there was also pictures of the crew.
There was one woman.

The best part was to ski down the valley and to the sun.
It was amazing!
Going down















I couldn't believe how long and how nice the hill was.
It just went on and on for miles!
At the steepest parts I let Miilu run free.
She looked really happy to run down with Mora and Markku.
But she always came back to me, when ever I asked.
She is such a darling!
Kungsleden















We had lunch in the sunny valley.
Then we skied back to Signi.
There were some huskies staying there with a guide and his guests.
I'm sure Mora and Miilu felt like home.

In the evening we went skiing without the dogs.
Just to the closest hill.
As the sun set, we glided back to cabin.
It was a wonderful day.

Things that worked well: 
- Easy day trip after a hard day
- Wonderful weather and landscape
- Downhill skiing

Things to consider next time: 
- Cabins are so good and so empty at this time of the year,
 that it might be a good idea to use only them next time

12 March 2013

Sunday the third

Sunday the third: A long and hard day
Fjällstation - Tarfala pass - Signi 25 km

I woke up at two and at five o'clock.  At seven we got up. It  was good we had two sets of sleeping bags: The outer were wet. We brushed frost away from tent walls and started to dry the tent by burning the cooker. It worked quite well.

Sunday morning looked good
I made food for the dogs and checked how they are. They looked OK - it was not a very cold night, maybe minus ten degrees.
We could see the sun rising from behind the clouds.










We decided to wait and see if the weather will be better and pet ourselves with a breakfast in the mountain hotel. We had not taken any swedish money with us, but they did take euros in the hotel.

As we were eating, we could see that the day was really going to be sunny! So, after packing the tent and pulkas we headed to Tarfala. We struggled for three hours in the snow to find a way there, but we  didn't. We tried both sides of the canyon, but there was no tracks at all.
Not too easy

Finally we got so close to the Tarfala valley- pass that we could see it looked dangerous.
The hills on both sides were steep and there was  fresh snow hanging from upper hills. No wonder nobody went there today!









 I'm sure the guides at the hotel could have told us that. We felt a little bit stupid for not asking them, but at least we had a good adventure this morning...

We came back to the bridge at about one o'clock and started making lunch with cooker. I said:
- Let's ski to Signi instead. My husband agreed. But just then cooker stopped. There was something wrong with it. My husband had to put it to pieces twice before it started working again. The sun was shining, so I didn't mind. I put on warm coats to me and to dogs, gave them their lunch and enjoyed the rest.
Going to Signi

Finaly, at about three a clock we were ready to start our 15 km jurney to Signi. The sun was already going behind the mountains and it was getting colder, but it was all very very beautiful.










We skied and skied but we couldn't stop looking up to the mountaintops. You just cant believe how big they are - and how small you are.  It makes your worries seem small and even mankind seem little compared to these giant things nature is made of- And if you compare The Scandinavian Mountains with The Alps or Himalaja, they are only knee- high!
Been there, seen that!
 As we passed Duolbagorni, we could see the white South Top of Kebnekaise (2104 m) from behind it. I thought:
- Now I've done it!

What I should have been thinking was: There is a long way still to go...








At about six the wind started to blow hard. It felt freezing. We could hardly stop at all, we just had to keep moving. I wanted to pee but I couldn't take of my trousers, so I didn't! Later we found out it had been -27 degrees at this point.

As it got dark, we drank last of the warm water and tried to keep moving. My husband later told me I was moving so slow he was thinking about leaving my pulka behind and coming later back for it.








I didn't know how far it was to the cabin, and I started to think I can't make it there. We had to go uphill all the time and I felt I have no power left at all. Maybe we must sleep in the tent? In that  coldness, I didn't like the idea at all.

To be honest, I can't really remember the last few kilometers. It was dark and we had our lamps on. I had to walk a bit going downhill - I was afraid to ski in the darkness being so tired and not seeing how steep the hill was. 
Miilu and Mora in cabin Signi 

At about eight o'clock in the evening we reached the cabin. It felt like heaven.

 Even our dogs were allowed to sleep inside- and they truly deserved it!









The joy of being saved gave me new streght, so I brought all our stuff inside, put skies and pulkas tied under the cottage and minded the dogs while my husband went to get firewood and water.
Aurora Borealis

In the end there was more than -30 degrees that night. And there were some Northern Lights in the sky! My husband was able to catch some of them with his camera.









Things that worked well: 
- We got to the cabin for the extremely cold night
- excellent breakfast, lunch and snacks
- the dogs pulled and helped us all day, even late in the night
- Clothes, especially my Fjäll Räven Eko Tour -suit was amazingly warm!

Things to consider next time: 
- Talking to each other more when making decisions
- Sharing all the information available
- Planning the day so, that even option B is not over the limit
- What if, going to Signi, something had happened to my husband? What would I have done?


11 March 2013

First and second day on the trip

Friday the first: Driving by car

We started driving from Taivalkoski at 13.30 finnish time. We arrived to Lappeasuando at 20.00 swedish time and spend the night there.

Saturday the second: A cloudy snowy day 
Nikkaluokta - Kebnekaise Fjällstation 19 km

We started driving to Nikkaluokta in the morning and arrived there at about 10.30. We unpacked the car and started skiing towards Kebnekaise Fjällstation. The weather was cloudy and it was snowing, but it was not windy. There was a good track, covered only by some 5 cm of new snow.¨

Starting from Nikkaluokta 















In Laddjujärvi it was difficult to see anything, it was all white. In the other end of the lake, when we had skied ten kilometers, we had a lunch break. We cooked some tea and soup with soy.

After lunch we skied near the hills. I was a little bit sad they were all covered in clouds, but my husband was sure the weather will be more clear in days to come.

It was snowing all day. 















We arrived to Fjällstation at about four o'clock. There were not many people at all. My husband asked some information about camping, and then we went and put up our tent on a hill nearby.

I made a place for the dogs, put on their thick coats and made food for them. We had an excellent adventure meal of chicken and rice. I couldn't wait to get to sleep! But we still had to make some water   for our thermoses, put hot water bottles in our shoes, change clothes and pack everything before we could go to our sleeping bags at about nine o'clock.

Tent near Fjällstation 














What was good: 
- To drive near Nikkaluokta the day before and to be able to start skiing early there
- Equipment, pulkas, skies, harnes - it all worked
- I borrowed a very good dow-matress wich really helped sleeping in tent

What should be considered nex time: 
-How about using the servicehouse in Fjällstation in the evening and having a sauna or shower-or is it too difficult to go to tent after that?

07 March 2013

DONE IT!

We are back home.
We had a great trip:
110 km skiing,
Two sunny days,
One extremely cold night -
And we did see the mountains!

I will tell all about the days on the trip
in a few days,
but now I just say I'm so happy!
Duolbagorni (1662m), Vierranvarri



Dragryggen (1990 m)

Sinnicohkka (1704 m)