29 March 2015

Kuusamo Sprint 2015

I could not resist it. I had to go. Even if it was a little too close to our trip - I went to Kuusamo and drove the race with Miilu, Piitu, Mora and Tete.

I packed everything in the car on Friday evening. In the morning I woke up at five to give the dogs their drinks. My husband drove us to Kuusamo. He stayed there to work and I went half an hour more to reach the Sprint Race place. Except that I didn't. A mile or two before the right place I stopped to look at the map - and could not get moving anymore. The snow was too soft.
8.30 Stuck - Jumissa















I tried everything: Going slowly, back and forth, disconnecting the trailer, shoveling the snow and putting tree branches under the wheels, but no. I was stuck. I realized I will not make it to the mushers meeting at 8.30. I tried phoning anyone I thought might be there, and one of my friends managed to send a man with a tractor to help me. If he had not come, I would have taken the sledge and the dogs out of trailer, built  my team and drove it along the road to the race. Thanks to a very helpful local farmer, it didn't come to that.
9.00 Arrival - Varikolla












When I arrived, all the others were already walking and warming up their dogs. I started putting the dogs out, when I suddenly realized Tete was running free - and heading to the start. Her chain was open. Luckily a man stopped her before she run the whole 9,5 km loop alone.
9.30 Warming up - Lämmittelyä














I was really happy when I finally drove my team to starting area in time. But then the judge came and told me I have to have a sack in my sledge in case a dog is injured on the way. I had one - at home. Knowing this is not an official race, I had not been careful enough. The judge said I can still take part, but she'll have to give me a written warning. Maybe I should put in frame and on the living room wall? After all, it's the only thing I have ever brought home from these races.
10.00 warning - Varoitus
¨










The race itself went really well. No problems on the way. My dogs ran as well as they could, galloping most of the way. The trail was better made than last year, but the weather was worse, more wet and soft. Time 26.24 means the average speed was just a little bit over 20 km/h, which is my goal. This year it was enough for fifth place. If you want to get higher, you need to concentrate on sprinting - not trekking.
10.30-11 On the track - Kisa
PHOTO (C) KATI MÄKELÄINEN














After the race I wanted to thank my dogs and all the people that have made it possible for me to have a hobby like this. I phoned the breeder of Tete and Piitu. We made a very nice plan. I hope I can tell you more about it later this spring.
Thank you, Mora and Miilu!














Thank you, Tete! 
Thank you, Piitu!



























The rest of the day I spent watching six-dog class, talking to other mushers and then driving home in bad weather. Here is a film, where you can see all the six dog teams starting.

Kuusamo Sprint 2015


Lauantaina en voinut olla menemättä mukavaan kisaan jo kolmantena vuonna peräkkäin, vaikka tällä kertaa se olikin vähän turhan lähellä Ruotsiin lähtöä. Valjakkoni keulassa juoksivat Miilu ja Piitu, pyöräkoirina Tete ja Mora.

Ura oli yhtä erinoimainen kuin palvelu ja järjestelyt kisoissa muutenkin. Sää oli huonompi kuin edellisvuosina. Aika 26.24 riitti tänä vuonna viidenteen sijaan. Olen siihen tyytyväinen. Tavoitteeni on pystyä ajamaan sprintti yli 20 km/h keskivauhtia, ja pöperöisestä kelistä huolimatta valjakkoni pystyi siihen. Jos haluaisi kivuta korkeammalle tulostaulukossa, pitäisi keskittyä sprinttiharjoitteluun eikä vaellusretkiin.

Kisan jälkeen soitin Teten ja Piitun kasvattajalle. Teimme mielenkiintoisen suunnitelman, josta toivottavasti voin kertoa lisää keväämmällä.


24 March 2015

Route Options

Getting ready for the trip! At the moment it means drying and vacuum packing food, discussing different route-options, planning the car-driving days and making sure about the dates my horse can stay in a near-by stable. Often, at this point, I used to think it would be easier not to go at all. But this time I'm just sure it'll be worth it.

The first day of the trip will be a long one: Driving 650 km from home to Nikkaluokta and skiing 19 km from there to Kebnekaise Fjällstation. 

Here is the ideal route we will take if the conditions are really good:
Route Plan















But it might as well turn out to be something like this:  
Optional Route Plan














In the evenings we will eat pasta with vegetables and chicken or meat. 
Veggies for four days



















Today I received a post packet I have been waiting for: A new Stake Out for six dogs. It's really nice and weighs nothing compared to the old chains! I ordered it from Extreme Huskies.
New light Stake Out
 


















I have just realized we still are missing one set of poles. I must stop writing this and call my husband (he is working in Kuusamo) what are we going to do about that.


REITTIVAIHTOEHTOJA 

Olen päässyt lempihommaani: Siirtelemään post it-lappuja kartalla. Lisäksi päässä pyörii: Pääseehän hevonen varmasti hoitoon, miten suunnitellaan ajopäivien aikataulu, milloin pestään matkavaatteet, kumpi ostaa välipalapähkinät ja suklaat... Aika monesti tässä vaiheessa matkavalmisteluja tuntuu, että olisi helpompi kun ei lähtisi ollenkaan. Tällä kertaa on kuitenkin vahva tunne, että se tulee olemaan sen arvoista. 

Eilen aloitettiin ruokien kuivaaminen ja pakkaaminen vakuumiin. Siinä kun mietittiin, mitä kaikkea voisi kuivata, niin minä ihan omasta päästä keksin, että voisikohan viinirypäleitä. Make katto minua samalla tavalla kuin silloin, kuin pari vuotta sitten keksin tekstiviestin. (Silloin joku ei vastannut puhelimeen ja minä ajattelin ääneen, että  olisi kätevää, jos voisi kirjoittaa jonkin viestin, niin että tavoittelemani henkilö voisi lukea sen myöhemmin.)
''Niitä kutsutaan rusinoiksi.''

Tänään tuli postissa uusi steikki. Se vaikuttaa tosi hyvältä ja ennen kaikkea kevyeltä. Mutta yhdet sauvat meiltä vieläkin puuttuu. Siis niitä hommaamaan.

22 March 2015

Finding same speed

Yesterday  - what a surprise -  we spend some time on skis. I mean the whole family.  I loaded my dog-sledge with dog food to make it heavy. Markku and the boys took the dogs they are going to have on our trek.

Tre Kronor waiting for the start















The idea was to find out if we can all move at the same speed. I was afraid my team would be much slower than the skiers. You could almost call this the final rehearsal. It is only one and half weeks and then we go to Sweden.

Getting ready















The conditions were really good. The sledge slided easily. It seems I have done a good job training my 'Tre Kronor' team, as I named it. They seemed to be used to heavy load, and not even Piitu in the lead stopped pulling in slow speeds. She still has problems turning away from the skiers. I have to put the ancor in the snow and go and lift her to right direction, if I need to take a different way from the skiers. But that is not a big problem and she will learn it someday.
''My feet hurt''















In the begging our younger boy had some problems with skiing. His legs hurt. It often happens, when the trail is really icy: You have to balance yourself all the time and that is when your feet get tired. But it goes away, and after one hour he was doing alright. He found his balance with his dog and his skis and enjoyed the rest of the trip.

No problems














In the real trip the conditions will vary. Some days will be harder with soft snow or strong wind. Then we can change the dogs and the skiers to help the ones that are going slower. And we can make a four dog team and pull one of the skiers with it. We just have to watch ourselves and the dogs and make it more easy for those who seem to be getting tired.
Trekking at same speed














So, it seems we are more or less ready and the dogs are too. Next week will be full of other reparations with gear and food and packing.

Video about today: Searching for same speed

SAMAA VAUHTIA ETSIMÄSSÄ

Vietimme lauantaina jälleen aikaa suksilla, tällä kertaa koko perhe. Ideana oli kokeilla pystymmekö liikkumaan samaa vauhtia. Ruotsin reissuun kun on enää puolitoista viikkoa aikaa!

Minä lastasin koiranruokaa rekeen, että se olisi painava, niin kuin se vaelluksella tulee olemaan, Make ja pojat ottivat samat koirat, joiden kanssa he aikovat hiihtää.

Päivä sujui yllättävän hyvin. Näyttää siltä että 'Tre Kronor'-kuormatiimini on treenin aikana tottunut painoon. Jopa Piitu osaa vetää hitaasti. Kääntäminen eri suuntaan kuin hiihtäjät vaatii vielä harjoittelua, mutta se ei ole iso ongelma. Pärjään kyllä tämän valjakon kanssa.

Kungsledenillä olot eivät välttämättä ole joka päivä näin ihanteelliset, mutta sitten meidän pitää vain vaihdella koiria, hiihtäjiä tai reppuja niin, että voimme tarpeen mukaan helpottaa väsyneempien osaa. Esim. minä voin hiihtää ja jompi kumpi poika ajaa valjakkoa. Tai voimme tehdä neljän koiran valjakon ja ottaa yhden hiihtäjistä sen hinaukseen.

Nyt sitten vaan katselemaan varusteita, ruokia ja pakkauksia...


18 March 2015

My Lead Dog

I wish my Norwegian was better. There is a book I'd like to read: Min Lederhund (My Lead Dog). In the book many mushers tell stories about some of their most special dogs. It is a book about co-operation, will-power and amazing legends. I hope there will be a translation to English or Finnish.
2004 Aku was born - Aku syntyy
Story of my own lead dog would have to be a story about Aku. During his time I have learned most of the things I know about dog-sledding.
2006 young Aku wheeldog- nuorena opissa


























Aku is half Siberian and half Alaskan. I got him when he was one and half years old. He had not been working in a dog team - That he was going to learn with us. I liked the way he was build, and I thought he will make a nice wheel dog to add to my team. First I put him behind in the team. There was no problems. He enjoyed pulling. It was almost like he had been waiting for it. Surely it was in his blood. Sometimes I even felt he was grateful, because with us he could do what he was really meant for.
2009 Aku with his one-year old son Kirka - poikansa kanssa













In the kennel Aku first tried fighting with other dogs. My husband managed to change his mind about that, but it took some effort. Aku tried to make the same mistake many times, but when it finally went in to his head, that we don't fight in this kennel, it changed the whole dog. He started to seem more open and easy to teach. I realized he is a quick learner. I started putting him in the lead - and there he stayed ten years, turning left and right, on and off the track, and even stopping to wait, when needed.
Aku leading my team on open field- mennään umpilumessa













Aku has taken me to my first trips to Lappland. With him in the lead  I have reached the top on Halti, Karhu, Sorsa and Pyhitys -fells. I have not trusted any other dog as much as I trust him. He is not always perfect, but there is a special connection between me and him. I know that he will always listen to me about the goal, but also do his best to lead me safely home and even correct some of my mistakes.
2010 Kilpisjärvi, in front of Saana 















I have also tried other hobbies with Aku. He can walk in a leash and live in the house. He has done a little bit agility and even one match show, where he was rated the best of blue dogs. It is not difficult for him to notice what he has to do in different situations. I think he is probably to most clever dog I have had.
2011 Match Show














Now Aku is eleven and slowly retiring. When ever I go driving my team, I still put harness on him. Sometimes, if it is very cold, he chooses to stay home, but most often he comes and follows the team. If I'm uncertain about the route, he senses it and goes in the front of the team to lead the way. If my younger leaders don't turn to left or right, when I ask them, he runs to them and gently pushes them to the right direction.
2015  following and helping my team - suunnannäyttäjä














There was a time I couldn't imagine mushing without Aku. I kind of wished he would never die. But now that I have had this winter coaching the future team with him, I know I will go on. There will be new leaders. And he has helped to teach them. His era in our kennel has been peaceful. He is a well-behaved gentleman to every visitor from babies to grannies. He has been - and still is- an honored member and father in our pack.
My Old lead dog - Aku käppäilee pihalla














I'm just happy that he is still around. He can walk around on our yard as long as he is not in pain, and do what he likes best: follow me around. He really enjoys watching people use tools.You might think the best moments with Aku have been the ones on the mountaintops. But there is something even better: The silent moments he sits beside me, like right now. That I can stroke him knowing we have had all those moments.

JOHTAJAKOIRANI AKU

Jos minun pitää nimetä joku koira ylitse muiden, se on Aku. Akun aikana olen oppinut melkein kaiken, mitä tiedän rekikoirista. Samalla kun se on kasvanut johtajaksi, minä olen kasvanut musheriksi. Aku ei välttämättä ole objektiivisesti katsottuna paras koira kennelissämme, mutta minulle se on paras johtaja. Voisi sanoa, että ymmärrämme toisiamme - Aku on minulle ollut se koira, jollaista ei tule toista.

Joskus tuntuu melkein, että Aku on kiitollinen siitä rekikoiran elämästä, jonka se on meidän luonamme saanut. Aku tuli meille puolitoistavuotiaana tappelunhaluisena uroksena. Vuosien myötä siitä on tullut kohtelias herrasmieskoira, jonka voi viedä tilanteeseen kuin tilanteeseen, ja se tietää aina miten käyttäytyä.

Aku on johtanut valjakkoni Haltin, Karhun, Sorsan ja Pyhityksen päälle. Se on pelastanut minut tilanteissa, joissa olen itse eksynyt tai ajanut harhaan, ja etsinyt turvallisen reitin kotiin. Yhteen aikaan en osannut kuvitella valjakolla ajamista ilman Akua.

Nyt Aku on 11 ja siirtymässä eläkkeelle. Se on vähitellen jäänyt pois valjakon keulasta. Se juoksee silti usein mukana ja auttaa kouluttamaan uusia johtajia. Jos Aku saisi itse valita, se varmaan opettelisi vanhoilla päivillään käyttämään työkaluja. Niin tarkasti nenä kiinni ruuvimeisselissä se katsoo tarhojen korjausta ja muita ihmisten hommia.

Voisi luulla että parhaat hetket Akun kanssa ovat olleet tunturien huiputukset. On kuitenkin jotain vielä parempaa: Sellaiset hiljaiset hetket, joina se istuu vieressäni, niin kuin juuri nyt. Että voin silittää sitä ja tietää, että meillä on ollut kaikki nuo seikkailut.

* (approved by Aku)


15 March 2015

Cabin with Ghost

On saturday I arranged a ski-trek trip for me and Markku. We skied in Syöte National Park  to a wilderness cabin and spent a night there.

Iso-Syöte
We arrived to Syöte Nature Center at noon. I bought a map of ski tracks. It costed one euro. I told the ladies on the desk, that we are going to spend the night in Toraslampi.
- There is a ghost there, they said.
- Great! Said my husband and I agreed. What a nice little unexpected twist to add some spice to the trip!
Perfect Tracks


The tracks in Syöte are excellent and there is lot of them. For us, who mostly move in the forest with no tracks at all, it felt like something new and special to be able to travel so easy. And it gets even better: On most of the Syöte tracks you are allowed to ski with dogs.
Ahmatupa Ski Cafe in the middle of the forest





We skied about 8 km to Ahmatupa. There is a small cafe there, in the middle of the forest.  We had a snack and talked to other people, who were also having a break. There were many people there. It was really busy day, because the weather was maybe the best this winter.
Toraslampi






After a cup of coffee we continued six more kilometers to Toraslampi. We could see we are coming now to the more remote part of park, because we met less and less people. We reached Toraslampi at about four. There was no-one else going to spend the night there, so it looked we were going to have the cabin for ourselves.

Perfect weather and peace

We just sat there, enjoying the sun and relaxing. There was no rush and plenty of time to cook and mind the dogs and look around before sunset. Markku even looked from internet more information about the ghost. It seemed many odd things had happened at this cabin, but the original ghost from the 19th century was supposed to be a woman, whose husband had killed her by this pond.




Sunset at six o'clock
After a very good meal and conversation we were ready to go to bed. I took the dogs in and we went inside our sleeping bags. I was tired, but it was difficult to  fall a sleep. I am not afraid of ghosts, but sub-consciously I was listening all the time for any sign of anything strange. I knew my husband was doing the same - I could hear from the way he was breathing, that he too was not sleeping.





Nighttime at the ghost-cabin

Mora and Miilu
In the middle of the night I woke up to a dream. In the dream there was a mystery light behind the window. In the real life the window was as dark as the night. I tried to sleep on. After a while I heard a sound like somebody was trying to open the door. I thought I was dreaming again, but then I heard the dogs growling and my husband whispering: Be quiet. After that I heard nothing. I finaly slept.

In the morning Markku asked me, if I had heard it too. Yes. We both heard it. It was like someone tried to open the door. No footsteps, nothing like that. Just the door. And there was no wind at all. Markku said he had looked at the dogs when they growled. and Mora had been backing away from the door. But it is normal for Mora to be afraid of everything, even of birds, so you can not really make any conclusions based on his behavior. 



Cabin Fireplace

But now it was sunny morning, and an other wonderful day ahead of us, so we laughed at it all. We made breakfast, packed all our stuff, wrote our story to the cabin guest book, and tidied the cabin.We always make good firewood for the next visitors and put it ready near the fireplace. That is an old habit that can some day save somebody's life - Or at least make the next person feel welcome.




Markku and Miilu 
Mora and Me going
To ski back to Nature Center we changed dogs. Markku took Miilu to pull him and pulka and I got Mora. It was so easy to ski with him! He is so nice and well behaved. I noticed I have not been strict enought with Miilu and I said to Markku: Please teach Miilu the same things you have taught Mora. 






 The cold starry night had made the snow cover hard enough for skis and dogs. We could ski anywhere, also off the tracks. We chose our own ways back to Syöte through forests and swamps. All this freedom with warm sunshine... Amazing grace.

Järjestin lauantaina minulle ja Markulle yön yli retken. Hiihdimme Syötteeltä yöksi Toraslammen autiotuvalle. Syötteellä on ihan mielettömän hieno latuverkosto, ja useimmilla laduilla saa hiihtää koiran kanssa. Tuntuu hassulta, että hyödynsimme sitä nyt ensimmäisen kerran. Mutta ei varmaan viimeisen.

Saimme Luontotalolta latukartan ja tiedon, että Toraslammella kummittelee. Ihan kiva. Joku siellä kävi yöllä kolistelemassa ovea niin, että koiria pelotti. Ketään ei kuitenkaan sisälle asti tullut...

Kummitusreissun kruunasi talven paras sää. Yöllä oli sen verran kova pakkanen, että sunnuntaina palatessa pystyi hiihtämään missä vain, ja niinpä me mentiinkin takaisin kohti Syötettä ihan omia reittejämme. Kotiin palattiin su klo 12, tasan vuorokausi lähdön jälkeen. Näin täydellisen reissun jälkeen tuntuu ihan niin kuin olisi ollut pidemmälläkin lomalla. 

















11 March 2015

Better than racing?




A couple of sunny days! I left work early and went skiing and driving with my huskies. This is the best time of the year for us here in the North. Better than racing, or what do you think?

Start of the Fifth Season

Vihdoinkin pari aurinkoista päivää! Onneksi ehdin töiden jälkeen hiihtämään ja ajamaan koirilla. Kyllä nämä keväthanget aina toimiston voittaa... ja varmaan kilpailemisenkin, vai mitä?

08 March 2015

Taival Sprint


There was a sledog race in our village this weekend. Taival Sprint was now organised for the first time. Of course I had to go and see the race and some of the best sprint teams in Finland. 

Skijöring in Taival Sprint














There was also a hobby class in skijöring - skiing with the dog. Me and Markku participated, just to try the sport. We have skied a lot with our dogs in the forest. I'm sure you believe me, when I tell you, it is very different to ski in a competition! The track, the skis, the shoes, and all the real athletes made me fell shy. But there was some friends watching the competition and they encouraged me.

On Saturday I skied with Miilu. 5,5 km took us 22 minutes. That is almost ten minutes slower than the best skiers. They really go fast! When they passed me on the track, it was like a car passing a pedestrian. Their big and strong dobermans and german pointers are trained so well just for this. It is impressive to see how calmly they wait at the start knowing exactly when to go. And how they bark in joy, when they go off! 

Still, I was happy about my go. 15 km/h is good speed for me and Miilu, who did what I expected: pulled all the up and downhills same speed, half trot, half gallop. The same way she would do all day on a trekking trip. I was also proud about myself, because I could manage the downhills without falling down. 

Me and Piitu in Taival Sprint














On Sunday the weather was worse. I knew it would be more difficult, also because Markku could not come because of his work. But I went and skied with Piitu. I'd say my motivation was something like this: ''If I can start and finish, I have won.'' I don't train to race, I race to train me and my dog. 

Piitu was better and worse than Miilu. When she pulled, she was great. She galloped really fast, like real sprint dogs. But she didn't work all the time. After turning point she started to play in the snow and around me. It took me many minutes to make her run again. And all these minutes I slowly climbed uphill and fixed the pulling rope again and again...She was like a puppy, lost her focus. I hoped maybe she gets the idea again, when we can go faster downhill, and so she did. In the end we got to finish line together. My time with Piitu was five minutes slower than my time with Miilu.  
Six dog class in Taival Sprint














The rest of the Sunday was really happy for me. I enjoyed watching the race and talking to people. I don't know why I was in such a good mood - maybe because I had done my share :)

Here is films I made from both days. Hope you enjoy the sport!
Taival Sprint 8.3.2015

Tänä viikonloppuna täällä Taivalkoskella pidettiin koirahiihto- ja valjakkokisat. Kävin katsomassa ja osallistuin harrastajaluokkaan. Oli tosi kiva kokeilla koirahiihtoa upeilla kisaurilla, vaikka vähän kyllä hävetti kun urheilijat suhahtelivat meikäläisestä ohi niin kuin autot jalankulkijasta...
 Mutta kokemusta ja uskallusta sain lisää, ja siitä hyvä mielen, että selvisin kumpanakin päivänä maaliin. Vaikka toisena päivänä hiihdin Piitun kanssa, ja se meinasi pistää koko homman puolimatkassa leikiksi.

Oli kyllä upeata nähdä miten osaavia ja upeita nuo treenatut sprintterit ovat. Sekä koirat että ihmiset. Kiitos kisajärjestäjille valtavan hienosta tapahtumasta!