If you were expecting something about Aurora’s I’m sorry to disappoint, however today we have seen the sun and blue sky and been treated to a gorgeous sunset. This blog comes to you from a window seat of our gorgeous cabin as I look out across what’s left of the snow at the pink and gold sky. The colours are reflecting off the ice and the pink glow is beautiful. It’s been days since we’ve seen the sun and I had to strongly resist the urge to throw myself onto the ground and worship the golden rays! I did resist, although the ice nearly took care of that for me as I raced out in my long johns camera in hand to take some glorious pictures.
The sunset was complete by 3:30 and we now have the blue arctic light that will linger for a few hours until darkness. We have clear skies at last, however the aurora indicators are low. Still, we will hang around in the dark forest, camera ready just in case! Our App will indicate the most likely time to see any activity.
Huskys! We had an awesome morning this morning out hiking with huskys. Our adventure started just after breakfast. Janne met us with … and we walked over to the ‘Husky Farm’ where we met our other companions for the morning. My fur ball was Uhku – a 4yo Alaskan Malamute/Siberian Husky cross, Toivo was Andy’s handsome fella and Pena is Janne’s dog and striking leader who, if I remember correctly, has Samoyed breed in him.
Huskys are so excitable! The lucky couple were eager to go for a walk, while their brothers (and the odd sister) were rather jealous and let us know about it. Usually by this time of year they are taking visitors on sledding experiences, but this year the season has yet to start so they are having a bit more ‘kennel time’ than usual. One of the handlers was telling us that a couple of weeks ago the temperature dropped down to below -10 so they put hay in the kennels for the dogs to say warm. This week the dogs have been busy digging it all out because they are too hot.
The sled dogs are different mixes of arctic breeds. Samoyed from Russia, Alaskan Husky, Malamute, Siberian Husky. For fast sledding the Siberian and Alaskan huskys are better, the malamutes are slower ‘work horses’. Within the kennels there are all types and it seems cross breeds as well. The team here currently have 90 dogs with more coming as the season gets going. They are training the dogs using ATV carts so that when the snows come they are ready to work.
The huskies do not undergo domestic training at all, they are here to work and be social. They are friendly, although some may be a bit ambivalent towards people they are not aggressive. They are very much driven by their instinct and desire to run. The urge to chase is very strong. Janne told us of one dog that got free on a walk to chase after some reindeer in the distance. Hours later they went out to find her and she heard her name being called and started calling back. She had started returning and was only about 1km from the car.
The sled leader is trained for steering, and the others follow. We would really have loved to experience this, perhaps on another winter adventure. Sleds teams here can be 5-7 dogs depending on the size and strength of the dogs and the weight they are required to pull. Dogs under 12 months are not used in the sled teams as their hips are still developing and need to be strong before they are required to pull weight.
In our situation today, the dogs were taking us for a walk. They are not domesticated as such so they do not heed to a human the way a domesticated dog would. They are not expected to come, sit, etc. Janne led the direction. His personal dog was the pack leader, and it felt like we were just part of the pack. The dogs were tied by leash to our waist and would pull and tug away. If not careful they would have us on the ice and tripping and stumbling around. They stop and sniff, mark territory as and when they want, we were just tagging along for the ride.
We stopped for a hot berry drink and cake and the dogs at this time were tied to trees. Uhku was sniffing around and eating something from the ground. Janne explained that these were the ‘crow berries’. Highly nutritious berries that the dogs like to eat. He was definitely a food oriented dog and I exploited this for cuddles and bonding! We also found lingon berries. Both berry varieties grow on low ground cover on the forest floor. The lingon berries were ripe and delicious. The crow berries were frozen and had lost some flavour – although we found some later that were better.
On our walk we also talked about other things. Environmental issues, the Sami people, world issues as they relate to Finland and then similar issues as they relate to Australia. Janne also pointed out a few natural things to us. We passed a large Ants nest. This is an ideal site for a bear to dig into for hibernation. There was no evidence of this site being occupied, however these are favoured because the ant activity makes it easy to dig under and because of the soil aeration there is natural insulation perfect for a winter den. A bear would dig down under the nest and also leave a breathing hole. Bears from this region have mostly moved to the Russian border to hibernate where it is quieter. Janne spends time in the summer season 600kms away and guides wildlife tours to see and photograph wolves, wolverines, bears and other forest wildlife – there’s plenty of inspiration for a return visit – oh, I wish!! www.hikesntrails.com.
After our wonderful walk, we went over to the viewing tower to see if the clear skies were giving us more to look at. It was so good to see blue skies!
We had a leisurely walk back to our cabin where we foraged for berries along the way…free lunch!
Housekeeping arrived just after us so we went for a walk through the forest to have lunch before returning in time for a sauna and view the beautiful sunset.