On Husky Tour in Arctic Finland

Alexander had the brilliant idea to go on a husky tour with the whole family. A small adventure with a great impact and significant long-term consequences…I was looking for some informations on the internet about how, when and where. That it should be in Finland, better said in Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle, was actually quite clear. We finally ended up at Hetta Huskies in Enontekio, near the Norwegian border, with Pasi Ikonen and Anna McCormack. Together they run their own farm with meanwhile 200+ Huskies (from Puppy to Grandpa) and offer various excursions and tours.

In both years we have decided for a 7-day Arctic Mushing program “en famille” i.e. 5 – days with our own sled and a team of 5 (sometimes 6) Huskies, out in the pampa .

And how does such a Husky Tour go?

The first day is mainly for preparation:
The clothes will be checked and where necessary additional warming material or other equipment such as a headlamp will be provided.
Then we get to know the dogs, followed by instructions on how to harness and handle the sleds. Finally when everyone is ready, a first training or warm-up round is started. On the first tour it was 6 km, on the second it was 30 km around Hetta – we already knew how it was going and had accordingly less preparation time.
This 1st day also helps to put together the final dog teams for the tour.

On the 2nd day the main trip begins. During the next 5 days the dogs lead us over frozen lakes and moorlands, through light forests – where fox and hare say good night to each other – and over one or the other hill.
They know the way and let us enjoy the landscape, the silence and the cold tip of our noses… If it goes uphill, they ask us for support with a short look backwards – if it goes downhill, we have to slow them down. The nights are spent in comfortable huts, simple Mokkis and even simpler Kotas. Often we cook and heat by candlelight at the open fire, sleep on reindeer skins and when the dogs howl at night then “Tomte Tummetott” might be somewhere on the way looking to the right. (Tomte Tummetott – a children’s book series by Astid Lindgren). It goes without saying that before and after the day’s stage one takes care of the dogs’ well-being, feed them and helps to set up and remove the night camp….

The last day I quote from my diary of 2014:
“Our tour is already approaching its end and it’s back to Hetta on a last loop. After 5 “running” days, the dogs enjoy being back in their huts, greeting those at home and sipping the warm meat soup that we are allowed to offer them. Bye bye – see you ……”

In 5 days we covered about 190 km and the longest stage was 45 km.
On average we drove 5 hours a day.

Temperatures and weather:
max. approx. -5°C min. approx. -22°C the coldest night was at -25°C from sun to snowfall we had everything

The photos and video clip speak for themselves……

Our guides:
1st Tour Priska Burri – For Priska it was the 1st big tour she led. She did a great job.
2nd Tour Doris Kallen from Kandersteg – And like last year everything went under expert supervision of Pasi – thanks for the good food and drinks in the evening 😉

Falling off the sled is a must… at least once…..that’s part of the experience. Whether uphill or downhill, whether you just look at the landscape instead of the dogs or cross a road. Sooner or later we are all diving into the soft! Deep snow.
Never stop when a snowmobile is to be crossed – it is better the snowmobile stops. But we stopped to let a reindeer farmer pass who had loaded a 600 kg hay bale on the trailer. Well – the dogs had a longer break and we had a little “extra workout”. Fortunately the farmer was not too grumpy and grateful for our help. Dogs as foot or bed warmer… every night we had additional guests in the hut. Especially in cold nights the “short-haired” and sensitive dogs were allowed to keep us company at the cosy warmth.

Pasi, Anna, the dogs and their team:
You can see that people with a lot of adventure experience are at work here (Pasi is the 1st Finn to reach the South Pole on skis without help from outside). Those who are not well equipped will be provided with material. (boots, gloves, jackets etc.) also the sleeping bags are designed for low temperatures. Pasi and/or employees accompany the teams on the snowmobile from a comfortable distance, transport the dog food and everything else needed.
The keeping of the dogs is very good and the emphasis is very much on transparency and information.
Especially nice also the fact that we had on our 2nd tour again a few of our favorites from last year in the team, including Atlas, Bino, Eka, Leon, Monthy, Nalle and a few “O” dogs, to name just a few. Of course you take them all, even those not mentioned, into your heart….

The silence, the wide untouched landscape, the interaction with the dogs, the simplicity of the huts – there is a certain risk of addiction!

The significant long-term consequences:
check out “from sled dog to couch potato”.

click on the pic