Dienstag, 4. Februar 2014

day no. 17/18 - in the woods...my first 30km Safari!

Erä-susi Huskyfarm -2 °C some like it hot...the dogs not that much!

Today was one of the 'big' days, one of those which are rare, but full of good experiences that will last as good memories for longer... 

I did my first driving lesson on my own!

 Every tourist group is introduced to sledge, equipment, dogs and shown how it actually works to go sledging with the huskies before they even meet their team. It is not really difficult, but still there are a few things one has to remember in order to fully enjoy this experience not risking one's health or the welfare of the dogs.They put up a little stage in front of the Safari house on which a sledge, equal to the ones that are used, is placed. The guide climbs up on the stage and shows how it works in a little driving lesson, answering questions and taking away fears and misgivings. I've joined a couple of times the riding lessons of the professional guides who have done that already for years- they are really good entertainers! People laugh a lot and arrive in a cheerful mood the starting point, maybe still a little nervous, but not afraid anymore. After the trip the guide accompanies our guests to the cozy guest lounge where hot coffee, tea, juice and some snacks are already waiting heated up over the ingel. Then the guests have the possibility to have a tour at the farm, cuddling a lot of adult dogs and puppies and of courses they will sooner or later find their way also to the souvenir shop...
 I learned that the puppies see about 7000 people before they ,in the age of about 1 year, start running themselves. That why they are so handsome to every kind of human no matter where they come from or how they look and smell like. Actually this is really remarkable! Among each other the dogs can act very rough and I can fully understand that people might feel afraid of them seeing how they threaten each other. But they would never ever do something else to people then showing trust and affection without any exception. They love people and are quite jealous if the neighbor gets more attention then one itself. From the beginning until the end the guide is always around ready to answer questions, tell stories, make the guests stay as comfortable as possible and most of all being proud. :) The people who work here seem to really love what they do and one can easily notice that just listening to their experiences and their anecdotes.  

Today I was invited to try the guiding myself and  taught a small German group the most important to know. Afterwards I could accompany the group, too- this was a real surprise! So far I've been always working on the farm never leaving the closer surroundings. My maximum distance I did so far driving myself was a trip about 5 km and today I was shown the 30 km trail, since I'm not ready yet to accompany groups with the safety snowmobile unassisted. Everyone of the guides loves the 30 km tour, because it is actually like having a day off. Since the group is for at least 4 hours on the trails, the guide misses all the hard work that have to be done on the farm and can ride through ice and snow, sitting at the camp fire eating sausages and having a chat with the customers. Obviously it is still an tiring trip, especially if something happens to the dogs or one might fall from the sledge. (Fortunately everything went perfectly!) But in any case it was quite a cool experience! 

The weather was unfortunately not perfect. Covered with grey clouds sky and underground looked quite the same,so that it was hard to identify the following sledges at the horizon. The warmth in these days bothers the dogs. They need about -20 degrees to feel really good. Working hard in these days they feel really warm and try to cool down whenever possible rolling around and burying their heads in the cold , refreshing snow until they are  fully covered. Dogs cannot sweat so they have to find other possibilities to cool down. 

snow white 
I was placed on the snowmobile sitting back watching all the time what was happening behind us while a seasoned guide was driving the snowmobile. We always drove much faster then the dogs could ever run leaving the tourists alone with the beautiful white and silent landscape only heightened by the sound of the dogs' paws hitting the icy surface and creaking of the wooden sledges. It's a wonderful experience! 

touris on tour
 We stopped after a several hundred meters waiting for them in order to make sure that everybody is still ok and following the track. We were the first ones using this trail this morning and in front of us lay the untouched forests and fields. One might think that it could be boring to see all the time for hours just white and trees,but it is not! First of all it is not just white, the landscape is coloured in hundreds of different shades of grey, blue, white, green and deep purple, although the sun was not shining. Every tree looks different and after every curve another great view is offered to your eyes. The air is frosty clear out here. (Obviously not that much sitting back on the snowmobile...). I liked riding the snowmobile looking in the 'wrong' direction. I had the perfect view on our running dogs and actually it was quite a challenge: Not seeing where we were going every turn and every hill came as a surprise. It reminds me a little bit of riding young horses- up and down, jumping suddenly in an unexpected direction...

After 18 km we had a break in a warm, traditional shelter. My professional companion lit a campfire in the tent and we grilled sausages and had some hot beverage. Inside it was really cozy and soon it became warm.
Even though is was a warm day sitting for so long time one gets cold easily, since the cold airstream is continuously cooling you. On the farm I'm really ok with my pullover and a thin cap, but for that trip I put over my pullover, my thin Erä-susi sweater and the heavy Erä-susi outdoor jacket, covering my head with a fleece beanie cap and a heavy helmet. My hands were protected with leather mittens keeping really warm because of the wooly lining.It was really necessary. 

The trip ended far too fast, but I can hardly recommend to everybody to make this experience! Driving through this spectacle landscape with a dog sledge must be even more amazing than with a snowmobile! For those who don' t like dogs: I found out today that all over North-Finland there are hundreds of kilometers long snowmobile trail marked with a blue cross which usage is free of charge. We tried to avoid those tracks because unfortunately the snowmobile driver don't drive really carefully and often much to fast. Some time ago one snowmobile has seen the sledge to late and crashing in the team it injured one of the dogs. It can ends really badly and that' s why the Erä-Susi team prefers to use private trails, but sometimes it is inevitable to drive through those public ones. Around Kuusamo and Ruka seems to be much traffic on that kind of trails, that's why the longer trips about up to 5 days Safaris are not started from here but from Rokua which seems to offer more quiet surroundings. 

I had a really remarkable day, admittedly among a lot of remarkable days..But still this one was very special. Thank you all for that really nice day ! :) 

Knowledge of the day: 
If your blade is to small to brave effectively the winter...
...have a bigger one!

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