Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Tag Archives: koiravaljakko

Auroras, snow shelters and husky tours

The blog has been little quiet, as has unfortunately been the way this winter. So, what have I been up to?

Mostly I’ve been busy guiding husky tours ranging from full-day safaris to over-night tours but there have also been other things…

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On the tours we spend the nights at huts but being out in the wild gives a good excuse to sleep outside and this week I decided to sleep in a quinzee as the night was expected to be a cold one. (The record low for this winter was recorded at Taivalkoski at the same week, -38,2C.) I was a little hasty building the quinzee and made the pile little too small and decided to go without the sticks to mark the wall thickness. The end product was livable but little too short with too big doorway and I had to patch one hole in a wall. But it still added apparently quite a lot of warmth as I managed to sleep most of the night comfortably in my sleeping bag rated to -18C (Tlim) and only woke up chilled a few times after 6.00 a.m. The cabin doesn’t have a thermometer but it’s in a cold place on low-lands next to big marsh so the temperature was likely colder than at the village of Taivalkoski… Snow shelters make sense! And there is still time to make some so don’t miss the chance!

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The little free time I’ve had, I’ve used for arranging the guided ski tours. The last week I was guiding a group in Sarek (along the route mapped on Social Hiking, though the distance listed there is little optimistic). We also made snow shelters in Sarek as a training and they were not bad choise as the night was cold. Snow caves are especially nice shelters if you happen to find pile enough pile of hard snow. It was an awesome tour with good group and well worth sitting in the car for 21 hours – each way.

Sarek. There’s a feeling of real wilderness. And beatiful mountains as well!

I’ll write a separate post about the tour in Sarek later as this post is about northern lights! As the winter has been unusually cloudy there hasn’t been much auroras to be seen at Taivalkoski. I saw a good show here on early December, little faint lights every now and then here and at lake Inari and nice but little grey light show at Sarek. But this evening was different. After several cold and cold nights without a trace of the northern lights the lights at the sky were on a big time! Here are some photos of the showon Sunday evening. Hope you enjoy the photos in case you missed the show!

For those interested in the techy stuff all photos taken with my trusty Canon 550D (with a battery grip with dual battery for the cold), the cheap but stellar Samyang 14mm 2,8 lens and of course utilizing a tripod (a heavy Manfrotto 055). The only problem with this setup is the Samyang lens being fully manual, which shouldn’t be much of a problem but the markings on the focus ring are all totally wrong andgetting it focused in the dark is not too easy. I think I should make some new marking on it…

On the weekend we also had the pre-expedition meeting with the Vantajökull 2013 expedition and I can’t wait to get on the ice for with the group as it’s likely to be a great little expedition… But before that I still have some weeks of husky safari guiding to be done, including two nice longer tours. I’ll try to get some nice photos to share from the tours.

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Winter wonderland and working dogs

In addition to guiding during the last four weekends I’ve also work during the weekdays as well. Unfortunately this means very little time for blogging but here’s (again) a set of photos to make up the lack of words. The photos are from overnight and one-day husky tours at Taivalkoski region in North-East Finland. All dogs are hard-working (well, except a few lazy ones) huskies from Kolmiloukko.

For those interested in (camera) gear the photos are taken with Canon EOS 550D with Canon EF 24-105 4 L IS or Samyang 14 2,8 lens. Mostly it’s just fast’n’dirty point’n’shoot, often from moving snowscooter but when you shoot enough, you also get some hits. Especially the Samyang 14mm wide-angle has proven to be a very nice piece of glass and it’s also cheap for the quality. Downside is that it’s all manual lens and the markings on the focus ring are far from reality but when you learn that the infinity is around 0,7m focus it works like a charm.

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I have to say that even though I love my job, I’m really looking forward to having a day off on Sunday as I’ve now worked for 33 straight days! I need some time to wash clothing, repair gear and do some more preparations for the one-week ski tour to Sarek in early March. And maybe I also have time to write some more words for the blog as well…

All sorts of winter weekends

The blog has been quiet as I’ve been busy with my work as a husky tour guide and with my own winter guiding projects (meaning 10-14 hours per day, sometimes over-night, seven days a week). And again I don’t have too much time to write but I’ve been taking photos and here are some from the last three weekends. Very different but very interesting weekends occupied with work.

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In mid-January I was in the North-East Finland near the Russian border on lake Inari practising winter skills with two ultra runners who are planning to participate on the Siberian Black Ice Race on lake Baikal in 2014. (The race was supposed to be held in 2013 but was postponed due the lack of participants.) The conditions were quite easy: cloudy the whole weekend, temps starting with -5C and dropping below -10C on Sunday morning and varying wind – which was good for the training. The customers were moving on foot but still did steady 5km/h despite  the occasional soft snow. Ultra runners are tough! A great weekend all together. Thanks Dave and Diana!

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And as a bonus few photos from the way back to Taivalkoski as there happened to be some sunshine at Saariselkä region…

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On the last weekend of January I was running The Basic Course on Arctic Ski Expeditions in South-East Finland. The first half of the weekend was filled with lectures and familiarizing with expedition gear and the later half was spent on an over-night trip practising the new skills in real life conditions. The conditions were quite similar to those at lake Inari: -6C, quite windy, some drifting snow and super-good surface conditions for skiing. Another good weekend that will be later followed by the one-week tour to Sarek in Northern Sweden. A tour I’m really looking forward to!

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During the last weekend I was guiding a 3-day husky tour in Taivalkoski area. The conditions were unbelievably similar to those of the previous weekends: mostly cloudy, temps around -5C and some wind with drifting snow. Early February should be damn cold up here (sub -30C) but it hasn’t been the case lately and I kinda miss the cold… Anyway, we had good time covering some 80km with dog teams (Well, I was driving a snowscooter opening the trail, or sometimes getting stuck in a slush…)  We spent the still quite long nights in private wilderness huts. (Though I tried to build a quinzee the second night but the temps were too mild for the snow to settle properly in the short time I gave for it and the structure cracked while carving it…) Good travel, good food and great company – even though this job is occasionally hard, I really love it most of the time. 🙂

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While working in the woods I don’t really have a possibility to write real blog posts but I try to tweet regularly so if you’re interested in the life of a guide / seasonal worker in Northern Finland, you might want to follow @Korpijaakko on Twitter.

PS. With the knee-deep snow we have here it took only 15 minutes to shovel the pile of snow for the quinzee and another five minutes or so to gather twigs for marking the proper wall thickness. The carving would have taken only some 15-20 minutes but was brought to halt because of the structure collapsing when about 90% done. If you happen to live on an area with enough of snow, I highly recommend building a quinzee and spending a night in it. It’s nice activity, teaches important skills related to winter backcountry safety and is great experience that you can do even on your backyard! Just remember: let the snow settle long enough, make a hole for ventilation and have a candle burning inside (if the candle goes out, there’s not enough oxygen!). I’ve also written a post about building quenzees. The post would benefit from some proofreading and I’d have also some new experiences to share but it’s still helpful as it is.

PPS. I also try to find some time to write first imperssion on a high-quality expedition sled I’ve been testing: The huge Isohitti which is 100% made in Finland by Hiking Travel Hit. I also have some new Kar 147 gliding snowshoes, not Altai Hok Skis but a similar (and dare I say upgraded?) model by a Finnish company OAC. Oh, and also some original Altai Hok 145s for comparison. Impressions coming when I have the time to write more, now to sleep as I have an overnighter to guide tomorrow…

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Stuffed with six sets of insulated overalls, six pair of Sorel boots and a chair. And still room to spare…

Photos from the winter wonderland

The regular readers probably know that for most of this winter season I’m working at Husky Center Kolmiloukko at Taivalkoski (a small town in North-East Finland) guiding husky safaris.

I’ve been lately quite busy with the huskies and guiding because I’m also putting together my own ski expedition courses and tours and actually spent the last weekend at lake Inari training winter skills with two ultra-runners. It turned out to be a superb trip but more of it later… Despite being busy I’ve had some time to take photos on the way and here are some shots from the winter wonderland here at Taivalkoski. Photos from the Inari are to follow later…

Here are some photos from a full-day husky safari in early January. The customers were great (as they usually are) and we saw the sun for the first time for over a week or so.

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The guide’s job here includes also quite a lot of driving with snowmobile – and waiting as N is doing in the photo…

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In addition to the 60 adult dogs, we have also some of these cute fellows as well. The big one, named “Nuoska” (meaning wet sticky snow), is probably the biggest husky puppy of her age I’ve ever seen and if she’ll continue to grow like that she’ll be around the size of a horse in the end… 😀

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As mentioned the work involves also waiting but luckily our dogs are masters in the waiting game. Here the dogs are waiting for customers to arrive for a full-day safari in mid January on a particularly cold day with temps below -30C. The upside with the cold weather is that here it goes hand in hand with clear skies and sunny weather.

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And this is how the cold here looks like…

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On my free time I try to go out skiing as often as possible. The views are often nice, like the dusk in the photo below taken while on a skiing trip at the close-by swamp plains.

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As we haven’t seen much auroras here lately, here’s one of the nice northern lights we saw in early December. The skies are clear tonight so I keep my fingers crossed for more fresh photos of the fire on the sky…

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For those interested: All photos are taken with Canon EOS 550D and most of them with the magnificent EF 24-105 4 L IS. Equipped with an external battery grip it works just fine below -30C temps and can be used also with thick mitts. Just remember not the breath towards the viewfinder or lens. 😉

Guided dogsled tours! / Opastetuja koiravaljakkoretkiä!

This is again a bilingual blog post about guiding services I am offering. / Tämä on toinen kaksikielinen tiedote tarjoamistani opaspalveluista.

This post serves also as a “commenting area” as the comments on pages are disabled. / Tämä tiedote palvelee myös kommentointi- ja keskustelualueena, sillä info-sivuilla ei voi kommentoida.

Which track you’d like to follow? Choose your favourite, both options now available!
– – –
Kumpaa latua haluaisit kulkea? Valitse vapaasti, molemmat vaihtoehdot nyt tarjolla!

Dogsled tours, in English

As I’m working at Husky Center Kolmiloukko this winter I’m able to offer also guided tours with dogsleds in addition to my other guiding services. The tours combine learning vital winter skills to enjoy the Nordic and Arctic winter with dogsleds and skis and/or snowshoes.

For the winter 2013 I offer two one-week programs with fixed dates but tailor-made trips with dogs are available through January, March and April:

– Deep-winter wilderness; 13.-19.1.2013; Taivalkoski, Finland.
Learn “expedition style” winter skills in the dead of the Nordic winter. Makes also a great introduction for Advanced Course in Arctic Ski Expedition in Sarek!
Sunny spring crust; 7.-12.4.2013; Taivalkoski, Finland.
Enjoy the sunny days and crusty snow of late winter season driving dogsleds and on skis or snowshoes.
Tailor-made trips in January, March and April 2013; Southern Lapland, Finland.

For tailor-made tours please inquire availability and prices via e-mail!

Ps. Remember also the ski expedition courses and trips for winter 2013:
– Basics of Nordic and Arctic Winter Travel; on request; Southern Finland or Finnish Lapland
– Basic Course on Arctic Ski Expeditions; 25.-27.1.2013 and 6.-8.2.2013; Lappeenranta, Southern-Finland
– Advanced Course on Arctic Ski Expeditions; 1.-9.3.2013; Sarek, Northern Sweden
– Vatnajökull 2013 – Expedition Across the Largest Glacier in Europe; May 2013; Vatnajökull, Iceland

Koiravaljakkoretket, suomeksi

Työskentelen tällä talvikaudella Husky Center Kolmiloukossa ja tarjoan muiden opaspalveluideni lisäksi myös opastettuja koiravaljakkoretkiä. Retkillä opit tärkeitä talviretkeilytaitoja liikuttaessa koiravaljakolla ja suksilla ja/tai lumikengillä arktisissa talvioloissa.

Talvelle 2013 tarjoan kaksi valmista retkeä kiinteillä päivämäärillä ja lisäksi räätälöityjä ohjelmia on tarjolla tammi-, maalis- ja huhtikuussa:

– Sydäntalven tunnelmia; 13.-19.1.2013; Taivalkoski, Suomi.
Opi “retkikuntatyylin” talviretkeilytaitoja sydäntalven pakkasessa. Kurssilla opit myös tarvittavat taidot osallistuaksesi Arktisen hiihtovaeltamisen jatkokurssille Sarekiin!
– Keväthankien kimallusta; 7.-12.4.2013; Taivalkoski, Suomi.
Nauti kevättalven auringosta ja hankikeleistä koiravaljakolla ja suksilla tai lumikengillä.
Räätälöidyt ohjelmat tammi-, maalis- ja huhtikuu 2013; Pohjois-Pohjanmaa/Etelä-Lappi; Suomi

Räätälöityjen retkien saatavuutta ja hintoja voit tiedustella sähköpostilla!

Ps. Muista myös hiihtovaelluskurssit ja -retkikunnat talvelle 2013:
– Arktisen hiihtovaeltamisen perusteet; 25.-27.1.2013 ja 6.-8.2.2013; Lappeenranta, Etelä-Suomi
– Arktisen hiihtovaeltamisen jatkokurssi; 1.-9.3.2013; Sarek, Pohjois-Ruotsi
– Vatnajökull 2013 – Retkikunta halki Euroopan suurimman jäätikön; toukokuu 2013; Vatnajökull, Islanti