2022 Trip – Day 3

DistanceAverage SpeedMax Speed
43 km14.2 km/h33.2 km/h

The “plan” was to drive up the snowmobile trail from Tilsa, across the Hameenvaara swamps and then proceed over to Kylkeinen to spend the night there. Mostly this was achieved!

Timo had changed one dog from yesterday’s successful team but otherwise it looked good. With the alarm clock problem fixed I got off at a reasonable time but almost immediately stuck a problem. One of my team dogs, Muns, basically collapsed and refused to go on. I have seen this a couple of times before and there is nothing that can be done other than replacing the dog and returning the failed one to the kennels. Sometimes the dog has to go to the vet, but usually it fully recovers after a day or so of rest and the only conclusion to be drawn is that it was “off colour”.

I phoned Timo and he organised for a couple of the guides to bring out a replacement dog. I was still only 1km from the kennels so it didn’t take too long but by the time they arrived Muns was already up and seemed reluctant to leave. Of course this means nothing as dogs forget very quickly if they have felt unwell.

Portrait of 2022 team
Leaders; Foxy and Buddha, Team Dogs; Rottu and Nando, Wheel Dogs; Tuscott and Pepe

I was then able to proceed and the team ran well. I was able to see the Tilsa kota as I joined the snowmobile trail. I hope that I can organise to get there before the end of the week.

Proceeding along the trail I noticed a small lake only about 20m away through the trees and decided that it would make a good spot to have lunch. I had some wood with me to make a fire but the top of the snow was too hard for me to just stamp out the required hole. Instead I made use of my recently acquired folding shovel which I purchased for just such an eventuality. It worked fine, and soon my appalling fire making skills had got an extremely feeble fire going.

I was just getting ready to heat my first sausage when I heard a snowmobile approaching. The dogs were parked on the trail so I hurried back to them. Only then did I observe that the machine was actually coming across the edge of the lake towards my fire. The driver didn’t speak English so I don’t know what he wanted or how he had managed to spot me. However I said “Finn-Jann” (the name of the kennels), koirat (Finnish for ‘dog’) and indicated my lunch and he seemed satisfied and drove off. Most mysterious!

  • Tusscot

I found my way across the swamps and round Romevaara OK, but life got more difficult as I tried to find the route to Kylkeinen. Timo had told me that he had driven the entire route that morning so I was looking for fresh trails. He also said that the turning for Kylkeinen was about 50m before the power lines. I reached the power lines without seeing it and continued on up the hill. Realising that I had gone wrong I turned back and when I got back to the lines I parked the team and searched on foot. I finally found the junction more than 300m from the lines and almost invisible even when I was standing next to it. The junction is on open swamp so it had been blown over, plus the sky was very overcast and this makes it hard to see marks in the snow.

I returned to the dogs and drove them along the route I had found. Once clear of the swamp the trail was once again easy to see. Unfortunately, the route to Kylkeinen has a second junction which is almost exactly the same – a left turn on a swamp near the power lines – and I missed that one as well!

By the time I figured out where I was it was getting late and I didn’t want to have to turn the dogs again. In addition, even if I had managed to find the turning, the route to the hut runs over quite a bit more swamp and lake and the track might be equally hard to find. So I gave up. I knew where I was and that I could follow the trail back to the kennels and anyway the dogs would go home even if I did nothing.

As I returned over a lake I was amazed to see another lone team coming the other way. Once we got close I could see that it was a lady who lives a few doors from the kennels. Fortunately, our teams managed to pass without fighting.

On my return Timo tried to claim that the turnings were easy to find as he had clearly marked them with sticks stuck into the snow. I pointed out that his sticks looked exactly the same as the feeble saplings which are to be seen sticking out of the ground in every swamp and why couldn’t he put some coloured tape on them like Asko does with his sticks over at Saija. Timo replied that he uses birch for his sticks and as this doesn’t grow in that area it should be obvious that they aren’t saplings. How foolish of my not to have noticed!