Haltin hiihtovaellus koiran kanssa

Halti ski hike with a dog

How to prepare and prepare for a winter hike in the wilderness of Lapland with a dog? Read about Tanja and Bambi's dog Bambi's spring-winter adventure to Halti and tips for working equipment.

Tanja and her 5-year-old short-haired mixed breed dog Bambi started their maximum ski hike at the end of March. A week's trip was planned in varying and challenging conditions.

Bambi, who came along, is already an experienced hiker, hiker and sled dog. Mountains have been conquered all over Europe, but in winter they have mostly enjoyed themselves on well-maintained dog trails. So there was something new and exciting ahead of us, but careful preparation ensured the success of the trip.

Ski hike to Halti day 1.

25.3.2023 Kilpisjärvi — Saarijärvi

The first day was full of excitement and mild terror. The weather forecasts were getting colder and colder and we had to leave. Also Bambi, because we had already driven all the way to Lapland. Seven of us went skiing and Bambi, who was well-dressed in layers.

In my opinion, the day's journey was not much: about 12 km based on the maps. On summer hikes, you can easily walk twice a day. However, the progress was quite different. The pace was slow and for Bambi, the skier + ahkio were just too much weight to pull. On the uphills the ahkio pulled us back, on the downhills it pushed more speed. Fortunately, there were only one downs, so there was only one fall today.

12 km took us a good 5 hours + a little break time. However, the planned cabin came along and we just managed to sleep inside. It was already too cold in the evening (approx. -25) and the dog liked sleep, even though it was the first time we slept in a deserted cabin. Bambi curled up between his own people inside the sleeping bag. I myself was tossing and turning almost all night, but I needed rest.

Today's recommendation: Non-stop Glacier Jacket 2.0 dog jacket. It was already cold when we left, but towards the end of the trip the importance of a good top coat was really emphasized! Without a good coat, Bambi with his short hair would not have come back alive from the trip. Of course, there were also layers, but thanks to the windproof top coat, even our indoor dog was able to move in arctic conditions for a week!

Ski hike to Halti day 2.

26.3.2023 Saarijärvi — Meekonjärvi

When we woke up the next day, we people already knew what to expect. However, Bambi's shock shone far away when we started to continue away from the car.

The progress up to the first rest stop was quite horrible. The dog did not want to move forward, because the uphill speed did not increase at all from the pull. Even the enthusiasm generated by the dog sleds running by was not enough for more than a few meters. However, the break room arrived, the dog was able to warm up and something clearly clicked. The rest of the day's stages went with a terrible drive and the speed on the downhills was downright terrible. The sliding snowshoes below didn't really shine with their maneuverability. We went to Nur again, but the trip was really FUN!

Kilometers totaled 19 km and the weather was mild. Perfect sunshine, no wind, and the frost didn't bother me too much now. We got back to the cabin for the night, when we noticed that Bambi's eyes were suffering from the heat of the day. Some kind of snow blindness as a working diagnosis? Blinkers appeared and the dog retreated into the darkness. Fortunately, this group found some equipment impossibly well and Bambi got eye drops for the night. We slept very well, except for the slight coolness in the morning, and in the morning everything looked better again!

Today's recommendation: dog sunglasses/protective glasses ( RexSpecs ). We don't own any of these yet, but we will definitely consider them in the future. Winter's spring breezes dazzle like crazy, and yes, it's only good for a dog's eyes.

Ski hike to Halti day 3.

27.3.2023 Meekonjärvi — Halti's hut

Rise, rise and always rise. It was known in advance that it was going to be a tough day. My own mood was lowered by the severe pains of the Achilles tendon and the worry about Bambi's eyes, even though they already looked almost normal. We adjusted my ski goggles for the girl, which she agreed to wear for about 200 meters at a time. This had never been practiced before, so now it didn't quite go well.

Despite the roughness of the beginning, the journey started to progress nicely. Bambi drew the mood and from time to time was allowed to go free for long stretches. We saw the icy Pihtsusköngäs and had lunch at sunny Pihtsusjärvi. We also met another camping dog for the first time on this trip.

At the end of the trip, you could already see the peak of Halti in front of you, which raised the mood nicely. After 18 km of skiing, we calmed down in an empty cabin to sleep at the foot of Halti and Bambi got to try sleeping in a loft. He calmed down very well in the corner of the flock, and didn't go anywhere from his place. It wasn't cold this night and I definitely slept the best during the whole trip.

Today's recommendation: Fitdog recovery drink powder . Kilometers accumulated and the dog always manages! We were all tired, but no one's slipper goes up as fast as Bambi. Bambi's hiking rhythm included a light breakfast, lunch with Fitdog and a heavier evening snack.

Ski hike to Halti day 4.

28.3.2023 Halti hut — Halti — Pihtsusjärvi

The weather is still favorable. -19 degrees and a completely blue sky offered comfortable conditions to summit Finland's highest point. This morning, Bambista noticed a little travel fatigue, so she was able to ride at her own pace. Skiing without packs also felt wonderfully light to me, even though the ascent from the hut to the top was about 380m. The views at the top were incredible! No wind, cloudless sky and those landscapes!

Then we came down at high speed in dead heat. A free invoice has never been done, but if it reminds you even a little bit of this, let's continue! Super nice and Bambi also seemed to enjoy the feeling of freedom. After lunch, we headed to Pihtsusjärvi for the night. And finally the route involved more descent than ascent.

The day was definitely the lightest and easiest on this trip, but the day off was good for everyone! The summit was a great experience, the free descent even better, but it also felt good to frolic in the sunshine with mint chocolate Bambi under my arm after 15 km of skiing.

Recommendation of the day: Slippers! A bag of dog slippers for all conditions was included. The paws did not freeze and the sensors remained intact! No clear favorite brand was found for these conditions. Longer slippers worked for Hange, thicker ones in the cold. Number of slippers lost during the trip: 0 pcs.

Ski hike to Halti day 5.

29.3.2023 Pihtsusjärvi — Kuonarjoki

In terms of the weather, there was a complete reversal today. Cloudy, foggy and beautiful. The cold was gone, but the wind was getting stronger. We lightened mine and Bambi's bag even more, so that my own legs can take it and Bambi can help more.

The initial journey was rapidly downhill. In the steepest parts, the tow dog was more of a nuisance than a benefit, and we fell several times.

After lunch, a snowstorm started and soon the team from the Border Guard told us to leave indoors. Bambi was now cold for the first time. While moving, the heat remained, but the storm wind raged during the breaks. So we skied almost in a snowdrift all the way to Kuonarjoki hut. About 20 kilometers were accumulated again!! The cabin was full, but the agreement made room and part of our group could sleep inside in the warmth. Bambi was our strongest excuse to get inside, and in the end we slept soundly in a spoon in the corner of the hut. Bambi was allowed to be free in the hut and treated everyone with friendly indifference. There was a lot of admiration for the girl's behavior.

Recommendation of the day: First aid kit! One that is well equipped, and preferably still has the ability to use equipment. We mostly used painkillers and skin tape on the trip, but we couldn't have survived without them. The equipment was basic, from painkillers to big disasters. Fortunately, we managed with less.

Ski hike to Halti day 6.

30.3.23 Kuonarjoki — Kilpisjärvi

There was supposed to be more than a day of travel left, but it was decided to believe the forecasts and run away from the storm. In the morning we set off towards Kilpisjärvi as a tired tube. Bambi was allowed to run free and find a way for us on the overrun service route. We made slow progress in the powder snow, but the weather wasn't really bad.

Lunch was eaten at the shelter of Saarijärvi, leaving which the weather already made a complete turn towards a stormy evening. The snow was blowing at an accelerating speed and our last 12 km seemed to be getting longer all the time. At worst, the visibility was about the distance of a marker stick, so you couldn't get lost at all. It was still tough for everyone. However, Bambi bravely pushed through the wind and showed his miserable feelings mostly when the group stopped: reaching for a lap, a wind shelter or a shelter. And you can't blame it. The weather was unbelievable and according to rumors the wind in the fell was up to 33 m/s. Despite the miserable weather, Bambi was always ready to continue the journey towards Kilpisjärvi.

The last kilometers were indeed painful, but the weather in Kilpisjärvi was already considerably more tolerable. The relief was great when we got inside, showered and the dog on the couch!

Today's recommendation: Non-stop Arctic Jakka Pro . Traildog offered me a break jacket for the trip. Even though we were really cold at times during the trip, there was no need to be cold during the breaks. A decent jacket was definitely one of the prerequisites for survival on this trip. The big and plush jacket provided protection not only for me, but also for Bambi to snuggle up close inside the jacket when the wind raged the worst.

The equipment that came with the dog hike

Changes needed to the equipment list: Was something unused or missing?

Only one pair of slippers remained unused. Of the slippers, the most used were the thicker fleece linings, which also protected well from the coldness of the snow. Long-sleeved slippers work well in the cold, and I always change basic slippers to dry ones during breaks, so they don't freeze. We didn't lose a single slipper and all the slippers came back intact from this trip.

Bambi always uses sled dog equipment on hikes, even though there is no requirement for traction. The harness is ergonomic and the elastic sling gives a little grace even in unexpected situations. A pull belt for a person is absolutely essential, so that your hands are free for the poles. I didn't have to use the spare belt on this trip, but I wouldn't go without it, because there is always the possibility of belt breaks.

The coats were all in use. The fleece was put on only in the last few days, when it was really cold, otherwise we managed really well with two layers. When Choosing a jacket, you should take into account the use of the harness together with the jacket. Any coat also does not give the dog the freedom to move comfortably on a long trip. The high collar gives extra warmth, but a beanie was a must, at least for Bambi. We had to protect the big lop ears from the cold.

The amount of food consumed during the trip was incredible. My own consumption was about 5000 kcal/day, so you can somewhat relate this to the dog's need for food. We were not changed to a stronger food, but the dose was increased. The importance of soldering cannot be emphasized enough! A moving dog needs a lot of liquid, and this must be taken into account when packing: how to get the dog to drink water when it is available? Fitdog worked well for us, the taste was tempting to drink and at the same time the dog got electrolytes.

On the trip, I mostly missed goggles for the dog. We had four insanely clear days during the trip, which strained the eyes a lot. We humans walked around wearing sunglasses from morning to night and Bambi would have deserved his own glasses as well.

In addition to Bambi's own things, a lot of equipment was distributed. For nights, the sleeping bags were combined with the spouse, so that Bambi could escape to the warmth. As a break jacket, I had a good-sized Non-stop Arctic Jakka Pro , which I was also able to hide Bambi in to protect him from the strong wind. The Voited Travel Blanket was also in active use: at night as my pillow, and in bedclothes as Bambi's bed.

What skills should a dog know before hiking?

  • Calming down! Whether sleeping in a tent or a hut, the dog must know how to rest. Other hikers must also be given peace. Bambi used all possible time to rest and spent the week very well.
  • Being portable / towable. In an emergency, the dog must be taken out of the wilderness, and in that case the safest and most convenient way is to pack it in a crate. Even a tired dog can walk comfortably in a crate.
  • Sleeping in a sleeping bag (the dog's or next to a person). This should also be practiced in advance. Short-haired Bambi preferably slept right under his arm in the same sleeping bag. Even a thick-furred indoor dog may not survive cold nights without additional warmth.

Our trip was a success and we hope to have more like this someday! A big thank you goes to Traildog for a successful trip! Winter hiking is somewhat of an equipment sport, and there is no point in wilderness areas without proper preparation.

You can follow more adventures of Tanja and the dogs on Instagram and TikTok with the account @vedonvoimaa .

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