Huskies at Riisitunturi National Park, Finland

Finland in winter is harsh, but man and animals live side by side, existing as they have done for centuries.  The Siberian huskies are descended from sled dogs, one of the oldest breeds of dogs.

Huskies and Tykky

Driving through the snow laden landscape away from Posio and into the Riisitunturi National Park, the warm orange glow of the short morning above the arctic circle warmed the landscape.  The trees were heavy with fresh snow, an effect known as tykky.  Bending under the weight of the hoar frost coating the boughs in crisp icing sugar they form weird shapes.  Arriving in the clearing, the energy of the dogs was palpable.  Their busy 'chatter' filling the woodland, echoing around the trees.  Those not working were there to welcome us to their woodland.

Nerves started to build as instructions were given for driving. These six dogs were all mine.  If I failed to get my foot on the brake or corner accurately we would be gone onto the fells dragged behind a team of enthusiastic dogs.   My boys were wrapped in reindeer skins and snuggled deep inside the sledge. Thankfully unable to see my nervous concentration they were ready for a massive adventure.  Slowly we headed away.  Hesitating to take my foot off the brake I could feel the power of this team, straining and ready to explode through the forest.

I was too terrified to think about the stunning landscape.  We were heading upwards out onto the open fell.  The dense woodland thinning.  The only noise, the scooping of snow as the dogs rehydrated themselves and the metal runners sliding over the compacted snow of the frozen trail.  All the noise from before our departure was gone, they were happy, doing what they wanted to do.

Eventually we stopped.  I had thankfully caught up with the lead dogs.  My eyelashes were frozen and my cheeks were burning but snuggled deep in the sledge the boys were loving every minute of the adventure.  A brief pause to allow the dogs to rest and for me to gather my nerves that had been scattered along the track and then we headed off again.  Heading further onto the frozen fell the midday light was changing constantly.  Oranges turned to pinks and the blue in the north became intense.  Downhill into the woodland, the track followed the tree line.  The woodland becoming dense again as we headed back to the camp.  Branches heavy with snow hanging over the track were knocked as cornering became less accurate.  A game of snow roulette, who was going to get a face full of snow as it fell.

Finally our camp came into view.  The smoke from the fire spiralling up from the top of the teepee.  Warm glögi provided a much needed warmth from within after time in the frozen landscape.  Happy boys who rated my skills below par, buzzing with excitement were extracted from their nest.

Photography at Riisitunturi National Park

This wonderful national park provides lots of opportunities for stunning photography.  In winter the trees form beautiful shapes under the weight of the snow.  The twilight lasts most of the day in the middle of winter.  Sunrise running in to sunset with no real true daylight.  On the high fell the trees open out giving wide vistas and beautiful landscapes.  At night the large horizon allows a perfect view of the aurora borealis.  

The huskies have a character that needs to be captured.  They are noisy and busy but super friendly and almost know when a camera appears.  A large aperture allows the dogs to be the focus of the image with the background blending into a beautiful blurred memory.

See more in my Oulanka National Park and Riisitunturi National Park winter guide