• [EN] IWG Fake tests

    An important part of the “International Wilderness Guide“ (IWG) course was to learn 350 species. Theory is my weakness, I’m more at ease in practice, so in...

  • [EN] IWG Practical Training 02: Husky farm

    To gain experience as a guide, during IWG training, you must do two practical trainings totaling 240h (2x 120h) with one or two companies, one in December,...

  • [EN] Build & sleep in a Quinzhee

    [Quick post] In early March during almost every night at Erä-Susi (See post here), with the help of 2 other trainees, we built a Quinzhee. That was kind...

  • [EN] Rukatunturi on snowshoes

    [Quick post] In February during a day off at my practical training in Erä-Susi (See post here). I guided other trainee on the Ruka hill, with snowshoes....

  • [EN] IWG Practical Training 01: Safari Guide

    To gain experience as a guide, during IWG training, you must do two practical trainings totaling 240h (2x 120h) with one or two companies, one in December,...

An important part of the “International Wilderness Guide“ (IWG) course was to learn 350 species.
Theory is my weakness, I’m more at ease in practice, so in a way to learn and memorize species, I built some “fake tests” with google forms.

That was a personal project during the year, but also to practice in the future.
I guess it can be also useful for all future students of Wilderness and professionals who want to practice or anyone who is interested in that. That’s the reason I share it!

I show pictures and you have to type the name in the field.
Answers works with English, Finnish and Scientific names.

So:

Fake Exam 1 – Trees, berries, mosses, lichens & mushrooms
https://goo.gl/forms/EYkPqsFGU3cUPSyQ2

Fake Exam 2 – Fish
https://goo.gl/forms/cOljKj0BuvAc5yxJ3

Fake Exam 3A – Mammals
https://goo.gl/forms/1Qm3zxX91G4MFQYI2

Fake Exam 3B – Tracks and Droppings
https://goo.gl/forms/V2Zw5Ca1s6xVeDZ72

Fake Exam 4 – Birds (no song)
https://goo.gl/forms/1bmJtihXD8MWQWkZ2

Fake Exam 5 – Insects, Butterflies, Spiders & Tics
https://goo.gl/forms/MIr0PHhZJEi8EGHq1

Fake Exam 6 – Invertebrates & Reptiles
https://goo.gl/forms/E21gUSv0koHjFL7x1

Fake Exam 7 – Ferns, Primitives plants, Plants & Flowers
https://goo.gl/forms/UG7xEk3IrQETAhF62

 

Good luck!

To gain experience as a guide, during IWG training, you must do two practical trainings totaling 240h (2x 120h) with one or two companies, one in December, one in February. You offer your skills for free in exchange for the experience.
However if during your practical training, you exceed 120h, and if the company ask you to stay:
It is possible to stay as volunteer for the time remaining (this was my case: I’ve done 180h in total).

This time I went in Erä-Susi, a husky farm near Ruka. I had contacts during my last time in Ruka and the perspective to know different companies in the same area was nice to me. So I went as a “Husky guide Trainee”, the farm provided me accommodation upstairs in the main building.
This was my second practical training, check about the first one here!

That was during February-March 2018 (15 to 15). During Spring, the weather is mostly sunny, but cold!
Lowest was about -28°C and highest near -10°C.

I have had some experience with Malamutes dogs when I was in Canada, training dog for a race.
This job was for customers and with huskies: Totally different!
The job itself was… repetitive! VERY repetitive! Too much actually!
Not at all what I used to do by the past, even the dogs have a different behavior.

The farm…

This what look like a normal day in the husky farm:

7 am – FEEDING

Feed the 180 dogs, a meal of meat mixed with water.
(This happened one time per week by 2 members of the team: The other started at 07:45)
This was a big tricky, because sometimes some dogs escape (especially young ones) and we needed to retrieve them…
It was a bit like playing ‘hide-and-seek’ at 7am.
‘Let me out’

7.45 am – BRIEFING

Planning, briefing and assignment of tasks & teams.
Let’s say (as example) there are 2 groups of customers during the day:
– 8+2 pax for a 10km safari at 9am
– 6 pax for a 20km safari at 2pm
(Uusually it was more like 4-5 group a day)

So that meant: 
8+2 pax = 6 sledges
4 sledges (2 customers per sledges) + 2 sledges (1 customer per sledge)
6 dogs per sledges = 36 dogs
2 snowmobile (1 every 4 sledges), to lead the dogs on track.
(+)
6 pax = 3 sledges (2 customers per sledges)
6 dogs per sledges = 18 dogs
1 snowmobile to lead the dogs on track.
Total:
9 sledges + 54 dogs + 3 snowmobile + 3 guides + 2 Trainee (1 per group)

The idea was to re-use dogs and sledges from group 1 in group 2. We kept few huskies in ‘reserve’ in case of dogfights or tired animals. So when there were more than 4 groups, that was a big ‘Tetris’.

8 am – SHIT CLEANING

Start shit cleaning for 180 dogs with a shovel (Shits has frozen) + rake and trash.
Most of the time by 3-4 people max. It take more or less 2h to do everything, so it’s done several parts during the day.
This is also a good way to say hello to dogs and spend time with them.

8.30 am – SLED TEAMS

Prepare the sledges and harness the dogs. I was a big mess because sometime the boxes were re-arranged.
So it was already hard to remember every dog, but it started to be epic when they were in different boxes.
(It has also created a lot of controversy in the team).
Most of the time it was like “I need this dog, where is it?… ok now this one” everybody was on the rush!
Could be better with more organisation… but I wasn’t there to judge!

9 am – HELLO CUSTOMERS!

Customer reception and explanations of ‘how to drive a sledge’ / Meanwhile the dogs and sledges going to starting field, with 2 trainee to survey the teams and prepare sledges with blankets etc.

9.15 am – FIRST SAFARI STARTS

Depending of the situation, a trainee join customers or stay in the field to release the dogs.

9.30 am – OPTION 1

Go back clean the shit and prepare next group (dogs + sledges).
This happened 80% of time for trainees, meanwhile official guides went on safari.
No comments!

9.30 am – OPTION 2

Go on a Safari as assistant guide (Often), Tail guide (Sometimes) or lead guide depending on experience (Rare).
Basically you are just on a snowmobile, watching the dogs and call them to make them run. On very very rare case, you use a sledge (odd number of client), that happened once and was funny, but in case of a danger you can’t act:
A sled have no handbrake.

When there is a battle between dogs during the safari, you re-arrange the sled team and help the customers, give them very basic explanations. There are no real exchange between the musher and customers except ‘are you happy?’ or stuff like that, very few words.

10 am – BETWEEN SHIT AND SLEDGES

Keep cleaning the shit and help to build the next teams.

1 pm – LUNCH!

Sometime we had 1h, sometimes 5mn, sometimes nothing (Already stayed 4h outside without anything to eat, except frozen chocolate), depending of the amount of safari during the day.

1.30 pm – GROUP 1 VS GROUP 2

Group 1 was coming back, we needed to be near the starting field to attach sledges, watch dogs and re-order the team for group 2. It was a mix between this and bringing back the dog who don’t run anymore to their boxes.
Meanwhile the official guide bring customers to a coffee place and tell them stories.
(I didn’t lost you with only 2 groups? Just imagine with 5 = Epic mess!)

2 pm – SECOND SAFARI STARTS

same story as the morning!

2.15 pm – BETWEEN SHIT AND SLEDGES

Keep cleaning the shit and start to clean useless sledges.

4 pm – UNHARNESS & CLEAN EVERYTHING

Group 2 was coming back.
Pack everything, bring back dogs, clean sledges, repair stuff, collect harness…

4.30 pm – FEEDING 2

Feed the dogs with meat (double dose than morning)

5 pm – END

End of the day

(PRESS REPEAT FOR EVERY F****** DAY IN A MONTH)

Only one word came to my mind when I think about this job:
Boring as hell!

I liked the time spend with the people, I learned a lot with them, but the job itself… nope, not for me!
If I had nothing to compare, it will be different, but when I think about my past experience with dogs in Canada:
This is completely different and I didn’t really liked it.

Beside an organization and system that I can easily criticize (open to debate), there were also the behavior of dogs. Huskies personality is really minimal compare to Malamute. They are really ‘simple’ dogs, really nice and friendly indeed, but a bit stupid, they just want to run and that’s it. That’s perfect for a sled for sure, but I like dogs who have personalities, who are a bit stubborn and not idiots, dogs who THINK ; Like hunting dogs or malamutes.

I should try again a mushing farm where they train dogs for races, but customers service : not anymore!
I don’t see dogs as a product, but as mates.

I had to give a try anyway:
Now I know that is not for me 😉

[Quick post]

In early March during almost every night at Erä-Susi (See post here), with the help of 2 other trainees, we built a Quinzhee. That was kind of a fun project to do, because there were not much to do after work 13km away from Ruka without a car.
It took us something like 10 days (1h every day) to terminate it. Then we tried it for a night!

First, what is a Quinzhee?
A quinzhee or quinzee is a snow shelter that is made from a large pile of loose snow which is shaped then hollowed. This is in contrast to an igloo, which is built up from blocks of hard snow, and a snow cave, constructed by digging into the snow. A quinzhee can be made for winter camping and survival purposes or for fun… We done it for every reasons!
(More infos here)

During one IWG expedition, we learned how to build one, but never finished it and never slept in it.
I wanted to try again!

First I drew the basic idea to explain how to build it to my mates, this way everybody could work separately:

After few days it start to look like something:

Then we started to dig the inside (Took very long time):

The ‘cave’ started looking good:

Almost finished:

We used spruce branches for insulation:

Ready to sleep (with winter sleeping bags of course):

The night was actually warm, outside it was -15°C but inside something about 0°C:

A good and fun experience!
After that, one of my mate decided to sleep several night into it haha.