French couple builds Wolftrail in Autti
Nathalie Delgado and Stephane Sophikitis first came to Finland on a one-month holiday in March 2010. During that trip they decided to come and stay in Autti.
"In that month, we travelled in Finland from south to north, from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. We were looking for land to buy in northern Finland and we found that in Autti,” said Nathalie. The couple began to live in Autti since September 2010.
"We like living in this village, far from the city. The people here are good. They welcomed us. Our two children are very happy too to live in Autti. They don’t want to go back to France or to any city. They have good friends here!”
Living away from France has not been a problem. “We can find almost all the foodstuffs and drinks in Finland, except regional specialties like chestnuts, saucissons or good olives!” Good, warm clothing has helped them accustom to cold winters and the darkness has not been a bother either. They, however, admit to miss occasionally their families and the mosquito-free hot summer time.
The family supports itself with entrepreneurship. Stephane has his own business, started recently, offering agricultural services, renovation, repair and troubleshooting. Nathalie runs a husky farm named Wolftrail.
“We have 50 dogs: husky, Malamute, dog wolf and Alaskan husky. Taking care of 50 dogs on a daily basis is not easy, but I love my dogs and I like to take care of them,” exclaimed a proud Nathalie.
Taking care of dogs is nothing new to the family. “We have had northern dogs for twelve years. I saw most of my dogs being born. Every day I feed them, clean the paddock, and train some of them. We have a playground where they can run and play free, together,” said Nathalie.
Wolftrail organises husky activities during the winter and early spring months. “We organise sled dog safaris between December and April. We accept people in small groups of four to five.”
“Each person drives his own sled and learns to take care of his team of five to six dogs. We teach them how to put the harness, the difference in breed among the dogs, and the arrangement of dogs in the team; we teach them how to feed and take care of the dogs. We travel 30-40km a day on various tracks. Ninety per cent of our clients are French.”
The French family prefers the winter. “It’s white, beautiful and calm; the darkness is relaxing and of course we love to drive sled, and I think Lapland is the best choice for sledding dogs!”
City Rovaniemi-Finland Times Report
A Catalonian with passion for
Àlex Simón i Casanovas has been organizing the Rovaniemi 150 Arctic Winter Race, the first winter ultramarathon in Europe combining three categories, since 2012. The event this year has introduced two new challenges, Rovaniemi66 and Rovaniemi300, in addition to the categories of marathon by fat-bike, by ski and on foot.
In 2014, he also organized the Lapland extreme challenge 900 kilometers in Finnish Lapland in winter. He has worked in Antarctica for many years, including six years in the Spanish Antarctic Station “Juan Carlos I” in Livingston Island, as the guides’ team leader, where he carried out extensive logistical fieldwork support for scientific projects.
His business, Polarguide and Logistics, organizes winter ultramarathons and offers a wide range of adventures such as polar traverses and expeditions, including snowmobile and husky expeditions, ski traverses, too.
"If I am strong, I feel confident. I am honest enough to myself
to know until where I can push and the risk I can afford.”
How and when did he get into extreme sports?
“I started climbing when I was 15 in Montserrat, a beautiful and exceptional mountain 50 kilometers from Barcelona. That was in 1976.”
While his activities might seem extreme to some, he has a different view.
“I don’t think I have been practicing an extreme sport. You can do extreme things in climbing but this is not the case with me. Of course, if you compare climbing or winter traversing with chess or poker, maybe it is. I mean, for an example, that running is not an extreme sport; but if you run in the edge of a skyscraper without a safety harness, it could be something extreme.”
"I understand what people mean by extreme but I don’t think that people who practice a kind of dangerous sport think that they are doing some extreme activity. This is not like this with my friends or the people I used to go.”
How do you prepare for your performance, mentally and physically?
“I just train. If I am strong, I feel confident. I am honest enough to myself to know until where I can push and the risk I can afford.”
What do you think after finishing the activity?
“Satisfaction. It's my own pleasure.”
What do cold, snow and isolation mean to you?
“I like snow (not to be cold). I enjoy being warm under my clothes, feel how the hair of my nose gets frozen when I breathe in and how the hair of my nose defreezes when I breathe out. Isolation is not a problem. I talk to myself and always have plenty of things to say.’
What is your most memorable performance/feat?
“Don’t have one. I did many enjoyable climbs with very good friends and also some climbs alone where nobody knew that I was there. A demanding one was the traverse of Mont Blanc (Gouteur-Mont Blanc-Mont Maudit-Mont Blanc du Tacul) in winter. I was alone but it is not technically difficult. In some sections, I had to focus a lot due the wind, crevices, the ice and the snow conditions. It took me four days (quite slowly).”
“Also in the Alps, in a solo ascension to L’Aguille Noire du Peuteray... I had to quit because of the bad weather. I spent eight hours abseiling in bad conditions with few gear and some rocks avalanche. When I arrive to the ground, I was very happy.”
What is fascinating about Finland?
I like the winter season. It is a good place to get lost with your skis and pulka in isolated areas where, sometimes, in the middle of nowhere you find the comfort of a very good cabin or laavu. Then also there is the Baltic Sea. When it is frozen, it gives me a very good feeling. I also like riding my snowmobile with my friends.
City Rovaniemi-Finland Times Report