Thursday, October 20, 2016

Skijoring the Tetons

We took a road trip to Skijor the Tetons this week...
Max, Zorro (and I) pausing to take in a view of a "teton peak". The Tetons are known for their
steep & striking "rock peaks" as you can see in front of us in this photo. Mesmerizing :)
We had a great start to this season with 5 outings by October 9th. But, then the temperatures rose and the snow melted. Mother Nature had to be bringing snow back soon...

We all started getting excited at the tail end of last week as we watched a huge storm rolling out of the Pacific Ocean and into the Pacific Northwest. Oftentimes, such big events off the Pacific will deliver big snow dumps to North and even Central Colorado. But, NO, it failed, the storm stayed north and dumped snow on Montana and Wyoming while missing Colorado! Argh! Always the optimist, I got a great idea and found the right moment to suggest to Nancy, "We could make a road trip to Wyoming. Togwotee Pass is forecast to get 1+ feet of snow. Max, Zorro and I think we should go!" Yay, she agreed. So we packed the supplies and hit the road in search of snow in the Wyoming Tetons.

As you see from the photo above - success!!!! Come along as we skijor Togwotee Pass in the heart of the Tetons!

Day 1: We arrived to Togwotee Pass midday Monday to find just what we expected: snow, snow, snow! On with the skis and we took off for a wonderful 8.7 mile skijor. There were a few "snow over mud" obstacles to avoid, but take a gander at this shot:
Sprint-tucked Max & out-stretched Zorro as we zoom along the terrain atop Togwotee Pass.
Short video clip to go along with the prior photo. Watch as Max & Zorro tow me up a slight incline at Togwotee Pass - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Max was ecstatic at the snow we found on arrival. He rolled 7 (yes, SEVEN) snow angels before we even got started (I didn't think I was taking that long to get the equipment ready :) He then proceeded to roll 2 more snow angels during the outing for a total of 9 on the day. He certainly approved of our trek to find snow!
"Snow is back, snow is back! Love it!" demonstrates snow loving Max.
Day 2: Could the next day be better than the first? Well, you bet! Temperatures at the pass did not get over freezing on Monday and then sunk into the upper teens to low 20s overnight. As a result, the occasional mud or puddle obstacle of Monday was now frozen Tuesday morning. The result of the freeze? Well, we were able to get a 9 mile skijor in along the same terrain on Tuesday morning!
Synchronized, out-stretched & sprinting Max & Zorro. Wheeee! The footprints you see all around
us were "deer prints" while the indentation in the snow in front of us was the track we set the
day before.
Kindred Spirits: Comical part of the outing: we encountered a group of fellow snow-hounds who seemed to also have watched the forecasts to see how much snow this storm was to dump on the Tetons (their license plate was from Washington, were they on a snow seeking road trip too?) This group of 3 was out both Monday and Tuesday building snow jumps and rails to play in the snow at Togwotee.

When we encountered this group on day 1 we got, "Wow!" "Cool!" and "No Way - Awesome!" from them as we skijored by. On day 2, we got smiles & waves from all as they realized we were all snow seeking kindred spirits.
Guy skiing down a small rise to meet with the rail they built to land him into the back of the van!
Max is "backed off" from a taut gangline as he paused to watch the guy coming down the hill
before realizing he fell behind Zorro & I and sprinted back up into place :)
The "Line Traveling Circus" van with all their equipment spread around to play in the snow. They
were videotaping their antics, wonder if Max, Zorro and I will make the "show"?
A successful snow-seeking road trip to Togwotee Pass in the heart of the Tetons in Wyoming: 17.7 miles traveled with 1400 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.
"Successful indeed! Tetons are great. We had a blast!" exclaim my ecstatic partners at one
of our turnaround points.
2016/2017 Season to Date: 7 days on the trails covering 47.7 with 4600 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cruising Boreas

Beautiful conditions for a dog sled run high up on Boreas Pass this morning!
Gorgeous morning and incredible packed trail (for Oct 7th) near the summit of Boreas Pass.

We received a nice layer of snow in Breckenridge yesterday morning but then the temperatures started warming before the day ended. As a result, we could not skijor or dog sled on the lower terrain today. But, we got the great idea to drive halfway up Boreas and pray for good conditions starting higher (Boreas Road is open to cars through hunting season and is then closed to vehicles for the rest of winter). Our prayers were answered as we found a mix of snow-packed and ice-packed terrain for the upper half of the pass. Not enough snow for skis but perfect conditions to take out the dog sled for a run up & down the pass....
Same shot as above but zoomed out to show more of the beautiful morning.

Now for the action equivalent of the previous two photos. Here we are having absolutely serene trot & glide atop Boreas. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A quick break at the summit of Boreas as we exchanged pleasantries before heading back down:
"Having a GREAT morning!" declare my focused partners.
Notice we are at the Continental Divide. Snowmelt under Max & Zorro goes to the Pacific Ocean
whereas snowmelt under me goes to the Atlantic!

Can I say it again? Beautiful day for a sled run on the upper portion of Boreas Pass: 7.2 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 5 days on the trails covering 30.0 miles with 3200 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Max Kiss

Another great morning laying fresh tracks atop Buffalo Pass!
Beautiful, snow-covered trail as far as the eye can see!

Yesterday found us laying fresh tracks on the steep ascent and descent of Buffalo Pass - it was fresh snow all day! Well, the snow let up yesterday afternoon and it was a windy day up high. As a result, we were worried how much wind damage would be on the trails. If you look at the prior photo, you are thinking, "No wind damage at all - yay!" But, the damage was there as we encountered many stretches where the wind had blown the snow off the ice under layer:
Frozen layer of ice, so the sled could still glide; but "sledding on ice" is always tricky!
What to do when you encounter a stretch of ice, like above? Well, I grab a tight hold of the sled and pretty much "close my eyes" until I feel the sled come in contact with snow again. It's too scary to watch :)

So, the day had a mix of "laying fresh tracks" and "sliding over ice" (mostly fresh tracks, thank dog)! Yet, it was toes on snow in early October, so no complaints from any of us:
"What ice? We are having a GREAT day!" exclaim the happy pair at our turnaround point
of the morning.

How fun was it? Well, Max told me..
"Smack (or lick) - I love snow!" says Max giving me an approving kiss at our turnaround point.
"Loving it too; but how about using that free hand to rub my ears!" suggests silly Zorro leaning
into my free hand.

Not sure if Max really loves snow? Well, he has now rolled 2+ snow angels on every outing of this early 2016/2017 season :)
"Look at me 'roll & eat' this lovely snow!" demonstrates talented Max.
"Waiting for this silly brother, again!" suggests Zorro.

Laying fresh tracks and sliding over ice for a daily total of 5.7 miles with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH.

Soon, we hope, we'll be on skis instead of the sled and start getting our normal 9-10 mile runs! But, we will take snow for 4 shorter sled outings by Oct 5th any year!

2016/2017 Season to Date: 4 days on the trails covering 22.8 miles with 2700 feet of elevation climbed.