Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Finale

Our final run of the 2016/2017 Skijor Season this morning.

A great 12 mile run on Buffalo Pass bringing us to 1433.5 total miles for the season!
1433.5 miles traveled with 152,200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 26 MPH.
"Every single mile was a BLAST!" declare my super happy partners at our turnaround
point of the morning.
With it being June 13th, you are probably wondering what kinds of snow conditions we found. Well, see for yourself below.

Nice at the upper elevations near the top of Buffalo Pass:
Whee we go along slightly choppy but "great for June" trails near the top of the pass.
The top of Buffalo Pass will blow you away. It was "snow as far as the eye can see" once you crested onto the open meadows at the top. As you can see, it was a bit choppy due to being on melting snowpack over uneven meadows. Choppiness just means you slow to a trot instead of a sprint; but we'll take any "toes on snow" in June!
3+ feet of beautiful, albeit choppy, snowpack to enjoy atop Buffalo Pass.
After those last two photos, you are probably wondering why this is our last run of the season. Well, the lower elevation approaches are narrow or down to dirt/mud for long sections:
Still enough snow for skis & toes; but barely. Another day or two and this patch will be all dirt/mud.
We had to hike 1 mile in (and out) to get to skiable snow and then had to take the skis off 6 times (3 up/3 down) to walk over a few extended patches of no snow. Not too bad for June 13th, though, and today's short video highlight shows you it was worth it as are on a great stretch of "all snow" and only slightly choppy conditions. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We had an additional bonus for our last run of the season: it got below freezing last night! This meant two things: (1) the terrain was frozen and fast packed all morning (instead of increasingly soft slush you typically get in June); and (2) perfect temperatures for Max & Zorro to stay cool and go as long as the human could hold up. The result? We skijored 12.2 miles for our last outing and reached Summit Lake atop Buffalo Pass!
The choppy snow we are on is the beach of Summit Lake. The smooth snow behind Max & Zorro
is the "still frozen" Summit Lake.

We were quite surprised to find Summit Lake still 100% ice covered this late in June.

A great outing for a season finale: 12.2. miles traveled with 1500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

Final 2016/2017 Season Stats: 172 days on the trails covering 1433.5 miles with 152,200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 26 MPH.

On to the summer doldrums... We hope to be back running on snow in late September or October at the latest.

Pray for Snow!!!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gangline

An interesting skijor up/down Buffalo Pass this morning...
"Interesting indeed. But 'toes on snow' is fun no matter what goes along with it!!!" exclaim my
happy & adaptable partners.
So, what was so interesting, you ask?

Well, first off, the Forest Service had closed the gate on the access road at about 9400 feet elevation up Buffalo Pass. Yet, there was NO snow at 9400 feet! The Forest Service does not always close this particular gate during the summer melt; but decided to this year for some reason. We knew there was still 4.5 feet of snowpack high up on the pass. So, we got out of the Jeep and proceeded to hike up the road with our gear until we found skiable snow (at around 9700 feet elevation).

Okay, not so bad, we simply had to "hike to snow", right? Well, then came the really interesting part. Can you see it in the following photo?
Uh, what's with the colorful leashes attached to Max & Zorro instead of a skijoring gangling?!?
Well, I forgot the gangling back in the Jeep - argh! We hiked up the road with Max & Zorro on their leashes and my skis on my backpack. It was not until I reached down to switch them from leashes to gangline that I realized there was no gangline!!! Not to be deterred, I told Nancy, "We are not going to be denied - just hook the leashes to me!" The leashes are attached to a waist belt that we use on summer hikes and trail runs. So, why not use a trail running setup for skijoring, right?
Looks to be working just fine as we fly along the trail....
While the prior photo may look just fine, there was a catch...

The leashes are much shorter than a gangline so I was skiing closer than I've ever been behind Max & Zorro (and, thus, a much shorter reaction buffer for me). Also, the gangline has a bungee in one part to act as a shock absorber between the flying Siberians and the helpless human. But, no shock absorber today!

What did this all mean? Well, I needed every last ounce of skiing ability I have to keep upright in this tight & jerky setup. But, I never fell or wiped out!!! Yay!

Come along and watch some of the live action skijoring with a trail running setup.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Oh, by the way, it is June:
"Whew, need to roll snow angels to cool off!" demonstrates silly Max.
"I just stay in the shade to keep cool!" says happy little Zorro.

Was it worth it? Well, look at how much snow is still high up on Buffalo Pass in the photos above. So, yes, it was worth the hike up and creative use of equipment. 7.2 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 171 days on the trails covering 1421.3 miles with 150,700 feet of elevation climbed.

Given the closed gate far down the road up Buffalo Pass and the increasingly long hikes to snow this introduces, we probably have only 1 more outing this season. Tune back Monday or Tuesday for our season finale on Buffalo Pass.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wow!

Take a look at the following snowpack near the top of Buffalo Pass.
June or January? Hmmm... :)
All white as far as the eye can see with 5+ feet of snowpack all around us!
Every June I seem to have a blog entry that goes along the lines of this one:

All of our local and close to home trails have dried up leaving one to think our skijor season may be over. Yet, once this happens we pull out a few trips to Buffalo Pass in Northwest Colorado to close out the season. Buffalo Pass always has the deepest and longest lasting (into June) snowpack in the state. The only "gotcha" is that Buffalo Pass is a long drive, so we cannot go daily and need a few days off in between trips. But, after our first June trip to Buffalo Pass I always have a blog entitled, "Wow!"

The "wow" is always: "Wow, look at all the snow still on Buffalo Pass!!!!"

Well today was no exception as the conditions at Buffalo Pass proceeded to WOW us once again this year. Will we ever "get it" and say, "Ho hum, just another 5 feet of snowpack in early June on Buffalo Pass!" Ha, no!

Sprint tuck Zorro next to sprint stretching Max as we zip along endless snow in June.
Today's short video highlight shows the interesting conditions you find on snowpack in June. We get out early in the morning this time of year, so when there is shade the snow is packed & fast but where there is sun the snow is soft to slushy. So, we get this mix of shaded speed tracks with soft/slush tracks in between. Max & Zorro have learned to recognize and adapt to these conditions. Without word from me they will "floor it" in shade patches (because flooring it is so fun, of course) and they will back off to a trot/gallop in sun patches (think of running in sand - jogging is easier than sprinting).

Anyway, on to today's video: watch as Max & Zorro floor it through shade patches, back off in sun patches, floor it in shade, back off in sun, etc. etc. Such smart guys!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Nearing the top of Buffalo Pass and time to turnaround and head back down. Everybody ready to turn around...
"Okay, this has been so FUN!!!!" exclaims super happy Zorro.
"Turnaround, hmmm... maybe..." suggests Max.
Well, if we are going to turnaround and it is warm, you know what Max has to do first:
"Turnaround, okay. But wait, rolling snow angels to cool off first!" demonstrates silly Max.
"Wait a second... now that I look at all the untouched snow in front of us... Why are we turning
around?" asks intense and ready to go all day Zorro.

A magical June day at Buffalo Pass that just makes you say WOW: 8.8 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 170 days on the trails covering 1414.1 miles with 149,800 feet of elevation climbed.