Saturday, January 15, 2011

What Goes Up...

Deepening snow, no tracks in front.
The trail is OURS to BLAZE! Woo!
What Goes Up ... Must Come Down - oh how we forget!

Friday (Jan 14th) found Max, Zorro and I exploring new terrain in Little  French Gulch. Highlights of the exploration:
  • Swooshing up & down through untouched, waist deep powder in the backside of Little French Gulch! Woooosh!
  • Remembering that if it is "steep up" then it will be "steep down" and driving all my weight into alternating legs to keep the Siberian vehicle under control!
  • Discovering Max has just as much a problem as Zorro with being passed. NONE SHALL PASS is the official motto of my Husky pair!
  • Hitting 19 MPH on the way down - our fastest recorded backcountry time yet!
    Details of our route (see image below): (1) started at the French Gulch winter trailhead (FG-TH) and skijored up to the Little French Gulch junction (LF-JCT); (2) left onto the Little French trail; (3) continued up to and past the Little French Crosspoint (LF-XP); (4) no tracks from here: blazed our own trail (in waist deep powder) up the ravine behind Little French Gulch to LF-CLRNG; (5) took a break to rest the human and then sprinted back down the ravine in waist deep powder to the crosspoint (LF-XP); (6) hung a left at LF-XP and skijored up to the LF-PATH point; (7) rested the human again, decided we better conserve the human and started back down (to LF-XP to LF-JCT to FG-TH).
    Satellite view of our path (click to enlarge).
    Coming down from the LF-PATH point to LF-JCT was highlighted by 2 major events:
    1. "Whoa, this is steep [down] in areas!" In places this was some of the steepest terrain we have descended (the ascent part, as always with my Siberian Husky engine, was a breeze). Determined to prove my improving intermediate skills, I refused to fall - I was alternating driving all my weight into each leg to keep our skijor vehicle under control. As one leg began to scream I would switch to the next and drive it hard for control. Max & Zorro, you ask, well they have expert skills and simply said, "you give us slack and we'll go fast - woooo!" For most of the ride it was a smashing success - I was exhausted, but we conquered expert down terrain without issue. Except...
    2. At the steepest point, I paused to get us under control and slowly maneuver this one ultra-steep point. We descended this short section just fine; but, as fate would have it, another back-country skier caught up to us (the lucky soul did NOT have the "fine" Siberian Husky downhill assistance I had ;-)  To be nice, I moved Max, Zorro and I to the side and let her pass (planning to rest while she got sufficiently far ahead before we restarted). Unfortunately, Max & Zorro took this act of kindness differently - both had serious issues with BEING PASSED! The Husky motto of "None Shall Pass" came into full affect. Once I released us to start, the 2 of them bolted at FULL SPEED to catch skier in front - such a bolt that I went face first right into the snow. We then proceeded to perform the following act: Max/Zorro waiting at the end of the gang line, but leaning forward wanting to GO; I start to rise from the snow and Max/Zorro feel a little slack in the gang line and lunge forward; I, once again, go face first into the snow; I "discuss" the situation with my partners and how they need to wait for me to get up and release before going. Repeat this act about 4 times! Finally I was able to get upright without the "lunge brothers" help and off we went (believe me, it was "pedal to the metal" once I did give them the release to go!)
    Vital Stats: 6.8 miles; 2hrs total; 95min moving time; 4.3 MPH moving average; 19 MPH top speed!!! 1900 feet in total elevation gain... Fun!
    Lower sections of Little French Gulch Trail.
    Note the path is clearly marked, although we are the fresh tracks in the recent snow.
    Taking a short break as I survey the route & landscape.
    Notice "no tracks" in front of us, we are beginning our blaze into waist-deep powder.
    Notice Zorro taking advantage of the break to roll & cool himself in the snow!
    Our original "high point" (LF-CLRNG in the map above).
    With deepening snow & unclear path, I decided to turnaround at this point.
    Look closely and you can see our "fresh tracks path" we blazed up the ravine.
    We skied down just to the right - blazing a full sprint, downhill trail through waist to knee deep powder!

    We progressed down from LF-CLRNG to LF-XP and then up to this "Final High Point".
    This is a shot looking down at what was our original high point before ascending up to this poing from LF-XP.
    At our high point, Max and Zorro say, "What do you mean we are turning around?!!!??
    Come on, let's continue onward and upward!"

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