Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sprint & Plow in French Gulch

Max & Zorro breaking trail in the last of the open
meadows in French Gulch. Note the hard pack surface
to the snow - evident by their deep "foot/leg indentations"
without any "body indentations" you get in frech powder.
Wednesday found us skijoring 2 extremes in French Gulch...

A warm mid-February has found temperatures hitting the low 40s in Breckenridge for 3 days. No new snow, high daily temps, low nightly temps leads to FAST PACKED trails and hard packed backcountry...

The route: French Gulch winter trailhead; sprint up French Gulch to & past the last private cabin in the gulch; plow to & past the last open meadow in the gulch; start up the big incline as you leave the last meadow; (realize it's getting DEEP & STEEP, so turnaround); plow back to the last private cabin; and SPRINT back to the winter trailhead.

Leg 1 - French Gulch trailhead to the last private cabin in the gulch: this is a well-traveled stretch, so we had hard, fast packed trail conditions. Ready for a fun stat: this section of the route is about 5.1 miles - Max, Zorro and I spent a grand total of 45 minutes on this stretch (30 up, 15 down). That is a 6.8 MPH moving average! Wow!

Leg 2 - leave established tracks at the last private cabin and break trail through the meadows to the edge of the French Gulch meadows and back: This was an interesting stretch... No existing tracks, so we were breaking trail; but given the recent warming/cooling conditions, the top of the snow was a hard 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice. So, with each step, your foot would pause then break ice and hit the powder hidden underneath. But, your belly would not break the top ice layer, so you would bounce back up and continue on with your foot/leg pushing, pausing and then sinking. This clearly had Max & Zorro really working hard and this 1.2 miles of "out & back" was a workout!

Leg 3 - SPRINT back down the gulch to the winter trailhead: hard packed, frictionless surface, 2 Siberian Huskies - what else can I say but, "FAST - wooo weeeee!".

Vital Stats: 6.3 miles; 85 minutes; 75 minutes moving time; 5 MPH moving average (but 6.8 for 80% of the route!); 19 MPH top speed.

Max says, "It's hot out, I need to dunk my head in the snow to cool off!"
(it was 34-36 degrees - Siberian Hot)
A look back from the edge of the last meadow in French Gulch.

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