Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Good, The Bad & The UGLY

Coming down French Gulch.
Skiing "in the rough" off the trail to
avoid getting locked into an ice chute
on the trail.
Wednesday found us skijoring the Good, the Bad & the UGLY in French Gulch...

Background: it has not snowed since Sunday and weather has been "spring like" (highs in the upper 30s/mid 40s, lows in the 10s/20s). So, the trails have been melting in afternoons and then freezing overnight.

THE GOOD: We skijored up French Gulch in record time. 2.6 miles up 600 feet of elevation gain in just 25 minutes - a 6.24 MPH uphill moving average!

THE BAD: Snowmobiles had been all over the French Gulch trail the last few days. The problem this presents: a heavy snowmobile's front skis make deep "ski tracks" in the afternoon slush that then freeze into 3-5 inch deep "ice chutes" overnight. Try skijoring down a skinny trail (like French Gulch) that has been overrun with 4 inch deep ice chutes and ... if your ski catches a chute, it locks into the chute and you are now a trapped & frictionless device attached to 2 sprinting Siberian Huskies! Seriously, getting your one ski out of the chute requires putting all your weight on your other leg in a snowplow position and then trying/praying/hoping the weightless chute leg can pop out of the trap - all of this while being propelled by 2 Siberian engines who think, "what great conditions, let's try for 30 MPH!" As a result, I spent most of the down route in an extreme snowplow trying (and not always succeeding) to stay out of the ice chutes - a slow 25 minutes down 600 feet over 2.6 miles.

THE UGLY: In full skijoring sprint ... my left ski gets trapped in an ice chute ... throw my weight to my right leg and watch it catch into an ice chute before I can react. Both skis in an ice chute, the Siberian engine is accelerating, OH NO - right turn ahead.... BAM - fly off the trail and face plant into the thin layer of ice covering the deep snow. The damage: (1) busted, bleeding lower lip; (2) scratched, bleeding nose; (3) scratched, bleeding left cheek. Ow... But, on the bright side, this was my first injury of the season - not bad...

Vital Stats: 5.2 miles; 75 minutes total time; 50 minutes moving time; 6.2 MPH moving average; 18 MPH top speed; 600 feet of elevation gain (and then loss). 25 minutes of "stopped time" you ask (so did Max & Zorro ;-) - realigning my nose after the face plant plus 2 episodes of stupid loose dogs no where near their owners equals 25 minutes of down time...

The pictures: Sorry, no uphill pictures - flying uphill at 6.24 MPH does not leave you with a free hand to get the camera out. Sorry, no downhill pictures - holding on for dear life while dodging ice chutes does not leave you with a free hand to get the camera out.
Max, after sprinting uphill, "So hot, must roll around in the snow!"
Zorro, "SO HOT, must roll around in the snow in the shade!"
Max, "Really, is it cooler in the shade? I'll wiggle and roll that way!"

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