Monday, April 16, 2012

April Trail Breaking!

Wow - what a trail breaking powder day in April we had today!
Going "single file" and following Max's trail breaking lead. Notice how the path
laid by Max is as deep as Zorro! That's why we all fall in behind the tall red boy!
1) The first 1/4 mile found us breaking trail in about 8 inches of untouched powder.
2) The next 4.75 miles found us breaking trail in 12-20 inches of untouched powder. Almost 5 miles straight of powder often as deep as Max & Zorro! We did a "loop route" around Baldy Mountain, so we were breaking trail in incredibly deep powder this entire route!
3) The last mile found us following our own tracks and sprinting to the finish line (see video below).

Accolades to Lead Dog Max... Twice we were high up on Baldy in about 20 inches of snow and Max took a right that I was sure was incorrect. When you are looking over an untouched field of deep snow and trees, all turns look "the same". I was convinced we were making each turn too early, but I kept quiet and let Max lead. Of course, Max was right and I was wrong. Each turn was the correct right, even though you could not see the trail and all turns looked the same. Both times we quickly got to landmarks that showed me Max made the correct turn. I love that sled dog ability to sense and follow a buried trail!

Some more fun shots of the deep powder:
Near the trailhead, breaking trail in 8+ inches fresh snow. Woo Fun!
You can't make Max do *all* the trail breaking work. On a downslope, he lets
Zorro hop to the front and make the trail.
When short Zorro is in lead, we go a bit slower. I swung out to the right to get
a shot of Zorro plowing through shoulder deep powder. He might be short, but
he gives it 110% all the time!
The only complication of the day... BUNNY! BUNNY! As we were coming up one steep stretch, a snowshoe hare hopped across the trail and then about 15 feet into the trees. Of course, our skijoring vehicle launched right at the bunny and flew off the trail - planting the human in huge pile of snow. To make matters worse, the silly rabbit just STOPPED only about 10 feet from Max & Zorro. Snowshoe hares are white in the winter and brown/black in the summer. They often stop when near predators because they think their color camouflage makes them invisible. Today's hare was dirty white with black splotches - that is, he was in the process of changing from winter whites to summer darks. But, put a dirty white rabbit in fresh snow and he sticks out like a shining beacon. He didn't fool any Siberians who had him dead in their sights and were raring to catch fresh rabbit food! Luckily Max & Zorro were anchored to the pile of human in the deep snow. Yet, each time I tried to get up, the Siberians would get a little slack in the gangline and lunge further off the trail. I eventually threw a snowball at the dumb bunny so that it would run off further into the forest. Finally it was not dead centered right in front of my salivating partners and I could start to pull us out of the snow and trees...

BUNNY ALERT!!! I had already thrown the snowball at the silly rabbit to get
it to run off into the forest. But, Max & Zorro (especially Zorro) are still locked
on the direction of the fresh rabbit food.
"Maybe the bunny is under here!" Max investigates.
"No, I'm sure he went that way. Let's turn this vehicle around and chase after
the bunny!
" proclaims Zorro.
A nice shot of the deep snow trench we just carved coming up the trail.
Overall, it was not a particularly fast outing today. Only 6 miles just under 2 hours. Sounds, slow, huh? Well, factor in that almost 5 of the 6 miles required breaking trail in 12-20 inches of snow and we actually made pretty good time! But once we got back in our own tracks, we flew the last mile, see below:
A fast jog down the home stretch to the Baldy Mountain trailhead.

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