Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hopping Shelves

Max, Zorro and I went on a hike yesterday and discovered that some of the upper elevation shady trails still had enough snow to sled! "Oh man..." we all muttered, "We could have had the slow human on a sled today! Well, tomorrow we are coming back with the biped on his sled!"

Taking a quick break at our "high point" before sledding back down.
Max, of course, rolling a snow angel to cool off - love the big 'V' he's making with his back legs!
There were a few issues we noticed yesterday to be aware of today. (a) The snow was shallow with the occasional exposed rock: that means we used the 'dog sled' instead of the skis - hitting a rock, on skis while propelled by huskies, tends to break either a ski, a pole or a knee (trust me, I've done all 3 :-) whereas the sled can tolerate the occasional rock. (b) The trails were passable on the primarily shady sections, so we'd have to set our route to avoid sections mostly exposed to sun.

So, our planned route: hop up & across the 3 shelves of trails on the Sally Barber (north) face of Baldy Mountain and then cruise down the east face of Baldy. Each "shelf" can be viewed as a series of trails at roughly the same elevation. Given the conditions (needing to stay in shady areas) we could not take the common switchbacks to go from one shelf to the other. Instead, we had to ascend straight up 500 foot inclines to hop from one shelf to the next. Woo, what a workout! Details and visuals below...

(1) The Sally Barber Mine trails (the lower shelf of our route).
Cruising along the Sally Barber Mine trail. Just enough snow to haul the human up the trails.
Elevations in the 10,300 to 10,500 feet range.
(2) The "0.4 mile 500 foot" straight up ascent from the lower shelf to the middle shelf. 500 feet over 0.4 miles - that's a 24% uphill grade we ascended!
Hugging the side of the trail hopping us from the lower shelf to the middle shelf of trails.
Hauling the sled straight up this 24% grade (I had to hop off the sled and jog behind as two
huskies cannot pull one human up this steep a grade).
(3) The True Romance Mine trails (the middle shelf of our route).
Cruising along the True Romance Mine trail. A bit more snow and fewer exposed rocks than the
lower shelf. Elevations in the 11,100 to 11,200 feet range.
(4) The "0.33 mile 500 foot" straight up ascent from the middle shelf to the upper shelf. If you thought the first hop was steep at 24%... Well, this section is a 29% straight uphill grade!
Taking on the 29% grade moving us from the middle shelf to the upper shelf. You can see Max
really "leaning into the harness" as he and Zorro power up this extreme incline.
(5) The MZ Mine trails (the upper shelf of our route). I have yet to find a name for this mine in the Breckenridge historic mining literature. So, we named it the MZ (Max-Zorro) mine.
Breaking trail near the MZ Mine. Yes - breaking trail! Woo Hoo! We are in about 6-8 inches of
untouched snow at this point. The extreme climbs hopping up the shelves was worth it to get to
our own, untouched trails! Elevations in the 11,700 to 11.900 feet range.
Vital Stats of today's "sled outing": 6.5 miles with 1300 feet of elevation gained and two extreme climbs between the lower/middle and middle/upper shelves of trails. A pretty steep outing for the sled (versus skis). Fun, fun, fun...

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