Monday, December 24, 2012

6 Grades of Trail

Today's skijor outing covered 6 grades of trail conditions - from the packed sprint track to the deep trail breaking track. All in one fun outing!

I love this shot of Max's tail around Zorro as they both inspect the untouched deep terrain far
back in Indiana Creek. It is almost like he has his arm around his little brother as they ponder
which direction they'd like to continue breaking trail :-)
One of the fun things about skijoring backcountry trails is that we almost always "out ski" the existing tracks of normal cross country skiers. No matter how packed & used the conditions are at the trailhead, we know we will skijor much further than the poor cross country skier that does not have Siberian Power hooked to their waist. Today was a great example of this situation as we transitioned through 6 grades of trail conditions as we went further and further up & out into the Indiana Creek backcountry trails....

1) The Extremely Fast & Packed Track
Near the Indiana Creek trailhead. A wide swath of existing packed tracks. This is a sprint trail for Max
and Zorro as we hit 18 MPH on this type of terrain.
2) The Fast Track
No longer a "wide swath" of tracks, but packed and 2-3 sets of skis wide. Still a sprint track for Max
and Zorro as you can see in this photo.
3) The Double Track
On to a "double track" - each side of the trail has existing tracks that are 1 set of skis wide. The middle of
the trail is deeper powder. Max & Zorro will typically take one track each so that they can match speeds
(if one of them takes the middle of the trail, the powder will slow that one down and they cannot keep an
even pace). I switch which track I ski in as I alternate following Max or Zorro.
4) The Single Track
Now in a "single track" - most cross country skiers have exhausted themselves and turned around far
before this terrain. There is just a single set of ski tracks on the trail and if you step off the existing
track you will sink into very deep powder. A single track is too narrow for Max & Zorro to skijor side
by side, so they take turns being in lead in this "single file skijoring" setup.
5) The Deep "Breaking Trail" Track
Nobody else made it this far into the backcountry except the 3 of us. Breaking trail in about 10 inches
of beautiful untouched snow at this point. Starting to get a real "Siberian Workout" :-)
6) The Even Deeper Track
Further you go, the deeper it gets. Continuing uphill in 12+ inches of untouched trail. It always amazes
me how Max & Zorro know how to follow the "real trail" under all this snow. We have hiked this in the
summer, so I have the trail marked on my GPS; but I never have to look at the GPS, just trust Max and
Zorro to use their "sled dog senses" to go the right way!
What a fun day transitioning through all 6 phases of trail! Stats for the day: 7.4 miles, 900 feet of elevation gain and a top speed of 18 MPH.

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