Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fresh Tracks Day

It was a day of laying fresh tracks in 2-5 inches of snow all day - such skijoring fun!
We just dropped out of the thick forest and into a wide open meadow with fresh snow all to
ourselves! 
We took to some of the lesser used trails surrounding French Gulch with the hopes of having the day's fresh snow all to ourselves. Boy, did we score - our entire outing was spent laying fresh tracks as we cruised through 2-5 inches of untouched powder the whole day. What a beautiful fresh tracks day!

I love the scenery in this video clip. Just Max, Zorro & I trotting through the forest
and enjoying the fresh snow all to ourselves!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

And a few more fun shots from the outing...
Nearing our "high point" of the day - having a great time climbing up the trail!
"Did you say 'almost done' and then 'wait'? Oh boy!" declare Max & Zorro.
'Almost done' is the command I give when we are nearing our midpoint break or the end of
the run for the day. It means "cut loose, we are taking a hotdog break soon."
Both of them know the next 'wait' after an 'almost done' is hotdog time as both are spinning
around in anticipation after my call to 'wait'.
Not all 'waits' work this well, but the 'wait' after an 'almost done' is always a success :-)
A great powder day with some good elevations to climb up and sprint down: 7.2 miles, 1500 feet of elevation climbed, a top speed of 20 MPH and laying fresh tracks all day!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Skier or Skijorer

Happy faces all around as we take a quick break high up on Boreas Pass Rd
"Hi! We are having the BEST time - we love skijoring!" express Max & Zorro.
Cross country skiing versus skijoring - what is the real difference? Well, the video below tells it all. We were coming down Boreas Pass Rd when we caught a couple of skiers trekking down the trail. This couple was skiing down from the Boreas Summit: a pretty long trek for a cross country skier so you need to conserve your energy and ski at a pace suitable for a long outing. Us skijorers, on the other hand, have no need to conserve energy - we are in a natural lope as we cruise along the trail at a very comfortable trot for Max & Zorro. "Conserve energy - what for?" say Max & Zorro. If you have your volume up high, you can hear the first skier exclaim "Woo!" as we pass by - she clearly knows Siberians :-)

Skier or Skijorer - which would you rather be?
The Siberian Skijoring Pace is quite fast compared to the average Cross Country Ski Pace.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

During our break at our high point of the day, I had some extra equipment adjustments to make. Max was unimpressed with the extra time I was taking:
"Boy are you slow! I'll be down here enjoying the snow and sun until you FINALLY get
ready to get going!" states sun-bathing Max.
Today's outing took us from the Baldy Mountain winter trailhead up & over to our high point on Boreas Mountain and then down Boreas Pass Rd to the Boreas winter trailhead: 9.7 miles with 1100 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Caution

A fast day with a few inches of new powder on the snowmobile trails in & around French Gulch!
It is hard to read the orange sign we are passing to the left - it says CAUTION.
Hmm, skijoring with 2 sled dogs... I've often thought of pasting a permanent "caution sign"
on  my forehead :-)
We looped around the French Gulch area by following a network of snowmobile trails. The fresh snow overnight made the trails perfect for a fast skijoring outing....

About 2 inches of fresh snow on an existing track winding through the trees.

A nice video clip of an "uphill skijoring sprint". Not many people get to experience
"skiing uphill without trying" - so much fun!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]


Not everything was wide & established tracks all day. Here we are in some deep snow
taking a narrow connector between 2 sections of trail.
Zorro says, "Great day! Do we have to go back???"
Tally for today's outing: 8.1 miles, 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH. Woo!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dual Angels

Rolling Dual Snow Angels after completing a steep climb up & out of Indiana Creek.
Left: Max rolling a snow angel to cool off while Zorro dunks his head in the snow.
Right: Zorro agrees, "Good idea, think I'll roll an angel too!"
We passed 400 miles for our 2012/2013 skijoring season today (402.8 miles to be exact)! We used 3 parts of the Indiana Creek trail system to weave together a fun 9.1 mile outing:

(1) Cruising out & up the well-traveled lower section of Indiana Creek.
(2) Climbing up & over the steep connector from Indiana Creek to Pennsylvania Creek (and then returning the same route).
(3) Jogging out & back the lower trail hugging Indiana Creek deep into the backcountry.
(4) Sprinting back down the first leg to return to the Indiana Creek trailhead.

Cruising along the lower section of Indiana Creek - a hard packed fast trail with a trace
to inch of new snow cover.
Beginning the steep connector out of Indiana Creek to Pennsylvania Creek. This is not a
widely used trail (due to the steepness), so we were laying fresh tracks in 2-5 inches of snow
the entire route!
Back along the trail that hugs Indiana Creek as you go far into the backcountry.
A fun network of trails with a couple of really steep grades to add to the workout: 9.1 miles, 1600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Just Enough

We got "just enough" new snow overnight to make the steep trails on Baldy Mountain safe to ski down again! So, Max, Zorro & I hit the backcountry trails to skijor up, down and around Baldy.
Shoulder to shoulder in a nice uphill sprint. There is nothing quite like "skiing uphill without
even trying" - Siberian Power at its best :-)
Even though it was cloudy and overcast all day, the temperatures were around 25 to 30 degrees. That is hot to a husky - just ask Max:
"So hot, so hot - gotta roll a snow angel to cool off!" exclaims Max.
As part of our tour around Baldy, we took the lesser used trail out & back to the True Romance Mine - this is always a fun and somewhat narrow trail:
Cruising through the trees on the way to the True Romance Mine.
Taking a quick break at True Romance. Well, ok, I guess I was taking a break. Zorro, on the
other hand, decided to do some mining by digging in the snow all around the mine.
Unfortunately, he did not strike gold :-)
A fun little day cruising around Baldy: 7.2 miles, 1300 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

15 Mile Day

Tuesday was a real power day: 15.1 miles, 2100 feet of elevation climbed, a top speed of 20 MPH and one potential speeding ticket - WOO!
Well, the sign says "15 MPH" as we approach a blind curve in the road.
I did not check the GPS for our exact speed, but I do know that whenever Max & Zorro are
in an "airborne sprint" (as above) then we are going well over 15 MPH and in the 20 MPH
range. Oops - good thing cops do not patrol the trails in the winter!!  :-)
Tuesday morning was a beautiful day at the Vail Pass Recreation Area. Blue skies all around and fast, packed trails for miles and miles. Vail Pass is popular with snowmobilers, so the trails were packed for speed and went as far as we wanted to go. We opted for an exhilarating 15 mile run through a range of elevations as follows:

1) Out Direction (just over 7.5 miles): 900 feet up, 600 feet down, 300 feet up, 300 feet down, 300 feet up - take a quick 3-5 minute break.
2) Back Direction: 300 feet down, 300 feet up, 300 feet down, 600 feet up (rest the human for a quick 3 minutes) and 900 feet sprint back down to the trailhead.

Sprinting along Lime Creek Rd, approaching the "15 MPH" sign at speeds
well over 15 MPH :-)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Most of the day was spent cruising around the trails in perfect form. Yet, every once in a while an "instigator" starts something on the trails. I refer to the source of the instigation as either the "z-stigator" (Zorro started it) or the "red-stigator" (Max started it). Typically the z-stigator starts 90% of the instigations; but now & then silly big Max will get all giddy and declare, "I'm going to mess with my brother!" - as shown below, the red-stigator:
I can just hear Max... Poke, jab with his right arm, "Hey little bro, look at this fast track,
what do you got? I'll race ya!" instigates Max with "no-back-down" Zorro who will try
to meet any challenge (even though tall Max can out sprint him on any terrain :-)
"Really? That's all you got? Catch me if you can!" toys Max with Zorro as he lunges ahead
and looks back to continue messing with his little brother...
Naturally, the instigations never last very long as the "will to go" overrides the "will to instigate" within seconds or minutes - it is just hilarious to watch the red-stigator or z-stigator start something and let it play out... But, back to professional skijoring shots:
"Hey bro - wide open fast conditions! What do you say we uncork it for some real speed!"
Max & Zorro say to one another as we crest from our initial 900 foot climb onto a fast and
flat track before hitting the upcoming sprint down a 600 foot decline.
At our midpoint break, 7.5 miles out from the Vail Pass trailhead. As you can see, the
Siberians were not sold on needing a break or deciding to turn around, "Look at the
beautiful trail continuing in front of us, why stop? Why turn around? Woo!"
Beautiful views, far reaching blue skies, wide open & packed trails as far as they eye can see!
Wow, what a perfect day for a 15 mile run!
This was our longest single run at Vail Pass - maybe next time we'll try for 16+ miles! Tally for the day: 15.1 miles, 2100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Steep Day

The themes of today's skijor outing were "steep" and "climbing" as we ascended around 1700 feet in a short 6.5 mile outing. About 4 miles of the outing was uphill, with a quick 2.5 miles of downhill. A lot of Siberian power needed to haul me uphill!
Feet in unison as the Siberian pair help propel me up a packed snowmobile trail with
a trace of fresh snow cover.
While the entire outing can be classified as "steep", we did transition through a range of trail conditions, as shown below:
About 60% of the trail followed this pattern: an existing snowmobile track with a trace to
no snow cover. 
About 30% of the trail followed this pattern: 2-4 inches of untouched snow on an
existing packed track.
And, finally, about 10% of the outing was breaking trail in 8+ inches of untouched snow.
Uphill & deep trail breaking - that is a real Siberian workout!
Overall, an impressive climbing day (1700 feet ascended), a modest distance day (6.5 miles) and a moderate speed day (16 MPH top speed). Elevation really makes for an energetic short run!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No Repeats

A few times a season I will try to repeat a long section of trail with Max & Zorro. A few times a season I get a mini-mutiny from my Siberian partners...
"Hi! Beautiful, fast conditions today! Did you say 'wait'?" express Max & Zorro as I just called out
to "wait" so we could take our midpoint break of the day.
By "repeat", I mean trying to reuse an extended section of trail 3+ times during the same outing. It is common for us to repeat sections 2 times on trails that are "out & back" in layout - the "out & back" repeat never causes any mutiny. But, try an "out & back" then "out & back" on the same trail (thus, using the same trail 4 times) and my partners really balk at the concept of running on a hamster wheel. They will try to pull rank and refuse; when that does not work they will decide to launch a mutiny and just turn around - again that never works. It takes a lot of talking from me to convince them that restarting down a trail we have already used twice is a good idea!

Even once we resolve the mutiny and get going, it is a skijor pattern of "Trot, trot, trot - peek back at the human and check that he has really lost it and wants to repeat this trail. Then, trot, trot, trot - peek. And so on and so on." Needless to say, our skijoring pace is significantly slower than normal in this "trot trot trot peek - repeat" pattern.

So, why do I even try a "repeat trail"? Well, every once in a while I lose my senses (according to Max & Zorro) and think it sounds fun to extend the day's outing by reusing a section of trail 3+ times. Oh you silly misinformed human - do you not understand anything?!?! I typically end an outing where I tried a "repeat trail" proclaiming, "Well, Max & Zorro still balk at a 'hamster wheel' network of trails; maybe we'll try again next year when they are a year more mature! (hahaha)."

Trying to restart down a trail that we have already done "out & back" once.
Zorro peeking back to say, "Dude - we already did this - next..."
A lot of talking from me about starting down this same trail AGAIN and we are slowly off.
Max glancing back to say, "Hey are you lost? We ALREADY did this!"
We had been going good for a short stretch until Zorro loses his gas pedal and Max
looks back to say, "Boring - we really need some new terrain!"
We just started to hit our normal skijoring speed when Zorro has to peek back just once
more, "Really? The same trail? Are you nuts?"
Luckily, eventually the "will to go" kicks in for Max & Zorro and they abandon the mutiny and decide that running the same trail AGAIN is clearly better than running no trail at all - but it sure takes a lot of convincing from me to reach this point!  :-)

Hitting some nice speeds along a "repeat trail". Notice the trail is barely 2 Siberians wide.
If you step off the packed trail, you will sink into "Siberian chest deep" snow in most places.
So, it is a shoulder-to-shoulder tight team to stay on the trail and get some real speed.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below[

Tally for the day: 8.3 miles, 1000 feet of elevation gain, top speed of 20 MPH and a "human gone loco who forgot we are Siberians, not Hamsters!" (signed Max & Zorro).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Nice Views

A serene bluebird day today with beautiful views on the homestretch down Boreas Pass Rd.
Beautiful views for the human - packed & wide sprint track for the Siberians.
Fun for everyone! :-)
We hit the trails today for a quick outing from the Baldy Mountain winter trailhead, up & connecting onto Boreas Mountain and then down Boreas Pass Rd to the Boreas winter trailhead. A nice "trotting video with views" on the way down:

Cruising down Boreas in a nice "skijor trot". Notice the human's shadow: no skiing effort
required from me, just ride the runners and enjoy the views- Siberian Powered. You can see
Breckenridge Ski Resort coming into view (straight ahead and one mountain over).
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]
Note: mouse over the video and click the settings icon () and change the quality to
720pHD for great HD quality video playback - youtube does not allow me to offer this
quality as the default setting even though that is what looks best!

We progressed through "narrow packed trails" to "open packed trails" to "wide packed trails" as we connected Baldy to Boreas. Packed equals "fast all the way today! Woo!"
Cruising along the packed & narrow connector from Baldy to Boreas. A need to keep a
little under control since the trail is so tight.
Dropping onto Boreas Pass Rd (high up on Boreas).  It is an open & packed trail now, no
need for caution - uncork the Siberians and off we go!
Tally for the day: 7.1 miles, 750 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH. A fast, quick & fun day!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Siberian Lecture

I got a serious Siberian Lecture today at the trailhead!
Max "wooing up a storm" at the trailhead. He had a lot to tell me about the situation and
lack of recent skijoring exercise - details & video below...
Ok, let me set the background first...
1) Our last skijoring outing was Friday. "Oh my Dog, we missed Sat & Sun!" is Max & Zorro's position.
2) Both Nancy & I were under the weather on Sat & Sun, so all the exercise poor Max & Zorro got on those days was a silly 1 hour waddle (walk) from Nancy on Sat and similar little waddle with me on Sun.
3) Toss in the fact that Sat & Sun were "Siberian Beautiful" (highs in the single digits and lows near 10 below).
4) It was 11 below at 8am today (we typically start our skijoring outings by 9am), so I waited until 11am (and 3 below) to hit the trails today. "We are usually DONE, home and happily reflecting on the day well before 11am!" say poor Max & Zorro.

And, finally, the real topper to the last 4 points... Nancy was still not feeling well, so I took Max & Zorro to the trailhead myself. You have to understand our typical outing to get the significance of this. Typically, Nancy comes along as our "handler" - she takes Max & Zorro out of the Jeep when we get to the trailhead and lets them stretch their legs while I prepare my equipment for the outing. Ok, back to today - it was just the 3 of us at the trailhead, so Max & Zorro had to wait in the Jeep while I took a Siberian Eternity to get my equipment (boots & skis) and then prep the rest of my equipment with them watching from the back of the Jeep.

So, what happened - well, Max was quite opinionated about this non-standard situation, "Look how late it is? Where's Mom? Why am I still in the Jeep? What are you doing? What was that Sat/Sun waddlefest - SIBERIAN ABUSE? HURRY UP - my bones are rotting! Let's GO!" is what I heard from Max the entire time he was trapped in the Jeep at the trailhead - what a crack up, listen below:

Max talking up a storm at the trailhead - so opinionated about the recent days' events!
Occasionally Zorro pipes in with his high-pitched opinion as well. Oh my, what a vocal
pair of cooped up skijoring beasts! NOTE: turn your volume all the way up to really
hear the lecture!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Once I finally, got my stuff together and unloaded everyone from the Jeep, it was a Siberian Sprint Day! "Been cooped up for 3 days! Been trapped in that Jeep for 100 years! We may never skijor again, must get it ALL in today!" was the consensus from my partners. To nobody's surprise, here's what the GPS clocked us at on the trail today:
Hitting a fast 24 MPH skijoring in French Gulch today. Wheee!
And, yes, we only went a piddly 6.9 miles today - I am still getting over my bug and did not want to push it and relapse. "Oh, the Siberian Abuse continues!"  :-)

Hitting a cool 24 MPH on the trail today. I tell you, it's dangerous to let these two
be cooped up for 2 days in the height of winter!  :-)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Stats for the day: 6.9 miles, 800 feet of elevation climbed, 24 MPH top speed and a full blown Siberian Lecture at the trailhead!

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Skis, Same Fun

Trying out our new pair of skis on the trails today... New skis, same fun skijoring in & around the Indiana Creek trails!
Pretty snow covered trees, pretty snow covered Max, pretty snow covered Zorro.
Having a blast skijoring in 2-4 inches of fresh snow with more snow continuing to fall on us.
It is not often you get to buy a new pair of skis "in season" - typically I buy all my equipment (skis, poles, boots, bindings, clothes) during the pre and post season sales. But, I have had my eyes on a certain pair of Rossignols and, low and behold, The-House.com had them on sale last week! Woo Hoo!

This new pair of Rossignols are to become my new "fast skis" - the skis I use on packed or groomed trails with less than 5 inches of new snow. Well, 2-4 inches of new snow today on the packed trails in Indiana Creek - so, out came the new skis to go for their first run. As the video below shows - success!

The GPS clocked us at 20 MPH along this stretch of trail.
I think we can say the new "fast skis" are definitely fast!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Our inventory of skis is really growing -
Peeking in the "ski box" on top of the jeep.. From top to bottom:
1) Our "rock skis" - an old pair of Rossignols that I got at a ski swap - fast & good in sketchy conditions.
2) Our "powder skis" - a pair of Rossignol Evos that excel in deep snow and/or steep terrain.
3) Our new "fast skis" - a cool pair of black Rossignols designed for packed trails with minimal powder.
It was snowing pretty good on us all day - that is great, we need some fresh powder on the trails!
Cruising along far back in Indiana Creek. That is not fog or low clouds in the foreground, that is fresh
falling snow! Whee!
An extremely successful day trying out the new skis: 7.7 miles, 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH. I can hardly wait to see what these skis produce after a few more outings getting a feel for their behavior. Zoom!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Keystone Gulch

We had some errands to take care of Wednesday morning near Keystone. So, we decided to take a skijor spin on Keystone Gulch Road once we were done.
Hitting 20 MPH on a nice straight away along Keystone Gulch Rd.
Do not be fooled - most of the outing was not on terrain this nice!
We have been on Keystone Gulch Rd a few times in the summer (hiking & trail running), but had never been on this trail in the winter as we tend to stay closer to Breckenridge. Here is a good hint to what we found: (1) the Keystone Gulch Rd trailhead is under 9300 feet elevation; (2) our typical trailheads around Breckenridge are between 10,300 and 10,600 feet in elevation; (3) it has been a dry start to January. Oh boy does that 1000 feet between our Breck trails and Keystone Gulch make a huge difference!
Yikes! Here is what we found near the trailhead (at elevations near 9300 feet).
Good thing I brought my "rock skis" with for the outing! You can see my skis hugging
the tiny little shoulder of snow as we carefully navigate our way up.
But, we kept going and the conditions kept improving. Here we are on a nice & fast packed
uphill stretch of trail.
As you can see in the photos, it was a beautiful sunny day. What did the Siberians think of that?
"Are we at sea level? Man, we've never been sooo hot! Must roll dual snow angels to cool
off!" express both Max & Zorro at our midpoint of the outing before heading back down.
Unfortunately we did not have time for a very long outing. Too bad as the conditions got better & better as we climbed to and above 10,000 feet elevation. If we had time, we certainly would have kept going up higher. But, regardless of time, we would have to return to the sketchy conditions near the trailhead...
On the way back down - once again hugging the shoulder for some amount of skiable terrain...
Needless to say, we will not be returning to Keystone Gulch Rd unless we see reports that Keystone has received some significant new snow! Tally for the short day: 6.7 miles, 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Perfect Day

A perfect day skijoring on fast packed trails on and between Baldy Mountain and Boreas Mountain!

"Did you say 'wait, hotdog break' - I'm available!" says happy little Zorro as I did call out to
stop at our midpoint to get some hotdog rewards before starting back down.
It was a very peaceful and quiet Monday morning on the trails - just Max, Zorro & I for most of the day gracefully gliding along the packed trails. We traversed a bit under 10 miles (9.6) and climbed 1050 feet in elevation before heading down. Even the wildlife was quiet as we usually encounter at least one squirrel or snowshoe hare on the little used trail connecting Baldy to Boreas; but not a peek from any such tasty morsels all day. A perfect day to get in a groove and cruise!

Here's a fun video of our finish approaching the Boreas Pass trailhead. We never noticed how "low quality" Nancy's iPhone video cam really is until we had the high-end GoPro this year! Oh well, it is still fun to get an oncoming video (even if low quality) now & then instead of the from-behind GoPro clips...
Nice galloping approach to the Boreas Pass trailhead. Happy huskies cruising to
the end of their 10 mile run!
video

A few more nice shots from the day:
Cruising along a somewhat narrow trail (barely wide enough for 2 huskies side-by-side).
Notice my left ski out of the packed track. When we get on narrow (and fast) trails, I ride with
one ski in and one ski out - most of my weight is on the "in ski" as Max & Zorro tow me along.
The "out ski" is there for safety - should "something happen", I can quickly switch weight to the
"out ski" and attempt to somewhat slow down the Siberian Machine :-)
A fun section of narrow trail through an aspen grove with high cliffs on each side - wheee...
A peaceful 9.6 miles, 1050 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Stroll

The intent of today's skijor outing was to take a moderate stroll on the trails in & around Indiana Creek. Try explaining "stroll" to two Siberian Huskies....
"This is a 'stroll' - right? Breaking trail in chest deep powder!" suggest Max & Zorro.
"Ok, if breaking trail wasn't a stroll - how about this? Weaving (quickly) through a narrow
trail in the trees. This is a stroll, right?" offer Max & Zorro.


"Ok, we got it! This is a stroll - hitting 22 MPH! Yea, this MUST be a stroll!" declare
speedy Max & Zorro.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Sorry guys, none of your suggestions is a "stroll" - here is a stroll:
Trotting gently across the snow covered meadow on a packed trail covered with about an inch
of wind blown snow - now this is a Sunday Stroll!
"BORING!" declare Max & Zorro, "We like our 3 examples of a Siberian Stroll above!"
I was clearly outvoted, 2 to 1, on the suggestion to take a Sunday Stroll in & around Indiana Creek... The stroll became 7.1 miles, 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH - Siberian Stroll :-)