Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Today's skijor outing required a lot of creativity and improvisation by the musher...
"Which way now?" ask the happy pair as I survey the terrain to set a path to continue.

Here is a description of today's "problem" that lead to trail creativity. First off we had 8-12 inches of fresh snow fall Sunday night (that was a good thing). Second, the sun & wind came out slightly on Monday to begin to build a "spring crust" on top the new snow; but the crust was not strong enough to hold Max & Zorro's weight (that was a bad thing). The problem with a weak crust is that it makes for "punchy trails" such that Max & Zorro cannot glide through powder nor can they stay atop the crust; instead they punch through the choppy terrain. I always abort "punchy trails" as it is unnecessary work on their hips to punch along the trails.

Now, one way to avoid punchy trails is to follow existing tracks (from skiers or snowshoers). So that could have been our solution today: just stick to existing tracks. Well, this solution leads to our third problem of the day: people do not go nearly as far as a skijor team, so we kept running out of existing tracks (and, thus, running into punchy terrain). Since the snow was fairly fresh, there is one final way to avoid punchy trails - stay in the trees & shade as the shaded snow was not punchy and perfectly fine for Max & Zorro to glide through.

This brings us to the creativity of the day: stay on set tracks where they exist, abort punchy terrain when it starts and use the shaded backcountry to (creatively) connect whatever set tracks we could find. As a result, we spent the vast majority of the day on seldom used or never used paths of untouched snow in the forests. Fun, but a lot of creativity on the part of the musher to invent the non-standard path...
This is what most of the day looked like: keeping on the soft snow in the shade as we invent
ways to connect the few set tracks on the main trails.

The video highlight of the day goes along with our backcountry creativity. Most of the day was spent as shown in this video: a gentle trot on fresh snow as we invent paths through the forest.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Occasionally we would pop out of the forest and onto a set track and then, zoom, off we would go! But, we would quickly run out of set tracks and hit punchy terrain to send us back into the forest.
Zoom, zoom - a set track to sprint along!
Trot, trot - back to creative measures to connect trails.

A lot of "mind work" to go with the "skijor work" today...
"I love creative days!" expresses happy Max.
"I'm all ears, how shall we proceed next?" asks intense Zorro.

An interesting day covering 10.4 miles with 1150 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 131 days on the trails covering 1132.2 miles with 131,050 feet of elevation climbed.

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