Sunday, November 30, 2014

Back on Track

Back on the trails after a 4 day break!
Out-stretched, sprinting Siberians along the Fall Creek Trail at Wolf Creek Pass.
We had a 4 day break to visit family for Thanksgiving. While fun was had by all (including Max & Zorro), it was still 4 days in a state without snow - egad! My partners were ready to go when we got back on the snow this morning.

You may recall past blogs where I mention Max lecturing me at the trailhead when I take too long to get my skis on & equipment in order before turning us loose. Well, even Zorro got in on the "impatience lecture" this morning:
"We spent FOUR days in Arizona!!! Let's GO!" say the very 'ready to go' pair losing
patience with my slowness.
When I am at the end of the gangline, I cannot capture the sounds of Max (and Zorro's) lectures as the camera is in a waterproof case that unfortunately muffles noise more than a foot or two away. But, today, Max started his lecture when I was right next to him in the process of hooking him to the gangline. So, for all who have been wondering: turn up your volume, play the video and listen to Max lecture me at the trailhead (iii awooo woo iii woo....):
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

For today's outing, we stopped at Wolf Creek Pass in Southwestern Colorado on the way home to Breckenridge. The trail conditions were ok (not good or perfect); but good enough to open up on a few stretches. Here's a fun, short video clip of one of the nicer sections of trail:
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Ok Max & Zorro, I finally got myself situated and we got skijoring, how is the day going:
"Fantastic! So happy to be back on snow!"
answers ecstatic Max.

"Perfect, a fantastic day!" states Zorro
spinning around at our turnaround point.

A short run up/down the Fall Creek Trail at Wolf Creek Pass covering 6.4 miles with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH.

We are back in Breckenridge and ready to restart some "serious mileage" runs as we enter December tomorrow...

2014/2015 Season to Date: 26 days on the trails covering 200.9 miles with 22,450 feet of elevation climbed. 200 miles and counting...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Short and Deep

We only had time for a short outing Wednesday morning.
The plan was for a quick 6 mile run. The reality was a trail breaking 4 mile trot.

We started on the recently plowed road to the Indiana Creek trails, seeing that we could run in the plow tracks. An easy warmup leg to the outing:
Jogging in the freshly plowed road. If you are on the road right after the plow (and it is not
warm or sunny), then the plow typically leaves enough snowpack to glide along nicely.

After about 1/2 a mile, we transitioned from the plow track and the main Indiana Creek Trail. The snow was untouched and we began an aerobic trail breaking trot.
Beginning of the Indiana Creek Trail and breaking trail in about 8 inches of powder.

Further we went, the deeper it got:
Plowing through about 12 inches at this point - wheeee!

At our deepest point, we encountered fresh moose tracks to give Max & Zorro a little "moose juice" to power through the snow.
"Fresh Moose Tracks!!!! Need to investigate!" state the snow plower pair veering right to
inspect the fresh moose tracks. Note we are in about 18-24 inches of snow at this point!
"Moose went this direction, we should too!" say my head dunking partners.
As appealing as it might sound to use the moose tracks as our trail (i.e., the moose has already broken trail for us), there is one major problem with this thought... The end of the trail will be a moose! Sorry, guys, I re-routed us back onto the real trail and off the moose trail :-)

Only time for a short outing today, but we used 8-24 inches of trail breaking snow to get some serious exercise out of the event: 4 miles with 500 feet of elevation climbed.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 25 days on the trails covering 194.5 miles with 21,750 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hi... Bye...

Flying up, down and around great conditions on Baldy Mountain today.
"Hi.. Bye..." say Max & Zorro as they give a pair of uphill skinners a glance as we fly
by them on the trail.

Max & Zorro love to fly by groups of people to get "WOWs" from the crowd. Baldy Mountain is one of the more popular trails for people to "skin up" and "shred down", so we almost always get fly by opportunities on this trail. Here we go - good thing people are typically smart enough to move out of the way of the oncoming Siberian Engine - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Trail conditions were great today - not too icy from overuse and just enough fresh snow for me to keep the flying beasts under control :-)
Zoom, zoom, zoom.
A typical skier will skin up & shred down Baldy once and call it an exhausting day. With Max & Zorro's help, I make it up & down Baldy in under 30 minutes (as compared to multiple hours for others). After our first up/down lap today, I asked if everyone wanted to do it again...
"Yes!!! Zoom, zoom, zoom - let's do another lap!" state the agreeable pair to my question.

We did two laps up/down Baldy and then added 3 "side trail excursions" to get a little more mileage and exercise: 7.4 miles with 1200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 24 days on the trails covering 190.5 miles with 21,250 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Moose Sighting

Our first moose sighting of this season. It is always so fun to see moose (from a distance!)
She's far away and on the other side of French Creek from our location.
But, Max & Zorro caught the scent (or heard the movement) and aligned themselves directly
at the moose for me to join in watching her meander away from us and up into the trees.

We have had plenty of fresh moose tracks to sniff so far this season; but today was the first actual sighting. I love to see moose from afar - they are such beautiful creatures. Yet, trust me, there is nothing scarier than encountering a moose too close - absolutely terrifying! Today's sighting was a full grown female who must have heard or smelled us coming and meandered away from us and into the forest as we all watched intensely.

We enjoyed two contrasting sets of trail conditions on the outing: laying fresh tracks on 1-2 inches of powder on the fast Sally Barber Trail and laying fresh tracks in 2-5 inches of fresh powder on the narrow French Gulch Trail.

The Sally Barber Trail is very popular with cross country skiers, so it is always quickly packed and packed wide after any new snowfall. The trail got about 1-2 inches of fresh snow overnight and we were the first on the trail to enjoy this shallow new layer - wheeee!
Nice cornering by Max & Zorro as we lean into a left along the fast trail.
Happily laying fresh tracks in 1-2 inches as we climb to Sally Barber Mine.

The second leg of our outing involved an out & back on the French Gulch Trail. This trail is infrequently used (especially compared to Sally Barber) and typically has narrow single tracks with deep snow on the shoulders if you step out of the track. Max & Zorro will naturally align themselves into single file skijoring when we encounter such terrain. We slow down a little in this configuration; but are still able to maintain a nice jog along the trail.
Max's turn to jog in lead as the set track is too narrow to run shoulder to shoulder.
Everyone shares time in front as Zorro now runs lead while Max takes a break in second slot.
Notice the single track is almost as deep as Max! If you step out of the track you sink in about
a foot and a half of snow!

Fast along Sally Barber and a little slower along the French Gulch single track lead to an 8.1 mile outing with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 23 days on the trails covering 183.1 miles with 20,050 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


It was fast day laying fresh tracks in 3-5 inches of fresh snow - wheeee!
Synchronized, out-stretched sprinting machines - zoom!

We spent the day running a semi-circle at Gold Run Nordic Center and added 4 out & back spokes to give us some mileage. The nordic center is not open for the season yet; so the trails are not nordic groomed. Instead, we had 3-5 inches of fresh snow on the trails all to ourselves today - yay! We actually prefer untouched terrain to nordic groomed terrain - it is a lot more fun to be out in the wilderness by yourself. We had the throttle open most of the day on this easy network of trails...

Approaching a fun right turn in the trail and still zoom, zoom, zooming.
A flat stretch along the trails and still zooming!
The tracks you see to the left are our "out tracks" from going out & back on this spoke.
With a fun 3+ inches of powder, nobody wanted to reuse our "out tracks" on any spoke as we
laid fresh tracks on both sides of the trails on all the out & back legs.

Ok, three sprint shots above, now let's put it all together into a video clip that represents the action from most of the day - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Pausing at a "T" in the trail, which way to go?
"Left looks fun to me!" exclaims happy Max.
"Left looks interesting to me!" states focused Zorro.
Ok, left it is and off we go again (that is an old, abandoned mining cabin in front of us).

A fast day covering 8.2 miles with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 22 days on the trails covering 175.0 miles with 19050 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Elevation Day

A steep day covering 2300 feet of elevation (1150 up, 1150 down) spread over just 7.6 miles!
One of our favorite sections of this route as we transition out of the thick forest and into a
wide open, beautiful meadow.
The steepness of today's route means we rarely encounter any other skiers or snowshoers on our outing. Snowmobile tracks are common, but the only ski tracks are the ones we make. That is, you need either a gas engine (snowmobile) or fur engine (sled dogs) to enjoy this steep trail. Your reward for the climb is the open meadow you are treated to at the high point of the outing (the meadow shown in the previous photo).

Follow along for today's fun...
"Great climb, great meadow, great snow, great time!" express the happy pair as we pause after
leaving the snowmobile track to set our own tracks across the meadow.
Most of the route is spent going up & down trails in a pine-filled forest.

In addition to snowmobiles and sled dogs, guess what else likes the meadow at the top of the route? MOOSE!!!! The meadow is marsh-like most of the year, exactly the type of terrain that moose like!
"Fresh moose tracks!" exclaim the head dunking partners.

A great day on the trails, just ask Max:
"Yep, I had a great time!" says happy Max when we arrived back at the trailhead.

A 7.6 mile outing with 1150 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 21 days on the trails covering 166.8 miles with 18350 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gate Celebration

A beautiful 9.1 mile run up & down Boreas Pass today.
Nice side profile of running Max.
There was a narrow "set track" on each side of the trail so Max & Zorro each took their
own track and I alternated which one I rode behind.

Boreas Pass is open to vehicles until mid/late November. That is always a shame as cars will get on the road and destroy the snow shortly after a new snowfall. This year we got about 40 inches of snow in a few days so, even though the gate was still open, cars were unable to make it more than a half mile up the road without getting stuck (haha :)  But, the cars had still done some serious destruction to the first half mile of the trail.

As we were arriving at the trailhead after our run today, we were elated to find a work crew preparing to shut the gate and close Boreas to vehicles until May. The work crew was happy to find Max, Zorro & I coming down the trail so they could get a "vehicle report" from us before closing the gate. We were happy to report that all vehicle tracks ended within 1/2 a mile and there were no stuck cars along that section of trail. "Thanks, you saved us a lot of time checking & waiting for cars before we shut the gate!" said the work crew.
"All clear, shut the gate and get this trail set until May!" declare Max & Zorro to the
crew happy to know their "vehicle checking" task was done for them!

Outside of the first 1/2 mile, Boreas was in great condition. We had a wonderful run up & down the pass. You always get a ton of nice views from Boreas...
Trotting along the trail with Breckenridge Ski Resort in view across the valley.

We jogged just over 4.5 miles up before turning around to trot back down.
All smiles at our turnaround point of the day!

9.1 miles up & down Boreas with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a positive "vehicle report" for work crew to close the gate.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 20 days on the trails covering 159.2 miles with 17200 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sprint and Hunt

Today was a "sprint & hunt" day on the trails
Sprinting along the Sally Barber Mine Trail - zoooom!
The first leg of the outing involved going up to Sally Barber Mine and then down to the base of French Gulch. This is always a fast trail; but today it was a super fast trail. We topped 22 MPH along this sprint leg of the outing.

Today's video highlight shows one of the multiple open straightaways along the Sally Barber Mine Trail. It is always fun to see the trail empty in front of you and uncork the Siberian Skijoring Machine!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The second leg of the outing involved going out & back on the main French Gulch Trail. The theme for this leg of the outing was "hunting moose" as we encountered fresh moose tracks along the trail early on and this put Max & Zorro in moose seeking mode for the rest of the outing.

You can tell that moose tracks are fresh by my partners behavior. If they are fresh, they will stop on the trail & dunk their heads into the moose tracks and then quickly raise their heads to survey the surroundings for moose. The more animated their "dunk & look" means the moose was here very recently!
Fresh moose tracks - dunk!

Once they sniffed the initial "fresh tracks", it was moose hunting all day...
Another set of moose tracks further down the trail (notice them in front of Zorro).
The intensity with which both were looking to the right told me the moose were certainly
nearby. We never saw them (as they often hide in the trees), but Max & Zorro's noses definitely
caught their nearby scent! 

A lot of sprinting, a lot of moose hunting and a lot of fun all day: 9 miles with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 19 days on the trails covering 150.1 miles with 16300 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

First Boreas Run

Our first skijor run of Boreas Pass this season - yay!
I stopped momentarily to "gather myself" before starting the final 1.5 mile sprint to the finish.
Everybody ready to go, "Yes, let's get going!" say the happy husky pair.

The Boreas Pass Trail almost always has the same profile of conditions: (1) It is heavily used, packed & fast the first 1.5 miles up; (2) It is lightly used & somewhat packed the next 1.5 miles up; (3) It is infrequently used (to unused) the next 3 miles up to the summit. The first 1.5 miles (making for a 3 mile roundtrip) is one of the most popular cross country and snowshoe routes around Breckenridge. But, only the serious cross country skiers venture the second 1.5 miles (another 3 miles roundtrip). The final 3 miles to the summit is only ascended by one of two types - people planning to camp overnight at the summit huts or some weird person being powered up by sled dogs... Today fit the typical Boreas profile, come along for the ride:

Sprinting along the lower, heavily used section of Boreas:
Packed & fast - Siberian Sprint Track.

Flying along the lightly used middle section of Boreas:
Only a couple of existing tracks up higher.

Powder POW once we got to Bakers Tank (3 miles up Boreas). Nobody has been on the upper section in days - wow! Since it was breaking trail in 10+ inches of snow from Bakers Tank to the summit, we did not do the full summit climb today. Instead we did an aerobic 0.9 miles of breaking trail before starting back down.
Breaking Trail at Bakers Tank.

A nice little video clip of us skijoring along the lower section of Boreas - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Max will tell anyone who will listen that it takes forever for the human to get his skis on at the trailhead and release the skijoring machine. Actually, Max will tell everyone, listening or not!
"MOM, How MUCH longer is the musher going to be?!?! It's killing ME!" says talkative Max
giving Nancy a lecture at the trailhead this morning.

We were easily on pace for a 9 mile outing today and then we hit the trail breaking powder POW at Bakers Tank. Oh well, less mileage and more work makes Max & Zorro happy too! 7.8 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 18 days on the trails covering 141.8 miles with 15450 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Two great events on today's skijor outing: 
(1) We put away the early season "rock skis" and used the in-season "fast skis"
(2) We hit 20 MPH as our top speed for the first time this season - zoom!
What's more impressive: the great mid-November trail conditions, the beautiful bluebird day
or the airborne sprinting Siberians?

These two events ("fast skis" & 20+ mph) usually go hand-in-hand; but it is not often they happen on the very first such outing. Clearly my partners have been waiting for me to shed the rock skis and don the fast skis so we can really open up the throttle!

It was a beautiful bluebird day skijoring up, down and along Vail Pass. Unfortunately, my GoPro was acting up and kept shutting off unexpectedly. I would notice it wasn't on, click it back on and only get a little bit of footage before it shut off again. Hopefully this was a one day glitch and I can get it back to normal for our next outing. But, despite the GoPro problems, we still caught some nice footage...

The GoPro stayed on long enough to catch the following sprint clip (the clip ends because the GoPro shut off, not because the sprint ended :-)  Beautiful day, beautiful scenery & beautiful sprinting Max & Zorro. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Another fun airborne shot caught along one of the many sprint tracks at Vail Pass:
Zoom, zoom, zoom...

Always fun to pass travelers on the trail as seeing Max & Zorro towing me along brings out smiles and happy comments from all!
"Hi people, bet you wish you had us instead of snowshoes to propel you!" say Max & Zorro
to the group of travelers.

That's it, not much footage from the day; but at least we caught part of one of the many sprint episodes of the day. 10.2 miles traveled with 1250 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 17 days on the trails covering 133.3 miles with 14750 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bluebird Day

A fabulous bluebird day on the trails today!
Airborne Zorro hopping through the deep powder.
Max has just landed his hop into shoulder deep powder.
Snow covered Breckenridge Ski Resort in the foreground with clouds burning off.
Blue skies as far as the eye can see.

Today was pretty much the definition of bluebird day: 10+ inches of fresh powder from yesterday matched with crystal clear blue skies for today - beautiful!
Laying fresh tracks as we round a shady corner. A couple of clouds from this angle to
burn off in the morning sun; but it is still mostly blue all around.

Did I mention 10+ inches of fresh snow to go along with the blue skies...
Breaking trail on an absolutely gorgeous morning!
Still breaking trail, still dipping in & out of the tree shadows from the sunny day.

We were breaking trail most of the day in deep powder. But, we did have a few "shallow patches" to pick up the speed...
Fresh tracks and blue, blue, blue sky.
An old abandoned mine from the 1800s is in view to the right.

A bluebird day with trail breaking in 10+ inches of snow for most of the outing! 6.9 miles with a mild 600 feet of elevation climbed as we kept to primarily flat terrain to enjoy the sun & snow.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 16 days on the trails covering 123.1 miles and 13500 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Breaking Trail

It was a day of "breaking trail" in 10-14 inches of fresh snow!
Side-by-side, breaking trail uphill in over 10 inches of powder. Siberian Power!

We have our share of "lesser known trails" that we tend to use on busy weekends. Since very few people know of these unpublished trails, the snow tends to collect in bunches in between uses. That always makes for an aerobic "trail breaking" day for all!

When we encounter extended stretches of 10+ inches of snow (as we had all day today), Max & Zorro will automatically switch into single file skijoring for the majority of the outing. In this configuration, they guy in front is doing most of the trail breaking work while the guy in back is getting a quick break. The two of them will alternate trail breaking lead all day and will occasionally break out into "side by side" (as in the photo above) to test the conditions. If it is still deep, they will quickly switch back into single file mode to smartly conserve & share the load to keep going. Very smart sled dogs!
I am off to the left a bit in this shot as we approach a left in the trail. From this angle, you can
see the 10+ inches of powder Max is powering through! Zorro is currently in recharge position
riding behind trail breaking Max until it is his turn to take lead again.

If we are doing an "out & back" route, then when we are in single file mode I always try to keep at least one ski out of Max & Zorro's single track. In doing so, I am helping setting a "double track" for them to use on the return leg of the outing. They are powering me through the snow after all, so the least I can do is use one ski to build a double track for my partners.
Coming back on our "out track". Max & Zorro were in single file mode on the out leg but you
can see I used one ski to build a double track for our return leg.

It was deep all day; but that does not mean we did not have a great time!
All happy faces in response to me asking, "Everyone having a good time?"

There is only one thing that can lead to a short (distance-wise) outing with Max & Zorro - extended trail breaking in 10+ inches of snow. You try jogging/hiking through snow as deep as your legs and see how fast you can go :-)  A fun trail breaking day covering 5.7 miles with 750 feet of elevation climbed.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 15 days on the trails covering 116.2 miles with 12900 feet of elevation climbed.