Friday, January 23, 2015

Fast, But...

A fast, fast day skijoring French Gulch this morning.
But, "fast at a cost"....
Airborne along the main French Gulch Trail.
Can you see what is "wrong" with this picture? If not, read on...

Today's video highlight: flying along in French Gulch when one of the "winter gates" comes into play. The approaching gate shows some of the best teamwork we have in our skijoring team. Turn up the volume and listen as we approach the gate - I do not need to say anything as just a "scrape" of my skis (to slow down) is enough to get Max & Zorro to slow down as well. We have this incredible teamwork such that they adjust their speeds based on how they hear me skiing. Rarely is a word needed from me as we adjust in unison based on the sounds of my equipment. The video ends with a gentle glide through the gate and then an acknowledgement from me that it is OK to open it up again and off we go. Such great teammates!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Okay, now the answer to the question in the caption of the first photo: What is wrong with this picture.... THE TRAIL IS PLOWED - UGH!!!!! Technically the French Gulch Trail is a private road and there are a handful of homes back in the gulch whose owners have keys to the two winter gates keeping vehicles out of the gulch. We have been using French Gulch for skijoring and sledding since 2002 when we discovered this trail to dogsled with Paco & Cisco (Max & Zorro's predecessors). Never in over a decade had the road ever been plowed in the winter. The few homeowners back in the gulch have always accessed their "backcountry cabins" by snowmobile, skis or snowshoes - as it should be. But, last winter one of the homes changed owners and the horrible new people have contracted a plow to occasionally destroy the terrain from the trailhead to this house. Argh...

Now, you still might be asking, "so what, the video still looks like great skijoring..." Well, here is the problem: a plowed French Gulch will be the first trail to die in the Spring since it has no snowpack. Ugh, one of our favorite trails is on the March/April Endangered Trails list....
Encountering the evil plow on French Gulch.
"Hey! Get OUT of here!" exclaims appalled Max.
"Rude, just RUDE!" states 'less than impressed' Zorro.
"If I wasn't holding the gangling for safety, I'd be flipping you off!" proclaims ME!

Okay, you've seen the rude plowed section of French Gulch. Now check out how incredible the conditions are outside of the plowed area. Rude to plow, just plain rude....
Flying around a corner on the Sally Barber approach to French Gulch.
Beautiful terrain with "lasting until May" snowpack!
Cruising along in upper French Gulch (about 100 yards past where the rude plow stopped).
Look at this incredible terrain that will last well into May but there will be a dirt road causing
you to hike to this trail to skijor - ugh!

Oh yea, if you have followed along closely all year - encountering moose tracks, scents or moose themselves has been pretty much guaranteed in the upper portions of French Gulch this season. Here is today's moose fun:
Far back in the gulch and encountering a confluence of moose tracks.
Everything you see going to the right or left of the straight line in front of us are moose tracks!
At least 3, maybe more, moose recently in the area...
"We sense the moose are this direction!" state the moose seeking pair stepping off the main
trail and aligning themselves in the direction of the 'scent of moose'
Just around the corner from the previous photo and MOOSE!!!
You cannot see them as they are so well camouflaged in the trees. But, follow Max & Zorro's
gaze as I spotted THREE moose in the grove of trees in front of us. The moose were watching
us as closely as we were watching them as I had to calmly get Max & Zorro to retreat away
from the grove and then hightail it out of there once we got some distance from the moose!

Great day on the Sally Barber Trail. Appalled at the plow on lower French Gulch. Great day on the upper French Gulch Trail. A fun moose sighting for all. What a day: 9.3 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 66 days on the trails covering 562.8 miles with 60,800 feet of elevation climbed.

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