Monday, October 9, 2017

Blustery

A snowy and blustery day skijoring atop Buffalo Pass.
A day only a Siberian Husky could love! :)
Happy tails in the air as we find 4-6 inches of fresh snow at the top of Buffalo Pass. Yay!
The haze you see in the prior photo is not low clouds or fog, it is actively falling and blowing snow!

We expected a snowstorm last night and hoped to wake to enough fresh snow on trails close to home. Unfortunately we only got a trace of new snow on local trails; but we saw via satellite radar and snotels that Buffalo Pass did get the overnight snow reward. So, we all packed into the Jeep for the rough ride up Buff Pass. It was worth it as the snow was incredible atop the pass!

Another snowy & blustery shot as we cruise along the morning's fresh snow:
Once again, the haze is actively falling and blowing snow.
Ok, temperatures in the low 20s to high teens (F) plus actively falling snow plus a steady wind with occasional 30-40 MPH gusts. Some would think that lead to a cold day, right? Well, some would not...
"Oh man, so hot, must roll snow angels to cool off!" demonstrates silly Max.
"Really, I would never stop skijoring to do such silliness!" declares all-business Zorro.
What was that you were saying in the caption in the last photo, Zorro???
"Ok... phew, must roll to cool my jets too!" shows silly Zorro.
"Loving my snow-covered back!" states happy Max.

Only time for a short blog today as the ride to/from Buffalo Pass is a doozy. The wicked wind kept our outing to a mild one (due to the cold human - I swore my nose blew off at one point :)

5.2 miles of fun with 500 feet of elevation climbed on a snowy & blustery day atop Buffalo Pass.

2017/2018 Season to Date: 3 days on the trails covering 22.4 miles with 2400 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Nice Up High

Check out the incredible conditions "up high" on the Harrison Creek trail at Rabbit Ears Pass:
October 4th? Really? Pinch me :)
Beautiful snow as we follow a snowmobile trail through the forest.
Ok, now before you jump in your car for a road trip to Harrison Creek, let me temper your enthusiasm. As incredible as the previous photo looks, here's what we encountered on the way to the nice snow up high...

(1) Wide water crossings.... Large (partially frozen) puddles dominated the terrain for the first 1/3 of the outing.
Just enough snow & ice to cross this large puddle to the right.
(2) Narrow "ribbons of death"... Narrow patches of snow weaving through ice & water on both sides of us dominated the terrain for the middle 1/3 of the outing.
Just close your eyes and let Max & Zorro guide you through - they will ALWAYS avoid water
and keep me on the most suitable terrain.
Ok, "enthusiasm tempered", now back to the incredible conditions for the upper 1/3 of the outing. Watch today's short & fun video clip of immaculate conditions up high for October 4th...
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

It was well worth the sketchy conditions down low to get onto the perfect conditions up high. As a bonus, we were treated to bear tracks along the way. It is only early/late season (Oct or May/Jun) that we get to inspect bear tracks on the trail:
Max's nose in a bear track (Zorro's too, but you cannot see his nose).
Another bear track to the left of my ski tip.
"Sniff, sniff - we don't get this nose treat often!" say the track inspecting pair.

Sketchy down low, narrow in the middle and perfect up high: 8.4 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2017/2018 Season to Date: 2 days on the trails covering 17.2 miles with 1900 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Season Opener

We got a large dump of snow overnight and, as a result, we were able to start our 2017/2018 Skijor Season on Boreas Pass this morning!!! Woo Hoo to the "October 2nd start"!!!
Great conditions up high with active snowfall all around us.
Normally you get a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains around us from this high on Boreas.
But, today only gives you a stunning view of snow covered Max & Zorro and incredible
conditions for October 2nd.
We had to drive partway up Boreas Pass to get to cooler temperatures so that the dirt road would be frozen under the snow (the road is open through October if you are brave enough to drive it when it snows :) But, once we got partway up, it was near perfect as we took out the skis and Max & Zorro towed me up Boreas Pass.

Here's a fun little video clip from the morning's outing. Such a great "first outing" of the season while the conditions were good! Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We made it to the summit of Boreas in pretty good time, so we went down the backside a little before turning around to go back up and then down the pass. Clearly I am out of practice in getting the GoPro on my chest aligned properly to capture happy Max & Zorro. But, at least we have Max's happy face in the summit shot:
Happy boys posing at the summit sign while the 'out of practice' human forgets how to get
both Max & Zorro in view :)
What could make an October 2nd skijor even better? How about adding fresh moose tracks to the outing?!?!
"Oh my, these moose tracks smell VERY fresh!" declares track sniffing Max.
"I know, I know, must be nearby - but WHERE?!?!?" asks intense forest scanning Zorro.
Despite active snowfall and cloudy skies, on our final descent, the road eventually started to warm under the snow, letting mud and sticky snow surface. I had to take my skis off 3 times to remove the slush & mud buildup. Well, if the human is going to stop, you know what that means...
"Rub a dub dub, rolling snow angels while we wait for you!" demonstrates silly Max.
"You humans and your inferior equipment!" states 'I want to GO' Zorro.

Here's to hoping an early October 2nd start is a foreshadow to a great snow season!

A fun run up Boreas + a fun frolic around the summit + a fun run down the upper terrain - a slow & sticky finish to the day. Oh well, we'll take that for October 2nd any day: 8.8 miles traveled with 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Season Recap

Our annual "July tradition"... 
Putting together a video highlight reel of the most recent skijor season. 

Our last skijor outing of the 2016/2017 season was June 13th. Well, it is one month later and we are anxiously awaiting the start of the 2017/2018 season (in Sept or Oct). What better way to entertain ourselves in the dog days of summer than to relive the last skijoring season!

So, here you go - the 2016/2017 Season in Review, appropriately sync'd to Molly Hatchet's "Flirtin' With Disaster"
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The final "summary shot" from the video:



Pray for snow as we wait to get back on the trails in September or October!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Finale

Our final run of the 2016/2017 Skijor Season this morning.

A great 12 mile run on Buffalo Pass bringing us to 1433.5 total miles for the season!
1433.5 miles traveled with 152,200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 26 MPH.
"Every single mile was a BLAST!" declare my super happy partners at our turnaround
point of the morning.
With it being June 13th, you are probably wondering what kinds of snow conditions we found. Well, see for yourself below.

Nice at the upper elevations near the top of Buffalo Pass:
Whee we go along slightly choppy but "great for June" trails near the top of the pass.
The top of Buffalo Pass will blow you away. It was "snow as far as the eye can see" once you crested onto the open meadows at the top. As you can see, it was a bit choppy due to being on melting snowpack over uneven meadows. Choppiness just means you slow to a trot instead of a sprint; but we'll take any "toes on snow" in June!
3+ feet of beautiful, albeit choppy, snowpack to enjoy atop Buffalo Pass.
After those last two photos, you are probably wondering why this is our last run of the season. Well, the lower elevation approaches are narrow or down to dirt/mud for long sections:
Still enough snow for skis & toes; but barely. Another day or two and this patch will be all dirt/mud.
We had to hike 1 mile in (and out) to get to skiable snow and then had to take the skis off 6 times (3 up/3 down) to walk over a few extended patches of no snow. Not too bad for June 13th, though, and today's short video highlight shows you it was worth it as are on a great stretch of "all snow" and only slightly choppy conditions. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We had an additional bonus for our last run of the season: it got below freezing last night! This meant two things: (1) the terrain was frozen and fast packed all morning (instead of increasingly soft slush you typically get in June); and (2) perfect temperatures for Max & Zorro to stay cool and go as long as the human could hold up. The result? We skijored 12.2 miles for our last outing and reached Summit Lake atop Buffalo Pass!
The choppy snow we are on is the beach of Summit Lake. The smooth snow behind Max & Zorro
is the "still frozen" Summit Lake.

We were quite surprised to find Summit Lake still 100% ice covered this late in June.

A great outing for a season finale: 12.2. miles traveled with 1500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

Final 2016/2017 Season Stats: 172 days on the trails covering 1433.5 miles with 152,200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 26 MPH.

On to the summer doldrums... We hope to be back running on snow in late September or October at the latest.

Pray for Snow!!!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gangline

An interesting skijor up/down Buffalo Pass this morning...
"Interesting indeed. But 'toes on snow' is fun no matter what goes along with it!!!" exclaim my
happy & adaptable partners.
So, what was so interesting, you ask?

Well, first off, the Forest Service had closed the gate on the access road at about 9400 feet elevation up Buffalo Pass. Yet, there was NO snow at 9400 feet! The Forest Service does not always close this particular gate during the summer melt; but decided to this year for some reason. We knew there was still 4.5 feet of snowpack high up on the pass. So, we got out of the Jeep and proceeded to hike up the road with our gear until we found skiable snow (at around 9700 feet elevation).

Okay, not so bad, we simply had to "hike to snow", right? Well, then came the really interesting part. Can you see it in the following photo?
Uh, what's with the colorful leashes attached to Max & Zorro instead of a skijoring gangling?!?
Well, I forgot the gangling back in the Jeep - argh! We hiked up the road with Max & Zorro on their leashes and my skis on my backpack. It was not until I reached down to switch them from leashes to gangline that I realized there was no gangline!!! Not to be deterred, I told Nancy, "We are not going to be denied - just hook the leashes to me!" The leashes are attached to a waist belt that we use on summer hikes and trail runs. So, why not use a trail running setup for skijoring, right?
Looks to be working just fine as we fly along the trail....
While the prior photo may look just fine, there was a catch...

The leashes are much shorter than a gangline so I was skiing closer than I've ever been behind Max & Zorro (and, thus, a much shorter reaction buffer for me). Also, the gangline has a bungee in one part to act as a shock absorber between the flying Siberians and the helpless human. But, no shock absorber today!

What did this all mean? Well, I needed every last ounce of skiing ability I have to keep upright in this tight & jerky setup. But, I never fell or wiped out!!! Yay!

Come along and watch some of the live action skijoring with a trail running setup.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Oh, by the way, it is June:
"Whew, need to roll snow angels to cool off!" demonstrates silly Max.
"I just stay in the shade to keep cool!" says happy little Zorro.

Was it worth it? Well, look at how much snow is still high up on Buffalo Pass in the photos above. So, yes, it was worth the hike up and creative use of equipment. 7.2 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 171 days on the trails covering 1421.3 miles with 150,700 feet of elevation climbed.

Given the closed gate far down the road up Buffalo Pass and the increasingly long hikes to snow this introduces, we probably have only 1 more outing this season. Tune back Monday or Tuesday for our season finale on Buffalo Pass.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wow!

Take a look at the following snowpack near the top of Buffalo Pass.
June or January? Hmmm... :)
All white as far as the eye can see with 5+ feet of snowpack all around us!
Every June I seem to have a blog entry that goes along the lines of this one:

All of our local and close to home trails have dried up leaving one to think our skijor season may be over. Yet, once this happens we pull out a few trips to Buffalo Pass in Northwest Colorado to close out the season. Buffalo Pass always has the deepest and longest lasting (into June) snowpack in the state. The only "gotcha" is that Buffalo Pass is a long drive, so we cannot go daily and need a few days off in between trips. But, after our first June trip to Buffalo Pass I always have a blog entitled, "Wow!"

The "wow" is always: "Wow, look at all the snow still on Buffalo Pass!!!!"

Well today was no exception as the conditions at Buffalo Pass proceeded to WOW us once again this year. Will we ever "get it" and say, "Ho hum, just another 5 feet of snowpack in early June on Buffalo Pass!" Ha, no!

Sprint tuck Zorro next to sprint stretching Max as we zip along endless snow in June.
Today's short video highlight shows the interesting conditions you find on snowpack in June. We get out early in the morning this time of year, so when there is shade the snow is packed & fast but where there is sun the snow is soft to slushy. So, we get this mix of shaded speed tracks with soft/slush tracks in between. Max & Zorro have learned to recognize and adapt to these conditions. Without word from me they will "floor it" in shade patches (because flooring it is so fun, of course) and they will back off to a trot/gallop in sun patches (think of running in sand - jogging is easier than sprinting).

Anyway, on to today's video: watch as Max & Zorro floor it through shade patches, back off in sun patches, floor it in shade, back off in sun, etc. etc. Such smart guys!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Nearing the top of Buffalo Pass and time to turnaround and head back down. Everybody ready to turn around...
"Okay, this has been so FUN!!!!" exclaims super happy Zorro.
"Turnaround, hmmm... maybe..." suggests Max.
Well, if we are going to turnaround and it is warm, you know what Max has to do first:
"Turnaround, okay. But wait, rolling snow angels to cool off first!" demonstrates silly Max.
"Wait a second... now that I look at all the untouched snow in front of us... Why are we turning
around?" asks intense and ready to go all day Zorro.

A magical June day at Buffalo Pass that just makes you say WOW: 8.8 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 170 days on the trails covering 1414.1 miles with 149,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, June 2, 2017

1400 Miles

We did it! We surpassed 1400 miles of skijoring for the season!
1405.3 miles and counting....
"We did it!!!!" say all three of us to one another as we relive and celebrate the milestone
at the end of our run this morning.
After 3 seasons in a row of 1300+ miles of skijoring, we broke through to surpass 1400 miles this season. What a fun accomplishment. Max & Zorro are incredible!

Okay, on to this morning's outing. We did roughly the same route as yesterday: climbing quickly up Walton Peak at Rabbit Ears Pass to get to better and higher elevation terrain. While conditions are deteriorating quickly near the trailheads, it is still nice near and at the top of Walton Peak. A few fun shots and video from the upper elevations...

Flying along in a 'shoulder-to-shoulder sled dog machine':
You cannot get in a tighter configuration than this as Max & Zorro sprint while
rubbing shoulders :)
One more interesting shot before the video as it will help you watch the video. A suicidal chipmunk ran across the trail in front of us and barely escaped being scooped up by Max's mouth...
The arrow shows the chipmunk. Max & Zorro see "trail food" :)
Okay, on to today's video highlight. We start skijoring on "soft summer snow" near the top of Walton Peak. If your volume is up high, the "clicks" you hear are slush bombs flying off Max & Zorro's feet and into the camera (and my face :).  About 8 seconds into the video and you'll see some of the slush bombs hit & stick to the camera. Then, watch closely, about 33 seconds into the video and the suicidal chipmunk crosses the trail. Max & Zorro, of course, floor it towards the "trail food" and you see Max dip out of view as he tries (and barely misses) scooping up the chipmunk before hopping back into the skijor setup. Silly...
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

One last shot from the top of Walton Peak:
"Oh man, JUNE.... so hot!!!!" say the snow rolling sillies.
The cool curvature of this photo is due to the fact that we are on the tiptop of Walton Peak.

Unfortunately, this was most likely our last run at Rabbit Ears Pass this season; but what a fun time and major accomplishment today: 7.4 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 169 days on the trails covering 1405.3 miles with 148,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Zorro Birthday

Doing one of Zorro's (and Max's) favorite things on Zorro's 9th birthday:
Catching air while skijoring!
Airborne & flying sled dogs as we catch air skijoring atop Walton Peak.
More fun atop Walton Peak: exchanging pleasantries while flying along the terrain...
"Happy birthday little bro!" yells Max to Zorro.
"I'm 9 and flying!!! Wheeee!" responds Zorro :)
Today's short video clip showcases us having a great time on the top of Walton Peak. If you watch closely you will notice Max & Zorro are in "conversing while sprinting" moods. These conversations can sometimes turn into wrestlefests; but, luckily, I catch sight of them brewing and a few "forward" and "uh uh" commands circumvents the need to wrestle as we keep flying along - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

You cannot have much more fun than this for a June birthday in the Northern Hemisphere, right:
"Oh yes, the BEST present!!!" says happy little Zorro.
"Happy to be part of the present!" adds happy Max.
End of the morning's run and time to discuss & relive how much fun we had:
"Toes on snow in June - need we say more? Loving Life!"

It was a different than usual outing for us at Rabbit Ears Pass. Usually we cover lots of miles on gently rolling terrain; but the big melt is on at lower elevations so we took a steep route to get us as high as possible quickly. As you see in the video above, the terrain was still great once we got up high! 7.6 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 168 days on the trails covering 1397.9 miles with 147,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Frisky

Everyone was a tad bit frisky to be back on snow after two LONG days off :)
"Hehe, want to play 'tag & tackle'?!?" suggest the silly pair to one another.
Unfortunately our 2016/2017 Skijor Season is starting to show signs of ending. We returned to Rabbit Ears Pass this morning which is usually the second to last of our trails to dry up for the season. Compare and contrast the following two photos showing the conditions down low versus up high...

1) Open patch of dirt, mud and puddles down low:
Ugh! Luckily Max & Zorro know to stop at the edge of the snow. The will automatically stop
and wait for me to figure out how to cross (either take the skis off or backtrack a little if there
is snow to our right or left to cross). Smart guys!
2) But still perfect up high:
Zooming along the perfect upper elevation terrain.
Today's short video clip goes along with the prior photo. Watch and see how nice the snow still is up high! Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Bonus moment of the morning's outing: fresh moose tracks!
"Sniff, sniff, moose in the area!" say my moose track inspectors.
Max & Zorro's noses are in a moose track and you can see another moose footprint in
the bottom/center of the photo (between the two ganglines attached to Max & Zorro).

Despite needing to be creative getting in & out of the upper terrain, there was still enough great snow up high to get an 8.4 mile skijor with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 167 days on the trails covering 1390.3 miles with 146,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Pristine

How is this for pristine & untouched open space on May 28th?
Flying along laying fresh tracks in 2-3 inches of powder on the untouched back side
of Walton Peak
Temperatures at Rabbit Ears got into the low 20s last night and remained in this cool range long enough to re-establish a spring crust under the fresh snow. This made for the beautiful picture you see above where we were able to abandon set & packed trails and go exploring terrain untouched by others.

As we approached the trees you see in front of us in the prior photo, I called out a "right turn" to my partners as I started turning right too. This lead to a fun profile shot of my impressive partners:
Flying Zorro and Kicking up Powder Max!
To get to the untouched back side of Walton Peak, we skijored up the front side. This is a trail used by others that takes you along a high ridge for miles. There was a set track under an inch or so of new snow, so I skied outside the track to set one next to it. Why make a separate track? Well, I knew we would be coming back this route and if I set an additional track then I knew Max & Zorro could each pick a track, if they wanted, and fly side by side back down.
Flying back as Max is in the original track and Zorro is in the one I set on the way up.
Today's short video clip goes with the prior photo. Come along as we fly along the front side ridge trail of Walton Peak at Rabbit Ears Pass. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

What a fun day, right guys?
"Oh yes! Incredible!" says fun Max.
"I could go all day!" expresses happy Zorro.

Believe it or not: but winter is finally supposed to end starting today. With warm temperatures starting to arrive, this was probably our last run in the "9 mile range" for the season. But, the impressive May snow we have had has certainly left enough snowpack for us to reach 1400 miles. Today's tally: 8.8 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 166 days on the trails covering 1381.9 miles with 146,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Approaching 1400 miles... Stay tuned :)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Snow Day

A Snow Day atop Rabbit Ears Pass!

Yes, a snow day on May 27th!!!
Snow covered Max, snow covered Zorro, snow covered trees, snowflakes falling all around us.
May 27th powder day - yay!
It was dumping snow when we started our outing this morning. I could not keep the GoPro clear of snow for more than a minute or two before it would be completely covered and blurred by snow. The photo above is one quick glimpse of the morning just after I wiped the camera clear of snow.

About halfway through the outing, though, the snowfall let up and I wiped the camera clear one final time to get some great footage of Max & Zorro towing me through 4-6 inches of fresh powder on this late day in May.
Great shot of Max leaping over the snow while Zorro is "kicking up powder" behind him.
Notice their footprints behind them leaving fresh tracks in 4-6 inches of new snow.

Nice shot of Max & Zorro flying over the snow as you see my skis in tow behind them.
Today's video highlight is a compilation of short clips from the day's fun. We start with a short clip of us skijoring amongst the heavy falling snow as Max & Zorro tow me along as the camera gets more and more blurred by snow. We then transition to later in the day when the snow has let up and Max & Zorro are having fun launching me down an incline. Finally, we finish with Max & Zorro galloping along, laying fresh tracks, in pretty & snow covered meadows. What a fun day!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A perfect May morning if you are a sled dog:
"Oh my, this has been FUN!" declares ecstatic Zorro.
"Is it going to snow all summer too?!?" asks happy & pleased Max.

A great snow day in late May: 8 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a modest top speed of 17 MPH (what a treat to be slowed by snow on the 27th)!

2016/2017 Season to Date: 165 days on the trails covering 1373.1 miles with 145,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Miracle Mile

Flying along the "Miracle Mile" at Rabbit Ears Pass - wheeee!
Flying, literally flying (especially completely airborne Max) sled dogs. Fun!
What is the "miracle mile"? Well, there is a stretch of upper elevation (i.e., good snowpack) trail amidst thick trees (i.e., shaded and sun protected) that seems to hold good snow every year until late May or early June. This stretch of trail is a bit over 1 mile long, but less than 1.5 miles of "late season perfect conditions" - thus the name Miracle Mile.

Come along and watch us skijor part of the Miracle Mile on May 26th. Can you believe how nice this section of trail is so late in the year? A miracle!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

After the Miracle Mile, there is about another 2 miles of climb on more sun exposed terrain (and thus occasionally dirt exposed in late May) before arriving to the upper meadows of the south side of Rabbit Ears Pass. While sun exposed, these meadows are high enough in elevation to have good late season snowpack too. But, the meadows only go for a few miles before dropping you down the south end of Rabbit Ears Pass. When we reached the upper meadows this morning, we had skijored up into a thick fog bank. Note the trees in the photo - snow covered!!!! Yes, there was a dusting of new snow atop the pass last night! Just a slight dusting; but dusting is the opposite of melting!
Dense fog, snow covered trees and Max & Zorro laying fresh tracks. Yes, May 26th!
Now, before you think the entire outing was on "miracle terrain" this morning, check out the following:
You have to endure this to get to the Miracle Mile! Zorro and I hugging the thin strip of snow
while Max has to hop the puddle to make it through. 
There were many patches like the previous (with many much worse in length and lack of snow); but it was worth the cautious conditions down low to go up/down the Miracle Mile and frolic around the upper elevation meadows. Right guys?
"Oh my, SO WORTH IT!!!!" say the ecstatic pair at our turnaround point of the morning.

A late May miracle: 9.3 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 164 days on the trails covering 1365.1 miles with 144,400 feet of elevation climbed.