Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fresh Loop

Doesn't Max's face look absolutely content while rolling a snow angel!
"Completely 'at peace' with my elements!" displays snow rolling Max.
"Me too! You just cannot see my face!" adds snow rolling Zorro.
We had a very serene glide through the forest this morning. We skijored a large loop through trees and open meadows which found us laying fresh tracks in 1-3 inches of new snow all morning long. We did not encounter another soul all day - just my partners and I gliding all over the terrain.
Laying fresh tracks as we wind through one of the dense sections of trees.
When we encountered open meadows with a stiff spring crust, we would open up the throttle and speed along - wheeee!
Galloping along as Max & Zorro leave their footprints in the morning's fresh snow.
We got to one point in the trail and Max & Zorro's "wildlife radar" fired and they had intense interest in the trees to our left. I noticed we were ahead of our scheduled end time, so I let them take me off the main trail and follow their noses into the trees. We did not find the source of their intensity; but not from a lack of trying :)
"Oh boy - he agreed to our 'left' request! Let's go hunting!!!" say the intense pair on full alert
to follow their noses into the trees.

A peaceful day laying fresh tracks on a loop around the forest: 8.4 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 114 days on the trails covering 953.7 miles with 101,300 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Four Activities

We found this incredible freshly groomed speed track atop Vail Pass this morning! Zoom!
Wow - what pristine terrain. Flying!
So much fun to have atop Vail Pass. We experienced four different activities all on one outing. Come along as we show the fun we had in the order it occurred...

(1) Cruising up Shrine Pass on the snowshoe/cross-country ski trail.
Cresting at the top of Shrine Pass as we see endless winter terrain as far as the eye can see!
(2) Flirting at the huts. Max & Zorro love to tour by the backcountry huts on Vail Pass. They are such a hit with the overnight hutters and its hard to tell who is having more fun: Max & Zorro getting all this attention or the hutters getting to give all this attention! Such flirts :)
"Oh, nice, rub the shoulders - love it!" says docile Max getting a nice shoulder rub.
"The ears, the head and the shoulders all at once - love it!" declares flirty Zorro.
(3) Springtime always brings a third fun activity to life: cruising atop the spring crust! After skijoring past the huts, we found the crust up high was untouched and solid enough to hold our weight. So, off we went sprinting the spring crust. Wheeee!
Solid enough to hold a sprinting Max & Zorro as they leave fun footprints behind them.
(4) The final fun activity: connecting with the snowmobile trails to uncork the skijoring engine.

The first photo above and the following video showcase today's sprint track. We found this freshly groomed snowmobile trail high atop Vail Pass. It was a mix of gentle & steep downhill grades as we put the pedal to the metal. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Four fun activities in one outing, what a great day: 9.4 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 113 days on the trails covering 945.3 miles with 100,300 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fresh to First

From laying fresh tracks to first tracks on a groomed trail. What a fun day!
"I am having a BLAST!!!!" exclaims giddy Zorro.
"Yes, what a fun day!" adds happy Max.
It was a fun day combining "backcountry skijoring" with a fast "groomed trail loop".

We started in the backcountry and were laying fresh tracks in 2-3 inches of new snow. Some nice wide sections of trail, as shown below, combined with some narrower weaves through the trees.
New snow all to ourselves. Laying fresh tracks: wheeee!
The goal of this particular route is to wind through the backcountry until arriving at a fast "groomed loop" tucked away back in the forest. We were ecstatic to find the trail freshly groomed as we were first tracks on the fresh & fast groomie zoomie:
First on the fast terrain: zoom!
Today's short video clip goes with the shot above. Watch as we fly along the fast terrain being first tracks on the fresh groom. Watch closely and at about 20 seconds into the clip you see Max giving Zorro a "devilish look". If your volume is up high, you can hear me call out a few "forward" commands to get Max back in line and then I give a rewarding "woo" as he aborts his devil itch :)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Parting shot of the day. It was cloudy and snowing lightly on/off the majority of the outing. The clouds started to part as we neared the end of the day. Here we are in the sun while you can see the bottom of the ski runs at Breckenridge Ski Resort across the valley. The morning storm has yet to completely burn off the ski resort, so the upper portion of the mountains are still enveloped in clouds. Cool shot...
Galloping along as only the bottom of the ski runs has emerged from the morning clouds.

Fresh tracks to first groomed tracks - what a fun day: 8.7 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 112 days on the trails covering 935.9 miles with 99,300 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Young

Best way to "build a musher"? Start them young!  :)
"Hi friends!" say smiling Max & Zorro to the team smiling back as they cruise by.
Look really close at the prior photo and focus on the musher. Do you see it? Well, this is a kid driving the sled barely tall enough to see over the sled handlebar. Wow, that is one young kid driving the team! Build a musher - start them young :)

As the prior photo hints, we were on the trails at Swan Valley this morning running alongside the dog sled teams from Good Times Adventures.

Here we are doing our favorite activity: chase the team in front of us! You can see the full-sized musher on the sled with a 6 dog team in front of us. Wheeee!
"Here we come! Right behind you! Zoom!" say sprinting Max & Zorro.

I thought today's video highlight was going to be a classic episode of "sled dog chase". But... Watch as we are stopped as I heard a team coming from a trail to our left. You'll see the team drop onto the trail in front of us and I get an excited glance from Max as I release us into a game of chase. Unfortunately, though, the team only goes a short distance on the trail in front of us before stopping. So, I have to snowplow us into a safe speed to jog on by the stopped team. Wish they had kept going!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Yet another team paused on the trail as we fly by!
"Hi guys! Bye guys!" say sprinting by Max & Zorro.

Great news of the day: we had a blast running around the trails with the dog sled teams. Sad news of the day: Good Times closes for the season this weekend, so no more "sled dog chase" until next season.... 9 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 111 days on the trails covering 927.2 miles with 98,500 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Oops

Laying fresh tracks in 2-3 inches of new snow on Baldy Mountain as we fly by a snowshoer on the trail. Wheeee!
"Hi... Bye!!!!" saying flying Max & Zorro as they bring smiles to the snowshoer watching
the wild huskies towing the crazy human along the trail :)
We FINALLY got a nice layer of new snow last night and into this morning. It was less than predicted; but it was new snow! We headed out to Baldy Mountain to enjoy fresh snow on backcountry trails through the forest.
Trotting along the narrow weave through the forest. Fun!
Notice the white you can see on Zorro (and Max, if you look closely) - it was snowing lightly
all morning long and both have a nice layer of snow on their coats.
It was a peaceful glide through the forest until...

We came around a corner, Max looked back at me with a giddy expression, Max put his nose in the snow and flipped some up and then Max decided it was time to play "tag & tackle". He was just so happy to have new snow and cool temperatures; but Zorro & I had to take the brunt of his silly giddiness!
"Tag!!!! You're it! Let's wrestle little bro!" declares Max to Zorro.
"No, go away!" Zorro tries to answer back...
Well, Max was not taking "no" for an answer today. He wanted to play "tag & tackle" despite objections from both Zorro and I:
"TACKLE!!!! Say 'uncle'!" goes Max flipping Zorro upside down and pinning him in the snow.
Silly Max!
Luckily, it was just this one short episode of Max reverting to a puppy. The rest of the day was perfect skijoring, "Thank Dog!" said Zorro and I :)

Fun video of the day: here we go laying fresh tracks in 2-3 inches of new snow as we come upon and pass a snowshoer on the trail. He saw us coming and stepped aside to watch and smile at the skijoring machine flying by. Look closely and you can see the snowflakes of light snowfall throughout the video clip.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A mostly perfect day laying fresh tracks on Baldy with a momentary OOPS from Max: 8.4 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 110 days on the trails covering 918.2 miles with 97,600 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How Dry

Just "how dry" has this March been? Well, dry enough that the trails are packed hard enough (from lack of new snow) that the joggers are out! Egad!
"Dude - your feet are not properly equipped!" states concerned Zorro.
"Joggers? JOGGERS?!? I refuse to look & acknowledge it!" say in-denial Max.
Typically March is one of the snowiest months for Colorado. But we've had barely a few inches of new snow as of today, March 22nd! March is supposed to alternate between "warm spring days" and "heavy snowfall"; yet all we have really had is "warm spring days" so far. We are praying the last week of March has some good correction to this abnormal pattern!

Anyway, back to today's outing. We skijored up & down Boreas Pass with the following conditions: (1) awful down low - barely any snow and even down to dirt a few times; (2) just enough snow, but choppy conditions, to skijor gently in the mid elevations; and (3) wonderful up high. If only we could start up high....

Cruising by Bakers Tank on the nice, upper terrain:
Wheeee - so nice up high!
But, in the mid elevations, exposed ground was everywhere and, although there was enough snow to ski, we had to keep the speed down due to choppy terrain.
Breckenridge Ski Resort coming into view across the valley.
Snow giving way to exposed ground to our left - eek!
Choppiness on the existing snow - keep it to a gentle jog...
Despite less than ideal conditions down low, it was "toes on snow"....
"I'll take this over 'no snow' any day!" says happy Max.
"It still tastes good too!" demonstrates Zorro chomping down on a snowcone.

A gentle jog up & down Boreas Pass: 9.1 miles traveled with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 109 days on the trails covering 909.8 miles with 96,600 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Catching Air

Catching air sprinting atop the Spring crust at Rabbit Ears Pass!
The sprinting/airborne Siberian Hovercraft at its best!
It was an interesting and non-standard outing this morning. Our plan was to skijor our favorite fast trail at Rabbit Ears. This trail is relatively flat and often groomed leading to fast outings. But, today was a bust. We found the trail to be an icy and tracked up mess. Basically snowmobiles had tracked it up on a warm day yesterday and then the "tracked up slush" froze overnight. So, the usually fast trail was instead an iced up snowmobile mess. Nothing is worse for Max & Zorro's (or any sled dog's) ankles and feet than stale & icy snowmobile slop. Well, Zorro gave me the nudge to try "off trail", so we stepped out of the iced up mess and found an untouched Spring crust to take us away from the set trail for miles & miles & miles. Wow!

We traded an iced up and ankle breaking mess for the following:
Wide angle shot to showcase the PERFECT Spring crust to run for miles & miles! Wheeee!
Today's short & comical video clip: Typically we all hit sprint straightaways in unison as one of us get the "sprint itch" and the rest of us get it within milliseconds of one another. But, occasionally one of us misses the itch. Watch today's clip as Zorro and I are in sync with the upcoming sprint straightaway while Max is distracted and misses the cue. Then watch how impressively fast Max gets the memo and shoots into the groove. Fast Max!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Oh the rising temperatures of March...
I paused momentarily to get our bearings as we were skijoring off trail. So...
"You are stopped - must roll snow angels to cool off!" demonstrates silly Max.
"This way, just follow me!" declares all-business Zorro.
A day that started with disastrous conditions turned into a 9+ mile uncharted fun crust run!
"Now that was FUN!" say my ecstatic pair at our turnaround point of the outing.

A wonderfully creative outing this morning: 9.3 miles traveled with 750 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 108 days on the trails covering 900.7 miles with 95,750 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sightseeing

Come along as we go sightseeing atop Rabbit Ears Pass this morning!
"We'll be your tour guides! Hang on as we tow you along!" say two of the most
entertaining tour guides you'll ever meet!
Fun fact about the previous photo: in summer you would be standing on the ground and looking UP at the big hiking & camping info sign behind Max & Zorro. But, today Max & Zorro are as tall as the top of the sign. That's about 5-6 feet of snowpack at this location!

Okay, since you cannot read the info sign buried in snow above, Max & Zorro will give you the tour:

Not everyone knows that Rabbit Ears Pass is an open range in the summer/fall. Once all the snow melts (bringing tons of vegetation to life), it is a incredible natural grazing land for cattle.
"No cows in this pen!" states Zorro looking at the cattle staging pen in front of us.
"None in the pen to the left either!" says Max glancing left to another pen just off camera.
Guess we'll have to come back in July to see the fresh beef :)
Coming up a slight rise in the trail as we come upon the Rabbit Ears Snotel. A snotel is a device that measures snowpack, snow water equivalent of snowpack and other weather readings (temps, wind, etc). The snowpack and snow water equivalent are the primary reason snotels exist as they allow scientists, farmers and water managers to plan for how much (or little) water will be generated from Colorado's annual snowpack. An integral part of farming and managing water relies on this data. Max, Zorro & I, on the other hand, are most interested in the snowpack - as long as the snotel reports sufficient snow, we can go!
"Cool; but wish it had more!" say my snotel guides.
Still going, still more to see... Here we are sprinting along the nice snow crust as Rabbit Ears Peak comes into view to our left. The rock formation atop the peak you see in the upper left are the "ears" from which Rabbit Ears gets its name!
"Here we go, look at the peak if you can; but we are flooring it!" say the sprinting pair.
Finally, the official marker of Rabbit Ears Pass:
"Look quickly as we tow you on by..." say the trotting tour guides.

A fun day sightseeing Rabbit Ears Pass with the two best tour guides I know: 9.3 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 107 days on the trails covering 891.4 miles with 95,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cooling

A morning with temperatures starting just below freezing and ending just above freezing means my silly partners needed to "cool off"!

Max's favorite "cooling activity" is rolling snow angels while Zorro's is eating snowcones...
"Aaahhh, rub a dub dub, I'm cooling my jets!" demonstrates snow rolling Max.
"Chomp, chomp, yum, yum - eating snowcones to cool my jets!" says snow eating Zorro.
We started the morning on snowmobile trails winding through the trees at Rabbit Ears Pass. Conditions were fast packed! Wheeee:
"Hey little bro, you're fun to run with!" says silly Max to Zorro as we zip along the trails.
Partway through the outing we found a snowmobile track to follow that took us out of the forest and into the open. After getting my bearings on where we were, I cautiously let Max & Zorro follow this track out of the trees. Why cautious? Well, look at the following photo and consider this: the wide open snow field you see all around us is NOT a snow covered meadow but it is an ice and then snow covered lake! Yes, we were skijoring over Dumont Lake atop Rabbit Ears Pass. Thus my cautious approach - skiing over a lake. But, I saw several snowmobile tracks crossing over the lake so it had to be solid enough to hold us. Plus, Zorro is a professional "water detector", if there were any softness in the ice under the snow he would stop instantly and we'd backtrack. So, over the lake we went...
"All safe!" declares sprinting Zorro who will NEVER run on, over or near water.
"Yes, let's gooooo!" says long Max.
Over the lake, we did it!
"Piece of cake, you know I'm a 'water detector' pro!" smirks Zorro.
"Let's go again!" says giddy Max.

A peaceful day atop Rabbit Ears gliding through the trees and then over Dumont Lake: 9.1 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 106 days on the trails covering 882.1 miles with 94,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Caution

"Caution?!? What a silly word!" say Max & Zorro.
Out-stretched & sprinting Max & Zorro as we fly by a CAUTION sign along the trail.
What a silly and unnecessary word :)
We were on the trails at Swan Valley this morning. So, you know what that means: running, playing and flirting with the dog sled teams from Good Times Adventures. Fun!

Paused on a side trail to watch a team go by on the main trail:
"Hi friends! Can we come with?" say Max & Zorro to the 6 dog team trotting by. Good Times runs
a mix of 6 and 8 dog teams; so clearly Max & Zorro know there is room for them to join this
6 dog team :)
The most fun is always getting behind a sled team and playing "dog sled chase"...
"Here we come! Zoom!" demonstrate Max & Zorro as you can see the musher and 6 dog team
on the trail in front of us.
Today's short video clip starts with Max & Zorro the "bucking broncos" wanting to GO as I have my skis perpendicular to the trail trying my hardest to hold them back. There is a dog team paused a little bit in front and to the right of us. I needed all my strength to keep Max & Zorro stopped until this team starts and I FINALLY (say Max & Zorro) release us into a fun game of chase. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Zooming around Swan Valley with dog sled teams: 8.8 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 105 days on the trails covering 873.0 miles with 93,300 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Distraction

Zipping around a corner on a fast packed trail as Breckenridge Ski Resort comes into view across the valley.
Zoom, zoom.... Hey, look at the nice view... zoom, zoom :)
In our skijor setup I refer to Max as the "lead dog" and Zorro as the "wheel dog". Why is this? Well, if you know their personalities, then you know Max is good listener and responsive. Zorro, on the other hand, is also a good listener but response sometimes depends on whether he is focused on something else or not :)  Yet, "go" is always on Zorro's mind (thus his "wheel dog" label :)

But, Max does have a kryptonite: moose! Listening and responding are tossed out the window for moose. Anyway, back to this morning... We were galloping along when suddenly, without any warning, Max backed off the gangline and hopped off the trail to our right.
"Hey - moose tracks to the right! Forget skijoring, forget listening, forget everything except
for MOOSE!" demonstrates silly Max.
The prior photo is all I caught of Max's distraction as Zorro & I were still going forward. By the time I could snowplow to a stop and call out to Zorro, we had glided past Max and he was up in the snow behind us! Now, those tracks you see to Max's right in the previous photo might not look that large; but they were. It appeared as a moose walked up to the edge of the trail and then backed up.

Still not convinced they are moose tracks. Well, once Zorro & I stopped, he quickly looked back with a "What did I miss, why'd you stop?" to Max. He took a few steps back and then noticed what had distracted Max and, of course, this was now a distraction to Zorro. Must inspect moose prints and he hopped up the snow wall, off the trail, to inspect...
"Yes! Yes! Moose tracks, very fresh too! Smells delightful!" says silly Zorro giving the
moose prints a thorough investigation (Zorro is also know for doing things very
thoroughly :)
So, an interesting distraction along the trail today as we got to witness Max's kryptonite. We did do some skijoring too:
Back to normal form as we fly along the fast trail.

A lot of skijoring this morning with one major "moose print distraction": 9.1 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 104 days on the trails covering 864.2 miles with 92,500 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Zip Clips

We were first on the newly groomed trail at Rabbit Ears Pass.
You know what that means.... ZOOM!
Flying behind my sprinting partners!
Look at that incredible snowpack in the prior photo! All white as far as the eye can see - wheeee!

Different section of trail and same thing: endless snow. Fun!
Catching air in a synchronized sprint tuck - talented!
What's prettier: endless snowpack or sprint extended siberians? I vote for siberians...
Beautiful form, nice extension!
We had so many great stretches of skijoring the newly groomed terrain that I could not decide on a video highlight. So, instead, I spliced together 3 short clips of us zipping along the trails - zip clips!

Watch as we begin with a fast sprint into a weave through the trees, then a wide open flat stretch with silly Max & Zorro exchanging "hey bro!" glances and final a quick dip in the trail which launches us flying into an upcoming straightaway.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

What a fun & zippy day!
"We love flooring it on easy groomed trails!" exclaim my happy partners looking back at
my "time to turnaround" command.

A ridiculously zippy day on newly groomed terrain: 7.3 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 103 days on the trails covering 855.1 miles with 91,700 feet of elevation climbed.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Flakes

Cruising atop Rabbit Ears Pass with light snow falling all around us. Fun!
The "white dots" you can see on Max, Zorro and the trees are freshly falling snowflakes.
A fun run this morning with light snowfall all around us.
While it was snowing, breezy and the temperatures were only a tad below freezing, one of us thought it was hot :)
"Phew, so hot - must roll snow angels and chomp snowcones to cool off!" demonstrates silly Max.
'The things I must pause & wait for on the trails!!!" says 'all business' Zorro waiting for his
brother to get up so we can get restarted.
We have been in a pattern of "afternoons above freezing" and "night/mornings below freezing" and that means a hard crust has been forming on the snow every morning. Today we found the crust hard enough to hold our weight, so we abandoned the marked trails and went exploring through the forest as far as the crust held up. A fun day making our own way...
Galloping along the hard crust as we weave through openings between the trees in
the forest.
Frolicking through the forest with light snow falling upon us - a Siberian's fun day!
"Yes, we had a GREAT time!" exclaim my happy partners looking back at me at our
turnaround point of the morning.

A day making our own paths around Rabbit Ears Pass: 9 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2016/2017 Season to Date: 102 days on the trails covering 847.8 miles with 91,100 feet of elevation climbed.