Monday, June 24, 2019

Summer Jor

June 24th? Yes. Summer? Never!!!!
Following snowcat tracks atop Rabbit Ears Pass in Summer!
The calendar may say it is Summer but the mountains have declared Winter is still here!

Today was our first ever skijor in summer. Sure we have had lots of June skijors; but today was our first ever when the calendar says "summer" instead of "spring".

It started snowing in the Colorado High Country on Saturday and continued on and off through Sunday. Upwards of 12 inches of snow fell on top of Rabbit Ears Pass so we headed back to Rabbit Ears this morning for our first ever Summer Jor.

As you can see in the first photo above, we found some really nice conditions and even found a snowcat track to follow out and back. But, it was really summer at Rabbit Ears just a few days ago and, as a result, we did encounter the occasional treacherous stretches.
Yikes! Just enough ice in the cat track to continue going.
For the majority of the day, though, we were on a snowcat track that felt like the middle of winter!
Perfect cat track again - wheeee!
Despite lots of stretches of great snow from the weekend storm, summer is fighting hard to break through!
"Egad, now what?!?" asks Rudy.
"Oh boy!" adds Jack.
"This is a 'skis off' patch!" declares veteran Zorro.
People often ask if I fall when skijoring. Well, yes, but not very often and typically in the sketchy conditions of the shoulders of the season (October and May/June) when my skis catch something hidden under the snow. So, here is a rare "wipeout shot" but notice how nice, polite and patient my three partners are! The youngsters have certainly learned from Zorro this season that preserving the human is a good thing!
"You ok back there?" asks the happy & polite trio.
Notice the sideways skis and chunk of loose ice bottom/center that gave way and caused my spill.
Today's video highlight is a first for young and maturing Rudy. I have documented Jack's skill at changing lanes while skijoring (often at high speeds). Zorro is also a skilled lane changer. But come along for Rudy's first time changing lanes at moderate speed. Sure we are not going as fast as we have when Jack or Zorro change lanes; but you have to start somewhere :) What a skilled and mature sled dog he has become this season!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

End of day's fun run, time for a group celebration :)
Happy boys all circling and focusing on the musher.
Our first ever skijor in summer!!!! Temperatures are supposed to rise quickly this week so this was our last run at Rabbit Ears. Are we done for the season? Heck no - Buffalo Pass still has enough snow to keep us going. Stay tuned for MORE...

Yay for Summer Jor: 5.9 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a modest top speed of 15 MPH (too may obstacles to open the throttle more than this).

2018/2019 Season to Date: 135 days on the trails covering 793.2 miles with 74,150 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Endless June

Look at all the snow still on the trails near the top of Buffalo Pass. Wow!
"Wow indeed! Can we skijor ALL summer?" asks the super happy trio at
our turnaround near the top of Buffalo Pass.
If you weren't impressed by the prior photo, how about this one: opening up the skijoring engine on June 19th! Wheeee!
June 19th - Wow!
If you look closely at the previous photo, you can see some of the slush bombs coming off Zorro, Jack and Rudy's feet. You can also see their footprints showing the snow was a bit soft; but it was still plenty firm enough to open up and run up/down Buffalo Pass this morning!

Come along and watch an excerpt from this morning's outing. You can see the softness slowing us a bit; but it was still firm enough to go, go, go! Is it really June 19th?
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Given warming June temperatures, you knew what would happen at our turnaround point of the morning :)
"Goofballs!" states happy Zorro.
"Rolling, cooling, aaahhh!" adds the goofballs.
Today was our latest ever skijor outing and I had my skis on the entire outing! Typically in June we will hit stretches of dirt or mud and have to take the skis off and hike over. But not today, our latest skijor ever and the skis never came off! There were a few patches that will be dirt/mud soon, but not yet today - yay!
"You kids do not know how incredible this June has been!" Zorro is telling the youngsters
as we see a bit of exposed road for one of only a few times all morning!
It really is June, so even Zorro rolled a snow angel to cool off. But, Zorro waited until the outing was OVER before rolling to cool. The goofball twins rolled snow angels before, during and after the morning outing :)
"My turn. Ahhhh and YUM!" says snow rolling and eating Zorro.
The happy trio congregating around me for end of run treats:
"We had so much fun! Now hand them out!" declares the happy & focused trio.
A beautiful run up/down Buffalo Pass this morning: 6.6 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH.

Are we done for the season yet? Most likely not; but things really are melting, so we'll see. Stay tuned...

2018/2019 Season to Date: 134 days on the trails covering 787.3 miles with 73,450 feet of elevation climbed

Friday, June 14, 2019

Slush Bombs

This June 14th was our latest day ever skijoring and a GREAT time was had by all!
SO HAPPY to still be on snow!!!!!
Just look at those ecstatic faces!
Our previous "last day" record was June 13th in 2017 with Max and Zorro. We have now eclipsed that record and I think we may still have more to come!

Of course this is Rudy's first season skijoring, so he has no idea just how impressive June 14th really is! It is Jack's second spring skijoring and he made June 1st last year with really sketchy conditions; so he has a little context for how great today was. Zorro on the other hand, has been skijoring for 10 of the 11 springs of his life. As you can see by his happy face, I think he knows how special today really was!

We headed back to Buffalo Pass this morning as the snowpack on top of the pass is still measuring over 7 feet! We start driving up the pass and go until the snow is too deep to keep driving. Today we had to stop driving over 4 miles from the top of the pass. With this much distance to travel, I expected we would hit a few dry patches along the way skiing up. Well, as I expected:
"You better take those skis off and hike!" says veteran Zorro.
"Whoa!" say the youngsters!
So, skis off and hike a bit, then back on snow to restart. But, I have to stop to put my skis back on. Well, stop....
"Did you expect any different?" asks Zorro.
"A stop is a stop and a stop is a roll in the snow!" demonstrate the goof twins.
We ended up having to take my skis off 3 times on the way up (and, of course, 3 times on the way down). But, once we got high enough it was INCREDIBLE. We did not make it all the way to the summit, but we did make it high enough to see just how much great snow is still near and on top of Buffalo Pass.
Beautiful up high! Sprinting sled dogs having a great time running up high!
Today's video has two fun plots. First, come along as we are opening it up on the great conditions up high - wheeee! Second, notice the slush bombs flying off Zorro, Jack & Rudy's feet and into me and the camera. About 15ish second into the video and, SPLAT, a slush bomb hits the camera dead center! You see some blurry Zorro, Jack & Rudy for a bit until it occurs to me to wipe the camera clear of slush and then you get a great view of the running sled dogs again :)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

What a wonderful June 14th and I do not think we are done yet. Stay tuned...
"That was so much fun!" cute Rudy is telling me.
"Yum, 'end of run' treats!" slurps Jack.
"Ok, I guess you can have your share." says Zorro to Jack :)
Yay for June 14th skijoring: 5.4 miles traveled with 750 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH.

2018/2019 Season to Date: 133 days on the trails covering 780.7 miles with 72,750 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

For Max

All smiles as we complete beautiful 7.7 mile skijor on June 12th!!!
"Hi Mom!" flashes Rudy towards Nancy.
"What a beautiful mid June morning!" exclaims happy Zorro.
"I'm all smiles too!!!!" adds happy Jack just barely visible to Zorro's right :)
This morning was our first skijor on Buffalo Pass since Max's last skijor outing on Oct 9, 2017. Buffalo Pass is always one of the top 3 places in Colorado for depth of snowpack and, thus, snow lasting into June. It is a far drive to get to the trailheads; but this was a goto place for Max, Zorro and I for years to finish out the skijoring season in June. Since losing Max, we had baby Jack and then baby Rudy so we did not make the effort to get to Buffalo Pass last season (Rudy was too young to run and Jack was too young to go more than a couple miles). Today, though, we returned to Buffalo Pass with mature Zorro, Jack & Rudy and took a moment to sprinkle some of Max's ashes along the way. A fun new trail for Jack & Rudy and a bittersweet June outing for Zorro and I.
Upper right are Max's ashes coming out of my hand.
"Max, Max - we spread Max!" says Zorro watching the ashes spread.
"Smells like he was a COOL dude!" states happy Jack.
"Wish we still had that legend with us!' adds Rudy.
The snowpack on Buffalo Pass is near historic levels this June. Only once in the past decade has the SNOTEL atop the pass been reporting deeper snowpack that this morning. Just check out these incredible mid June conditions:
Almost a mid June hover husky as Zorro's right front toenail is barely touching the trail :)
Come along for a glimpse of the mid June treat. You might notice the video is quite bouncy and you see my skis bouncing all over too. But, it was skijoring on June 12th - we'll take bumpy & bouncy snow over dirt any day!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The outing would not be complete without the turnaround antics from the children :)
"Aaaah, LOVE rolling snow angels!" demonstrates goofy Jack.
"Aaaahhh, me TOOOO!!!" adds rolling Rudy.
"Children, oh children, can we get upright and continue running please!" states Zorro.
Max, Zorro and I have skijored as late as June 12th before, but never with conditions as good as today. What a fun outing:
"Now that was fun! How about those 'end of run' treats?!?" says the focused trio.
A return to Buffalo Pass to honor dear Max: 7.7 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH. Miss You Max!

2018/2019 Season to Date: 132 days on the trails covering 775.3 miles with 72,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Rain

Look at the following great skijor shot for June 7th.
But take note of the ominous sky too!
Beautiful stretch to open up the skijoring engine and top 20 MPH!
Nice shot of great snowpack and fast running sled dogs. Yet, look at that dark sky. In January/February I would have been thrilled by this sky as snow would be on the way. But, it is June, so that sky means RAIN!!!! Egad, RAIN!!!!

As the sky implies, our outing was cut short by rain. We waited for some early morning rain to move by before getting out on the trails. Then, we tried skijoring two different directions from the Harrison Creek Trailhead. Each time we eventually skijored into RAIN and had to turnaround! Ugh!

This morning is most likely our last run of the season atop Rabbit Ears Pass. You are probably wondering why given that beautiful first photo. Well, here is the counterpart to that photo as there is only a narrow "ribbon of death" of snow for my skis to cross!
"We can make it, we can make it!" says Rudy powering forward despite
the narrow ribbon of death for me.
"We should slow and save the human!" says smart veteran Zorro.
"Fast or slow, I'm torn!" adds 'in between' Jack :)
By tomorrow morning the ribbon in the prior photo will be gone. We hit 3 patches during the outing where there was not even a ribbon but all dirt & mud! Couple this photo with the fact that we can not return to Rabbit Ears for at least 4 days and you know why this is most likely our last run on Rabbit Ears this season.

Here is a rare "opposite of normal" shot for you - Zorro rolling snow angels at a turnaround point while the kids wait for him to get restarted :)
"Ha - Zorro does it too!!!!" says Rudy looking on.

Back to the fun patches that still existed this morning. Come along for a great stretch of skijoring. But also notice the deteriorating conditions we fly by about 35 seconds into the video. Despite having sun and shadows in this video, we got rained on just 3ish minutes past this stretch and had to turnaround!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A rain shortened run with 'toes on snow' is better than anything else we could have done today, right guys?
"YES!!!! We still had a blast!" declares the happy trio.
(You cannot see Rudy's face, but he was beaming just like Zorro & Jack :)
A rain shortened last run atop Rabbit Ears Pass this season: 3.8 miles traveled with 300 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2018/2019 Season to Date: 131 days on the trails covering 767.6 miles with 71,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Melt Mist

Cool shot of the "melt mist" coming off the snowpack in front of us!
It almost looks like smoke. It almost looks like fog. But, no, it's mist coming off a
section of shallow, and thus melting, snowpack.
Our plan was to make a tour around Walton Peak at Rabbit Ears Pass this morning. There are two ways to access Walton Peak. One route is a service road and the other goes across wide and snow covered meadows. The meadows route is always a lot of fun until...

Until the evil river of snowmelt cuts through the meadow and leaves you no way to cross. We chose the meadow route this morning, hoping that one of the snow bridges over the river would still be intact. Well, here is what we found:
"Impassible, time to turnaround!" declares smart veteran Zorro.
"Really, we crossed this river less than a week ago! Can we jump it?" asks young curious Jack.
"I'm just going to drop & roll until you three figure out where we are going!" declares youngest Rudy.
Well, of course we followed Zorro's decision and turned away from the river. The opposite direction takes you on a series of snowmobile trails between Walton Peak and Harrison Creek. These trails are packed by snowmobiles & groomers all winter and maintain their snowpack the longest. Zorro was right, head towards Harrison Creek and it was perfect:
A hovering Rudy Ball with sprinting Zorro & Jack to his right.
A little further and a hovering Jack Ball:
Hovering Jack Ball with sprinting Zorro & Rudy on each side.
Put the two prior photos together and you get today's fun video clip. Come along and watch us skijor this PERFECT patch of trail between Walton Peak and Harrison Creek!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Eventually it was time to turnaround. Everyone having a good time?
"Why YES! Glad you asked!" responds the happy, happy trio.
But wait, did I stop to ask that question? Uh oh, you know what that means...
"Aaahhhh - we stopped I roll!" demonstrates silly snow rolling Jack.
"Well, I'm still having a great time despite goofball Jack!" adds happy Zorro.
"Really? And you all call me the wild one? I can't bear to look!" states Rudy in disbelief :)
A little re-routing necessary to keep on snow; but still a very nice June run atop Rabbit Ears Pass: 7 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2018/2019 Season to Date: 130 days on the trails covering 763.8 miles with 70,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

June Conditions

June 5th and we are still going!
June 5th and we are still all smiles :)
"Maybe we call go ALL summer!!!!!" suggests the happy trio at our turnaround point
of the morning.
Unfortunately, we will not really be skijoring all summer. Yet, we are still on some pretty good June snowpack to get a fun 7+ mile skijor outing. But, we did see the signs of summer frequently on this morning's outing. Come along for a full range of June conditions...

The conditions at the trailhead were EXTREMELY bumpy. The following photo does not do justice to just how bumpy the terrain really was. But, believe me, my legs were burning riding the bumps behind the fast sled dogs! Whew, what a workout at the start!
Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy say my knees and thighs!
The trail got much smoother as we got further from the trailhead. But, then we encountered another sign of summer: exposed ground & narrow snow cover:
Eek to the left and narrow down the middle. Another warm day or two and there will be
no snow on this section of trail!
While still on snow all morning we found ourselves frequently trotting alongside fast flowing water!
"Wow!" says Jack glancing right at the fast flowing river.
"Don't look!" states veteran Zorro.
"Ok, I won't!" adds Rudy ignoring the river.
A lot of sketchy conditions in those last 3 photos. Now take a look at the following "June Gem" - much smoother trail and snow as far as the eye can see! Wheeee!
Hovering Jack & Rudy alongside out-stretched Zorro as we open up the engine on a perfect
for June straightaway!
Today's video fun? Come along as we are cruising far away from the trailhead. As a result, the terrain is only slightly bumpy but notice the many dips we ride up/down along the way. A fun rollercoaster ride :)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

You really earn your 'end of run' treats towing the human along such a wide range of conditions!
"Me first!" declares focused Zorro.
"Our turn, our turn!" adds the happy youngsters.
Today was definitely our last outing going south towards Buffalo Park at Rabbit Ears Pass. But, if we go north or west there is still PLENTY of good snow! Come back tomorrow for more: 7.1 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2018/2019 Season to Date: 129 days on the trails covering 756.8 miles with 70,300 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Flying Z

You are only as old as you feel. 
Just ask Flying Z!
Beautiful shot of "Flying Z" Zorro the day after his 11th birthday.
We returned to Rabbit Ears Pass for another early morning run on the vast spring crust. As you see in the prior photo, we found some great stretches of firm snow. But, if you look closely, you can see we are on the snowmobile trail (notice the corduroys in the snow left/behind Zorro). We tried to abandon the main trails once and, unfortunately, found the crust off the trails too soft to run. The trails get packed by groomers & snowmobiles all winter so maintain firmness longer than wandering off into open meadows.

Not a big deal, though, there are plenty of snowmobile trails to stick to and get a great run.

Not only did I get a great shot of Flying Z, I also got a nice triple hover husky shot!
The trio in sync and catching air! Wheeee!
Come along and watch the fun in today's short video clip. As you can see, if we stuck to the set trails it was packed and firm. Zoom!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

But, it is June. This is Rudy's first conscious June (he was only 5 months old last June - unconscious puppy brain :) Thus, this is his first time really witnessing and processing the Big Melt of summer.
"Um, what now?!?!" asks maturing Rudy looking back to me
(puppy Rudy would have continued into the water :)
A little further along and the only thing that can bring Zorro to a dead stop on the trails: Fresh Moose Tracks!
"Mmmm, fresh!" declares track inspecting Zorro.
"I agree - delicious!" adds sniffing Rudy.
"Let me see, let me see!" adds Jack swinging in to get a whiff too.
As Zorro would say, "And then we have the children. Kids these days!"
"Haha - they have to roll snow angels to cool off and keep up with me!!!!" declares
happy & satisfied Zorro :)
About as much fun as 3 sled dogs can have on June 2nd - right guys?
"Oh, you BET!" declares the happy & focused trio.

Things are starting to melt here & there, but still plenty of snow to get in a solid June skijor: 6.7 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and an impressive "June top speed" of 21 MPH!

2018/2019 Season to Date: 128 days on the trails covering 749.7 miles with 69,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Zorro Birthday

We had the BEST time celebrating Zorro's 11th birthday this June 1st with a 7.7 mile skijor atop Rabbit Ears Pass. A GREAT time was had by all!
"I am the giddiest birthday boy around!" exclaims super happy Zorro at our turnaround point of
the morning.
"So happy to give this present to our big bro!!!" adds the happy, happy youngsters!
Zorro has had his "toes on snow" every June 1st birthday of his life and he has been skijoring every June 1st since he was 3 (his 1st & 2nd birthdays were "hikes to snow" and the rest have been skijors). Given the time of year, what "type" of skijor we get is always in question. Sometimes we are hiking on dirt/mud between snow patches (bad snow years) while other times we are skijoring a great spring crust (good snow years). Zorro's longest birthday skijor came on June 1st 2016 going 9.4 miles with Max. Today was Zorro's second longest birthday skijor - 7.7 miles on the incredible snowpack atop Rabbit Ears Pass.

Regardless of the conditions, it is always a fun "toes on snow" June 1st. But today was Zorro's second best ever. Come along for a glimpse at the excellent conditions...
Flying sled dog trio as the start of the morning's run. Everyone out-stretched and
flying over the firm spring crust.
We got out plenty early this morning to assure we had a solid crust the entire outing. We were atop Rabbit Ears Pass and skijoring towards Buffalo Park. With such a great crust, we were able to abandon the main trail and fly over & across vast open meadows on the firm spring crust.
Endless meadow of crust as far as the eye can see.
Catching air as we make our own path over the meadows.
Funny shot as we rounded a corner and Jack & Rudy bumped each other.
"Hey! Move left - give me some space!" declares Jack.
"NO! I'll go wherever I want!" responds Rudy.
"Glad I am far to the left!" adds Zorro happily trotting far away from the 'discussion'.
Oftentimes a "bump discussion" like you see above will result in an unapproved wrestlefest on the trail. Luckily, both Jack & Rudy quickly came to their senses and did not take this discussion any further that what you see above. Polite kids to not interrupt Zorro's fun birthday run :)

In honor of sweet Zorro's 11th birthday, come along for a "skijor minute" of incredible conditions atop Rabbit Ears Pass on June 1st!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

What a fun day giving Zorro his second longest birthday skijor ever!
"That was fun! Love ya man!" says Zorro giving my hand a little lick.
"So happy to give our big bro such a great present!!!" adds the youngsters.
An absolute gem of a June day for Zorro's 11th birthday: 7.7 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2018/2019 Season to Date: 127 days on the trails covering 743.0 miles with 69,300 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Great May

Closing out an incredible "May winter" with excellent snow pack to carry us into June!
"We have had SO much fun this month!!!" declares the happy & focused trio at the
end of our morning run.
How great was our May winter? Well, consider this - we had a very warm April and were wondering if we would really be skijoring into June as April ended. Then, Mayuary came and put our trails back into February or March like conditions. Take a look at the endless snowpack in the following photo from today, May 31st!
Sprinting along endless snowpack as far as the eye can see! What a May winter we had!
We got a later start to the outing than we prefer this time of year. The result, the trails started to really soften during our outing. The prior photo was near the start of the day and the crust looks (and was) very firm. But, now take a look at the softening conditions near our turnaround point of the morning:
A cluster of slush balls coming off Jack (visible in Zorro's shadow).
Lots of footprints & ski tracks in the softening snow.
Softer and softer the trail became until slush was flying off Zorro, Jack & Rudy and into the camera (and me)! All the white speckles you see in the blue sky and against the trees are slush balls flying off my partners' feet and into the camera. Attack of the slush bombs!
Speckles of slush all over the place :)
There is one good thing to do with soft snow - roll in it! Just ask Jack & Rudy:
"Aaahhh - rolling to get the soft, cold snow into our fur!" declares the silly pair.
"These two are such snow rolling goofs!" says Zorro.
Completing the day's outing and Rudy flashed a happy "Hi Mom!" to Nancy as we ran by to finish the day.
"Hi Mom - what a fun day!" flashes Rudy to Nancy.
"Still going!!!!" say happy & forward looking Zorro & Jack.

You could not ask for a better May 31st that we had today atop Rabbit Ears Pass. Snowpack as far as the eye can see with a perfect crust to start the day but quickly softening snow to complete the day: 6.9 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

Come back tomorrow as we will get out early to celebrate Zorro's 11th birthday on the great snowpack!

2018/2019 Season to Date: 126 days on the trails covering 735.3 miles with 68,800 feet of elevation climbed.