Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dunk

Fun shot from the front as the happy sled dogs tow me to the finish on the Harrison Creek Trail at Rabbit Ears Pass.
Wheeee - riding the Siberian Three!
Harrison Creek is our favorite early & late season trail at Rabbit Ears as it always has the best early/late snow. The reason is that this trail is heavily shaded at the beginning and rises quickly in elevation before breaking out of the trees. Shade at the start makes for great early season snow.
Mid winter looking in the shade at the start of the morning's run!
After rising quickly in the shade, the trail opens up at high enough elevations that the temperatures are cold enough to preserve the snow, even in the sun. Such a pretty trail once you get into the open:
Beautiful up high. Love this shot of out-stretched Zorro & Rudy on each side of sprint-tucked Jack. Zoom!
A very rewarding climb to get up high, right guys?
"Well worth the work to get here!" declares the happy trio.
How nice up high? Well come along for today's short video clip showcasing the great upper elevation terrain on Harrison Creek:
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Eventually we had to turn around and everyone wanted to go play in the side powder first. At first I though Zorro was going to roll a snow angel with the kids; but, instead, he led them into a synchronized head dunk.
DUNK!!! It must smell delicious under the snow! 
Oh, don't worry, Jack & Rudy did roll snow angels too; they simply joined Zorro in the synchronized head dunk first :)

If you tow the human, you get end of run treats - my partners know that :)
"Dish them out!" states the focused trio.
A great early season day on Harrison Creek as we await the new snow forecast this week to re-open all of our trails! 6.2 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 20 days on the trails covering 122.2 miles with 12,650 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Safety Dust

What a great day laying fresh tracks in the new snow high up on the trails of Peak 7!
"We are having a BLAST!" exclaims the happy, happy trio!
Today's blog is all about "Safety Dust". Those of you who remember the song Safety Dance from Men Without Hats in the 80s, well today we rewrote the song as Safety Dust. We got new snow overnight with a dusting up to an inch on the trails. We went to the same network of trails as yesterday and, oh boy, what a difference a day and a layer of safety dust makes! Yesterday the trails high up on Peak 7 were super hard packed - you could almost say "too packed and dangerous"! Well, this morning found us on the same trails with a layer of safety dust and we were able to really open up the skijoring machine. What a difference a simple layer of safety dust can make!
Ss-aa-ff-ee-tt-yy
Safety Dust!
Beautiful conditions are we are laying fresh tracks in the safety dust on the right side of the trail.
Sorry to everyone who now has "Safety Dance (or Safety Dust)" ringing in your head all day. I cannot get the song out of my head either :)

Cool shot of the trio in a synchronized sprint tuck as we ride the safety dust leaning into a right corner on the trail:
Safety Dust - wheeee!
You will not believe the difference in today's video clip versus yesterday. This is roughly the same section of trail I showed yesterday with me bouncing and bumping all over the place on the hard packed terrain. Today, though, I am simply sitting back on the skis enjoying the Safety Dust as I ride behind my sled dog trio. What a difference safety dust makes!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

I did have to take my skis off to traverse over some rocky terrain. Stopped to put the skis back and, well, stopped... :)
"These silly, silly kids!" says Zorro.
"As usual - stopped, rolling!' adds the goofball twins.
Now for more silliness from young Rudy. We were coming around a bend in the trail when we encountered a hiker coming up the trail. Silly Rudy decided he needed to flirt with the oncomer and launched himself left to flirt as we flew by. Obviously we need to re-introduce Rudy to the "on by" concept this season :)
Nice "on by" from Zorro & Jack.
"Hi - flirt with ME!" says silly Rudy.

Ss-aa-ff-ee-tt-yy - Safety Dust! What a great day with perfect conditions as compared to the same "too packed" trails as yesterday: 7.3 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 19 days on the trails covering 116.0 miles with 11,850 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Bouncy Ride

Trail damage ahead! Oh well, time to turnaround anyway :)
"Yes - time to turnaround!" says happy Zorro.
"I'm with you big brother." adds happy Jack.
"What damage?" adds silly young Rudy :)
We have not been out skijoring for over a week as we thought all the trails were too melted to get out. Well, on a whim we drove by the upper trails of Breckenridge Nordic Center yesterday high up on Peak 7 and were surprised to see the trailhead in useable condition! It was too late to get out yesterday when we drove by, so we got up early to hit the trails this morning.

The trails were very hard packed since we have had no new snow yet in November, but the trail was covered in snow. Here's a great shot of the sled dog trio towing me up the trail. Wheeee!
Beautifully out-stretched Zorro next to sprint-tucked Jack and Rudy.
On an open straightaway and look what we got - our first triple hover husky shot of the season!
All twelve feet off the ground as we hover along the fast trail :)
While the prior two photos look great, it was actually a very bouncy & bumpy ride for the human. Come along and watch as I am bouncing and bumping all over the place behind the fast trio. Needless to say, my legs got quite the workout this morning!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

But, conditions were pretty good for how dry & warm it has been this November. I did have to take the skis off once to cross over exposed ground. Then we stopped while I put the skis back on. Did I say "stopped" - oh you silly kids....
"Surprise! Not!" says happy Zorro waiting for me while his little brothers do their typical
snow roll when we are stopped.
"Hey, you stopped - we roll!" demonstrate the goofball kids.
End of the morning run and look at happy, happy Zorro flashing mom a smile while I get my glove off to hand out 'end of run' treats:
"Hi Mom!!!!! I had a great time!" flashes happy Zorro.
"I'll make sure the human has the treats!" says focused Jack.
"Lala land!" adds lala land Rudy :)
Treats out and Zorro is, of course, all business now:
"Ready!" declares focused Zorro.
"Me too!" adds focused Jack.
"Oh yeah, 'end of run' treats!" says 'just starting to pay attention' Rudy.
Hard terrain for the human this morning; but we were back on snow for the first time in over a week: 6.1 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

Luckily there is FINALLY snow in the forecast starting tonight and mid to late next week!!! Pray for Snow!

2019/2020 Season to Date: 18 days on the trails covering 108.7 miles with 11,050 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Creativity

Celebrating a successful, albeit creative, skijor in the backcountry this morning!
"We had a GREAT time, now how about those end-of-run treats?!?" says the happy & focused trio.
With the warm & dry start to November we are limited to well shaded trails to continue our skijoring until the next storm arrives.  There is a steep set of mountain biking trails that start close to the town of Breckenridge and take you up quickly into some heavily shaded terrain. We decided to let the youngsters (Jack & Rudy) tow me up this shaded incline this morning.
Nice snow coverage (although narrow & heavily packed) as we ride up & out of town.
Since the trails are so close to town, they are heavily used so pretty packed & slick in places. So, we could go UP these trails but I would certainly die trying to come DOWN them behind 2 or 3 fast sled dogs :)

So the plan was to let the youngsters tow me up and eventually we would meet up with Zorro & Nancy and continue to skijor the much less steep but still heavily shaded backside of Sally Barber Mine. Zorro joined in, everyone ready to go?
"Yes!!!!" exclaims the happy trio.
Once we had Zorro in team, we did an out & back on the shady side of Sally Barber. Unfortunately you run out of safely shaded terrain after just under 1.25 miles. So it was a fast out & back with Zorro and, thus, the reason we did a steep climb to exercise the youngsters first. Although short, this section of trail is still in fantastic condition. If you look closely, there are two packed tracks on the trail with shallow powder in between. Each track is only "2 Siberians wide" so we spent most of the outing on Sally Barber with skinny Zorro & Jack sharing one track and big, husky Rudy running his own track.
Great shot of the "sprint tucked trio" as we fly along a perfect trail!
Time to turn around and....
"Please tell me they did SOMETHING other than this before I joined!" states Zorro.
"We are the snow rolling goof twins!" declares Jack & Rudy.
Yes, Zorro, the kids really did tow me up the mountain; but the most fun was when we added you into the team! Come along for a glimpse of the fun to be had on the backside of Sally Barber.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Finally, winding out the day with the happy trio towing me to the trailhead.
"So happy to be towing the human!" demonstrates the sled dog trio.

A steep start with Jack & Rudy and then a short & mellow out & back with Zorro, Jack and Rudy: 6.5 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 17 days on the trails covering 102.6 miles with 10,350 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Return

Fun "shot from the front" as the happy sled dog trio tows me to the end of this morning's run!
Happy boys and great trail conditions!
The conditions were good enough yesterday on the Middle Fork Trail at Swan Valley that we returned this morning to test out the South Fork Trail. What did we find? Well, woo hoo, the South Fork Trail was in even better condition than yesterday's Middle Fork Trail!
Beautiful conditions to start the day as Jack & Rudy are a co-joined hover husky :)
There were multiple patches of sketchy conditions yesterday and one stretch with no snow we had to hike over. Today we only encountered one patch of poor conditions but it still had enough snow to keep the skis on and glide over carefully.
The only patch of "sketchy conditions" we encountered today!
Most of the outing looked like the first 2 photos above and the nice one below. What a November 6th treat!
Fast trio opening up the throttle on perfect conditions in the shade!
Come along for today's short video clip showcasing the great trail conditions and fast & fun sled dogs towing me along. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Eventually we had to turn around and head back to the trailhead. Yep, you guessed it - silly turnaround antics from the two youngsters :)
"These two! Kids nowadays!!!" states happy Zorro.
"Stop, drop, roll and then turnaround - got it!" says the goofball twins.

Fast & fun day on South Fork in Swan Valley: 6.2 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 16 days on the trails covering 96.1 miles with 9450 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Shade

Yay for the shade on the lower section of the Middle Fork Trail in Swan Valley!
Great November 5th conditions as we started the day in the shade on the Middle Fork
Trail in Swan Valley!
Boo for the melting in the sun exposed sections of the Middle Fork Trail:
Yikes! Barely enough snow to keep the skis on! Luckily my partners know to slow to a
trot when conditions are sketchy! 
Although we had some great snow to end October, we have had a warm & dry start to November. I was wracking my brain yesterday trying to think of a trail that may have survived the last few warm days. What we needed was a trail with lower elevation shade so the snow would still be intact as we climbed elevation to where the snow is still extremely good. The decision was to try the Middle or South Fork trails at Swan Valley this morning. As you see in the first photo, Middle Fork had the perfect amount of shade to start our run. As you see in the second photo, it was sketchy whenever we encountered sun exposed sections of trail.

Then, once we got up in elevation a bit, it was as I expected - great upper elevation snow! The only drawback was the trail had been driven by 4WD vehicles, so it was a bit tracked up and tested all of my ski abilities to stay upright behind my sprinting trio :)
Great snow in the upper elevations as I am riding the skis in the track behind Jack while
Zorro & Rudy run in the tracks to the left.
How great was the lower shade? Well come along for the start to this morning's run as I am riding the "sled dog tow rope" up the Middle Fork Trail on perfect conditions in the shade.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

I had to take my skis off once to walk over a stretch of exposed ground. Once back on snow I stopped to put the skis back on. Did I say "stopped"? Well, you know what that means from the youngsters...
"Back on snow, I'll wait for you to get in the skis!' says happy & polite Zorro.
"Stopped = rolling in snow!' demonstrates Rudy.
"Rolling AND eating snowcones - I'm talented!" adds snow rolling & eating Jack.
A perfect early November outing with just enough shade to enjoy the snow and not too much sun exposed terrain to hike over. A well earned set of end of run treats:
"Perfect! Hand out the treats!" says the happy & focused trio.
A great choice of trail this morning to get in a short fun run on what snow is still available in the shade and upper elevations: 5.2 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 15 days on the trails covering 89.9 miles with 8850 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Sun

Skijoring into the morning sun on French Gulch :)
Just a few toes shy of a "hover husky" shot as we skijor into the morning sun.
Today's skijor found us going out & back in French Gulch. It is still early November, so despite the great early season skijoring we have been having, it is still early season. As a result, we had the full range of early season conditions.

Far back in the gulch was WONDERFUL. There were set tracks on each side of the trail with shallow powder down the middle. I rode in the shallow powder and Jack & Rudy took turns being in a set track versus the middle powder while we let elder Zorro have a set track to himself.
Zorro & Jack in the set tracks as Rudy & I cruise along in the shallow middle powder.
Great conditions!
The lower part of the gulch was icy and sketchy! The upcoming week is forecast to be warm (above freezing and approaching 40F) and dry and the lower part of French Gulch is 1-2 warm days away from being un-skiable! Yikes!
Jack on ice (which will be water later today and mud in a few days).
Zorro on a mix of ice & snow.
Rudy and I on the last bit of snow left on the shoulder of the trail.
Ugly conditions!
The middle of the gulch was skiable but bumpy. Come along and watch as we have enough snow to go but I am bouncing around on the bumpy terrain. Not great conditions but still usable.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

From ugly to usable to great - the full range of conditions on the outing. A quick pause to let the human catch his breath, everyone having a great time?
"You bet! It's toes on snow!' states the happy trio.
Finally, no day is complete without the turnaround antics from the children:
"You know you want to roll too! Come on, join us!" says goofy Jack to Zorro.
"You kids are strange!" responds Zorro.
"Ah!" adds Rudy burying himself in the snow.
A fun out & back in French Gulch this morning but the upcoming warm & dry week is going to put a real pause or slow down in our skijoring plans! 5.6 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 14 days on the trails covering 84.7 miles with 8250 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Yay Gate

Yay for the winter gate to Boreas Pass being closed!
"Oh boy, the gate is closed!" says happy Jack.
"Cool!" add Zorro & Rudy.
Why a "yay" for the gate? Well, this means that only skis, snowshoes and fat bikes will be on Boreas from today until May or June! No more vehicles tearing up the terrain driving up the pass. The forest service always closes the gate at some point in November; but today's November 1st closure is the earliest we've ever seen (it has been as late as Thanksgiving some years).

With the gate closed, the conditions on Boreas are wonderful, especially the higher you go up the pass. Here we are zooming along on perfect conditions on November 1st!
Zoom, zoom, zoooom!!!
Come along for a glimpse of perfect November skijoring on Boreas Pass. We had such a fun day cruising up & down Boreas.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

In addition to wonderful skijoring terrain, Boreas is also a great place to get stunning views of Breckenridge Ski Resort across the valley:
Look at all those snow covered ski runs of Breckenridge Ski Resort across the valley.
There have been previous November 1s when the run were still completely brown!!!
Once again, the "turnaround antics" from Jack & Rudy :)
"They really are goofy!" states happy Zorro.
"Rolling, rolling, keep on snow rolling!" adds the snow angel pair.
Another momentary pause on the trail while waited for some traffic (people & dogs) to clear in front of us. Everyone having a good time?
"Yes, yes, yes!" states the happy trio.
Time for some well earned end-of-run pork treats:
"What a fun morning! Now hand them out!" states the focused & happy trio.
Yay for the earliest closing of the Boreas gate we've ever seen, bring on a great winter! 7.2 miles traveled with 650 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 13 days on the trails covering 79.1 miles with 7750 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Narrow Perfection

"Water Crossing! Danger! High Jump! Long Jump!" declares water averse Zorro.
Nice high & long water clearance from Zorro :)
Zorro cracks me up in that prior photo. The water crossing was actually frozen, so no need to leap to avoid it. But, it you hate water as much as Zorro, you can never be too safe. Better to high & long jump than to discover it was not really frozen.

We did a split run this morning, taking young Jack & Rudy for the first half of outing while elder Zorro rested and then joined us for the second half.

Jack, Rudy and I skijored up the backside of Sally Barber Mine, then went out & back on the Trail of Tears side trail and then down the front side of Sally Barber Mine to join with Zorro for an out & back in French Gulch.

The Trail of Tears side trail is a very narrow extreme backcountry trail. By "extreme" I mean a trail that winds through the forest. The set trail is barely 2 dogs wide and the trail with or without snow is often barely 2 dogs wide! This was Rudy's first time skijoring extreme backcountry and Jack's fifth. But it was Jack's first without Zorro's guidance. It takes a lot of trust in your partners to ski through such tight trees. You are so near the wildlife - squirrels to moose and everything in between. You have to have a lot of concentration and self-control to listen to your human and remain on trail. Jack and Rudy did PERFECT - so proud of the two youngsters!
Staying focused with safe speeds and staying on-trail through the forest of distractions!
So proud of the young two!
The reward for being perfect sled dogs on the narrow trails? Well, I let them really open up the engine once we were back on the wide Sally Barber Mine Trail. Wheeee!
Almost our first "hover husky" shot of the season. Jack has what looks to be a single
toe of his front right touching the snow :)
Once we joined up with Zorro, we found more "interesting" terrain. French Gulch contains a handful of private cabins and the owners have keys to the winter gate, allowing them to drive the gulch. Well, a vehicle had been on the trail. The result is you get two "set tracks" that mirror the tire tracks. Unfortunately, the tire track is rarely wide enough to fit three sled dogs. So, we spent most of the day with 2 in one track and one in the other:
Rudy running solo in the left track. Zorro & Jack running joint in the right track with Jack
dipping in & out of the side powder to let elder Zorro remain in-track all day. Polite Jack.
Occasionally, though, the set track widened. Whenever it was "3 Siberians Wide", everyone immediately re-joined and we opened up the throttle. Zoom!
Perfect - wide enough for 3 - here we goooo!
Turnaround time, goofy Jack time...
"He's doing it again!" states Zorro.
"Haha, hehe, roll, roll, roll!" demonstrates snow rolling Jack.
"Head dunk!" adds silly Rudy.
Done with a great day, who is ready for end-of-run treats?
"Me, me too, me three!!!!" says the focused trio.

A fun "long outing" for the youngsters with Zorro coming along for the second half: 9.2 miles traveled with 750 of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 12 days on the trails covering 71.9 miles with 7100 feet of elevation climbed.