Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We Could Not Resist

Zorro says, "fresh powder on the nose - that's the
way to cool a husky!"
It has been snowing like crazy the last 10 days. I know I said yesterday, "we can't keep up, Mother Nature wins, I need a rest." But, it kept snowing all day Monday and into Tuesday morning.

We could not resist - Max, Zorro & I decided we would regret missing today's fresh powder once summer arrives. Breckenridge Ski Resort reported 16 inches of new snow in the last 24 hours and 26 in the last 48 hours. We could not resist!!!

I had a plan - we would skijor one of our shorter routes today - thus staying true to our new Spring motto of "if it snows, we go!"

The Plan: skijor from the BnB trailhead up French Gulch Rd; ski to & past the French Gulch winter trailhead; hang a right on Sally Barber Mine trail and ski up to the mine and then sprint down to the Barney Ford trailhead.

The Expectation: French Gulch Rd would be packed powder from vehicle traffic and Sally Barber Mine trail would be packed powder from other skiers. After all, the Sally Barber Mine trail is one of the most used in & around Breckenridge - we'd just make use of others' tracks and not have to break trail as extreme as we did yesterday.

The Reality: WOW - Sally Barber Mine trail was untouched powder! "Zorro chest deep" at the minimum (about 9 inches) and just over "Max chest deep" at the maximum (just over 12 inches). We were breaking trail again - this time up the steep incline to Sally Barber Mine (about 600 feet in 1.5 miles on the steepest section of the ascent). We have *never* been the fresh tracks breaking trail on Sally Barber Mine trail! Oh Mother Nature - you are a tricky one ;-)

Vital Stats: 4.6 miles; 70m total time; 62m moving time; 4.5 MPH moving average; 16 MPH top speed; 750 feet of elevation gain (and then loss). As with yesterday, a slower than usual "moving average" brought on by breaking trail in 9+ inches of powder while climbing some steep inclines...
Beginning Sally Barber Mine trail.
Zorro chest deep in powder (and it kept getting deeper).
No tracks in front of us - one rarely gets to break trail on this popular path!
Camera tilted up from the last shot to show the untouched
Sally Barber trail ahead of us.
Fresh snow on Sally Barber Mine.
Max says, "yum, fresh powder!"
(notice his tongue licking his chops ;-)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chest Deep ... Snownados ... 300 miles ... WOO!

Max & Zorro patiently awaiting hot dogs at the
trailhead. They get hot dogs as a skijoring
reward at our "high point" and "end point" of
every outing.
What a day - we surpassed 300 miles of skijoring for the season today!

What a day - chest deep powder and snownados (see pictures below) on Boreas Pass Rd!

We got a significant dump of new snow overnight (and it has been continuing all day, so far). Max, Zorro & I headed out to skijor 10.4 miles on Boreas Pass Rd.

About 1/2 mile from the trailhead found us breaking trail in "Zorro chest deep" snow (about 9 inches). About 1 mile from the trailhead found us breaking trail in "Max chest deep" snow (about 12 inches). Given the continuing snow and blowing winds, our path was covered on the route down - so we broke trail up & down! Breaking trail in 12-18 inches of "heavy spring powder" for over 8 miles (and 9-18 inches for over 9 miles). That is a LOT of work when you are under 2 feet tall!

I declared recently that Spring was starting to melt our trails and the 3 of us would not miss another snowfall this season (if it snows we go). Since that  declaration, it has snowed about every other day - each storm dropping more snow than the last. I give up, I need a rest - Mother Nature put me in my place...

Vital Stats: 10.4 miles; 2h 55m total time; 2h 30m moving time; 4.2 MPH moving average; 15 MPH top speed; 850 feet of elevation gain (and then loss). Certainly one of our "slower" outings of the season. But, breaking trail for 8+ miles in 12+ inches of powder will definitely slow you down...
Lower sections of Boreas Pass Rd.
Fresh snow, no tracks, breaking trail in "Zorro chest deep" powder!
The "trail" we encountered all day.
No tracks, Max & Zorro cutting trail in 9-18 inches of powder!
A look back at the tracks we plowed up Boreas Pass Rd.
Wait... Do I hear the wind whipping through the trees? A snownado maybe?
Yep - a snownado coming our way up Boreas.
This is the same view as the previous shot, the only difference is the
snownado (tornado-like twirling ball of snow) flying up the trail!
We are now in the middle of the snownado.
Same view as the previous 2 shots but standing in the middle of the
snow tornado this time...
We experienced at least 8 of these snownados during the outing!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Siberian Turbo Juice

Summit of Boreas Pass.
Snow melt to the right goes to the Altlantic.
Snow melt to the left goes to the Pacific.
We woke to 2+ inches of snow in town with reports of 6+ in the upper elevations. Spring rules: never waste new snow - so to the backcountry Max, Zorro & I headed this morning.

We did an invigorating 11.3 mile trek with 1,400 feet of elevation gain. The "up route" was a steep 4.5+ mile climb (yes, we skijored UP 1,400 feet in just 4.5 miles in just over 1 hour!) - the "down route" stretched the 1,400 foot descend over 6.75 miles.

After the first mile, there were no existing tracks on the trail. We did not encounter tracks again until about 2 miles from the end point. That is 8.3 miles of breaking trail in what turned out to be 4-12 inches of untouched powder! What a workout!

The only thing we encountered in the 8.3 miles of untouched terrain? Snowshoe hare tracks and fox tracks - LOTS of them. Some of the tracks were in the trail, some crossed the trail. If you want to experience "Siberian Turbo Juice" - put a set of hare or fox tracks on the trail for an extended stretch - the Siberians will certainly pick it up a notch following these tracks! The cross tracks kept me on my toes. Toss a quick "forward, let's go" command just before the Siberians intersect a set of tracks crossing the trail and Max & Zorro will (usually) glance left or right as they power on past the tracks. Perfect boys today - listening to the musher and crossing all the fox/hare temptations without breaking off the trail!

The Route: Indiana Creek winter trailhead and up Indiana Creek towards Dysersville. Continue past the usual left turn to connect with Boreas Pass Rd and continue another 1.5ish miles up the gulch until you intersect with Boreas Pass Rd at the Boreas Summit (this section is steep and had 6-12 inches of powder to break trail through - the reason most people take the earlier left ;-). Take a break at the Boreas Summit and then sprint down Boreas Pass Rd to the Boreas winter trailhead.

Vital Stats: 11.3 miles; 2h 20m total time; 2h 5m moving time; 5.4 MPH moving average; 15 MPH top speed; 1,400 feet of elevation gain (& loss). A pretty good moving average given the elevation gain we had to ascend while breaking trail through 6-12 inches of powder!
Zorro says, "don't most people turn left here to head up to Boreas?"
Max says, "don't care - power forward!"
No tracks in front of us, it quickly transitioned to 6-12 inches of powder from here to the summit.
At the Summit of Boreas Pass.
Section House, one of the Colorado Backcountry Huts, to the left.
Closeup of the Boreas Pass Summit sign.
The top of Section House behind the sign.
Max & Zorro making dual snow angels as we take a break at the Summit.
The Summit was very windy - apparently only the human thought it was cold
and the Siberians needed to roll around in the snow to cool off!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dude - Pay Attention!

Max & Zorro cruising up Boreas Pass Rd.
Untouched 2-4 inches of powder the
whole trip.
As I said in yesterday's post - it's Spring, so if it snows we go! Tuesday night brought another 2-4 inches of powder, so we headed out skijoring today for our second day in a row.

We did an 8.7 mile "up & back" on Boreas Pass Rd. There were no tracks on Boreas from the time we started (it is unusual to have no tracks at the Boreas winter trailhead). Thus, we got to enjoy the 2-4 inches of fresh powder all to ourselves!

On the way down, the human was taking in the beautiful scenery - looking at the valleys and peaks off to his left. Mushing Rule #1 - PAY ATTENTION at all times...

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Max give Zorro a little "shoulder shove of love". This brought a flying shoulder back from "never back down" Zorro and then a Siberian Snowball of Fur tumbled in front of me. Usually I am paying attention and can cut a quick left or right to avoid the Snowball of Fur. Not this time... My left ski went over the gangline, my right ski was in a plow position to stop and I spun 90 degrees to the right and fell. Once I recovered and stood up - Max & Zorro said, "Oh boy, he's up, let's go!" With this jolt forward I realized the gangline was wrapped around my left leg (don't ask me "how" this was possible) - I now had to untangle myself while my 2 partners were leaning forward wanting to Go, Go, Go! Note to self: skip the scenery - watch the trail and Siberian vehicle in front of you!  ;-)

Vital Stats: 8.7 miles; 1h 45m total; 1h 30m moving time; 5.8 MPH moving average; 15 MPH top speed; 800 feet of elevation gain (and then loss).
Nice little incline up Boreas Pass Rd.
Zorro tossing me a glance of, "HEY! Look at the incline - put that camera away!"
Taking a break at our high point on Boreas Pass Rd.
Max says, "It's this the hottest day in history? I'll be rolling in the snow until I cool off."
Note: it was 25 degrees, at most - Siberian Heat Wave.
Look back at our tracks up Boreas.
Note the ski tracks veering to the right (off the trail) - this was my planned "stop & turnaround point".
Notice the husky tracks continuing forward (on the trail) - this was *not* their planed stop/turnaround point!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snow Day

Max & Zorro taking a short break
before we sprint down the hill
from Sally Barber Mine.
Now that we are into Spring, Max, Zorro & I have a new motto: "if it snows - we go (skijoring)!"

As Spring is attacking (melting) our trails, you cherish every new snowfall to replenish the fun. We got about 4 inches on the trails overnight, so the 3 of us were raring to go this morning...

As we hoped, the plows had not attacked French Gulch Rd yet - so we started at the BnB trailhead, skijored up French Gulch Rd to & past the French Gulch winter trailhead and up the gulch to the last of the private cabins. We then reversed and sprinted down French Gulch until the Sally Barber Mine trail; then up to Sally Barber Mine and sprinted down to the Barney Ford trailhead.

We had 3 prolonged stoppages as we waited for groups of people to collect their loose dogs so we could pass. Stop - watch Fluffy run right into the middle of Max & Zorro (thus the reason we had to stop) - listen to the people call Fluffy to "come" (normally he always comes, they always say) - continue to watch Fluffy sniff and poke at Max & Zorro - wait for the people to come get ahold of Fluffy so that we can pass - accept their apology because Fluffy has never not come before and never blocks the trail (yea, right) - resume our skijoring fun.

Vital Stats: 9.2 miles; 1h 55m total time; 1h 35m moving time; 5.8 MPH moving average; 19 MPH top speed; 1,400 feet of elevation gain (and loss ;-).
At our turnaround point in French Gulch.
Max says, "why turnaround - it looks great to continue forward!"
Zorro says, "not quite ready to go yet - need to roll and cool my jets a little more!"
Looking out across the mountains from Sally Barber Mine.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is visible (if you look really hard) on the furthest
mountain down the center of this shot.
Zorro says, "Arapahoe Basin - really? Cool, can we skijor to there?!?!!"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hello - My Name is Zorro

Zorro rubbing his entire body in the snow.
"Gotta cool off, Gotta cool off! So hot!"
Today's blog entry is brought to you by Zorro - from the eyes & mind of Zorro...

Hello - my name is Zorro. My dad told me today that I must have SSHD (Siberian Selective Hearing Disorder) - also referred to as "cauliflower ears", "screw loose", "no screws", "puppy brain", "loco looney", "no marbles" and a few other affectionate terms. Truth be told, he is just jealous that I won today's backcountry games (and he came in last).

We set out to the backcountry from Indiana Creek this morning and I was today's activity coordinator. Here are the activities I setup for Max, dad and myself:

(1) Sprint & Tackle: a very fun game. All 3 of us take off as fast as we can - as we hit a good sprint speed, someone attempts to take the legs out of someone else and tackle into the powder just off the packed trail. I won 2 rounds of "sprint & tackle" and even took Max & dad out in one tackle! Neither Max nor dad had any successful tackles. Score: Zorro 2.5 (an extra 0.5 for the double takeout), Max 0, Dad 0.

(2) Squirrel Agility: another backcountry classic. Get the threesome going at a good rate (8-10 MPH) and then cut hard, precise & 90-180 degree dives towards a squirrel just off the trail. I won 2 rounds of "squirrel agility". The first round was a hard 90 degree dive to the left - my precision was excellent (1 point), Max did more of a swooping turn than a precise dive (0.5 points), dad moved zero degrees left (0 points). The second round was a difficult 180 spin to reverse direction into a squirrel chase - I hit this move spot on! (1 point), Max totally failed (0 points), dumb dad moved zero degrees again (0 points). Score: Zorro 2.0, Max 0.5, Dad 0.

(3) Team Organization Meetings: we stopped 3 times to have long discussions about why Max & dad were doing so bad at "sprint & tackle" and "squirrel agility". I even heard dad mumbling something about "too bad there aren't checkpoints on this trail to drop a dog" - poor Max, he didn't deserve to be dropped. At least he scored 0.5 in "squirrel agility" - if anyone needed to be dropped it was the last place human!

(4) Skijoring: after about 20-25 minutes of "sprint & tackle" and "squirrel agility" it appeared these 2 were not up to my skill level - despite all the team organization meetings, I was leaving these 2 in the dust. I decided to toss out skijoring as the next activity. Phew, finally something Max & dad could do! We were all perfect climbing up to Boreas Pass Rd for the first round of this activity (1 point each). On the down sprint I will give Max 1 point too - to show I am fair, I docked myself 0.1 points for giving Max an affectionate "neck nibble" during one sprint straightaway. Dad, on the other hand, gets docked 0.5 points for failing on an SLDO (Stupid Loose Dog Obstacle). There was Fluffy, standing in the middle of the trail and we were coming head-on fast! Everyone knows SLD's are too stupid to move and the point of the game is to run them over! Dumb dad veered far out to the left and, thus, we flew by without trampling Fluffy - darn! Score: Max 2, Zorro 1.9, Dad 1.5.

Final Score: (1) Zorro with 6.4; (2) Max with 2.5; and last place, old slow dad with only 1.5. I think dad has the "hearing disorder" - how else could he score soooo low on my well thought out backcountry games? I even had 3 organization meetings to re-explain the rules to him - I do not think he heard me!

Vital Stats: 9.5 miles; 1h 53m total time; 90m moving time; 6.3 MPH moving average; 15 MPH top speed; 1400 feet of elevation gain. 23 minutes of stoppage to explain the rules of "sprint & tackle" and "squirrel agility" to Max & dad - embarrassing! Also, we do not have any good uphill pictures as once I finally got Max & dad going on one activity (skijoring), nobody wanted to slow down and take the camera out...
A look back at the path we ascended out of Indiana Creek and onto Boreas Pass Rd.
On Boreas Pass Rd - Max & Zorro ready to go!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Record Day!

Cruising through the upper sections of French Gulch.
No tracks - our trail to blaze!

It was a record day on the trails for Max, Zorro and I on Wednesday...

We hit our top speed of the season: 24 MPH!!!!

We surpassed 250 total miles skijored this season!!!

We reversed one of our usual routes (Sally Barber to French Gulch instead of the reverse). It was a fast packed track for most of the route - up to Sally Barber Mine, down to French Gulch trail, up into French Gulch - all fast packed.  It was not until we got to the last open meadow in the gulch that we hit untouched terrain; this 1+ mile section (out & back) was 4-8 inches to plow through.

All around a FUN, FUN, FUN day on the trails.

Vital Stats: 9 miles; 1h 55m total time; 1h 35m moving time (we had a few "loose dog" moments to stop and maneuver around); 5.7 MPH moving average; 24 MPH top speed!!!!
More "cruising through the gulch" - you may not see a trail,
but Max & Zorro sense it as we truck along.
Max what a pretty & fit sleddog you are!
Max says, "why did we stop, I'm not tired!"
Zorro says, "It's YOUR fault we stopped, I'm gonna bite your neck!"
Max says, "No, it's YOUR fault, I'm gonna body slam you if you come one step closer!"
Brad declares, "STOP WRESTLING! We stopped because *I* am tired! Guess we'll restart since you 2 are recharged!"
Nice view from our break/turnaround point (the last open meadow in French Gulch).
A look back at the fresh tracks we laid in the last open meadow of French Gulch.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thank Dog

Breaking trail in lower section of Indiana Creek.
Note the "forest service road" marker sticking about
3 inches above the snow in front of us.
These are 3-4 foot markers in the summer...
Sunday ... FUN day - what a powder day!

What untouched powder! The forecast called for a light dusting, instead we got a real treat of inches and inches of new snow. Max, Zorro & I hit the trails to cruise up Indiana Creek, connect with Boreas Pass Rd and sprint down to the Boreas Pass winter trailhead. Here's what we found:

Untouched powder! Zero tracks at the Indiana Creek trailhead (not even car tracks coming to the parking lot). About 4 inches at the trailhead, as deep as 18 inches as we made the climb to Boreas Pass Rd. An then... Boreas was untouched too!

We met up with a group of 8 backcountry skiers on Boreas who had spent the night at Section House and were on their path down. On their route up yesterday, it was well-packed and the path was clear. They woke to a ton of new powder on the upper sections of Boreas and were struggling to make their path down. On meeting the group, one asked me, "Do you know the path down [to Boreas trailhead]?" I responded, "Yes, that's where we are headed from here." His response, "THANK DOG! You can break trail for us and lead us down!!!" They had been seriously struggling to make progress themselves (they were quite shocked when I told them they were barely over a mile from Section House and had over 5.5 miles to go). Deep powder? Trail covered? No problem - hop in behind the Siberian Huskies and we'll lead the way :-)

This was quite the exercise day for Max & Zorro: (1) Indiana Creek to Boreas Pass Rd is 3.5 miles with an elevation gain of 1,300 feet - we broke trail in 4-18 inches of powder this entire route! (2) The initial 4.5 miles down Boreas Pass Rd was untouched terrain again - breaking trail in 4-18 inches of powder again! That is 8 miles of breaking trail in 4-18 inches of powder (and, remember, they are under 2 feet tall themselves) - amazing Siberian Skijoring Machines!

Vital Stats: 9.3 miles; 2h 15m total time; 2h moving time; 4.7 MPH moving average; 12 MPH top speed. Remember: breaking trail for 8 of the 9.3 miles - that's an impressive 4.7 MPH given the conditions and terrain!
A shot of the "no trail here" terrain in front of us in the lower sections of Indiana Creek.
The entire day had us breaking trail with powder up to 18 inches in the upper elevations!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Kind of Vehicle Made Those Tracks?

End of our vigorous outing.
Happy boys stepping off the trail.
Wednesday was a fun skijoring day in the backcountry - nice snowfall at the lower elevations; tons of fun untouched powder at the higher elevations...

The Route: (1) start at French Gulch winter trailhead and head up the gulch trail: a few other ski tracks, 3-5 inches of powder; (2) out ski the existing tracks about 1/2 way up the gulch and then break trail in increasing from 6 inches to 18 inches of powder! (3) turnaround at the edge of the last clearing in the gulch and then sprint back down the way we came up; (4) hang a left at Sally Barber trail and ski up to Sally Barber mine: 3-5 inches of powder again; (5) sprint down the backside of Sally Barber to the Barney Ford trailhead: again, 3-5 inches of powder.

Funny Conversation: as we were loading into the jeep at the finish (Barney Ford trailhead), a skier we had seen out on the trail met up with us. We flew by him on the trail with just a quick "on your left" & "thanks" interchange as we sprinted by. Now at the trailhead he had the chance to talk with us about skijoring. His first comment, "I was wondering *what* made those uphill tracks - and now I see." He then described the mysterious looking tracks to him: parallel uphill with ski pole holes too far apart to make sense. A traditional cross country skier would need to be at least 12 feet tall to mimic the ski pole holes Max, Zorro and I leave - I push off my front foot in unison with Max & Zorro's pull and we glide between pushes at a distance that makes no sense to cross country logic... How can you remain parallel and have your ski pole holes so far apart? Well, with Siberian skijoring engines, that's how!

Vital Stats: 9.1 miles; 1h 55m total; 1h 40m moving time; 5.5 MPH moving average.
Cruising the upper parts of French Gulch.
Notice Max's long back left leg - this gives you a feeling for how deep the powder was.
Breaking trail in 12+ inches - what a workout!!!
The path ahead in the last open meadow in French Gulch.
Pristine, untouched powder - a trailblazers dream!
Taking a break in upper French Gulch.
Max's definition of "break" is "dig as deep into the snow as you can."
Some day Max (or Zorro) are going to tell me just what it is they are digging for when we take a break.
Max and Zorro in Siberian Heaven - snow covered heads, chest deep powder.
At Sally Barber Mine: a piddly 3 inches of powder.
Max & Zorro looking forward/left in unison, "Is this the way back to the fun, deep powder?"

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Race = First Place!

Uphill approach to the finish line...
Max, Zorro & I entered Breckenridge DogTerra on Sunday.

Our First Race - Our first First Place!!!!!

I was convinced we did not place first for 3 reasons:

(1) First draw - we were first out of the starting gates (the race runs as a staggered start). Any musher knows you do not want "first draw" on your first rookie race. Instead of shooting out of the starting gate, Zorro did a "sideways start" - looking back at the crowd behind.
(2) Where's the race trail? Once we got going, nobody was going to pass us... But, the route was not well marked; we had to slow down to clarify directions with one of the race officials - then everyone behind us knew the route by following us without any slowdown.
(3) No "Zorro carrot" - I really wanted a fast racer to be the draw in front of us. Put another team in front of us and Zorro will focus on nothing but catching the team ahead - nobody can out run us from the front! But, we were the front...
    Despite all these concerns... our First Race was our first First Place!!!!! Max & Zorro did exceptional, especially for a first race - we are ready to take on the professional skijor circuit in the 2011/2012 winter (there are no Colorado skijor races left in this 2010/2011 season :-(

    Additions for our season stats: 5.4 miles (short warmup lap, actual race lap, short victory lap). Winning race time: 6 minutes, 24 seconds. Fun, Fun, Fun!
    Zoomed out view of our uphill approach to the finish line.

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Exploring Upper Indiana Creek

    Frolicking in the snow as we connected
    from Indiana Creek onto Boreas Pass Rd.
    Silly human needed a break....
    Saturday's fun: breaking trail to extend our Indiana Creek to Boreas Pass skijoring route.

    As the season has progressed, all of our original "2 hour" trails have been becoming "well under 2 hour" routes, even as low as 1.5 hour routes. Time to start adding to the routes to get back to 2 hour outings...

    The Route: Indiana Creek winter trailhead up to & past the Dyersville junction; continue up Indiana Creek and pass the usual sharp left to ascend up to Boreas Pass Rd; break trail up untouched Indiana Creek until eventually connecting with Boreas Pass Rd; sprint down Boreas Pass Rd to the Boreas winter trailhead.

    Our addition to this "Indiana Creek to Boreas" route was to "pass the usual sharp left" - instead we continued to power up & through Indiana Creek, gradually following a long diagonal until we intersected with Boreas Pass Rd. This addition added just under 1 mile to the traditional route - that ought to get us back to a 2 hour tour, we thought....

    The Conditions: 2-5 inches of fresh powder from the start to the Dyersville junction; 4-8 inches of fresh powder (breaking trail through 6-8 inches) from Dyersville to Boreas Pass Rd; packed powder down the more traveled Boreas to the winter trailhead.

    Vital Stats: 9 miles; 1h 52m total time; 1h 40m moving time; 5.4 MPH moving average; 14 MPH top speed. Under 2 hours again... we need to redesign our routes to be 10+ mile outings ;-)
    Heads down, working hard - breaking trail in upper Indiana Creek.
    Heads up from the previous shot.
    Boreas Pass Rd is somewhere in the foreground (we don't know where/when yet).
    No tracks, untouched terrain - breaking trail without hesitation!
    Standing on Boreas Pass Rd, looking back at the trail we blazed up Indiana Creek.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    I Need Some of Those ... Errr, Maybe Not!

    Cruising down the return path
    to Spruce Creek trailhead.
    Wednesday found Max, Zorro & I once again taking on our most difficult skijoring trail - the path up and back to Lower Crystal Lake from the Spruce Creek winter trailhead.

    What makes this trail the most difficult, you ask... (1) Could it be the over 2,100 foot elevation gain in just 2.8 miles to the lake?  No, that's fun; an extreme workout for all - but a ton of fun. (2) Could it be the lack of oxygen at our high points over 12,100 feet elevation? No, that's fun too - makes your lungs work. (3) Could it be the over 2,100 foot elevation descent down in 3.4 miles while attached to 2 Siberian sprinters? YES - now that is difficult!!!  ;-)

    Humorous Event of the Day (any sleddog enthusiast will appreciate this one!): the approach to Lower Crystal Lake is above treeline and often extremely windy with the winds blowing directly into your path up. About 1/4 mile from the lake we encountered another backcountry skier cowering from the wind (poor soul did not have skijor power). We were going straight into a 20-30 mph gust, Max & Zorro heads down powering forward, as we cruised by him. He watched in awe at our uphill speed, into the wind, and said as we passed by, "Wow, I need some of those [Siberian Husky engines]!"

    We took a break on reaching Lower Crystal Lake. As we were preparing for the return trek down, this same skier reached the lake with us. He skied up to us and said, "Nobody will believe I made it all the way to the lakes, but you 3 were real inspiration! Can you take my picture with the lake/peak in the background so I have proof?" "Sure," I answered and I reached down to disconnect Max & Zorro from their neckline while we played photographer. Nice photo session and a little more conversation and then I reconnected the neckline for the path down (the skier was taking tons of photos of the pretty Siberians and the equipment hookup and organization process).

    Hooked and ready to go, "Ok guys, forward, let's go," I commanded. About 5 feet forward and Zorro body slammed into Max in a statement of "It was your fault we stopped so long!" The skier now got the chance to shoot photos of me untangling two wild beasts and discussing skijoring semantics with them. Hooked and ready to go, "Ok guys, forward, let's go" ... About 10 feet forward and Max body slammed into Zorro in a statement of "Was NOT my fault, take that!"  As I again started untangling, the skier came down and asked if I needed help - "No, " I said, "We just took too long of a break and they are super recharged to go, it works itself out." He shrugged and skied a little further in front of us to take more shots of the silly human and these crazed huskies. Hooked and ready to go (again), "Ok guys, forward, let's go" - BANG - Max & Zorro shot forward in a unified sprint to take off downhill. As we FLEW past the skier, the last thing I heard him say was, "Maybe I don't want some of those!"

    The Route: Spruce Creek winter trailhead to Crystal Creek jeep road (steep) up to Francies Cabin and then continued (steep) up in windblown, above treeline terrain to Lower Crystal Lake; return down to Francies Cabin and then take a forest service road down to Spruce Creek jeep road for the (slightly less steep, but still very steep) return to Spruce Creek trailhead.

    Vital Stats: 6.2 miles; 1h 50m total time; 90m moving time; 4.1 MPH moving average; 17 MPH top speed; 2,100 foot elevation gain (and loss); 12,100+ peak elevation. An amazing 45m up! An equally amazing 45m down - trying to keep the super sprinters under control on such steep terrain leads to a lot of "cautious skiing" by the inadequate human ;-)
    On the approach to Lower Crystal Lake (located straight ahead at the base of the peak in the foreground).
    Windblown terrain with occasional head-on gusts of 20-30 mph.
    Over the next major hump is where we passed the backcountry skier and left him in awe!
    Inside the walls of an abandoned & roofless old mining cabin.
    In summer you see a beautiful Lower Crystal Lake out this window - it's frozen & snow covered in winter.
    It was so windy at the lake, I huddled inside this ancient, degrading structure during our break.
    Zorro standing on a snowdrift inside the old cabin structure.
    Peeking over the top of the wall at the frozen/snow covered lake.
    A look to our left from inside the degrading cabin walls.
    Snow (and blown snow) has collected up to the top wall beam on this side of the structure.