Thursday, February 28, 2013

Some of Everything

Today's outing had the full mix of trail conditions: extreme deep, fresh tracks, steep climbs, great views and sprint tracks!

We also surpassed 600 miles of skijoring for the 2012/2013 season!
600 and counting as we are still months from the end of the season!

Probably the best shot of the day.
Breaking trail in 10-12 inches of untouched powder, not an existing track as far as the
eye can see and great views. Stunning...

It is easier to show than describe the full range of trail conditions we experienced:

(1) Occasional sections of "steep" as we climbed 1200 feet during the outing.
(2) Occasional sections of "fresh tracks on established trails" as we used a few
snowmobile tracks to connect parts of our route.
(3) Occasional sections of "deepening fresh tracks" as we were on lesser used
trails during the route.
(4) Lots of sections of "breaking trail in 8-12 inches" as we spent most of the day
in private powder on generally unused trails. See the first shot above for more of
this type of terrain. Wheee!
(5) A tiny section of "fast sprint track" terrain as we used a short section of French Gulch Rd
to get onto the backcountry trails.
A fun day cycling through the full range of trail conditions! 6.3 miles, 1200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Speed Day Vibes

Some days we only have time for a short skijor outing. Near the start, I usually say something along the lines of "Short outing today, no need to pace ourselves." Of course I do not expect Max & Zorro to understand that statement, especially since I do not say the same thing before every short outing.

But... I am convinced I give off a "short outing/fast day" vibe (or smell or something) because Max & Zorro always pick up on my "no need to pace yourself" vibe on every such outing. I am not sure what I do, yet they get the vibe and know to go all out! On long outings, they will relax into a comfortable jog to pace themselves; but the "short outing" vibe I emit transforms them into sprinting machines on these quick outings. Smart boys...
Beautiful shot of sprinting Siberians. All 4 back legs outstretched in unison as they
are unleashing themselves full throttle!
We had a small amount of snowfall late yesterday and we were happy & surprised to find ourselves laying fresh tracks in 1-3 inches of snow (on a popular trail) for the entire outing. Wheeee!

A nice clip of our sprint along the French Gulch trail.
Excuse the blurry smudge in the bottom center of the clip - that is a nose print from
Zorro that I did not realize he made until after out outing :-)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A couple of more fun shots from the day:

Cruising along and laying fresh tracks - such fun!
I just called out "wait" after a recent "almost done" command as we need to stop and
turnaround at this point - the Siberian reaction:
"Really? Already? Well, ok, if you say so!" says happy little Zorro.
"I heard nothing. Nope not a thing - need more exercise!" says unimpressed Max.
Tally for today's short outing: 6.2 miles, 700 feet of elevation climbed, top speed of 21 MPH and "speed day" vibes understood by all.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Leisure Day

Each of the last 3 days (Fri, Sat, Sun) we have been breaking trail in 12-18 inches of fresh powder. After working that hard for 3 straight days, Max & Zorro earned today's "leisure day" on fast packed trails!
With plenty of snowfall the past week, the views were stunning today as the skies cleared and the
bright sun illuminated all the new snow!
What did the Siberians think of leisure day? "Huh, does leisure mean speed? We think it does!" suggest the sprinting pair, as the video shows below:

Siberian Leisure Time as we open up the engines and hit 21 MPH on
this fast straight away!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We did a fast "up & over" Sally Barber Mine and then a fast "out & back" in French Gulch. Great scenery the entire day...
Quite a ways back into French Gulch - a narrowing but still fast packed trail.
Pretty snow covered trees all around us.
Much further back into French Gulch - the trail is now only "1 Siberian wide" but still
a quick trail, even for single file skijoring. More of the fresh, white scenery of the day.
A zippy day on fast trails! 8.4 miles, 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Home to Deep

Another day, another trail to break....
A few miles from home and we are "off the streets" and onto the backcountry
trails. It is up & deeper from here on out!
Keeping with the theme of the past 2 days... We had "fast to deep" on Friday, "steep to deep" on Saturday and today we used "home to deep" to continue our string of breaking trail in deep snow.

A few times a year, it snows enough overnight and is still snowing hard the next morning for "street skijoring". When this happens, the plows cannot keep up with the snowfall and the roads are full of fresh & fun snow before the day's traffic can get out on the streets. We use these extreme snowfall mornings to simply open the garage door and skijor out our driveway to the trailhead. Typically we drive for 10-20 minutes to get to the backcountry trailheads that we use; but on special days like today, we simply ski out the driveway and onto the streets to skijor directly to the trailhead. Oh what fun! See the progression below:

Out of the driveway and onto the streets - skijoring to the trailhead closest to home!
Look both ways and then cross busy Boreas Pass Rd into one of the many skier
parking lots. On the other side of this lot is the trailhead closest to home - almost there...
Ah... Through the parking lot and onto the trails. How fun to skijor straight from
the garage to the trails!
Once onto the trails it was up and into deeper backcountry snow.
Breaking trail in about 18 inches of powder along this section!
Thus the title of today's blog: Home to Deep!
Still breaking trail up & into the backcountry. A narrow & deep trail, so tall Max has
taken over the job of "trail breaking lead".
Max taking a "break" as he lets Zorro pass to take over trail breaking duties - Wheee!
A fun short day leaving the car behind and launching the skijoring fun right outside the garage: 6.8 miles, 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a mild top speed of 16 MPH (too deep for "fast" on the trails and too dangerous to go any faster than this on the streets).

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Steep to Deep

Another great day of breaking trail in tons of soft untouched powder!
Breaking trail in about 8 inches of untouched powder - wheee!
We used a "steep to deep" strategy to get to private powder today. Yesterday's strategy was "fast to deep" as we used popular, well-used trails to get out into private powder in the backcountry. Today was a different approach - we skijored up extremely steep terrain to eventually get to some wonderful rolling terrain of untouched private powder. Nobody is going to cross country ski up the trails we took, I would never attempt it without Siberian skijoring aids to pull me up! So, the trails tend to be completely untouched - a fun trail breaking reward for a steep climb. More pictures below:

Following deer tracks as the snow gets deeper and deeper.
But, sprinkle some deer tracks on the trail and nobody notices deep :-)
More of the theme of the day: breaking trail in 8+ inches.
Here we are skijoring single file as we are on a rarely used connector trail between two of the
more established trails of our route. Note the narrow trail cutting through the snow in front
of Max. I stepped out of the narrow track once and sunk to mid-thigh in the deep snow!
A fun shot of a steep down section of trail. We are still breaking trail in about 8 inches as
you can see the airborne Siberians jumping through the snow as we sprint down.
A day of serious elevation and serious powder! 8.6 miles, 1800 feet of elevation climbed, a top speed of 16 MPH and breaking trail for about 7 miles of the outing!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fast to Deep

What a day - we ranged from laying fresh tracks at 20 MPH on popular trails to breaking trail in up to 12 inches of snow on lesser used trails. All in the same day - woo!
Breaking trail in about 8-10 inches at this point, and it kept getting deeper!
We started our day on the very popular Sally Barber Mine Trail. There had been light snowfall overnight, so we were the first tracks of the day on this trail. A light cover of snow on otherwise fast packed trail: that is the recipe for speed, as shown below:

Hitting 20 MPH as we fly along the Sally Barber Mine Trail.
Perfect conditions to unleash the Siberians and GO!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

After we finished our sprint up & down the Sally Barber Mine Trail, we hung a right and headed out & up into French Gulch. This trail is also very popular for the first mile or so, but quickly becomes less and less used until finally we found ourselves breaking trail in up to 12 inches of untouched snow! Wheee!
Laying fresh tracks in lower French Gulch. The snow is getting a little deeper, but this is
still a heavily used section of trail.
We are now past the point where the typical cross country skier ventures.
Breaking trail in increasingly deeper snow - fun!
We are now way past the "common trail" and breaking trail in about 12 inches of powder.
A fun Siberian workout!
Time to head back towards the trailhead; but my partners are looking at the untouched
trail in front of us, "Head back down? Why? Look at the beautiful trail this way!" they
both express.
We were originally planning a 8.5 to 9 mile tour today; but breaking trail in 8-12 inches for extended distances really slows us down. No complaints here, we'll take powder over distance any day! Totals for the day: 8.1 miles, 950 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Narrow Trails

We spent most of today skijoring on "narrow trails" - either "1 Siberian wide" or barely "2 Siberians wide". Our reward for navigating such technical terrain is pictured below:

Uncorking the "skijoring engine" once we hit a wide open trail. Wheeeeee!
Our terrain breakdown went as follows: (1) about 1/3 of the outing on trails only 1 Siberian wide (single file skijoring); (2) about 1/3 of the outing on trails barely 2 Siberians wide (trotting & jogging skijoring); and (3) about 1/3 of the outing on wide packed trails, as shown above (sprint skijoring).

Single track trail - only 1 Siberian wide, so we need to single-file skijor.
Max driving the team while Zorro jogs in second position.
If you step out of the single track, you will sink in 2+ feet of snow!
Still cruising along a single track trail.
Zorro now driving the team while Max jogs in second slot.
"Aah - still narrow but '2 Siberians wide' - time to kick up the speeds a notch!"
As we transitioned out of the narrow trails and onto wide-open Boreas Pass Rd, Max & Zorro took a quick opportunity to "cool off" and Max demonstrated a new multi-tasking skill:
Our usual "cool off" antics: Max rolling a snow angel and Zorro chomping down on
snow cones.
"Touche' - look at me rolling angels AND eating snow cones! I am one talented
Siberian!" demonstrates multi-tasking Max :-)
A fun, short day navigating narrow trails until we were able to go full throttle on the final wide section of trail: 7.1 miles, 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Have You Seen Our Moose

A nice cover of 2-3 inches of snow fell overnight.
We got up early to be first on the trails and lay fresh tracks for over 10 miles!
Laying fresh tracks as we glide up the South Fork trail in Swan Valley.
While "laying fresh tracks" is always a highlight, the Siberians had a more important focus for the day: "Have You Seen Our Moose?"

We were on the same trails as yesterday for most of today's outing. Well, of course, one of the highlights of yesterday was a spectacular sighting of one of the biggest moose I have ever seen. This event from yesterday had Max & Zorro peeking in anticipation at every meadow we encountered. The pictures will show what I mean...

"Look at me - I can sprint and check for moose at the same time!" demonstrates
a talented Max.
"No need to break stride - just peek to the left as we come around a corner to a new
meadow... Here moose, here moose, where are you?" say Max & Zorro.
"Oh, big meadow to the left. Where is that BIG moose?" ponder the left glancing pair.
"Another meadow, another peek to the right. Where is that moose?!?" questions Zorro.
Ok, I think you get the idea. I could show a "moose peek shot" from either Max, Zorro or both for every corner we rounded and every meadow we encountered. What a pair of moose seeking lunatics!

Occasionally, though, we did have nice stretches of "little to no moose potential" - then it was back to fast & fresh tracks skijoring :-)

No blind corners, no open meadows ... No moose potential so off we go!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

10.5 miles with a top speed of 23.8 MPH on our "moose seeking"
outing for the day.
A great day laying fresh tracks and searching for moose: 10.5 miles, 1450 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of roughly 24 MPH.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Birthday Bash

Today is Max's birthday and we had a real Siberian Skijor Birthday Bash to celebrate.
The photos in today's blog list everything Max got for his birthday - it was a great day!
"Wow - what a birthday! I am not sure what was my favorite gift: moose, dog teams, 26 mph,
11 miles, snow angels - I loved them ALL!" exclaims happy 6 year old Max.
(1) Present 1: speed & distance:
26 MPH - our top speed of the season!
10.6 miles - a great time touring packed trails!
"Both of these presents were GREAT!"
(2) Present 2: a MOOSE!
Look to the upper left of this photo - that is a MOOSE in the snow field just off the trail.
This was by far the BIGGEST moose I have ever seen - it was MASSIVE!
"A moose for my birthday - wow! But why didn't the silly human let us chase it?" :-)
(3) Present 3: Dog teams from Good Times:
Look closely at the top left of the photo - you see an "8 pack" of Siberians from Good Times
pulling a sled for the tourists. We were skijoring on the trails also used by Good Times today, we
had numerous encounters with their dog sled tours.
"I could pull that sled!" says an observant Max.
(4) Present 4: snow angels:
Sure, Max rolls a snow angel on 50-75% of our outings. But, would a birthday be complete
without a roll in the snow - clearly not!
(5) Present 5: speed
Airborne, out-stretched, sprinting Siberians. I think 26 MPH was probably Max's favorite
present. Had I let him chase that moose, then we would certainly have had a different
favorite present :-)
Our route for the day took us to the Swan Valley Recreation Area - a nice network of packed trails shared with dog sled and snowmobile tours. We went out & back on the Middle Fork trail and then up & down a portion of the South Fork trail.

Tally for the day: 10.6 miles, 1400 feet of elevation climbed, a top speed of 26 MPH and numerous "birthday gifts" for Max!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Windy Summit

Today's skijor outing can be summarized by 3 highlights:
(1) Our longest single skijor run ever - 15.7 miles! Woo!
(2) One of our windiest sections of trail ever around the Boreas Summit. Brrrr!
(3) An extremely calm and peaceful trail as long as we stayed below tree line. Wheee!

Coming "out of the woods" to connect onto Boreas Pass Rd at Bakers Tank.
Once we got on Boreas, the wind was tolerable gusts until we got above tree line and
it changed to a constant blow with huge gusts.
The photos (and video) of the day display these 3 highlights:

Having a great time cruising the trail to Bakers Tank. We are completely sheltered
from the wind by the trees - little did I know we'd hit some of our strongest winds
to skijor in when we got to the Boreas Summit.
[watch on youtube if now video loads below]

The #1 highlight of the day - our longest single skijor run ever. Almost 16 miles! Fun!
Approaching the Boreas Summit. The "haze" you see along the ground is blowing snow as
the wind was gusting into the 40 mph range! The "exposed road" to the right is not from
lack of snowfall (we've had 2 feet of snow in the last week), but it is an indication of how
windy it has been at the Boreas Summit.
A little closer to the Summit, even more blowing snow all around us.
Taking a glance as the "Boreas Summit" sign before quickly dipping down the other side
of the summit to get out of the intense wind!
On our initial path back down from the Windy Summit. You can still see the haze of
blowing snow all around us. We are skijoring head-on into the wind at this point - see
the Siberians' ears pinned back as they drive into the strong gusts.
All around, what a great day: 15.7 miles, 1600 feet of elevation climbed, a top speed of 17 MPH and some incredibly strong winding blowing around the Boreas Summit.