Friday, April 26, 2013


"Yawn... Boring... Get up so we can go!" says silly, impatient Max.
"Yawn.... Boring.... Get up!" is Max's usual reaction to my infrequent spills.
"I see more trail, I see more trail!" expresses Zorro focused on the surroundings.
When I describe "skijoring with Siberian Huskies" to people, the first question I always get is, "Wow! Don't you fall a lot? How can you possibly attach yourself to sled dogs while on skis and not fall constantly?"

Luckily, the answer is, "No, through LOTS of practice (and strong legs), I rarely fall - probably only a dozen or so times all season." But, it does happen every once in a while, typically on icy terrain where I become a frictionless afterthought to my Siberian pals and they say, "Hey, I don't feel any weight back there - time to try for 30 MPH!"

The photo above pretty much summarizes Max & Zorro's opinion of the infrequent fall, "Boring! What does it take to get some exercise around here?!?"

We only had time for a short Sunrise Sprint today. A very fast 5 miles, with 450 feet of elevation climbed, on conditions a little too icy for my liking - leading to very fast uphills and somewhat out of control downhills...

Cresting at Sally Barber Mine at the same time the morning sun is peaking over the
neighboring mountain.
Trotting into the sunrise as we head down from Sally Barber Mine to connect onto
the French Gulch trails.
You try asking, "Hey guys, can we slow down a bit on the icy trails?"
"Huh? Was that the frictionless afterthought saying something?"
"Na, we didn't hear anything - faster, faster!"
A short & fast 5 miles - but any miles are better than no miles say Max & Zorro (especially when the human remains upright).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Swan Valley Fun

A great day laying fresh tracks on the snowmobile trails around the South Fork of Swan Valley Rd.

"Come on - hike up slow person. I am ready to GO!" says Max after our quick
midpoint break.
We found ourselves laying "fresh tracks" on the trails for our entire outing today. From an inch or so of new snow at the lower elevations to 4 inches or so at the higher elevations...

An inch or so of new snow as we cruise uphill near the start of the outing.
As we got higher, the trail got less established and it was laying fresh tracks in
3-5 inches of powder.
"Did you say 'wait' for a quick midpoint break?" asks happy little Zorro.
The snow was the deepest at the highest elevations. Notice the track Zorro is setting
in about 8 inches of fresh powder (Max is setting a similar track but the gangline is
blocking it from view).
Back on the "fast track" as we approach the end of our outing.
11 miles later and the Siberians are still running strong!

Cruising through forest on some fun straightaways with a few uphill
and downhill spurts.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Great conditions for an 11.2 mile outing with 1250 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thank You

A crazy April 23rd found us breaking trail in 12-18 inches of fresh snow this morning!

Not everyone likes "breaking trail" as much as Max, Zorro & I as evidenced below. We had just broke trail uphill to Sally Barber Mine with snow as deep as 18 inches. We were coming back down the track we set on the way up when we ran into a couple of skiers coming up. The front skier's comment to me, "Thank you so much for breaking trail for the rest of us!"
"Thank you so much for breaking trail for the rest of us!" said the skier to me as she stepped out
of the track to let us by. "Don't thank me - thank them." I responded as I pointed at my trail
breakers Max & Zorro. "Thank you so much nice doggies!" she then responded as we
continued on by. 
As I said above, this was a crazy amount of new snow on the trails for April 23rd!

With so much new snow overnight, we were able to start on French Gulch Road and skijor
up some tire tracks until connecting into the backcountry at the French Gulch trailhead.
As soon as we were off the road and onto the trails it was immediately 12+ inches of new
snow to break trail through! Untouched terrain as far as the eye could see.
Plowing through some seriously deep snow!
"We like breaking trail!" express a happy Max & Zorro.
Today followed our theme for most of April: long stretches of breaking trail in 12+ inches lead to "less than typical" mileage but a very exhilarating outing. 7.1 miles with 800 feet of elevation climbed and breaking trail in snow as deep as 18 inches - woo!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Multiple Talents

We got about 4 inches of new snow overnight - a perfect amount of new snow to showcase all of our talents on the trails today:

(1) Trot & Hunt:
Tasty furry morsels stirring in the trees to our right. Note that the gangline is still taut as
we demonstrate we can "trot & hunt" without breaking stride or veering off trail :)
(2) Fast & Fun:
Of course "towing the human fast" is one of our most used talents...
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

(3) Dual Snow Angels:
The human stopped for 1-2 minutes, so we showcased "rolling dual snow angels" on the
side of the trail.
(4) Into the Wind:
After fresh snow, you can always expect a gust of wind to dump snow out of the trees and
on top of you. No reason to slow down - just keep trotting in & through the snow dump.
We are such talented Siberian Huskies, you would think the human would make longer use of this on the trails!

Unfortunately, the human only had time for a short & fun run today: 6.6 miles with 750 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Heating Up

After a week of nonstop snow, Spring decided to come back to Colorado today...
It was approaching 30 degrees when we started our outing and approaching 40 when we finished - Siberian Hot!
Max & Zorro rolling dual snow angels at the top of Shrine Pass to cool off.
Notice Zorro's nice "snow angel" as he started a full body length above his current position
on the side of the trail and wiggled down to his current position as he made his snow angel!
Our last 8 skijor outings were all "breaking trail in a foot or more of snow", so today was back to the easy style - cruising the snowmobile trails at Vail Pass. The only thing that slowed us down was rising temperatures (which tends to slow the huskies). But, a fun 14 mile romp despite the rising temps!

Max taking off along a straightaway in the trail.
"Catch me if you can!" declares long-legged, fast Max.
"Hey, wait for me! I really can keep up!" says short-legged Zorro as he was caught off-guard
by Max's burst of speed :)
"See - I can keep up!" demonstrates Zorro along another straightaway.
I meant to ski to the edge of this cliff for the views at our midpoint break.
The Siberians, on the other hand, approached the cliff with too much interest in continuing
over! Luckily I got their attention before we reached the edge...
A nice day skijoring up, down & around the Vail Pass Recreation Area: 13.8 miles with 1650 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Eight Straight

Today was our 8th straight day of breaking trail in a foot or more of snow for the majority (if not all) of the outing - what a workout!
"Hi! We are having the best time! We love breaking trail!" say happy Max & Zorro at
our midpoint of the outing.
It is days like the last 8 straight when I am honored to know Siberian Huskies - sled dogs built to go (& happily go) in any and every condition. Sure, packed trails are fun & fast; but watching them work and drive through any terrain gives you insight into why the breed was developed and what it can do. Such an honor to be able to hang out behind these sled dog machines!

According to Breckenridge Ski Resort, we have had 46 inches of snow in the last 7 days and it certainly shows as we have been breaking trail in deep snow for 8 days straight! Today was no exception:

At the trailhead and the set track is only "1 Siberian Wide" - I do not think we have ever started
in single-file skijoring configuration as the trailheads are almost always packed wide!
After about a 1/2 mile, all existing tracks disappeared and we were breaking trail in at least
10 inches of snow for the rest of the day (and often more)!
The strange looking "fence in the forest" to our right separates the trail from a shooting range
on the other side of it. Do not worry, the shooting range is closed in the winter...
That little brown "stub" sticking out of the snow (to Max's right) is a trail marker that stands
about 3-4 feet tall in the summer! What a nice snow pack!
As I was gliding along behind my trail breakers today, I was reminded of one of my favorite books: Ten Thousand Miles with a Dog Sled by Hudson Stuck. I could not help but feel like I have had a small glimpse into the life of Hudson Stuck the past 8 days of constant trail breaking :)

Totals for the day: 7.1 miles with 750 feet of elevation climbed and breaking trail for over 6 miles of the outing!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another Day - Another Foot

Another day, another foot (plus) of new snow to break trail through!
Our wild April snow dump has found us breaking trail for 8 straight days now - what fun!
Cruising along in 12-15 inches of untouched snow. There really is a trail we are following,
the smart Siberians can keep "on trail" in even the deepest of trail breaking conditions!
Our outing today took us on a tour of the Dry Gulch area in north Breckenridge. It was snowing lightly when we started; but it was dumping snow for hours yesterday evening. This lead to us breaking trail for 6.8 miles the entire outing today - whee!

Breaking trail along Dry Gulch. Our shallowest section of trail had about 6 inches of
snow to plow through and our deepest section had about 18 inches. Breaking trail in 6-18
inches for almost 7 miles!
There was a gusty wind on the outing today; so, occasionally, the Siberians had to hop
through & over deep snow drifts.
Did I mention the gusty wind? The trees were full of fresh snow and the wind was gusting - mix those together and here is what you get:
A gust is blasting through the trees and dumping snow down on us as we pause to
ride out the gust.
We are now in "the heart" of the wind gust. Can you see Max? He really is there - only
5-6 feet in front of me but barely visible through the snow dumping down on us!
Tally for the day's outing: 6.8 miles, 550 feet of elevation climbed, top speed of 17 MPH and breaking trail in 6-18 inches of snow for the entire outing!

Some days it is just impossible to catch a shot of happy Max & Zorro looking into the
camera at the same time. I have a ton of "happy Zorro face" shots and a ton of "happy
Max face" shots; but none of both at once... Oh well, here is happy Max giving his approval
of today's exhilarating trail breaking outing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

900 - The Hard Way

Today we surpassed 900 miles skijoring for our 2012/2013 season.

It was "passing 900 the hard way" as we were breaking trail in 12-24 inches of snow for over 5 miles of the outing!
Max & Zorro plowing through about 15 inches of along this section of the trail.
It was "plowing through 12-24 inches" for over 5 miles - what a workout!
It is the middle of April and we have been breaking trail for almost a week straight - and it is still snowing today. Wow! Usually our April outings are shortened by the lack of skiable terrain as the Spring Melt is on. Yet, this April our outings have been shortened by "out of time, it was too deep to go further in the time we had." Today was another "slowed by deep snow" day as we covered only 8.6 miles in the time it usually takes us to cover 13-15 miles! No complaints here, but it has been an amazing run of almost daily snow for the last 7+ days - Woo!

It was "deep enough, long enough" to split the work at let Max break trail while Zorro and
I glided behind in his tracks.
"Deep enough, long enough" for Max to tire and let Zorro take point as the trail breaker.
Deep enough for Zorro to resort to "bunny hops" in the snow to keep up with Max.
Deep enough for tall Max to resort to "bunny hops" - now that is DEEP!
A real workout today covering 8.6 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and trail breaking in 12-24 inches for over 5 miles of the route!

Snow covered heads at the trailhead finish. The forecast is for up
to another foot of snow today and overnight!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Skijor Box Out

Today's skijoring video (below) has Max demonstrating some nice "skijor box out" moves :)

We have had a ton of snow the last 3 days. So much snow that many of the backcountry trails have tracks that are barely "2 Siberians Wide" and, in many cases, only wide enough to run in single file skijoring configurations...
Near the trailhead and you can see the "set track" is barely 2 Siberians wide. If you step out of
the set tracks, then you sink to your Siberian shoulders in deep snow. 
As we were coming down one section of trail, Max & Zorro tried to "floor it" only to find the trail to fluctuate between 1 & 2 Siberians wide. This lead to a great demonstration of "box out" techniques by Max to keep the speeds going while establishing his position in lead

The skijor sprint starts out "2 Sibes Wide". About 6-7 seconds in, Zorro starts finding the
trail shrinking to "1 Sibe Wide". About 8 seconds in, Max starts his "box out" and forces
Zorro to 2nd position. For about 15 seconds, Zorro looks for a way to get back in lead
with Max, only to find he keeps getting "boxed out". And, finally, the trail opens back up
to "2 Sibes Wide" and Zorro jumps back into position to continue the sprint...
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We only had time for a short outing today; but we were blessed with tons of new snow all over the trails. From "laying fresh tracks" to "skijoring single file" to "breaking trail" - we packed a lot into a quick 6.2 mile outing!

Laying fresh tracks up the main French Gulch trail.
A little further and the trail is only "1 Siberian Wide" as you can see the snow wall on each
side of Max. 
A little further and BOOM - breaking trail in 10+ inches of untouched terrain!
Time to let Max and his long legs lead the way.
A fun little 6.2 mile outing with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a modest top speed of 17 MPH (we never encountered any wide straightaways to uncork the skijoring speed).

Monday, April 15, 2013

We Approve

Happy Max & Zorro clearly approve of the multi-day, mid-April snowstorm we are in the midst of!
Happy Zorro looking back as I called them off the trail to take our quick midpoint break.
Happy Max giving approval to restart the fun after our break.
Today's outing took us to the snowmobile trails of Swan Valley Rd. But, all the snowmobile tour companies are closed for the season; so we were laying fresh tracks on the trails all day. How silly - look at all the snow we have:

Cruising along the South Fork trail as we hit 19 MPH along this stretch.
Look closely and you can see snowflakes starting to fall upon us - whee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We skijored both the Middle Fork and South Fork trails of Swan Valley Rd - from "fresh tracks" to "breaking trail" all day:

Most of the day looked like this - laying fresh tracks in 2-4 inches of new snow.
But, some of the day had us breaking trail in 6-8 inches of snow.
And, we even had one extended downhill stretch of breaking trail - whee!
A fabulous mid-April day covering 10.8 miles & 1300 feet of elevation climbed with a top speed of 19 MPH and fresh snow everywhere!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Breaking Trail in April

A good April has on & off snow without too much melt and you are able to lay fresh tracks some days.

A great April finds you breaking trail in a foot of snow in the middle of the month - today defined a great April!

Breaking trail in about 10-12 inches of fresh snow in French Gulch.
Imagine this... Just yesterday, the main French Gulch trail was unusable due to exposed rocks, dirt and mud. We all assumed the main French Gulch trail was closed for the season. But, then, in blew an April treat last night and dumped a foot (and more) of snow all over Breckenridge. Here is what the main French Gulch trail looked like today (remember, it was dirt & mud just yesterday):

With so much new snow, we were able to start our outing on French Gulch Rd and skijor
up some tire tracks until reaching the French Gulch winter trailhead.
Once on the actual trails, it was immediately "breaking trail in 8 inches" and it kept
getting deeper and deeper. This section of trail was complete dirt & mud yesterday!
Further we climbed, the deeper it got... Breaking trail in 10-12 inches at this point.
This portion of trail was a few patches of snow and mostly mud & dirt yesterday too!
Climbing further, getting deeper...
Breaking trail in 12+ inches at this point - wow, what a Siberian Workout!
We had occasional snow much of the last week, we had a foot of snow last night and the forecast is for on/off again snow for the next week. This is a great April!

"We agree, this is a Siberian April!" say Max & Zorro.
Tally for the day: 7.9 miles with 850 feet of elevation climbed, a top speed of 17 MPH and breaking trail in 8-12 inches of snow for over 5 miles of the outing! Woo!