Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You Know It When...

You know we are reaching the "end of season" when...

The musher is wearing shorts on today's dog sled run!
Daily temperatures have been reaching the 50s and 60s. So, it is "dog sledding in shorts"
until the snow melts away...
The skis have been put away for the season, so all our runs are now on the dog sled. Two huskies with a human on the sled cannot go as fast & far as two huskies with a human on skis...

Our usual trails are down to dirt & mud in most places. It is only the trails on the Breckenridge Ski Resort that still have a usable base of snow (since the ski resort packs and grooms the snow during the ski season, this terrain has snow furthest into the Spring). But, a ski resort is designed for downhill skiing, so the trails are steep.

Sled instead of skis & steep terrain leads to short outings with lots of elevation. But, we are still on snow - wheeee!

Sprinting uphill near the beginning of the outing. Egad, look at all that exposed dirt in the
sun. But, still useable in the shade!
"Whoa - look at that huge pit that has opened over the fast running river below the snow!"
say Max & Zorro as they glance to the left as we jog by.
The conditions look so beautiful at first glance (especially for mid-May).
But, notice that deep cut in the snow to our right. The river is breaking through to
melt and steal our snow!
At our high point on Breckenridge Ski Resort, before starting a fast run back down.
Max, Zorro & I having fun discussing the day's activities :)
1000 feet up + 1000 feet down over 5.4 miles with a top speed of 17 MPH.

That puts us at a cool 1020.9 miles for the season with an impressive 137,200 feet of elevation climbed!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Still Going

It is May 10th and we are still going!
"Is this the year we get snow all Summer?" ask a happy Max & Zorro!
Every time we think Spring has arrived, we get a fresh dump of new snow from Mother Nature. That has been the pattern for most of April & May. Last Tuesday found the trails melting fast and then this past Wednesday & Thursday brought a new dump of snow to re-freshen the trails! So, it was off to the backcountry for Max, Zorro & I again this morning. Woohoo!

We enjoyed a great range of conditions along the trails of the South Fork of Swan Valley - as shown below:

There was a set snowmobile track as we started up from the trailhead.
But, within about 2 miles, the set track was gone and we were laying fresh tracks in
3-6 inches of snow for the rest of the route up! Fun!
Our route took us on a loop (instead of an out & back on the same trail). So, it was laying
fresh tracks most of the way down as well! Whee!
Eventually, we were back on a snowmobile track as we approached the trailhead to finish.
The temperatures were above freezing and approaching 40. You know what that means: rolling snow angels to cool off at our midpoint.
Synchronized Snow Angels. You cannot get much more synchronized than this!
The conditions were sure great today. But, the forecast is for highs in the upper 50s and 60s for the next week. So, as nice as today's pictures look, this may be our last time on skis for the season...

Tally for the day: 8.8 miles with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH (the snow was heavy, wet & sticky, so it was hard for us get going really fast). What a fun May 10th!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sledding the Ski Resort

Today was "fun with the sled" day. Breckenridge Ski Resort is closed for the season, but there is still a decent base of snow at the higher elevations.

"There is snow - we must use it!" declared my Siberian partners & I. So, we broke out the sled (instead of the skis) today and pulled the dog sled up from Peak 9 to Vista Haus (high up on Peak 8) and then sprinted down from Vista Haus over to Peak 7 before connecting down to the base area on Peak 8. Wheee!

Quickly approaching the Peak 8 Base Area of Breckenridge Ski Resort.
One thing to remember about a ski resort - it is designed for downhill skiing... So, the runs are steep - downhill skiers do not want flat terrain. As a result, our outing was short (mileage-wise) and steep (elevation-wise). The Siberians pulled the dog sled up about 1700 feet over 2.5 miles and then sprinted & launched the sled down another 2.5 miles.

On the route up the 4'Oclock trail on Breckenridge Ski Resort.
The Siberians are pulling hard and giving it their all to go up the steep terrain.
About to start the steep descent down. Hang on....
Flying downhill. I was "riding the sled brake" the entire way down and we still hit a
top speed of 19 MPH - wow!
We encountered some skiers skinning up the runs to ski down themselves. They had to stop
and ask about our setup (Siberians + sled). Zorro says, "They sure are impressed with Max & I!"
Why did I swap out the skis for the sled, you wonder? Well, you try being on skis (equipment with no brake) and attach yourself to two sprinting Siberians down a steep trail. Trust me, you will not do it again. The sled, on the other hand, has a brake and I was riding the brake all the way down!

A fun little day making use of the snow still available on the ski resort: 5 miles with 1700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

1000 Miles - We Did It!

Arms raised and cheering on my Siberian partners
as we finish the day surpassing 1000 miles for
the season!
We did it - today we surpassed 1000 miles skijoring for our 2012/2013 season (1001.4 miles, to be exact)!

Way back in October, I set a goal for our season as the "three 1s" meaning we wanted to try and skijor over 100,000 feet in elevation & over 100 days on the trail & over 1000 miles in total distance. At the time, Nancy told me I was crazy. I took that as a real compliment, because we all know sled dog mushers are crazy :)

Well, we did it! As of May 5th we have logged 1001.4 miles, 116 days on the trail and a whopping 133,650 feet of elevation climbed! Woohoo!

Boy did we blow away the elevation goal. I always joke that we could skijor 1500-2000 miles a season if there were any flat trails in Colorado. But, they are called the Rocky Mountains for a reason as we average almost 1200 feet of elevation gain on our outings.

See the videos of our finish and other fun shots from our landmark outing below...
Video from the front as we complete our 1000 mile season.
[watch on youtube if no video loads above]
Musher's video view as we complete our 1000 mile season.
[watch on youtube if no video loads above]

Everyone got the vibe that today was to be a short, fast & fun day as all we needed was 5.8 miles to surpass 1000. The Siberians said, "Pfft to that - we are uncorking it and doing 7.2 miles in the time it takes to do 5.8!"

Sprinting uphill and leaning into a curve to the left. It is so much fun to "fly uphill"
on skis under Siberian Power!
Happy faces looking back as I call out to "turnaround, time to head back"...
Ok, turned around... We can sprint this direction too :)
Such focus as we arrive back at the trailhead and prepare to get our "end of run" hotdog treats!
Today's quick run totaled 7.2 miles with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

What a season! 1001.4 miles, 116 days on the trail, 133,650 feet of elevation climbed, a top speed of 26 MPH and 2 of the happiest Siberians on earth!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cruising on Crust

We spent most of today's skijor outing "riding atop a thick crust of snow". Any day now, the warming temperatures are going to shrink that crust to the point that we break through and can no longer skijor such terrain. So, we'll enjoy it while it lasts...

12 miles later and Max & Zorro still have plenty left in the tank as they sprint
to the finish...
Our outing took us on a tour of the South Fork of Swan Valley Rd as well as various side trails along this path. The majority of the day found us in the following two conditions:

At the higher elevations, the top layer of snow crust was solid enough for all of us to
cruise along without breaking through. It was a gentle glide through the meadows in
these conditions.
At the lower elevations, the crust was too thin for Max as he would poke through the top layer.
So, we stayed on established snowmobile tracks at these elevations. The tracks are packed so
Max did not bust through. Little Zorro, though, being about 10 pounds lighter than Max was
able to keep trotting along on the "out of track" crust. I was also able to glide along "out of
track" as my skis kept me from breaking through. 

But, look at the occasional "snowmobile trench" we encountered at the lower elevations:
A snowmobile has recently busted through the snowpack and cut a 1-2 foot trench in the trail!
Max continues to cruise along "in track", just lowering into the trench.
Zorro continues gliding along the crust still able to hold his weight.
I continue to glide along the crust as well.
It was wild to see Max dip down 1-2 feet without breaking stride as we cruised along.
Totals for the day: 12.1 miles with 1200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH. Our season total now stands at 994.2 miles... Check back tomorrow as we we top 1000 miles for the season! Woohoo!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Stunning Views

Today's skijor outing was dominated by absolutely stunning views - all day long!

Galloping along in a wide-open and untouched meadow. Great view of snow covered
Rocky Mountains in the foreground. So peaceful...
Our original plan was to skijor out Shrine Pass and Lime Creek at the Vail Pass Recreation Area. I was so mesmerized by the views and serene terrain on Shrine Pass that we adjusted our route and instead explored every meadow & side trail up & down Shrine Pass. A beautiful tour of incredible scenery as we glided back & forth and in & out of every meadow and side trail we encountered. So peaceful...

(1) Great views at the top of Shrine Pass:
Running fast along the top of Shrine Pass. None of us like running (or skiing) in the snowmobile
tracks you see to our left - it is much more fun to cruise along the smooth shoulder instead of
the rough snowmobile tracks.
(2) Great views on the back side of Shrine Pass:
Pausing for our quick midpoint break. Basically, it was breathtaking every direction we
looked all day long!
(3) Great views on the front side of Shrine Pass:
Just stand on the skis and take it all in as the Siberians sprint along...
(4) Great views of the Siberians:
Isn't this the only view I ever need - happy as can be!
A beautiful 12.1 mile run with 1200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Back on Track

We spent the past week on vacation in Sedona, AZ. So, there was a lot of concern that we would return to melted & muddy trails for the start of May.

Well, problem solved... We arrived home Wednesday afternoon and Mother Nature proceeded to dump a foot of snow on our trails overnight! Woohoo - we are back on track in our quest for 1000 miles for the season!

It was breaking trail in 6-12 inches of fresh powder for most of the outing!
Whee - what a fun start to May!!!
We did a short tour up, down and along the trails near Sally Barber Mine today. Most of the day was "along the trails" as we had only 350 feet of steep inclines (& declines). If you remove elevation, then my Siberian partners really fly around the trails - regardless of 6-12 inches of fresh powder!

Sprinting shoulder-to-shoulder along a straightaway.

A fun video of Max & Zorro running, hopping and pulling the human along in the
morning's fresh powder.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

It was a quick 7 mile outing today; but it brought our season total to 970 miles. We have no commitments this weekend and we have fresh snow - I foresee passing the 1000 mile point within the next few days!