Friday, May 30, 2014

Still Going

Yesterday may have been May 29th; but we were still going on skis at Rabbit Ears Pass!
Happy brothers looking back in approval of the day's outing as we approached the
Rabbit Ears Pass Landmark.

We have never been "on skis" this late in May as the best we have done was be on the sled in late May (you can hop off the sled and/or take the sled over rocks, you cannot do this on skis :-)

Unfortunately, though, the "end of the season" was visible all around us on our short run yesterday. Rabbit Ears Pass has the best snowpack in Colorado at this point in May; so the deterioration of Rabbit Ears is clearly marking the end of our incredible 2013/2014 season. Come along for what is probably one of our last outings of the season:

At the start of our run as you see a narrow & shallow trail with exposed ground taking over
the terrain. As you can see behind Max & Zorro, the snow we were on was deep, heavy and
wet slush. Max has moved to the right to get in less slush and tow me up the trail while Zorro
has a loose gangline as he works to move just himself up the slush trail.
Most of the day looked like this, at best - a narrowing trail with ground closing in on both side.
"Leave my snow alone!" declares Zorro giving the encroaching dirt patch to the right a disapproving
glance. "Mushy, slushy - tow yourself!" says Max falling loose on his side of the gangline as he
tries to find a consistent patch of trail to run on.

But, we did find the occasional stretch of wide open & snow covered terrain. Every such stretch got everyone excited and we put the pedal to the metal as you can see in the video below. If you turn the volume up high, the "clicks" you hear throughout the video are "slush bombs" flying off Max & Zorro's feet and hitting the GoPro cover (too bad you do not also hear all the slush bombs hitting my legs, chest and face too! :-)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

As great as the previous video looks, most of the day was not that nice...
"Ok human, you steered us down this path - now what!!!" ask the distressed pair seeing no way
to continue! We are actually at the trailhead as the parking lot is at the other side of this patch of mud.
"Doesn't matter, I do not do mud!" protests the always water averse Zorro.
"Really, walk through the mud, ok..." says more agreeable Max...

It was a quick morning run atop Rabbit Ears as we expected the deteriorating conditions we found and set aside time for only a short outing: 4.5 miles with 350 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH - still pretty good for a May 29th!

2013/2014 Season to Date: 155 days on the trails covering 1334.4 miles with 151,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Outlasting the Melt

Very focused boys awaiting their "end
of run" chicken chunks.
We continue to "outlast the melt" and live off of Colorado's incredible snowpack for this season.

Outlasting the melt has required us to get creative with trail selection; but if you go to the right places, the snowpack is still there; albeit showing signs of melt everywhere...

Tuesday & Wednesday found us at Rabbit Ears Pass as the snowpack in and around the pass is still 3+ feet in places!

Look closely at the photo to the left... Yes, it was "skijoring in short sleeves" on Tuesday and Wednesday as we are clearly into late spring temperatures while living off the incredible snowpack

Day One: South Day

Tuesday found us our favorite "South Trail" from the top of Rabbit Ears Pass. This trail has an early "elevation climb" and then you get endless miles of relatively flat skijoring through shaded forests and open meadows. Max & Zorro were really into the day as we covered a fast 8.6 miles despite rising temperatures.

Cruising along one of the many open meadows. You can see the "end of the season" happening
at the base of every tree as snowpack under trees is shallower and exposed ground is creeping
out quickly from every tree base.
Max kept scanning the right for "some sort of wildlife", as you see in this photo. But
neither Zorro or I ever found what he was tracking
Happy boys circling around at our turnaround point of the day.
It was a dirty & sticky spring snow; but skijoring on May 27th is amazing!

Everyone was in the mood to cruise as we covered 8.6 miles with 800 feet of elevation climbed. That is a pretty far skijor run for the temperatures of late May!

Day Two: North Day

Wednesday found us on our favorite "North Trail" from the top of Rabbit Ears Pass. This trail is flat early and then quickly changes into an endless climb weaving through the forest around the Rabbit Ears Rock Formation.

Just enough snow to go down low; but the signs of summer are everywhere:
1) A large patch of exposed ground in the grove of trees to our forward/right;
2) A river of breakup going through the meadow to our left.

Our video highlight of the 2 day outing goes along with the theme of most of the photos: just enough snow to go; but spring/summer obstacles appearing everywhere. In the video we are cruising along nicely when an exposed hole in the trail comes upon us unexpectedly. It is a quick "left" to Max & Zorro and a left cut with the skis as we nicely maneuver around the little sink hole. Most of the day was spent surveying the terrain to avoid holes in the trails!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Wednesday's outing found us covering 7.1 miles with 850 feet of elevation climbed.

Considering it was May 27 & 28, it was a very successful 2 days at Rabbit Ears Pass covering 15.7 miles in late May.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 154 days on the trails covering 1329.9 miles with 151,550 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Slush Layer

We had a layer of slush atop the trails on our run at Vail Pass this morning.

For the first time this magical 2013/2014 skijoring season we can see deteriorating conditions suggesting that we really won't be able to skijor through the summer :-)

A slush layer has two impacts on the outing, as shown below:
You can see the tracks Max & Zorro are laying in the slush layer.
Slush is wet & heavy which means it slows the outing as it is extra work to run through
(think about running on sand, that is similar to running on slush)
The other side effect of a slush layer is slush bombs!
A slush bomb is a junk of slush that flies off Max & Zorro's feet and pelts the poor
musher behind them. The "white blob" in the upper right of this photo is a slush bomb
that just flew up from the trail behind Zorro and into the GoPro.
I always joke I need mud flaps on Max & Zorro during slush runs :-)
Today's video highlight showcases the side effects of the slush layer. You can see Max & Zorro going a little slower than normal as they work through the heavy top layer and if you watch closely you can see the occasional slush bomb flying back into the poor guy on skis. But, it is still skijoring on May 25th, so no complaints from any of us!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Any problems with the slush layer slowing us down? Let's ask...
"Nope! No problem. Still on snow on May 25th and we are as happy as can be!"
exclaim my snow loving pals.

A fun, albeit slush slowed, run atop Vail Pass today covering 7 miles with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a modest top speed of 16 MPH.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 152 days on the trails covering 1314.2 miles with 149,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Touring Rabbit Ears

An incredible bluebird day skijoring Rabbit Ears Pass on Tuesday morning.
Zoom, zoom, zoom we go around the open meadows at Rabbit Ears Pass.

Tuesday was our "buffer day" in case the conditions prevented us from passing 1300 miles on Monday. Well, Monday was a success as we cruised on by 1300 miles, so Tuesday morning was a short & light fun run around the landmarks of Rabbit Ears Pass.

Here we go in the search for the rabbit ears....
At the Forest Service's "Rabbit Ears Pass Landmark" marking geographic center point of the pass.
"What's the plan for the day? I am ready for fun!" exclaims happy little Zorro.
"Do they keep the rabbit ears in the landmark?" asks Max inspecting the marker for rabbits.
"Ready, let's go find the rabbits!" says attentive Max.
"Wait, you mean the rabbits might be IN the landmark?" states inquisitive, inspecting Zorro.
And here are the "ears"... The rock formation circled above are the ears, visible from all
around Rabbit Ears Pass, for which the pass is named.

Today's video highlight is zooming around the snow covered meadows as we search for rabbits :-)

Occasionally one of Max or Zorro drifts off the "skijoring pace" as you see Zorro doing in the beginning of the video. It only takes a quick "come on Zorro" from me for him kick it back into gear and launch himself in sync with his brother as they take off in unison - zoom!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Well, we did not find any rabbits, despite looking everywhere; but....
"We still had a GREAT time!" say the happy brothers thoroughly enjoying a
wonderful May 20th still on snow!

A short & fun "play day" around the Rabbit Ears landmarks covering 6.7 miles with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 151 days on the trails covering 1307.2 miles with 149,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Passing 1300 Miles

We surpassed 1300 miles of skijoring for the 2013/2014 season today.
Wow, I never thought 1300 miles was possible; but Max & Zorro certainly showed me this year!

Paused at the high point of our run on day 2 of the outing.
I am taking in the magnificent views of Colorado around us.
Max & Zorro are taking in the views of the active wildlife off to our right.
There is a huge cliff in front of us, so this was the turnaround point of the day too :-)

We reached 1300 miles by putting together a 2 day outing to Rabbit Ears Pass yesterday and today. A review of our 2 day run to record skijoring miles below:

Day 1: Sun Day Sunday

It was a bright sunny day for our Sunday outing at Rabbit Ears and the trail we chose to run is wide & open for miles & miles:
Following snowmobile tracks at the start of our sunny Sunday outing.
May 18th and the terrain is still "all white" as far as the eye can see!
Many miles later and now following a solo snowmobile track across the wide open and
snow covered terrain.

It was May and the sun was shining, so the top layer of trail was slushy all day; but that did not curb anyone's enthusiasm:
"We are on snow on May 18th. Sun, schmun & slush schmush - we are having a blast!" declare my
ecstatic partners at our turnaround point of the outing.

Tally for day 1: 8.3 miles with 600 feet of elevation climbed (a "flat" trail by our standards :-)

Day 2: Shade Day Monday

Our route on Monday was a 180 from our Sunday approach. We took our favorite "trail through the forest" at Rabbit Ears and, thus, were in the shade most of the day:
Most of the day looked like this photo: rolling & shaded trail winding through the forest.

Our video highlight from the trip is a short clip of us cruising through the forest in the shade - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The only downside of Monday's route is it has two steep elevation climbs that you must ascend before getting onto the endless, rolling & shaded run through the forest. No problem, elevation is just more exercise:
"No problem at all! A little elevation for miles of shade & snow - we'll take it any day!"
say the happy pair clearly enjoying a May 19th on great snow!

Tally for day 2: 7.9 miles with 900 feet of elevation climbed.

Total for our 2 day outing at Rabbit Ears: 16.2 miles with 1500 feet of elevation climbed. A pretty amazing amount of mileage for May 18-19.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 150 days on the trails covering 1300.5 miles with 148,400 feet of elevation climbed. Wow!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fresh Tracks at Vail Pass

We found ourselves laying fresh tracks at Vail Pass for the majority of our 8.6 mile outing!
Fresh Tracks on May 16th - Awesome!
May 16th and the terrain is still white as far as the eye can see!
Zipping along the backside of Shrine Pass and laying fresh tracks in 1-2 inches of snow!
Cruising along an untouched plateau with about a 1/2 to 1 inch of untouched snow
as far as the eye can see!

Today's quick video clip shows some of the day's fun as we cruise along the almost untouched trail (only a set of fox tracks beat us to the fresh snow :-)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

It was a warm day (temperatures in the upper 30s/low 40s) but we had the fresh snow to keep our toes cool. All smiles at our quick midpoint break of the day:
"Why 'YES', we are having a great time! Glad you asked!" say the happy pair circling
back to me at our midpoint break.
"Ok, it is a little warm; so I'll happily cool my belly while you adjust equipment." says happy Max.
"Look how much snow we still have at Vail Pass!" states Zorro surveying his surroundings
while cooling his belly too.

If you told me we would be laying fresh tracks on Vail Pass for 8.6 miles on May 16th, I would have called you CRAZY until witnessing this year's epic snowpack: 8.6 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 148 days on the trails covering 1284.3 miles with 146,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

More May Pow

Another powder day on the trail in May - wow!
Beautiful airborne Siberians launching themselves (and me) over a rise in the trail!

We spent the majority of the day laying fresh tracks in 3-5 inches of fresh powder. We did encounter the occasional runoff patches interfering with the trail; but nothing we could not carefully navigate around. A perfect May day!

Today's video highlight is a fun clip of Max & Zorro transitioning from a gentle trot to a "pedal to the metal" sprint - zoom!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Max & Zorro have different opinions of "runoff patches" and how to deal with such terrain...
"Boing - over the shallow runoff patch I go!" says funny, water averse Zorro.
If the water is not frozen, he wants nothing to do with it as he can hurdle and long jump
just about any water obstacle
"What is the big deal? Just a little cool water on the toes..." suggests Max who has no
problem just walking through shallow water obstacles. It is night & day between Max & Zorro
in how they view shallow water obstacles!

A few water obstacles versus tons of powder fun - how was the day?
"We'll take any day like this in May!" exclaim the happy pair at our midpoint turnaround.

Still racking up the miles in May: 8.2 miles with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 147 days on the trails covering 1275.7 miles with 145,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, May 12, 2014

May Pow

An amazing Pow, Pow, Powder Day on May 12th! Did I say amazing?

Max & Zorro launching me over a rise in the trail.
Fresh powder as far as the eye can see!

We got at least a foot of fresh snow Sunday afternoon & night, leading to an amazing May 12th powder day up, down & around Sally Barber Mine. Will the 2013/2014 season ever end? We are happily thinking it may not :-)

Today's theme: "If you pull me up...."
The first of our 3 crests over Sally Barber Mine. We climbed up 3 times (from different angles)
to enjoy 3 different powder runs down. Wheeee!

"If you pull me up, then you get to enjoy the powder sprint down!" as today's video highlight is one of our three powder sprints down different paths from Sally Barber Mine. Max & Zorro are really working as they are kicking up powder in May!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We were breaking trail most of the day; but we had a snowshoe trail to follow at the beginning of the day. We quickly caught the snowshoers who happily stepped aside to let us break trail for them. We have encountered this crew many times on the trails, their Fall/Spring job is to hike the forests and clear trees that are starting to interfere with the main power line into Breckenridge.
"Have no fear, the working dogs are here! Let us break trail for you!" say Max & Zorro as they
get smiles and 'thanks' from the crew as we take over to set the trail.

What did Max & Zorro think of an amazing Pow, Pow, Powder Day in May?
"Love it! This has been the best May 12th EVER!" exclaim the happy pair when I asked,
"Everybody having fun?" at our quick midpoint break of the day.

Lots of powder, lots of breaking trail, lots of climbing and tons of  fun: 7.7 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 146 days on the trails covering 1267.5 miles with 145,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Moose Fork

Today was something we have never done before: skijoring the Middle Fork trail at Swan Valley in May - wow!
5-8 inches of untouched snow on the Middle Fork trail on May 10th.
Wonderfully unbelievable!

Of course we have skijored other trails at Swan Valley in May, but never Middle Fork. The Middle Fork trail is the most sun exposed and most drained into trail at Swan Valley; so this trail is usually dead for skijoring by mid April. In fact, it was a dead trail for the past month. But, we got a surprise dump of 5-8 inches of new snow on Middle Fork last night. So, "Woo Hoo, off to Middle Fork we go!" exclaimed Max, Zorro & I this morning.

Middle Fork is probably our favorite of all the trails in Swan Valley. It is my favorite for its gentle and rolling terrain. It is Max & Zorro's favorite because we see moose from the Middle Fork almost every time we skijor this trail - thus the nickname "Moose Fork" for this fun trail. Today was no exception as we encountered two moose in the adjacent meadow as we were returning from our "out & back" run on Middle Fork. Follow the moose fun below:

The two moose are circled in the photo above. They started moving away from the trail
as the "moose juiced" sled dogs approached. Nothing gets Max & Zorro juiced like moose!

Below is the video counterpart to the previous moose photo. Notice in the beginning the very bumpy terrain that Max & Zorro are politely taking carefully with me. But, then the moose alarms go off and it is pedal to the metal and "careful" is tossed out the window as we become a moose seeking skijoring vehicle - hang on, human!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

As is common for May, the snow was heavy & wet and the temperatures were in the low to mid 30s. It is serious work to propel the human through heavy, wet snow as you can tell below:
Rolling snow angels to cool off at our midpoint of the day.
"Whew, having a great time, but need to cool off!" demonstrate the funny pair.

Wet & heavy snow with warm temperatures just means we go a little slower and less far; it does not mean we do not have tons of fun. See for yourself:
You do not see happier faces on any dog in the world compared to Max & Zorro's
happy love of skijoring!
Laying fresh tracks and breaking trail on Middle Fork in May - what a treat: 7.6 miles with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 145 days on the trails covering 1259.8 miles with 144,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


If I showed you the following photo from our outing today, would you have believed it was May 8th and not January 8th?
On top of Shrine Pass with heavy snow falling all around us and an intense
wind blowing into our faces. May 8th, really? Woo Hoo

The day started innocent enough; but you could sense the changing conditions...
Looks innocent enough as we have shadows as we start our outing.
But, notice the wind blowing the tails to the right and the unsettled sky about to overtake the sun.

The wind really started blowing and snow started dumping within about 20 minutes from the start of our outing. It was snowing so hard that the GoPro lens kept getting saturated with water spots and I'd have to wipe it clear to keep seeing Max & Zorro. Here is about the longest clip I could find where the camera was somewhat clear of water spots and you can see the winter weather all around us in May:
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Then, about 30 minutes later and the storm blew by and we found ourselves laying fresh tracks in about an inch of fresh snow. Yes, an inch fell in about a half hour!
Laying fresh tracks in an inch of fresh snow that was not here just 30 minutes ago!

A quick pause to adjust my equipment when I sensed the oncoming storm and here's what my partners had to say:
"Quick, roll a snow angel to cool off while the human fiddles with his pack" says Zorro.
"How long are the two of you going to be?" asks happy Max forgetting that he is normally
the one who we wait for to roll snow angels :-)

A blustery day atop Vail Pass with sun, wind, snow and fresh tracks all in the same 8.1 mile outing with 950 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2013/2014 Season to Date: 144 days on the trails covering 1252.2 miles with 143,400 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nice Up High

Fabulous "May Conditions" high up on Boreas Pass today!
Cruising along high up on Boreas Pass. It really is May; but the upper elevations
are holding their snow wonderfully!

We are getting to that time of year where there is good snow at the upper elevations but ice, mud & dirt at the lower elevations. The problem is that all the trailheads are at the lower elevations; so we need to use creative measures to bypass the lower elevations and get to the upper elevations...

Today we used very creative measures to bypass the lower 1.5 miles of the Boreas Pass Trail so that we could get to the great conditions the rest of the way up Boreas. How did we accomplish this? Well, it's a secret! We do not always reveal our secret routes to keep the season alive as they would deteriorate quickly if publicized :-)

On our own "private trail" as we come out of the forest to connect onto Boreas Pass
and continue the route up.

Normally I help a little on the uphill sections of trail by shuffling my feet or driving my poles to assist my uphill towing partners. But, occasionally I get the incredible "free ride uphill" as Max & Zorro take over to propel me up the trail - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

While the conditions were great for May, we did encounter the occasional reminder that the season will end eventually...
Exposed road to the left and exposed shoulder to the right; but just enough snow down the
center to keep going, going, going!

What an excellent May day - ask Max & Zorro:
"10 miles in May - we ACCEPT!" say the approving pair looking back when I called out
time to turnaround and head back down.
Fabulous May conditions up high allowing us to cover 10.1 miles with 850 feet of elevation climbed!

2013/2014 Season to Date: 143 days on the trails covering 1244.1 miles with 142,450 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Still Going

Another 9 miles skijoring in May today - all "May miles" are a welcome event!

Cruising along the dirty and mixed ice & slush trail.
Finding a stretch of "good conditions" as Zorro flies along the hard pack while Max
sprints up the snowmobile track - zoooom!

Today's video highlights the conditions of the trails the majority of the day: bumpy trail of dirty snow and a mix of ice & slush with exposed ground on the shoulders. But, it is skijoring in May - we'll take it!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

If you thought the trail conditions in the video were sketchy, then do not look below :-)
"Why are you stopped? So there's a little breakup - let's go!" say my partners who had much less
trouble navigating this river breakup on the trail than me.

All smiles as "still going in May" overrides less than perfect trail conditions...
"We are having a GREAT time - it is snow so we go!" say the happy pair looking
back at me at our quick break point of the day.

Always nice to be able to skijor 8.8 miles with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH in May!

2013/2014 Season to Date: 142 days on the trails covering 1234.0 miles with 141,600 feet of elevation climbed.