Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nice Listening

A great day running the trails with dog sled teams from Good Times Adventures.
"Yes, a GREAT day indeed!" say the happy pair at one of our turnaround points on
the trails today.

It was fast, fast, fast all day long. Wheeee....
Perfect "synchronized tuck" as we fly along the trails.
Nice "synchronized sprint" as we run in the bright sun!

Today's video shows some fun running behind an 8-dog sled team from Good Times. The video starts with us anxiously waiting for the team (around the corner from us) to get started. Once they get going, then it is sled dog chase and we fly along the trail after the sled team. As we start to catch the team, I call out a "right turn" to give the sled team a head start: we glide down a little side trail dip, then up to the left and finally back on the main trail and restart the game of "sled dog chase" (and, once again, we close ground on the team in front of us). So much fun!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The most impressive part of the prior video is the right we take off the main trail to give the dog sled team a head start. You have Max & Zorro loving the game of chase yet following my "right turn" command to leave the trail and end the game of chase. Now that is a couple of professional sled dogs putting the command from the musher over their own desires! Perfect!

End of the run for the day, how was it:
"LOVED IT!" states giddy Max.
"Wonderful run, need a few snowcones to cool down!" demonstrates satisfied Zorro.

Fun day on the trails covering 10.1 miles with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 69 days on the trails covering 590.7 miles with 63,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fun in the Sun

It was "fun in the sun" most of the day running the wide open & sunny trails at Vail Pass.
Zooming along in Wilder Gulch at Vail Pass.

There was not a cloud in the sky all day as we spent the majority of our outing skijoring out & back on the wide open Wilder Gulch Trail. We took a few detours to run shaded side trails in the trees to add some mileage to the outing; but most of the day was in the bright & beautiful sun of Wilder Gulch.
Running into the sun - wheeee!
"I feel a great day is in the works!" whispers Zorro to airborne Max as we start out the
day going fast!

The various side trails were single snowmobile tracks that we would follow out & back off Wilder Gulch and into the trees for a bit. Each side trail came with chance to turnaround and get a shot of happy Max & Zorro...
"Turnaround? Ok - I'm game!" states happy Zorro.
"Busy... rolling a snow angel to cool off first!" states silly Max.
Another side trail, another turnaround to head back to the main trail.
"Ready... But we could stay in the cool powder in the trees all day too!" suggest the happy pair.

Fun in the Sun at Vail Pass as we covered 10 miles with 1050 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 68 days on the trails covering 580.6 miles with 62,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

New Duds

Max got some new duds (a new harness) to break in on the trails today.
The new clothes were a success...
"Don't I look handsome in my new blue harness?" asks happy & handsome Max.
"He goes fast in these clothes, I approve!" states cute little Zorro.

Max's harness from years past was a nice purple; but that harness finally wore out. So, Max has been wearing his "hunting season orange" harness the last month or so while his new blue harness was on order. The new blue arrived yesterday afternoon, so it was new duds on the trails for Max today. Let's see how the new uniform performed...

It was fast on ungroomed terrain - success!
Out-stretched Max putting the new harness to good use as he and Zorro tow me along a
forest service road.

It held up during trail breaking - success!
"Harness works in deep snow!" states happy Max.
"Surveying for wildlife!" says intense Zorro.
Neither Max nor I saw what intense little Zorro was locked on...

It worked in a sprint tuck - success!
"Putting the new harness to test in a synchronized sprint tuck with my brother!" say both.

It worked in an airborne sprint - success!
"Zoom, new harness works!" demonstrate the out-stretching & sprinting pair.

And, finally, it worked for snow angels!!!! Success!!!
"The new harness is a keeper!" states snow angel rolling Max.
"What a goof!" smirks Zorro.

A successful test run of Max's new duds: 7.8 miles with 1050 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 25 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 67 days on the trails covering 570.6 miles with 61,850 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fast, But...

A fast, fast day skijoring French Gulch this morning.
But, "fast at a cost"....
Airborne along the main French Gulch Trail.
Can you see what is "wrong" with this picture? If not, read on...

Today's video highlight: flying along in French Gulch when one of the "winter gates" comes into play. The approaching gate shows some of the best teamwork we have in our skijoring team. Turn up the volume and listen as we approach the gate - I do not need to say anything as just a "scrape" of my skis (to slow down) is enough to get Max & Zorro to slow down as well. We have this incredible teamwork such that they adjust their speeds based on how they hear me skiing. Rarely is a word needed from me as we adjust in unison based on the sounds of my equipment. The video ends with a gentle glide through the gate and then an acknowledgement from me that it is OK to open it up again and off we go. Such great teammates!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Okay, now the answer to the question in the caption of the first photo: What is wrong with this picture.... THE TRAIL IS PLOWED - UGH!!!!! Technically the French Gulch Trail is a private road and there are a handful of homes back in the gulch whose owners have keys to the two winter gates keeping vehicles out of the gulch. We have been using French Gulch for skijoring and sledding since 2002 when we discovered this trail to dogsled with Paco & Cisco (Max & Zorro's predecessors). Never in over a decade had the road ever been plowed in the winter. The few homeowners back in the gulch have always accessed their "backcountry cabins" by snowmobile, skis or snowshoes - as it should be. But, last winter one of the homes changed owners and the horrible new people have contracted a plow to occasionally destroy the terrain from the trailhead to this house. Argh...

Now, you still might be asking, "so what, the video still looks like great skijoring..." Well, here is the problem: a plowed French Gulch will be the first trail to die in the Spring since it has no snowpack. Ugh, one of our favorite trails is on the March/April Endangered Trails list....
Encountering the evil plow on French Gulch.
"Hey! Get OUT of here!" exclaims appalled Max.
"Rude, just RUDE!" states 'less than impressed' Zorro.
"If I wasn't holding the gangling for safety, I'd be flipping you off!" proclaims ME!

Okay, you've seen the rude plowed section of French Gulch. Now check out how incredible the conditions are outside of the plowed area. Rude to plow, just plain rude....
Flying around a corner on the Sally Barber approach to French Gulch.
Beautiful terrain with "lasting until May" snowpack!
Cruising along in upper French Gulch (about 100 yards past where the rude plow stopped).
Look at this incredible terrain that will last well into May but there will be a dirt road causing
you to hike to this trail to skijor - ugh!

Oh yea, if you have followed along closely all year - encountering moose tracks, scents or moose themselves has been pretty much guaranteed in the upper portions of French Gulch this season. Here is today's moose fun:
Far back in the gulch and encountering a confluence of moose tracks.
Everything you see going to the right or left of the straight line in front of us are moose tracks!
At least 3, maybe more, moose recently in the area...
"We sense the moose are this direction!" state the moose seeking pair stepping off the main
trail and aligning themselves in the direction of the 'scent of moose'
Just around the corner from the previous photo and MOOSE!!!
You cannot see them as they are so well camouflaged in the trees. But, follow Max & Zorro's
gaze as I spotted THREE moose in the grove of trees in front of us. The moose were watching
us as closely as we were watching them as I had to calmly get Max & Zorro to retreat away
from the grove and then hightail it out of there once we got some distance from the moose!

Great day on the Sally Barber Trail. Appalled at the plow on lower French Gulch. Great day on the upper French Gulch Trail. A fun moose sighting for all. What a day: 9.3 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 66 days on the trails covering 562.8 miles with 60,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Short then Long

Two days of running the trails at Rabbit Ears Pass - wheeee!
Zipping along the snowmobile trails at Rabbit Ears Pass.

We only had time for a short run on Tuesday; but then made up for it with new terrain & a long run on Wednesday!

Day 1: Fresh Tracks & Short Run:

We arrived at the trailhead late Tuesday morning to find 2-4 inches of untouched snow on the trail in front of us! What a treat to be able to lay fresh tracks for our entire short run on Tuesday...
Laying fresh tracks as we weave through the trees for the entire outing.
I was convinced I was going to have some great "kicking up powder" video from the day but instead was disappointed to discover that the GoPro had a large water spot covering the center of the camera case for almost the entire day's footage. So, I only got the fresh tracks shot above from the beginning of the outing and then the following "sprint to the finish" shot to end the day:
Sprinting back to the trailhead to end a short run for the day.
Stats for day 1: a quick 5.3 miles with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

Day 2: New Terrain & Long Run

We made up for Tuesday's short run with a great 11.6 mile run on Wednesday. We did the "5B Loop" at Rabbit Ears with a couple of "side excursions" to add a little extra distance to the day.

We had done 4 to 5 miles of each side of the loop in the past (as 8-10 mile out&back runs); but had never skijored the connector between the sides to make the complete loop. Well, today was the day to explore the new terrain between the sides and finally connect the loop...
"Interesting sounds & smells of wildlife along this new section!" say the 'hunt & jog' Siberians.
I love how they can take in the surroundings without breaking stride!
Zoom, zoom - love running 10+ mile loops!

Stats for day 2: 11.6 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed at a top speed of 20 MPH.

Tally for our short & long runs on Tue/Wed: 16.9 miles with 1700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 65 days on the trails covering 553.5 miles with 59,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Extended Video

"Hi!" from the happy Max & Zorro giving me their approval for the day's outing:
"Fantastic day!" express the happy, happy pair.

Such a great day on the trails today. The following extended video show some of everything: (1) sprinting through the forest; (2) slowing to a jog to pass snowmobiles; and (3) restarting the sprint once past the snowmobiles. What great sled dogs to hang out with on the trails!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Our route took us out & back on the Middle Fork Trail at Swan Valley and then we did 3 loops around the lower network of trails connecting Middle Fork and South Fork. A fun day had by all:
"Turnaround you say? Okay, we are having fun every direction today!" say the agreeable pair!
A nice extended video today capturing the sentiment of the day's 10 mile outing with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 63 days on the trails covering 536.6 miles with 58,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nice View

A nice view of Breckenridge Ski Resort from our skijor trails today:
Trotting along laying fresh tracks as Peaks 6, 7, 8 & 9 of Breckenridge Ski Resort come into
view across the valley from us.

MLK weekend is one of the busiest 3 days of the ski season, so we headed to the lesser known trails today. We spent most of the day laying fresh tracks on untouched "side trails" but also had a super fun 2-mile "groomed zoom loop" in the middle of the outing - wheeee!
Out-stretched, sprinting partners pulling me up a slight incline on the groomie zoomie section
of the day's outing.
Opening the throttle into a fast sprint along a decline in the groomie zoomie trail.
Love the snow you can see kicking up behind sprinting Max & Zorro!

The groomed loop is only 2 miles long, so we spent much of the outing climbing up & down untouched side trails:
All smiles looking back at me as we had to turnaround on one of the side trails and head back
down. You can see the open & untouched terrain in front of us - all of the side trails we took
looked similar to this.

A fun day avoiding the crowds while laying fresh tracks and enjoying a short & fast section of groomed trail: 7.8 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 25 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 62 days on the trails covering 526.6 miles with 57,1000 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Greetings from the Top of the World as we descend off the top of Ptarmigan Peak and back down into the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area.
Starting down from the Summit of the Highest Point in the Vail Pass Recreation Area
(Ptarmigan Peak). 

We had a great run at Vail Pass today taking Wilder Gulch to Ptarmigan Pass and then doing the final climb from Ptarmigan Pass to the top of Ptarmigan Peak. A quick break at the peak and then a fast return on the same route.

The day started slightly overcast and a little cool...
Synchronized "sprint tuck" as we start out the day along Wilder Gulch with slightly overcast
skies and a bright sun trying to break through.

Within 15-20 minutes, the sun burned off the clouds and it became a beautiful day for a run in the sun!
Welcome sun - what a beautiful day you have brought with you!

The video counterpart of the beautiful sun shot above. Yes, that is me belting out "Woo Hoo!" partway through the video. Max & Zorro love when I let out an encouraging hooray to let them know how much fun we are all having!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Finally, a curious encounter for Max & Zorro - a snowmobile towing a snowboarder...
"Interesting.... I could tow that!" states inquisitive Max.
"Cool dude - but why a snowmobile instead of sled dogs???" asks interested Zorro.

Tackling Ptarmigan Peak made for a lot of elevation climbing (and descending) today: 9.7 miles with 1800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 61 days on the trails covering 518.8 miles with 56,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sled Dogs Galore

It was a day of "sled dogs galore" as we were running the trails with our local group of dog sled teams and multiple teams from Good Times Adventures.
An 8-dog team from Good Times getting started up the trail while Max & Zorro launch
into "follow the leader" as we join this team along the trail.

We met up with our sled dog friends from Sno-Magic Siberians and Snow Runner Siberians making for about 20+ friends at the trailhead. During the outing, I counted 6 different "8 dog teams" from Good Times Adventures on the trails with us. So, Max & Zorro plus 20+ friends plus 48 buddies from Good Times and we had over 70 happy sled dogs running the trails together today! What a party!

We were first to arrive at the trailhead and, since it is much faster to hookup 2 dogs to skijor than an entire sled, Max, Zorro & I took a quick run out & back on the Middle Fork Trail. Nothing like a nice warmup sprint before starting the real running ;-)
Zoom we go racing along the Middle Fork Trail for our warmup lap.

Today's video highlight comes from a fun sequence playing chase with one of the teams from Good Times. We saw the team on the trail and then gave them a head start before flying along the trail after them. Watch closely at the end of the video as we come around a corner and find bodies spread across the trail (the Good Times team dumped the musher and passenger off the sled). Don't worry, the dog sled team is stopped ahead of the dumped bodies; it was just shocking at first to encounter the bodies before the sled!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Finished with our warmup lap and back at the trailhead waiting for our friends to get hooked up and hit the trail again with us!
"Hi guys!!! Come join the fun!" suggest happy Max & Zorro.

Pausing on a side trail to watch one of the Good Times teams come up the main trail:
"Hi! Can I join?!?" asks Zorro.
"Na, let's go forward on our own." suggests focused Max.

A fun day had by all:
"Yep - fun had by all!" say the happy pair at one of our turnaround points of the day.

Tons of fun running the trail with 70+ sled dogs: 12.3 miles with 1150 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 60 days on the trails covering 509.1 miles with 54,300 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Zoom Day

A great day zoooooming along the trails near Sally Barber Mine and in French Gulch!
Just enough recent snow on the trails for fast packed (but not icy) conditions all day!

Today's extended video captures the action of the day. Go, go, going all day - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We skijored up & over the Sally Barber Mine Trail before going out & back on the main French Gulch Trail. As has been the theme all season, the "scent & tracks of moose" were ever present in French Gulch...
Talented Zorro - surveying the gulch for moose without breaking stride running!

Far back in French Gulch and time to turnaround:
"Okay - the moose scent was stronger back down the trail anyway!" says happy little Zorro.
"In a second, let me check the trees for moose first!" states intensely surveying Max.

We caught up to a group of skiers with loose dogs on the way back, so we turned around and skied back out French Gulch for a little ways to give them a head start before sprinting back to the trailhead ourselves. Okay, we gave them a 7+ minute head start, everyone ready to go?
"Yes! Let's put the pedal to the metal and head back!" state the agreeable pair.
Of course we caught the group again; but just as we arrived at the trailhead.

A fast & satisfying day for all...
"Perfect, I had so much fun!" says giddy Max back at the parking lot.
"Hey, you owe us our 'end of run' pork treats!" states all-business Zorro waiting for me to dish
out the 'end of run' snacks.

A fast day covering 9.1 miles with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 59 days on the trails covering 496.8 miles with 53,150 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Technical Day

Today's skijor outing involved taking the "narrow & technical" backcountry connector route from Baldy Mountain to Boreas Mountain.
Always fun to exercise all of my skiing skills :-)
Sprinting past Bakers Tank on Boreas Pass Rd.
This is an old relic from the days when Boreas Pass was a railroad route from Denver to Breckenridge.

The day started on easy & wide trails on Baldy Mountain and ended on easy & wide trails on Boreas Mountain. But, in between Baldy & Boreas is a seldom used and narrow connector route that weaves you through a dense forest. Here we go, skijoring from Baldy to Boreas:

Some of the trail was barely "2 Siberians wide" as we jog shoulder-to-shoulder laying
fresh tracks on the connector route.

Most of the Baldy to Boreas connector is typically a single track trail. It is not wide enough to run shoulder-to-shoulder, so Max & Zorro take turns running in lead. One might think that skijoring in this single file setup would be very slow going. Well, it is slower than shoulder-to-shoulder; but it is by no means "slow"....
Airborne Zorro in lead with airborne Max in second slot as we fly along a single track trail.
Note that "airborne" means we are going fast and note that in this single file configuration that
I have about 18 inches of "reaction space" between Max and myself. It exercises all of my
skiing skills to keep up (and upright) with Max & Zorro in this configuration - my leg
muscles are always burning after we finish a fast single file stretch!

The reward for doing the "narrow & technical" connector is gliding along fast & wide Boreas to finish the day:
Aaahhh, sitting back on the skis again as Max & Zorro do all the work and I get to
enjoy the ride!

A fun day covering 8.3 miles with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 58 days on the trails covering 487.7 miles with 52,300 feet of elevation climbed.