Saturday, February 28, 2015

Found One

We failed to spot moose in French Gulch yesterday. So, with determination we searched until we found one today!
"Bingo! Moose radar found one!" say the intense pair watching a moose move in the trees
a little ways in front of us (you cannot see it in the photo as it is so camouflaged in the
trees; but it is there)!

We had so much fun skijoring French Gulch yesterday that we returned today. Typically we do both the Sally Barber and French Gulch trails on an outing to get sufficient mileage to satisfy Max & Zorro. But, today we decided to do a solo French Gulch run so we added part of French Gulch Road before the real trail and went far into the last meadow of the gulch. A satisfying 8.7 miles of skijoring and moose searching in French Gulch!

Starting out on French Gulch Road. While the road is plowed, we had some fresh snow
overnight and temperatures below zero to make the road skiable (uphill) this morning.
We then connected onto the main French Gulch Trail and had a quick run up the lower portion
of French Gulch.
After a few miles, the tracks always narrow significantly and we found ourselves in the
narrow track we set up the gulch yesterday - wheeeee!
Finally, all existing tracks disappeared and we were breaking trail far into the final meadow
of the gulch. Trail breaking fun!

The scents and tracks of moose were ever present all day in the upper sections of French Gulch and, as mentioned in the first photo, an eventual moose sighting was the reward for the day's work...
"Sniff, sniff - one went this way RECENTLY!" say the moose sniffing pair.
You can see moose tracks in front of them that lead into the trees. Luckily the moose was
not as close as Max & Zorro's noses implied! I was quite worried when their moose noses
shot so quickly into these trees and was happy to find nothing nearby when I peeked!

A fun day of skijoring and moose seeking in French Gulch: 8.7 miles with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 90 days on the trails covering 779.7 miles with 82,600 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Rare Treat

Laying fresh tracks for the majority of our outing today!
The only "existing tracks" we encountered were our own on the return path in French Gulch.
It got fun & deep the further back we traversed into French Gulch!
Everyone having a great time breaking trail...

A rare treat on the trails today: laying fresh tracks on both sides of the popular Sally Barber Mine Trail. Usually you need to be on this trail at sunrise to enjoy laying fresh tracks on both sides!
Sprinting along the Sally Barber Mine Trail as we lay fresh tracks in the morning's 1-2 inches
of new snow.

After enjoying Sally Barber Mine all to ourselves, we took a tour out & back in French Gulch and were treated to even more new snow:
Laying fresh tracks in the lower section of French Gulch. You can see lots of existing
"track troughs"; but each trough has 1-2 inches of new snow to lay fresh tracks.

We have had a couple of days of new snow since we were last at French Gulch and we always know what that means... It means nobody has traversed the upper sections of the gulch as most cross country skiers turn around when they find deep snow and wait for someone else to break trail and extend the track. Well, Max & Zorro love to set the trail for the rest of the world to use:
Untouched & deep as far as the eye can see. The world is waiting for Max & Zorro to set the
trail in upper French Gulch.

While fresh tracks on Sally Barber was a rare treat, we also had a rare miss. For the first time this season, we did not encounter moose or moose tracks in French Gulch. But, it was not from a lack of looking...
"Time to turnaround, huh? Let us scan the gulch for moose first!" state the intense pair surveying
the trees across the way in hopes of finding moose.

Our original plan was to skijor upwards of 10 miles today; but we were happily slowed down by deep snow in French Gulch: 8.4 miles traversed with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 89 days on the trails covering 771.0 miles with 81,700 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Boreas Tour

Light snowfall most of the day lead to a serene tour up, down and around Boreas Pass this morning.
Cruising to the end of our run at the Boreas Pass Trailhead as the happy huskies
tow me along.

Snow started falling just before we started our run this morning and it kept falling most of the outing leading to a light layer of new snow to lay fresh tracks upon.
The white speckles in this photo are snowflakes falling all around us as we glide up
Boreas Pass.

We made a loop out of Boreas by ascending up the Bakers Tank Trail before descending down the Boreas Pass Road Trail. The Bakers Tank trail is one I will only tackle uphill and the following photo shows why:
Towing the human up the Bakers Tank Trail. Notice how heavily wooded this trail is in this photo.
Imagine trying to come down it at "Siberian Speed" and avoid these trees! Thus the reason we only
go up this trail. I am still going 2-3 times faster than a typical, experienced skier with my Siberian
help; but uphill through thick trees is safe...

It was snowing most of our time on Boreas Pass and then the sun peeked out for the last mile or so; but we were still laying fresh tracks in the morning's new snow - aahh...
Sprinting along as the sun starts break through the clouds.

One or both always flashes a happy glance when we pass Nancy at the end of the day's run:
"Hi mom!!! Having a great day!" says Zorro giving Nancy a happy glance.
"Somebody's got to keep this team going!" states happy pulling, but too busy
to glance, Max.

A peaceful run on Boreas this morning covering 8.1 miles with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 88 days on the trails covering 762.6 miles with 80,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Perfect Listeners

A beautiful day to run the trails at Swan Valley!
Out-stretched Max & Zorro as we zooooom along the trails this morning!

I love skijoring with Max & Zorro - they are great listeners and understand following the command from your musher to have a great time on the trails!

Today's video clip demonstrates how much I love being on the trails with these two. The clip starts with us doing one of Max & Zorro's favorite things: running with dog sled teams on the trails. In this case we are running behind an 8-dog team from Good Times Adventures. Look closely and you can see the team on the trail in front of us as we are flying down the trail. We are gaining on the sled team during this video clip when (at about 30 seconds in) we start to get "too close" and I call out a "right turn" to Max & Zorro and, the perfect sled dogs they are, they listen to me and abandon their favorite activity (running with a sled team) and obediently turn off the main trail onto the right trail. I called out this "right" to slow us on the side trail before calling out a left to let them return to the main trail and start the chase again. I love how these two listen to me!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Okay, now for the question some are asking... "Why did I say 'right' and then 'left' instead of 'gee' and 'haw' (the traditional dog sled right/left commands)?" Well, the answer is simple: I have been good at right & left for 40-some years and can say the correct one instictually. When I first started skijoring, I had the following thought: "If I am flying down a trail on skis (e.g., no brake) and I need an emergency right or left action from the team, do I want to think about whether it is 'gee' or 'haw' (and get it wrong or be late) or do I want to call out an instinctual 'right' or 'left' immediately?" Thus the reason we use 'right' and 'left' and I am still alive after 5 years of skijoring with fast sled dogs :)

Back to a few more shots from the day's fun:
Passing by one of the teams from Good Times - "Hi buddies!"
Out-stretched & sprinting again - we love the fast trails at Swan Valley!

A beautiful day with a great video clip showcasing my perfect listening partners! 9.2 miles with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 87 days on the trails covering 754.5 miles with 80,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Great Partners

A fun day running Sally Barber & French Gulch this morning!
"YES!!!! A very fun day!" exclaim happy Max & Zorro looking back at me during a
quick pause on the trail.

Skijoring the Sally Barber Mine Trail was fast and fun...
Zooming through a left in the trail as we fly along the Sally Barber Mine Trail.
Slowing to a moderate trot as we exchange happy glances with a pair of snowshoers on the trail.

The French Gulch Trail was fast then deep...
Zipping along the tight (but two Siberians wide) French Gulch Trail - wheeee!
As is always the case with French Gulch after fresh snow - we eventually out-ski all existing tracks
and find ourselves breaking trail far back in the gulch. An aerobic 1.5 miles setting the track in
the morning's fresh snow!

Today's video highlight showcases my extraordinary skijor partners. We all know they want to fly along the trails; but they are smart enough to understand "human preservation". When we approach difficult obstacles they will almost always slow to a safe trot without a word from me as they take me by, through, over or under the obstacle in the most "human preserving" fashion. "Well, better to slow to a safe trot and keep the human alive for another day!" state my smart partners!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

8.9 miles of fun on Sally Barber and in French Gulch with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 86 days on the trails covering 745.3 miles with 79,200 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

All Extremes

We had "all extremes" on the skijor outing this morning: deep snow, groomed trails, puppy antics and adult behavior - all in one short outing!
Kicking up powder as we start out the day in 6-10 inches of fresh snow.
Max & Zorro are sprinting in this shot, but you cannot see their outstretched legs as
they are masked by powder!

We started out the day kicking up powder in 6-10 inches of snow. Yet, the further we got into the forest, the deeper it got until we were eventually breaking trail in 2 feet of snow!
Breaking trail in snow as deep as the Siberians. What a workout!
Taking turns breaking trail as Max is setting the trail while Zorro takes a break.
We switched eventually and Zorro was the trail breaker while Max rested behind. Fun!

The reward for the hard work through all the deep snow was getting to the 2.5 mile groomed loop tucked away in the forest. Time to open up the throttle!

Now that I've shown you the impressive Zoom Shot above, let me introduce you to the goofballs on the trail today....
Zorro the '6 year old puppy' deciding the groomed trail is a playpen as he interrupts
our day with unapproved antics :)
"What did you say little bro? Say it again and I'm gonna tackle you!" declares Max the
'8 year old goofball' playing 'challenge your brother' on the trail!

Okay, now you have seen the sprint shot and the unapproved antic shots from the groomie zoomie section of trail. Put that all together and you get the following video... Note that we are skijoring nicely for most of the video but I have to be on my toes and catch every "unapproved glance" between the two goofballs and talk them out of breaking out into a wrestlefest on the trail! Turn up the volume to hear me talking the goofballs back into skijoring at each unapproved glance...
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A day of extremes: breaking trail to super fast groomie zoomie and behaving like perfect skijor adults to reverting to puppies! All in 6.9 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 85 days on the trails covering 736.4 miles with 78,350 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, February 20, 2015


A fast day on the fast trails at Vail Pass!
"We believe we can fly. We believe we can soar. If we just do it, there's nothing to it!" say my
out-stretched and airborne, flying skijor partners! I love drifting to the side (in this case, the left)
when we are flying along open straightaways; this usually allows me to catch a beautiful
"fly shot" like this!

Our runs at Vail Pass are traditionally known for the impressive view shots we get on sunny days showcasing the incredible mountains all around us. Well, today was a bit overcast so the "mountain view" shots were not as impressive as usual. To make up for the lack of mountain views, Max & Zorro treated me to even more impressive "sprinting sled dog" shots all day as we had the pedal to the metal most of the day on the trails in Wilder Gulch...

Another nice "fly shot" showcasing my sprinting partners. The shot is at such a low angle
because I am in a "ski tuck" in order to keep upright with the speedy pair!
Entering a slight left in the trail as Zorro the "inside vehicle" is in a tuck while Max the
"outside vehicle" is in an airborne stretch to keep pace with the inside wheel. Zoom!

The majority of the day's outing consisted of flying on the Wilder Gulch snowmobile trail as shown above. But, at our high point we were ahead of schedule (imagine that :) so we took three side tours in shallow powder to weave our way through the forest before flying back along Wilder Gulch to the Vail Pass Trailhead:
Cooling the toes in shallow powder side trails - aahh!

Fly trails, powder side trails - we love them ALL!
"Hi! Fly trails, side trails, up trails, down trails - we love them all!" say my happy partners
coming back at me at one of our side trail turnarounds.

A zippy day at Vail Pass covering 9.7 miles with 950 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 84 days on the trails covering 729.5 miles with 77,350 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


We went to the trails at Swan Valley to do two of our favorite skijor activities today: search for moose and run with dog sled teams.
Unfortunately, despite lots of searching we spent the majority of the day alone on the trails.
Oh well, we still had a ton of fun running over 10 miles for the day...
Outstretched Max & Zorro sprinting fast to the finish as we complete our 10.4 mile
run for the day.

We started the day on the Middle Fork Trail at Swan Valley. Moose are frequent sightings along this trail; but today came up empty. Max & Zorro's "moose radar" did go off twice as they clearly caught the scent of moose; yet we did not come across any fresh tracks or moose sightings. It was not from lack of searching, though....
Zooming along Middle Fork hoping to catch a glimpse of moose before they hunker
down in the trees for the day.

The "moose radar" was firing, so we continued further out Middle Fork than the established snowmobile trail for a little trail breaking while searching for moose:
"We smell them, where are they?!??!" ask my searching partners...

After failing to find moose on Middle Fork, we came back to the Parkville network of trails and did three loops in search of dog sled teams from Good Times Adventures to run with on the trails. Clearly it was a quiet day at Good Times as it was not until halfway through the third loop that we FINALLY found a team to run with!
"Finally - our buddies!!!!" say Max & Zorro as we finally encounter one of the teams from
Good Times on the trails. We let this team go by and then ran with them for about 1.5 miles
before we called it a day as we had been out for over 10 miles.
Love all the glances we are getting from our buddies as they cruise by.

A lot of searching (for moose and sled teams) with very limited success. Oh well, still a fun day had by all:
"Searching is almost as much fun as finding!" state my happy pair looking back as we paused
on the trail to try and hear sled teams to go find.

A day of searching covering 10.4 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 83 days on the trails covering 719.8 miles with 76,400 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Max Birthday

Max turned 8 years old today. For his birthday he got fresh snow and 8 degrees at the trailhead this morning. What a great Siberian Husky Birthday Present!
"A very fun birthday run!" states happy Max at the end of the day's run.

It is always fun to skijor Baldy Mountain with fresh snow. There is a lot of steep terrain on Baldy and you get rewarded with fast sprints downhill for all your work climbing uphill. Today we did three laps on Baldy: one lap up/down to Iowa Mill on the front trail, one lap up/down to Iowa Mill on the back trail and one lap out/back to the True Romance Mine. What a great Birthday Bash!

Flying down from Iowa Mill during our first lap on Baldy.

Today's video excerpt shows how much fun it is to sprint down Baldy with fresh snow on the trails - wheee! A nice "on by" at the end of the video as we encounter people coming up the trail.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

While 8 F degrees is a great present for Max, it's a little chilly for the human. I really appreciated the sun breaking through the clouds for the last 1/3 of our run!
Aahhh - sun for the human while still 8 degrees for the Siberians - perfect!

Skijor runs on Baldy always involve a lot of elevation climbed (and a lot of elevation to sprint down): 8 miles today with 1400 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 82 days on the trails covering 709.4 miles with 75,400 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, February 16, 2015

700 and Counting.

We surpassed 700 miles of skijoring for the season this morning.
700 and counting......
Zipping along the Sally Barber Mine Trail as we were second tracks in the day's fresh snow
on this trail.

The Sally Barber Mine Trail always makes for great video footage. The trail goes on for miles and the whole event looks pretty much just like this 40 second clip. Whee, whee, wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

After sprinting up & over Sally Barber, it was laying fresh tracks out & back in French Gulch:
Fresh tracks in French Gulch. There really is a trail we are following even though you cannot
see it with the day's fresh snow. But, Max & Zorro always know how to follow a trail - snow
covered or not...

A quick 1-2 minute break at our high point in French Gulch before heading back to the French Gulch Trailhead to end the day:
"Great, fresh snow today - I'm having a GREAT time!" expresses happy Max.
"Yum, yum - tasty snowcones today!" demonstrates Zorro chomping down on a cone (note
the white ball of snow in his mouth).

As has been the case all season, trips to French Gulch always come with some sort of 'moosing event':
"Beep, beep, beep - our moose radar says they are this way!" say my intense pair pausing to
glare across the gulch. I followed their stare closely and did indeed see a big brown moose
body moving slowly in the trees across the way. Amazing how Max & Zorro can detect and
find a moose from so far away!

A fun day gliding along in fresh snow covering 10.8 miles with 950 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 81 days on the trails covering 701.4 miles with 74,000 feet of elevation climbed. 700 miles and counting....

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Peaceful Day

A Peaceful Day running some of the lesser used trails on this otherwise very busy holiday weekend!
"What a great day!" say my happy pair looking back when I announced time to
turnaround and head back the direction we came.

There was a beautiful sun beaming bright whenever we were out of the shadow of trees:
Gliding "into the sun" as a break in the trees exposes the super bright morning sun!

Today's route took us by numerous old, abandoned mining cabins and mines themselves. Zorro always cracks me up when we jog by old cabins as he is soooo nosy that he must inspect every building as we glide by.
"Roof, walls and trails right outside your front door... We should live here!" states nosy Zorro
scoping the cabin as we go by.
"Silly kid - no heat, no water means mom would never let us move here..." states Max knowing
there is no hope of moving into this cabin nestled in the forest.

We like this route as we spend most of the day gliding through the forest and are eventually treated with a wide open meadow 1000 feet up from where we started. We always do 2-4 loops (of different configurations) around the meadow before heading back the same route we used to climb in.
Coming out of the forest and into one of our favorite open meadows.

The meadow is frequented by snow machines; but we have never seen a non-motorized human as it is a difficult climb to get here from any direction. The machines always leave some nice tracks for us to use as we make circles and figure eights around the meadow:
Gliding along in the tracks of a snowcat. Note that there are two "cat tracks" - one being used
by Max & me and the other by Zorro. Both snowmobiles and snowcats are frequent visitors
to this meadow. The snowcat tracks make a fun double track for us to run in.

As I said, a peaceful day staying on lesser used trails: 8.1 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 80 days on the trails covering 690.6 miles with 73,050 feet of elevation climbed.