Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Good Times

Flying along the trails at Swan Valley this morning - wheeee!

Today was closing day for dog sled tours at Good Times Adventures. So, of course, that meant we had to hit the trails at Swan Valley with them to get in one last day of "running with dog sled teams" this season. It was a huge success - we encountered three different '6 dog teams' and ran the trails with them. So much fun!!!
Sprinting Max & Zorro as you can see a musher on the sled of one of the teams coming
into view in front of us (the blob in the center of the trail in front of us).
Okay, not the best photo in the world as I am sliding out to the right to make sure Max & Zorro
go "on by" correctly. But, still fun to see the team paused on the side of the trail as we do a
perfect "on by"...

Of course today's video highlight is playing "chase & catch" with the sled teams. In this video we have given a team a huge head start and the fly along the trail to chase and catch them. Watch closely as the dog sled team starts to come into view near the end of the video. Yes, Max & Zorro are gaining ground on a 6 dog team - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A lot of fun sprints on the trail; but it was a little on the warm side too. So, you know what that means:
"Aaaahhh, rolling a snow angel to cool off!" exclaims Max.
"Good idea bro - rub a dub dub!" demonstrates snow rolling Zorro.

Always sad when Good Times stops their sled tours for the season. But, at least we got one last day to run the trails with them!
"So much fun! Why would you stop tours when the ground is still white!" declare Max & Zorro
thoroughly enjoying the day and wishing they could run with Good Times another month!

Fun with Good Times teams covering 9.1 miles with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 112 days on the trails covering 970.5 miles with 102,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Nice Up High

It may be March 30th; but snow conditions are still soooo nice at the higher elevations!
Wheeeee - having a great time on the terrain above 11,000 feet elevation on Boreas Pass.
We had a fun & fast run up and down Boreas Pass this morning. While it has not been the best snow year this season, I swear this is the best I have seen Boreas looking this late in March in the 5 years we have been skijoring. The best part about conditions today was how wide the skiable trail was. Look closely at the photo above and the shininess down the middle of the trail is ice. But, also notice from the angle of the gangline that I am skiing on the hard crust outside of the icy middle. The shoulders on Boreas today were wide with a hard crust, making for perfect skiing conditions on a wide trail.

Today's short video clip shows just how nice it was skijoring up high on Boreas. We are at around 11,200 feet elevation in this clip as we fly along the trail. I am enjoying the nice shoulder crust to ski on while Max & Zorro are using both the center trail and the shoulder - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The hard snow crusts we get in March and April always make for fun side tours through open meadows. We would be in waist to shoulder deep snow (my waist/shoulder, that is) trying to ski through this meadow in December through February!
Zipping along through a side meadow on the hard crust over multiple feet of snowpack!

Eventually it was time to turnaround and run back down the same path we took up:
"Turnaround, ok! We are having a great day!" say the happy pair circling around to
head back down Boreas Pass.

A great day for late March on Boreas: 10 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 111 days on the trails covering 961.4 miles with 101,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Swan Valley Fun

A gorgeous bluebird day on the trails at Swan Valley this morning...
Fast trail conditions, beautiful scenery and wonderful sprinting sled dogs.

For Max & Zorro the highlight of runs at Swan Valley is always encountering dog sled tours from Good Times Adventures. We have such a great time getting on the trail behind one of the 8 dog teams and then running with the team along the trails!
Pausing to let a team take a right turn in front of us, giving the team a head start and then
running down the same trail behind them - wheeee!

Today's video highlight is "fun running behind a sled team". The team is actually not that far in front of us but you have to look close as the musher was wearing white and our bouncing in & out of the shadows makes it hard to focus. Pay attention at about 17 seconds into the video and you get the best view of the team in front of us (but they are there the entire clip if you look closely).
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We always do a 5-6 mile warmup lap at Swan Valley before getting on the trails to run with the sled teams. It was a gorgeous morning to run out & back the Middle Fork Trail for our warmup:
Beautiful shot as we glide down the meadow paralleling the Middle Fork Trail.

A great day had by all:
"Wheeee had so much fun today!" say the happy pair looking back at me before turning
around on the trail to find more sled teams to run with.
A great day covering 9.6 miles with 950 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 110 days on the trails covering 951.4 miles with 100,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, March 27, 2015


The Sally Barber section of our outing this morning was packed & fast - zoom:
The packed & fast (and on/off icy) Sally Barber Trail. Almost too fast a trail :-)

Our goal of the day was to skijor up/over Sally Barber Mine and the out & back in French Gulch. We knew the Sally Barber portion would be perfectly skiable, as shown above, although it was a bit icy in places. We were hoping the lower portion of French Gulch was still skiable so that we could get to the incredible terrain in the mid & upper gulch.

Well, so much for the "hope" for lower French Gulch. It took some real creativity to keep the skis on as we cautiously moved up the trail to get to better conditions. See for yourself:
Egad - look at that exposed ground on the trail! Neither the skis nor Zorro wanted dirt on their
toes as we moved onto the narrow plow wall to make progress up the trail.
"My toes are made for snow, not dirt!" exclaims Zorro riding the wall with me.
"I'll let you know when it gets better down here on the trail!" says Max.

Why continue on a trail like that above, you ask? Well, because we know how good the terrain becomes once you get past the lower atrocity...
Aaahhh - a mile or so past the exposed ground and we are on nice & safe terrain in the mid
portion of French Gulch.
Perfect conditions! Another mile or so up the gulch and we are gliding along on perfect
conditions in upper French Gulch. The snow is soooo nice on the upper trail!

The number one reason to continue attempting to skijor French Gulch - MOOSE!!! No moose sightings today, but the next best thing - fresh moose tracks to dip your nose into:
"Sniff, sniff - love the smell of fresh moose tracks!" state the moose sniffing brothers.
We followed the tracks to the left for a bit (as Max & Zorro pointed me that way for increased
freshness); but we never found the owner of the tracks...

Failed to find a moose, so time to turnaround. But, first...
"Must roll a snow angel to cool off!" demonstrates Max.
"Must dig a snow hole to submerge my head into!" says silly Zorro.
The water in front of Max is French Creek. It is always sad when the creek starts to expose
itself every Spring.

As nice as the terrain is in upper French Gulch, this is probably our last visit to this trail unless... Unless we get a great April snow dump or unless we get so desperate to sniff moose that we hike (instead of ski) in & out of lower French Gulch. Pray for Snow...

All except for lower French Gulch, a fun day covering 9.2 miles with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 109 days on the trails covering 941.8 miles with 99,950 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Snow Day

Fresh snow falling on us the entire outing today - yay!
Running back the French Gulch Trail in the track we set ourselves on the way out - wheeee!

Snow was falling all day and the further back in French Gulch we skijored, the deeper it got. What a late March treat:
About 5 minutes from the trailhead and you can see snowflakes falling all around us
and Max's back is covered in snow.
Further we went, the deeper it got as we are now breaking trail in 6-7 inches of fresh powder.
Further = deeper as we enter the last open meadow of French Gulch.

I love the occasional "Hi, I'm having a blast!" glances I get from one or the other as we glide along the trail:
"Hi, I'm having a blast!" exclaims Zorro glancing back at me as we glide along.
"Someone has to keep this group going!" states 'all business' Max continuing to break
trail in 8+ inches of snow.

An approving look from Max at our turnaround point at the back end of the last meadow in French Gulch:
"Wheeee - what a day! Look at the snowflakes all around me!" exclaims happy Max.

We were happily "slowed by snow" today as we were laying fresh tracks to breaking trail the entire 'out direction' of our outing and then running in our own track the 'return direction': 7.7 miles with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 108 days on the trails covering 932.6 miles with 99,050 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


It was a great day on fresh snow at Sally Barber and French Gulch!
A great day until (read on to see).....
Zipping along the Sally Barber Mine Trail as we are second tracks on the morning's
fresh snow.

We skijored up & over Sally Barber Mine and then took a peek at French Gulch to see if the morning's new snow was enough to continue out & back the gulch. We were delighted to find 3-4 inches of untouched snow on the main French Gulch Trail. "Woo hoo!" we all thought as it looked as though we were going to have a successful run in the gulch...
Laying fresh tracks up French Gulch! It looked so promising at the beginning of
this trail.

I have mentioned in a past blog, some idiot plowed the lower French Gulch Trail in early March. Since that plow disaster, lower French Gulch has been skiable only 2-3 days after fresh snow and then it deteriorates down to rocks, dirt & puddles. Well, we had fresh snow overnight, so we were hoping this would make for a fun run out & back in the gulch. It started great, as shown above; but a couple miles out and disaster happened...

As we were cruising along the trail, almost to the end of the plowed atrocity (and into pristine upper French Gulch), we had a slush disaster on the trail. For a stretch of about 10-15 yards, the trail was complete slush (from side to side) hidden by the morning's fresh snow. We tried to avoid the slush but could not as it spanned the entire width of the trail. The result was I came out the other side of the hidden slush with my skis caked with 3+ inches of wet slush. The skis were completely unusable as the slush would not come off the skis and, thus, the skis would not slide. Disaster...
Coming back on the French Gulch Trail and you see the wet slush disaster in the trail. You can
see by the footprints that we tried every angle to get through this without destroying the skis
but with no luck. I am carrying the skis over this section on this return section of the outing.
Note the snow wall to the right - this is how deep the snowpack is supposed to be in French
Gulch this time of year! Plow Jerks!

I took the skis off and hiked up the trail a bit with Max & Zorro (trying to get the thick slush off the skis as I walked). It was beginning to look hopeless when I got a great idea - use the sun to help! There was a bright shining sun in the ski and we were at around 11,000 feet elevation - the sun had to help! So I called everyone off the trail and into a patch of sun to work on the skis...
"Right? Okay, but why are you still carrying those skis? You sure are slow on foot!" say my
agreeable partners.

Into the sun and I planted the skis with their slushed bottoms facing the sun. The skis are black, the sun was bright and we were at 11,000 feet close to the sun - this had to work, I thought:
Skis planted in the direction of the sun to help get the stuck slush off the bottoms.
"How long do you think this is going to take? I'm bored!" whispers Max to Zorro.,

It worked, it worked!!! Within minutes of help from the sun, I was able to knock the thick slush off the skis and then pull out my swiss army knife and scrape the last layer of slush off the skis. Oh boy, it is working; but this is sure taking a while. Such good boys to be patiently waiting for me...
Scrape, scrape - removing the disaster from the skis so they will glide in the snow again.

Such good boys patiently waiting for me until... Until I took toooo long! After about 10-12 minutes of watching me dork with the skis and Max & Zorro lost patience:
"Woo - you are soooo slow! Let's gooooo!" insists Max.
"Aaaahhh - I'm getting bone rot waiting soooo long!" exclaims Zorro.

Well, we finally got the skis back in order. We then hiked and carried the skis back past the slush obstacle and then (finally) we were back to skijoring:
The human is finally back to skijoring normal! Zoooom we go again!

A day that started so promising but then was slowed by extended "ski maintenance": 7.6 miles with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 107 days on the trails covering 924.9 miles with 98,350 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mellow Day

A mellow day jogging up, down and around Boreas Pass this morning.
Beautiful shot of my fully out-stretched skijoring partners!

Temperatures were in the 30s (F) for our entire outing this morning. That is a little hot for Max & Zorro to run full throttle the whole outing; so it was more of a mellow jog day on the trails. But, we did hit a few stretches where we all opened up the sprinting engine. High up on Boreas had the coolest temps, of course, so my partners were happy to uncork the engine on fast trails on upper Boreas - as you can see in the photo above & below:
Zoom we go by Bakers Tank. Notice Max running on the packed trail while Zorro and I are
on the hard crust of shoulder. I put myself out on the shoulder so that I could believe I had
some control over our speeds and, when I did not sink, Zorro said, "Hey, fun, I am going to
run on the shoulder crust too!"

The parts of lower Boreas that are sun exposed all (or most) of the day are really starting to show the signs of Spring - boo:
Slowing to a gentle jog as the trail is getting skinny with exposed ground all along
the shoulders.

But the conditions are still so nice up high...
"Turnaround, really? Well, okay; but the trail is GREAT if we keep going up!" state my
fun partners agreeing to turn around and head down even though the conditions up are better.

A mellow day up, down and around Boreas covering 8.3 miles with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 106 days on the trails covering 917.3 miles with 97,650 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I love shots where it is hard to tell where one Siberian ends and the other begins...
Where does one end and the other begin? I can only see 3 back legs instead of 4, did Max's
left leg and Zorro's right leg connect into one?  :)

We went to one of our favorite "lesser used" trails this morning to avoid weekend crowds. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves laying fresh tracks almost the entire day, even though it has not snowed since Wednesday night! What a treat!
Laying fresh tracks as we wind through the forest. What a treat!!!!

This network of trails is lesser used because it requires a lot of climbing through the forest to eventually be rewarded with a wide open meadow high up on a plateau. We love to jog a half circle around the meadow and then cut back through the middle to enjoy the terrain:
Beautiful day as we cut across the middle of the meadow!

The outing started around 22F; but with a bright sun and rising temperatures. You know what that means happened at our quick midpoint break:
"Ah - rolling snow angels to cool off!" demonstrates goofy Max.
"Ah - chomping snowcones to cool off!" demonstrates funny Zorro.

A peaceful weekend morning on lesser known trails: 7.9 miles with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 105 days on the trails covering 909.0 miles with 96,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Flying Past 900 Miles

Flying (literally :) past 900 miles for the season this morning at Vail Pass!
My airborne, sprinting partners sending us all flying along the fast trails at Vail Pass - wheeee!

The trail conditions at Vail Pass this morning were absolutely perfect! A great day to catch some air (see above) and sprint all around the terrain!

We started the outing with a peaceful climb up Shrine Pass on the narrow snowshoe trail:
What a beautiful bluebird day as we cruise along the Shrine Pass Snowshoe Trail.

Once to the top of Shrine Pass, we moved off the snowshoe trail and onto the fast snowmobile trail that was in absolutely perfect condition this morning:
Flying along the top of Shrine Pass before sprinting down the back side of the pass and then
up Lime Creek for an extra 1.2 miles.

After 5.1 miles of up/down/up, it was time to turnaround and head back to the trailhead:
"Turnaround? Okay - we bet it will be as fun to run back as it was the way out!" say
the happy & agreeable pair.

Instead of going down the snowshoe trail on the front side of Shrine Pass (the route we took up), we stayed on the fast & wide snowmobile trail and continued flying along...
The morning at Vail Pass can be summarized in one word: ZOOM!

Today's short video clip shows some of the perfect trail conditions for a fast day this morning - wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A beautiful day with perfect conditions to skijor 10.3 miles with 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 104 days on the trails covering 901.1 miles with 95,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Nice Top Layer

The top layer of crust was just hard enough to support a husky (and a person on skis) as we were able make our own trail far back at Indiana Creek and all the way through Indiana Gulch!
Trotting along the hard top layer (on what is a few feet of snowpack under the crust) as we
approach the abandoned "Father Dyer Cabin" to the right. Wheeee!

After a day of silly antics on the trail yesterday, my partners were back to all business today as we toured the adjacent forest and gulch of Indiana Creek this morning...
Off we go starting up the main Indiana Creek Trail (the creek is in the trees to the right).

We caught the scent of moose early on today and Max & Zorro's "moose radar" was on high alert the entire outing. Eventually the radar was rewarded with a distant moose sighting:
"Beep beep! To the right - moose moving through the trees!!!!!" say the intense moose
spotting pair. It was far away, so nothing to be concerned about; but still fun to reward
your radar with sighting, no matter how far away.

A slight breeze was blowing behind us on the "out direction" of our outing. Suddenly a "scent of moose" clearly blew in from behind us as only the smell of moose can bring Max & Zorro to a halt on the trail!
"Sniff, sniff - aahh, wonderful Scent of Moose!" states Max taking it all in.
"My kind of air freshener!" declares Zorro pausing to fill his nose.

Our normal route at Indiana Creek consists of an out & back in the forest as the gulch containing the creek is often soft and/or water exposed. A few times a year (typically in March or April), the snowpack has covered the creek and the warming/freezing pattern of the day & night has built a hard crust in the wide open gulch. When this happens, we will take the forest route on our "out direction" and then test the crust to make sure it can hold 45 pounds of Siberian (and support a human on skis) and then skijor back in the middle of the wide open gulch. A fun way to make a loop out of Indiana Creek!
Jogging down the middle of the gulch containing Indiana Creek - what a treat!
Notice the storm clouds in the sky: some fresh snow to add to our snowpack is
on the way - yay!

A fun day - see for yourself:
"So much fun, so much fun!" declare my thoroughly happy pair at our turnaround point far
back in Indiana Creek.

A fun morning with a nice top layer down the center of the gulch: 7.8 miles with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2014/2015 Season to Date: 103 days on the trails covering 890.8 miles with 94,700 feet of elevation climbed.