Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fast Day

A fast day skijoring up, down and around French Gulch!
Zoom we go along the wide & fast packed lower section of French Gulch!

It was "wide & fast packed" down low and "narrow & fast packed" up high. The common theme: "fast packed" - wheeee!
Narrower but still "wide enough" and fast packed in upper French Gulch.

Today's video highlight is from lower French Gulch as you can watch us transition from a "skijor trot" into a "skijor sprint" - fast Max and fast Zorro!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The terrain was so fast today that we were way ahead of schedule coming back to the trailhead. So, we went exploring on a side trail for a while and look what we found....
"I smell MOOSE in the area! Where are they?" asks terrain scanning Max.
"Right here! Fresh moose tracks!" declares head dunking Zorro.

Fresh moose tracks - really?
"You are right - very fresh! Moose was recently here!" agrees Max dunking his head in the
tracks with Zorro.

Fast & fun day with a set of fresh moose tracks for added entertainment.
"Having a blast this morning!" declare the happy pair looking back at me when I called out
time to turnaround in upper French Gulch.

8.7 miles traveled with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 67 days on the trails covering 567.5 miles with 60000 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, January 29, 2016


Wonder what Max was whispering to Zorro as we flew along the trail this morning....
"Hey little bro - let's FLOOR IT!" suggests 'sprinting while whispering' Max.

We had a surprise snowfall early this morning which lead to us laying fresh tracks in 1-3 inches of snow on a fun loop through the forest this morning. Freshies all to ourselves - yay!
Trotting along as we approach an old abandoned mining cabin ahead to the left.

Freshies always bring out excitement from Max & Zorro:
Fresh tracks = Zoom! Nice profile of out-stretched Max.

Quick pause from the human to check the time, so you might as well scan the forest for wildlife:
"I sense something in the trees to the left!" states inquisitive Zorro.
"Hmmm, me too!" replies curious Max.

We had a nice video of skijoring through the forest; but youtube is being fussy today and will not load it. Oh well, hope you enjoyed the photos as much as we enjoyed making them :)

Freshies in the forest all morning: 8.2 miles traveled with 950 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 66 days on the trails covering 558.8 miles with 59150 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fast and Fresh

A typical day skijoring French Gulch: fast terrain + moose distractions :)
Pedal to the metal on the fast & wide trail in lower French Gulch. Zoom!

As you can see in the prior photo - the terrain was fast packed & wide down low. The trail always narrows as you go further and further until it was fast packed & barely 2 Siberians wide.
Just wide enough to keep shoulder-to-shoulder at a pretty fast pace. Wheeee!

Fast and flying all over the terrain until.... Fresh smelling moose tracks pulled us off the trail to inspect. We saw big two-toed moose prints along the trail until the big moose decided to hang a right and head off into the gulch.
"Wow - this smells VERY fresh!" exclaims track inspecting Zorro.
"I know, I know - you check the track and I'll search for moose! Where is the moose?!?" asks
terrain scanning Max.

Always fun to stand in a fresh moose track trough and search for the moose.
"I think we should follow this track!" declares moose seeking Zorro.
"Still scanning... Where is that darned moose?!?" states focused Max.
We never actually spotted a moose, but my partners' noses said one had been on the trail very recently! Fast times on French Gulch with fresh moose tracks for added entertainment: 8.1 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 65 days on the trails covering 550.6 miles with 58200 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pretty Day

A pretty day on the trails as we skijored up & over Sally Barber Mine and then out & back in French Gulch.
Trotting by the historic Sally Barber Mine. We are still in the morning shade at this point but
you can see the clear blue sky for the making of a beautiful day once the sun gets above the

The main point of the Sally Barber Mine Trail? Zoom - up, down and around on a fast trail.
Zipping along Sally Barber still in the "morning shade" of the trees and mountains.

Once done with Sally Barber, it was then time to go out & back in French Gulch:
Out of the "mountain shade" and into sunny French Gulch. Such a beautiful morning.

The main point of the French Gulch Trail? Moosing (the search for moose). We encountered a few fresh smelling moose tracks crossing the trail until the scent of moose drew our full attention into the forest...
"Ding, ding, ding - found one across the gulch and in the trees!" declare the moose staring pair.
Their noses lead them off the trail to stare into the trees. I followed their focus and, sure
enough, I spotted a moose camouflaged in the trees watching us as intensely as we were
watching her!

Fast run on Sally Barber followed by moosing in French Gulch - great day: 8.3 miles traveled with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 64 days on the trails covering 542.5 miles with 57400 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, January 25, 2016

What Goes Up

A "what goes up, must come down" day on the steep Baldy Mountain Trail - wheeee!
Flying along the fast Baldy trail - zoooom!
We headed to Baldy Mountain this morning and skijored up the steep trail to far above treeline and almost to the top of Baldy. An energetic 1300 foot uphill climb which leads to a fast 1300 foot downhill sprint!

Below is a short clip of the fun we have flying down Baldy. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We came down so fast that we were going to get to the trailhead way before Nancy was planning to arrive and pick us up. So, we played "breaking trail" on a few side routes to add fun to the day:
6-8 inches of fresh powder all to ourselves. Fun!

Short pause on the trail to check the time. Everyone ready to restart?
"Yes! What a fun day!" exclaims happy Max.
"Aligned, focused and READY!" states 'always ready' Zorro.

What goes up, must come down... 7.2 mile roundtrip with 1300 feet of elevation up (and then 1300 feet down) with a top speed of 22 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 63 days on the trail covering 534.2 miles with 56550 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Catching air as we fly over the small patch of sun on the trail...
"Fly over the sun patch - wheeee!" demonstrate the synchronized flying Max & Zorro.

A great morning skijoring up, down and around the forest...
Leaning into a slight left on the trail. Zoom, zoom zoooom!

Always fun to flirt with other skiers we encounter on the trails:
"Hi - are you having as much fun as us?" asks Max glancing at the oncoming skier.
"Bye, got places to go!" states Zorro keeping his focus on continuing forward.

Eventually we had to turnaround and head back to the trailhead...
"Turnaround? Ok - what a fun day!" exclaims happy Max.
"Yes, what a fun day!" agrees happy little Zorro.

The command I called out was, "Time to turnaround and head back." The 'turnaround' part got agreeing looks as shown above. But...
"Whoa.. Wait a sec! What was that last part? 'Head back'? What for?" asks silly Zorro.
"I got it all, turnaround and head back!" states happy Max.

A fun day touring one of our favorite "forest trails": 8.3 miles covered with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 62 days on the trails covering 527.0 miles with 55250 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Guess who was "ready to go" at the trailhead and let us all know just HOW SLOW we were in getting hooked up and started!
"Let's GOOOOOOO!" woos impatient Max as he is hooked and ready but I am still in the
process of hooking Zorro to the gangline.

Occasionally we get the following interesting trail dynamic in French Gulch. There are a small number of private cabins in the gulch and the owners of these cabins have keys to the winter gate that keeps all other vehicles out of the gulch. Every once in a while, you will find that one of the owners has driven a 4WD out to their cabin (usually they snowmobile to their cabins). When they do take a 4WD vehicle out, you get this interesting trail dynamic: a packed tire trail for each of Max & Zorro to trot in with a "ski trail middle" for the humans on skis:
Max & Zorro each choosing a tire track to trot within while I ski in the middle track.
Oh, and look at that sun, the makings of a beautiful day as the sun was rising over the mountain
this morning.

The "tire track dynamic" does not last for very long and then we were back to traditional skijoring on a backcountry trail.
Shoulder-to-shoulder trotting along the backcountry trail far back in French Gulch.
We have skijored out French Gulch faster than the sun is rising over the mountains, so we
are back in the morning shade in this shot.

Anyway, back to the title of this blog: vetoed...

About 2/3 of the way out French Gulch and we encountered quite a few fresh smelling moose tracks. Very entertaining for Max & Zorro:
Inspecting a fresh "moose trench." This is actually a "moose track" as a moose had recently
walked through the snow here. Notice Max entering the trench as we see moose legs build
trenches taller than Max! Moose sure are tall.

Done inspecting the moose trench and we continued along a little further until another set of moose tracks crossed over the trail. Look below and you can see the "ski tracks" to the left which is the real trail. But, a moose had recently crossed the trail from the left to right and continued off to the right. Max & Zorro voted that we abandon the main ski trail and follow the moose trail. I voted we *not* follow the moose trail and get back on the ski trail. Outvoted 2-1, I had to exercise my veto power and declare the ski trail as the way we would continue forward :)
"I vote for 'moose trail'!" exclaims happy Max.
"But, but - we won 2-1! Why can't we follow the moose?" asks puzzled Zorro.

A fun outing in French Gulch with fresh moose tracks to entertain the noses: 8.2 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 61 days on the trails covering 518.7 miles with 54400 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Work and Play

"Work to Play" skijor on Rabbit Ears Pass this morning.
Opening the throttle on a fresh snowmobile track - wheeee!

We started the day as the first tracks on the trail. This found us laying fresh tracks to breaking trail in 4-6 inches of fresh snow. A fun workout to start the day...
Fresh powder all to ourselves as we work to set reset the trail in the snow.

Fresh tracks to breaking trail is more of a workout than a packed trail; but that does not mean it is not super fun. Paused for a moment, "everyone having a good time?"...
"Absolutely - love laying fresh tracks!" exclaims happy Max.
"Well... I *was* having fun until you paused to ask!!!" says 'why are we stopped' Zorro.

About 1/2 way through the outing and a group of snowmobiles passed us on the trail. From working to lay fresh tracks and break trail to playing in an easy snowmobile track!!!
"Did you see the easy track they just laid in front of us!" declares happy Zorro.
"I foresee speed in my future!" states 'trail inspecting' Max.

Running in fresh snowmobile tracks is fun & easy - wheeee!
Zooming along the 'snowmobile paved trail'.

Fun day working to set the trail and then enjoying an easy snowmobile trail: 8.6 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 60 days on the trails covering 510.5 miles with 53600 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dense Fog

This morning's skijor outing was dominated by dense fog with fast sprints whenever the fog lifted.
Break in the fog as we are flying along the trail about to kick it into another gear on the
upcoming slight downhill. GPS clocked us at 25 MPH today!

We had many sections of trail where the fog was so dense that I had no real idea where the trail was. I just put my trust in Max & Zorro to take us the right way....
Can you see a trail? Neither could I! Just trust the sled dogs to take you the right way.

I would just follow Max & Zorro through the dense fog and was amazed that they never veered from the trail! We would pass the occasional trail marker telling us we were on track. On a clear day you can alway see 5-10 trail markers ahead of you. Today we could only see one when we were right next to it! Amazing trail skills from these two!
Trail marker to the left. You cannot see anything but Max & Zorro demonstrated perfect
trail following skills all morning!

Whenever the fog would lift slightly, it was pedal to the metal!
"Break in the fog - go!" says sprinting Zorro.
"Here I come too!" says cute Max giving Zorro an approving look as we start a sprint.

Despite dense fog, we were on one of our favorite "fast trails" at Rabbit Ears Pass. So, I just put my trust in Max & Zorro and we covered some serious distance & speed: 9.6 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 25 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 59 days on the trails covering 501.9 miles with 52800 feet of elevation climbed.

Surpassing 500 miles for the season. 500 and counting...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fast to Deep

It was "fast fresh tracks" to "deep trail breaking" in French Gulch this morning!
We added a bit of the Little French Gulch trail to our outing. At our turnaround point in
Little French. "What a fun day!" exclaim my happy partners.

The lowest part of French Gulch was wide enough for us to still get the opportunity to lay fresh tracks on one side of the trail:
Existing set of ski tracks to the left, so we chose the light layer of fresh snow to the right.

We were then first tracks on a light layer of fresh snow in mid French Gulch:
Zipping along in an inch or so of fresh snow.

We were first tracks in deepening snow in the upper section of French Gulch:
Breaking trail in about 6-7 inches of fresh powder - wheeee!

Eventually, far back in French Gulch, it got so deep that we switched to single file skijoring to alternate who was the trail breaking leader in 14+ inches of fresh powder:
Lead the way Max! He is the most incredible trail breaker with his long legs!

We were in French Gulch, so....
Our noses pulled us off the trail with the "scent of moose" and, sure enough, we spotted one
deep in the forest. Too far to get on camera but close enough to get in the nose!

Fast fresh tracks to deep trail breaking in French Gulch: 7.4 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 58 days on the trails covering 492.3 miles with 51800 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Entertaining and flirting with multiple groups of snowmobiles we encountered on the trail this morning.
"Hi - coming through!" say Max & Zorro entertaining the paused group of snowmobilers
as we trot by. People always break out in huge smiles when they see us!

Lots of groups of snowmobiles were out on the trails at Swan Valley this morning. Last night delivered a sweet 4-8 inches of snow (depending on elevation) for everyone to enjoy!

Today's video highlight... Cruising along the rolling Middle Fork Trail and then eventually encountering the group of paused snowmobilers to flirt with. Notice the last person in the group (at the end of the video) has pulled out her iphone to video us trotting by :)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Temperatures were in the single digits (F), the sun was blocked by clouds and there was a stiff wind all morning. I thought that was chilly. Apparently just me...
"Phew, what a hot day - rolling snow angels to cool off!" demonstrates silly Max.
"We've encountered moose on this trail before... Sniff, sniff, where are they?" says Zorro.
While Max & Zorro's noses did catch some scent of moose, we failed to actually see any.

At one of our turnaround points. Everybody having fun?
"You bet!" answers happy Max.
"Yes - but I think we should continue to the right instead of turning around!" suggests happy Zorro.

Fun day flirting with the snowmobiles: 9.4 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 57 days on the trails covering 484.9 miles with 50900 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Moose Crossing

We had TWO MOOSE cross the trail in front of us this morning (a mother and child)!
A frame from the video with Mama Moose crossing the trail in front of us.
Oh my!

I have described my "moose deterrent" tactics before. I'll repeat it again here so you understand what I am doing in today's video clip. When I realize moose are "in the area" (as signaled by Max & Zorro's clear "moose radar behavior") and the terrain is dense or has blind curves, I will sing "Henry the 8th" as we cruise along the trail. I got this tip from an Iditarod musher to make as much noise as you can when you believe moose are in the area. The best way to make noise? Well, sing a song! Instead of "moose, moose go away" I have chosen "Henry the 8th" as my moose go away tune :)

Ok, now for today's cool moose video... The video starts with us stopped on the trail as we all spotted a pair of moose in the cluster of trees in front and to the left of us. You cannot see the moose at first in the video. Watch & listen as I am still singing parts of "Henry the 8th" and Max is screaming his own moose serenade (you might have to turn the volume up high to hear Max). Look closely at about 15 seconds into the video and you will see a baby moose cross the trail immediately followed by the mother moose. Wow!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The moose meandered off the trail a bit so we could restart. Max & Zorro, of course, launched down the trail and tried to follow the moose tracks where they crossed!
"No guys, we cannot follow the moose!" I tried to reason with them.
The trough behind Max & Zorro are the tracks from the baby & mother where they crossed
the trail in front of us and then meandered away into the forest. We could actually still see
them at this point; but they were too far away and camouflaged to show up in this shot.
The trail we were on was an "out & back" this morning. That was not a problem, I thought, as we still had quite a ways of "out" to complete before turning around and coming back. "Surely the moose will have wandered far off by the time we return!" I was convinced. But, no such luck... As we were coming back on the trail Max & Zorro's moose radar started firing again (and I started singing again) until we encountered mother and child barely off the trail! Yikes...
"We see you!!!!!" declare my moose seeking partners!
The baby is in the open and you can see the mother's behind to the left of the kid.

Oh, by the way, we went skijoring today too: 8.3 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 56 days on the trails covering 475.5 miles with 50100 feet of elevation climbed.