Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Record May

This morning concluded our record May for miles: 168.2 miles of skijoring!
"And what a FUN May it has been!" exclaim the happy pair at our turnaround point.

May is the "shoulder season" of skijoring in Colorado, so you are not supposed to log tons of miles. Well, Max & Zorro laughed at that supposition and proceeded to tow me for 168.2 miles for the month - our record number of May miles!

We celebrated this final day of May by skijoring around the ears of Rabbit Ears Pass...

(1) Zipping along with the ears visible far away:
Zoom we go. The ears are the two rocks atop Rabbit Ears Peak visible directly up and
forward from Zorro. In fact, I believe Zorro's ears are completely inline with the rock ears!

(2) Getting a little closer...
Cruising up a slight rise in the trail as the two ears are even more clear (forward, up and slightly
to the left of Max).

(3) Even closer... Surprisingly the ears are not as clear in this closer shot than the previous. As we got closer & closer to Rabbit Ears Peak, the ears started to blend in with the trees as our view angle was too steep.
Closest shot with the ears still visible. We got even closer than this shot but the ears were
no longer discernible given our angle.

Finally, Max & Zorro's highlight of the day - Moose Tracks!!!!
"Ears, schmears - a MOOSE has walked by here recently!" declared the moose track
sniffing pair!

A great way to close out a record May: 8.2 miles traveled with 750 of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 148 days on the trails covering 1244.1 miles with 135,700 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another Nine

Another "late May outing", another 9+ miles atop Rabbit Ears Pass!
How is this for an impressive panoramic snow shot for May 29th?

Our last 3 outings at Rabbit Ears Pass (May 26, 28, 29): 9.3 miles, 9.2 miles and 9.3 miles. That's some impressive skijoring miles for this late in May. Rabbit Ears is such a snow treasure and this year has been especially good.

When you are having this much fun, you might as well "catch air" while sprinting along the great terrain:
Max & Zorro doing the "Siberian Hovercraft" at its best!

Today's video highlight. We start surrounded by trees until we pop out of the trees and into an endless, wide open meadow. Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

There is the occasional "spring breakup", but not much!
"9.3 miles of snow with 30 feet of breakup. I'll take that!" declares happy Max.
"Look at me on an iceberg ready to break off and float away!" says silly Zorro (notice he is the
only one brave enough [or crazy enough] to cross over the crack :)

Done running, time for the "end of run" pork treats:
"Hand 'em out!" says Max.
"Dude! Now!!!" declares intense Zorro.

How long will the "Rabbit Ears 9 Milers" continue? We sure hope for more! 9.3 miles traveled with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 147 days on the trails covering 1235.9 miles with 134,950 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


We found an "endless meadow" with solid layer of spring crust to skijor all morning long!
Great conditions to start the outing with Rabbit Ears Peak in the foreground.
Forward and slightly to the left of Max is Rabbit Ears Peak with the famous "rabbit ears"
rock formation on top of the peak.

We started on a rolling snowmobile trail that we often skijor at Rabbit Ears. But, after a couple of up/down rolls, we noticed what appeared to be an endless meadow to our left. Temperatures were in the upper 20s (F) and the spring crust was very solid, so I said to my partners, "Left - let's see how far this meadow goes!" Then left we went for an endless day!
Relatively flat with a solid crust as far as the eye can see!

In the prior photo, it may look like the meadow ends in front of us with all the trees in the foreground. But, no, there was a left at the trees and the meadow continued on & on & on!
Left around the trees and "wow" - it keeps going forever!

Since we live in the Rocky Mountains, we rarely get to skijor flat terrain. Today was a rare day as we found this endless and relatively flat meadow and I was able to watch Max & Zorro shift into "endless trot" mode as they set their pace for miles & miles of gliding!

But, alas, the meadow really did end eventually:
"That was fun! An endless, flat glide - wheeee!" declare the happy pair as we are turning
around when we finally hit the end of this incredible meadow.

Hard to imagine that this large meadow will be a swampy marsh, filled with moose and elk, in about 30 more days! It was such an endless & peaceful treat this morning! 9.2 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 146 days on the trails covering 1226.6 miles with 134,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rabbit Fun

Having a blast skijoring on near perfect conditions atop Rabbit Ears Pass (in late May)!
Zoom we go with perfect terrain as far as the eye can see!
Pinch us, is it really May 26th :)

An absolutely perfect morning... Temperatures in the upper 20s (F) with a solid snow crust for miles and miles. Here are some short video excerpts from the day's fun run:
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

You must be thinking, "That is not May, you are showing footage from March, right?" No really, it is late May. Below is some "May evidence". There is a snow bridge that is a primary access point to the trails we traveled this morning. The bridge builds naturally once it starts snowing steadily in November (and gets packed by snowmobiles) and then it is a bridge across a river until the May/June melt off. In the following photo, we are crossing the snow bridge. You can see the river to the left and a large crack in the bridge in front and to the right of Zorro.
How much longer will the bridge survive? 1 week, 2 weeks, ... ?

Not everyone always agrees with my "turnaround points" of the day (why ever turnaround?). But today I got agreement from everyone:
"Ok, I get it... I'm not touching the water!" declares water averse Zorro.
"I could jump it, but you'd probably fall in!" says silly Max.

Finally, the comical shot of the day :)
"It is May! So hot, rolling snow angels to cool off!" demonstrates Max.
"You are weird big bro! I would never do such silly antics!" states Zorro.

Near perfect conditions all morning with only a little evidence of the May/June melt off finally beginning: 9.3 miles traveled with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 145 days on the trails covering 1217.4 miles with 133,500 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Eek - we skijored this meadow just yesterday!
Oh my.... Just oh my!

The lower sections of Vail Pass trails are deteriorating quickly. So sad. It is hard to imagine we traversed this terrain on skis yesterday, isn't it? Do take note of Zorro, though, as he is stopped as close to the dirt/mud as possible while still having all his toes on snow. He will never touch ground if he can have toes on snow instead :)

So, given the horrible state of the prior photo, you must be wondering, "Did you really skijor Vail Pass today?" Well, take a gander at the upper terrain and you will understand why we dealt with exposed ground lower to get up higher...

Top of Shrine Pass - just a few miles from the exposed ground down low!
Beautiful conditions as far as the eye can see!

Then, once we established that the crust up high was hard enough to hold our weight... Pedal to the Metal:
Sprinting & catching air with nice views of the snow covered "top of the Rockies" all around
us! Wheeee!

Unfortunately, we had to turnaround and head back down eventually...
"Turnaround? Ok, I'm having so much fun today!" exclaims happy Max.
"But it's broken down low? So why turnaround?" asks perplexed Zorro.
"I am having a great time, though!" adds happy little Zorro.
"I'm a cool dude!" declares dignified Max.

Getting harder to "get started" with deteriorating conditions down low; but so worth it once you get higher! 7.4 miles traveled with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 144 days on the trails covering 1208.1 miles with 132,650 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Passing 1200

Surpassing 1200 miles of skijoring for the season this morning.
1200 and counting...
Beautiful morning as we crest over Shrine Pass at the Vail Pass Recreation Area.

Temperatures dipped below freezing overnight long enough for the morning crust to be absolutely perfect. I was not expecting the crust to be firm enough to hold us for a long outing and arrived expecting us to do a short 6 mile run before the conditions got too soft. Oh boy was I (happily) wrong. The crust was firm and perfect, so about 20 minutes into the run I quickly stopped to text Nancy that we were "going for 1200 on perfect conditions" and would be longer than planned. A perfect day for a long run in late May - yay! Here we go...

Catching air as we fly along the crust with great views all around us:

Funny story... I had a dream last night that there were moose outside our bedroom window, Nancy opened the window to talk to the moose, one busted the screen and stuck its head in the house. Well, the dream was a foreshadow as we encountered moose tracks on the trail this morning. Only moose tracks (or bear tracks) can distract Max & Zorro from skijoring and pull them off trail...
"Moose went this way - let's follow!" announces moose following Max.
"Sniff, ah, very fresh!" declares track sniffing Zorro.
You can see the tracks in the snow to the right of my ski and the moose clearly turned left
here to go up in the trees (as Max & Zorro are pointing out :)

Our turnaround point of the day was at a trail junction far back in the wilderness of Vail Pass:
"Turnaround? Na, I say we go left!" states 'keep going' Zorro.
"You two discuss directions, I'll roll snow angels to cool off!" demonstrates silly Max.

I needed to pause a second to adjust my equipment. Everyone having a good time?
"Why yes! Thanks for asking!" says happy Max listening to my 'wait' command.
"Well.... I WAS until you said 'wait'!" declares 'keep going' Zorro.

Oh boy did this morning surpass my expectations! 9.3 miles traveled with 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 143 days on the trails covering 1200.7 miles with 131,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Will we hit 1300 miles... hmmm... stay tuned...

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Flying (literally!) all over Rabbit Ears Pass this morning!
"Hehe, we can fly! What a fast & fun outing!" declare the happy pair at our turnaround point
of the morning.

Yesterday morning we found a surprise groomed section of trail at Rabbit Ears Pass ('surprise' meaning we had assumed all the groomers were put away for the season). But, we only had the chance to briefly tickle our toes on the surprise groomed terrain as we found it after we were done with most of the outing. Knowing we had a late May speed track sent us back this morning. We started where we ended yesterday on the groomie zoomie and followed it as far as it lasted.

Well, it turns out there was only above 5 miles of this perfect groomed terrain. We were having such fun on the speed track that I was able to convince Max & Zorro to repeat 3 sections (typically they are not interested in repeating trails :)  This lead to an extremely fast 7.6 mile outing.

The pictures are quite impressive, so let's get to the details...

Flying (literally!) along the late May groomie zoomie:
So impressive! I am positioned slightly to the left behind Max & Zorro so you get an incredible
view of flying Max!

I am always torn what shots of Max & Zorro are more impressive - the Flying Siberians (previous shot) or the Siberian Hovercraft (next shot):
Catching air - wheeee!

Different section of trail, same theme - fly, fly, fly...
"Hey little bro - can you fly like me?" asks Max to Zorro as he glances to the right as both are
entering a take off.

This time I am positioned more behind Max than Zorro so we get a view of the Flying Z:
"Up, up & away - I am Super Z!" declares Zorro the Flying Siberian.

We only had time for a short outing; but it was a ridiculously fast & fun "late May speed day" - 7.6 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 142 days on the trails covering 1191.4 miles with 130,700 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Oh May, Oh My!

Oh my what a great outing on Rabbit Ears this morning. Oh May, Oh My!
A stretch of groomed trail in late May! Wow, what a surprise! Zoom, zoom, zoom!
So much excitement from the outing, I do not know where to start... How about with the surprise groomie zoomie? We were skijoring our favorite "late season" trail at Rabbit Ears Pass when we came upon a groomed trail intersecting our path. Many of these trails are groomed regularly by the local snowmobile club; but that happens "in season", not late May. Well, apparently the club decided to take the groomer out for one last late season groom. Nice!

The photo above is from sprinting the groomie zoomie and the video below combines a group of excerpts from the outing. Interesting thing to note in the video: you might notice one of Max or Zorro "backing off" the gangline during parts of the sprint. This is the two of them alternating carrying the load vs resting while sprinting. We all wanted to make full use of this surprise groomie zoomie; but it was a warm May morning. So, what better way to make sure we can go-go-go than to occasionally have one back off the gangline to rest while sprinting with the other keeping the human in tow (and alternate this behavior). Smart guys!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

So, I mentioned "so much excitement" above. We have the groomie zoomie I already mentioned and here is the next item of excitement: Bear Tracks! We encountered a clearly fresh set of bear tracks going across the trail and into the trees. I know they were fresh by Max & Zorro's interest in the tracks:
"Sniff, sniff - bear tracks! Oh my!" declare the track sniffing pair. The tracks did not come out
as clear in this photo as I expected as they were clear as day to all 3 of us. So, I have put some
arrows next to some of the tracks to help identify them.

The next item of excitement... The snowpack at Rabbit Ears is incredible for late May and the snow is solid enough for sprints if you get out early in the morning.
Great snowpack for late May. Great early morning conditions for a skijor sprint.

Finally, what great views you get from atop Rabbit Ears Pass:
Looking down upon the rest of Colorado. 

A surprise groomie zoomie, bear tracks and great snowpack. Oh May, Oh My: 9.1 miles traveled with 850 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 141 days on the trails covering 1183.8 miles with 129,900 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Under Attack

The musher (me) was under attack on the trails today...
Attack of the Slush Bombs!  :)
Slush Bombs flying off Max & Zorro's feet into me. Under attack!

What are "slush bombs" you ask? Well... The snow crust on the trail was firm enough to hold our weight but there was a layer of soft snow atop the crust. As Max & Zorro are running, you get slush bombs (blobs of snow slush) flying off their feet and into me! Look at the prior photo again, all the white specks you see in the upper left are slush bombs flying off my partners' feet. Look to the right edge and middle of the photo and you see a good sized slush bomb.

Here is an even better shot capturing a slush bomb. Look at that large white blob of slush in the upper left coming straight towards my face.  Incoming....

What does the attack of the slush bombs look like? Well, turn up the volume as you watch this short video clip. Every "click" you hear is a slush bomb hitting the GoPro camera case. Now, consider that my face is much larger than a GoPro and realize that for every click you hear there were 2-3 other slush bombs hitting me in the face. Need some "slush flaps" on these vehicles :)  Attack of the Slush Bombs!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Attack? Who, us?
"What attack? I'm having a ball!" declares Max.
"Hehehe, just hehehe!" smirks silly Zorro.

For our parting shot... The more shaded areas of trail did not have the soft layer to create slush bombs. So it was Attack of the Slush Bombs in the sun and Launching of the Siberians in the shade:
Zoooom we go on a nice stretch where the human's face was not pelted by slush bombs!

Attack of the Slush Bombs on Rabbit Ears Pass this morning: 8.6 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 140 days on the trails covering 1174.7 miles with 129,050 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Another early morning outing, another day with a perfect spring crust to let us glide all over Vail Pass!
Trotting along a perfect spring crust with great views developing all around us.

The temperatures at Vail Pass got well below freezing overnight and there was a thick cloud cover to keep the morning sun from softening the terrain too fast. We did our favorite climb up Shrine Pass, then looped around Shrine Mountain and finished with a fast sprint back down Shrine Pass. The top crust was frozen enough to hold us all morning! What fun...
"Yes, great day! How about some speed!" suggests happy Max.
"Indeed, let's get this team going!" says happy Zorro.

Okay, you asked, so here we go - pedal to the metal...
Wheee - sprinting along the top crust! What perfect conditions!

End of a fun day, time for the 'end of run' pork treats!
"If I kiss you, will you hand out the treats faster?" asks sweet Max.
"If I pierce you with my intense stare, will you hand them out faster?" asks intense Zorro.

We have been logging some impressive "May miles" this month as the snowpack and cool morning temperatures have made for a great first 1/2 of the month! 8.4 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 139 days on the trails covering 1166.1 miles with 128,250 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


A rare treat for May - laying fresh tracks in 2-3 inches of new snow! Nice!
A layer of untouched, new snow as far as the eye can see as we lay fresh tracks all over
Vail Pass!

It was fresh tracks in 2-3 inches of new snow the entire outing this morning. We also had an interesting encounter with a some low lying clouds. Actually our elevation at Vail Pass is above 11,000 feet for most of the outing, so the clouds were not really that "low lying" but they still had the following interesting effect on the outing...
Trotting along laying fresh tracks as we come over a rise in the trail and see this field of low
lying clouds to our left. Max looks especially interested in the cloud layer as he appears to be
inspecting the cloud layer, "Interesting - I say we get a closer look!" declares Max.

Well, it just so happens that our path took us directly into the layer of low lying clouds. So, here we are skijoring atop Vail Pass in a belt of low lying clouds - interesting!
If you did not see the blue sky right above us, you might think we were in dense fog. But, no,
we are simply skijoring in a bank of low lying clouds. Fun! 

As usual, May outings bring rising temperatures. Must cool off at our midpoint of the outing:
"Aaahhh, and I got some in my mouth! Yum!" exclaims snow rolling & eating Max.
"Rub a dub dub!" declares snow angel rolling Zorro.

A set of "May Treats" - laying fresh tracks and skijoring in the clouds! 8.4 miles traveled with 950 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 138 days on the trails covering 1157.7 miles with 127,250 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cat Tracks

Great morning following cat tracks (snowcat, that is) all over Rabbit Ears Pass!
Max & Zorro each choosing their own track as I glide with one ski "in track" (behind Max
at this point) for speed and one ski in the middle snow for control. Wheeee!

Our starting point of the day had lots of snowmobile tracks going every which way. But, the snowmobile tracks quickly dwindled and we found ourselves with a single snowcat track to follow for miles and miles and miles. Snowcats have wide tracks on each side of the vehicle, so sometimes Max & Zorro would take their own track (as above) and sometimes they would share a track (as below). Either way, it was miles & miles of fun!
Sharing the same side of the snowcat track as we wind through the trees.

The only drawback to the day? Well, it was above freezing the entire outing! We have a solution for that, though!
"Aaahhh, rolling snow angels to cool off at a quick break!" demonstrate the silly pair.

Given the warming temperatures, the snowcat track was actually a great find as it gave us a packed trail to run the entire day. Who had fun?
"I had a blast!" exclaims happy Max.
"Wheeee!" declares giddy Zorro.

Fun atop Rabbit Ears Pass running out & back a snowcat track: 8.2 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2015/2016 Season to Date: 137 days on the trails covering 1149.3 miles with 126,300 feet of elevation climbed.