Cruising along some of the side trails as we are in a Winter Wonderland with nice views of the snow covered Rocky Mountains all around us.
So peaceful to cruise for miles & miles!
Following the "Siberian Bullet Train" as you get a view of the immaculate Shrine Pass Trail and more of the pretty Rockies all around us!
Out-stretched & sprinting Max & Zorro - wheeee!
It was pretty every direction we turned...
Cresting on the Shrine Pass Snowshoe Trail with endless winter beauty all around us!
Today's short video clip is fun & unique. Note the beautiful sunny morning but then watch closely during the video clip as it appears to be snowing on us. You will see what looks like snow falling around us and hear snow hitting the GoPro (if your volume is up high). How could it be?
Well, it was a windy day at Vail Pass. So, although it was an incredible bluebird day it was also a wind-blown day as the snow falling & circling around us is actually wind blown snow (from both the trees and the top layer of loose snow on the ground). A "snowing while sun shining" unique day :)
We had a great morning skijoring from fast-packed trails to breaking trail, and everything in between!
"I had a GREAT time!" exclaims super happy Max.
"Me too; but, yum, yum, have you tasted the yummy snowcones?" says silly Zorro.
Look closely and you can see Zorro's mouth open behind Max as he chomps on snowcones.
We experienced just about every type of trail condition this morning....
It was breaking trail high up near French Pass:
Powering through the deep powder. What a fun workout!
It was a 'shoulder to shoulder' tight fit on narrow single tracks in upper French Gulch:
Max & Zorro wanted to go fast, so they found a way to somehow fit together on the
narrow single tracks.
It was fast & fun on wide snowmobile tracks in middle French Gulch:
Zoom, zoom, zooooom we gooooo! :)
Finally, it was ridiculously fast-packed on lower French Gulch. Here's a short video clip showing the fast-packed lower terrain. We had miles of these fast conditions - you'll get the idea from this short clip:
Topping 26 MPH as we play "chase & catch" with a dog sled team from Good Times Adventures in front of us on the trail this morning!
Max & Zorro sprinting along the fast trail. I have overlaid the speedometer from the GPS which
clocked us going 26.1 MPH this morning. Zoom.
Look closely and you can make out the 8-dog team with musher in blue ahead of us on the trail.
Nothing like chasing your sled dog buddies to give you motivation to surpass 26 MPH :)
Here is the short video that goes along with the prior photo. We had just come off a side trail and saw this team going along the trail in front of us. "Oh Boy - sled dog chase!" is what we all thought as I got ready to ride behind Max & Zorro for a long sprint on this section of trail. Unfortunately, the dog team stopped after about only 30 seconds of chase. Oh well, we still had a blast following them!
Note the end of the previous video and you see the team (and the group with it) stopped such that we could not pass. Normally I would have swung to the left and went 'on by'; but there was too much traffic and congestion; so, as you see in the video, we stopped too. Well, the team did not restart immediately, so "talkative Max, the bucking bronco" decided to try and urge everyone on...
"GO - you are killing me!" SCREAMS Max at the crowd in front of us as he bucks in the
air to give extra emphasis to his scream :)
"Yikes, 'bucking bronco', I'm moving out of the way!" says scooting to the right Zorro.
Finally going again and here we are encountering another team coming the opposite direction.
"Hi friends!" say Max & Zorro to their happy friends looking at them too.
On by we go in search of more teams to play 'sled dog chase' - wheeee!
A fun day of chase, pass and on-by with teams from Good Times; including a short '30 second sprint' after a team where we surpassed 26 MPH: 10.1 miles traveled with 1100 feet of elevation climbed.
2016/2017 Season to Date: 69 days on the trails covering 550.6 miles with 58,700 feet of elevation climbed.
Doing our two favorite things at Vail Pass this morning: Flirting & Flying!
Vail Pass has some great terrain, awesome views and a perfect morning sun to catch a shot of Max & Zorro catching air:
The Siberian Skijoring Hovercraft at its best! Wheeee!
Vail Pass has a network of backcountry huts that people ski/snowshoe into, stay the night and then ski/snowshoe back the next day. Max & Zorro love to tour the huts and flirt with the crowds. They are always such a big hit with the hutters...
Encountering a snowshoer trekking out of the hut system. She LOVED meeting Max & Zorro.
As you see, Max loved it too!
"Ahh, yeah, rub the ears - love it!" says docile Max.
"Hey, let me in!!!" pokes jealous Zorro (she did give Zorro a nice rub too :)
Not to worry, Zorro, just continue a little further and you'll get to flirt first this time:
"Ahhh, yeah, Max was right - rub the ears!" says docile Zorro with the hutters hands rubbing both
ears. "Hey, what's in the bag?" asks nosey Max (you have to bring your own food in/out of the
huts, so I am sure the bag smelled delicious).
You can see one of the huts in front of us - a beautiful looking building albeit without
electricity, running water or heat (except wood burning stoves).
Flirting done, back to the other favorite activity at Vail Pass - flying! Watch as we speed along the terrain. Vail Pass has miles & miles of this type of wide open speed track!
Cresting on the Shrine Pass Snowshoe Trail.
Pretty white covered trees, white terrain as far as the eye can see and a picture perfect
blue sky - nice! Oh yeah, notice the snowmobile cruising along to our front/left too :)
Flirting & Flying - what a fun day: 9.2 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.
2016/2017 Season to Date: 68 days on the trails covering 540.5 miles with 57,600 feet of elevation climbed.
It started as a normal day skijoring up & over Sally Barber Mine...
Cresting our initial climb as we trot by the historic mine.
Once you climb up the trail to the mine, you are rewarded with a fast sprint down the other side:
Zoom, zoom, zooooom we gooooo! :)
Sally Barber is a short trail by Max & Zorro's standards, so we always add an out & back on French Gulch to the outing. It was a peaceful glide along French Gulch until...
First Max & Zorro slowed and their noses shot upwards. I know this means they have got a whiff of moose. Both of their heads were spinning left/right/left/right/etc until they both locked to the right:
"Our noses say 'GO RIGHT' - moose!!!" I quickly followed their stare and saw the butt and antler
basket of a bull moose at the edge of the forest to our right (visible but a safe distance away).
Max let out a quick 'moose scream' and both launched right - off the trail and into the deep snow in the direction of the moose.
"Moose!!!! This way!" declare snow hopping Zorro.
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" demonstrates snow launching Max (he was a step behind
Zorro because he had to complete his 'moose scream' before launching :)
Max's scream caused the moose to move upwards into the trees. By the time I got myself pointed in the right direction the big moose was no longer visible on the camera. But we all saw (and smelled) him. Well, okay, I didn't really smell him; but I did see him...
"He's in the trees and we KNOW IT!" declare my moose staring partners.
A peaceful day gliding along Sally Barber and French Gulch until all moose broke loose: 8.7 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.
2016/2017 Season to Date: 67 days on the trails covering 531.3 miles with 56,600 feet of elevation climbed.
Other than being airborne down the main Baldy Trail (see above), we mixed some other fun into the day...
Laying fresh tracks at the start of the day. The cabin you see in front of us is actually an old, abandoned mining cabin. It may look nice from this distance but it actually has no windows, doors, heat, water or anything else :)
"What a great place to live!" joke Max & Zorro.
Pausing on a narrow single track to inspect another abandoned mining cabin:
"Okay, so it needs a little 'roof work', but what potential!" declares home inspector Max.
A fun day climbing and touring around Baldy Mountain before cutting it loose and flying back down: 8 miles traveled with 1200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.
2016/2017 Season to Date: 66 days on the trails covering 522.6 miles with 55,700 feet of elevation climbed.
How's this for a "narrow passage" along the trail this morning?
Max & Zorro towing me through an extremely narrow passage with seriously high snow walls!
I barely fit myself :)
We skijored the main French Gulch Trail this morning and added 3 side tours on lesser used trails intersecting the main trail. The photo above shows one of the lesser used side trails with its narrow track and incredibly high snow walls!
The main French Gulch Trail, though, was its usual fast & wide:
Laying fresh tracks in about 2 inches of new snow as we trot along the French Gulch Trail.
Opening the throttle to surpass 22 MPH on the main trail - wheeee!
At our midpoint turnaround, I knelt down to exchange pleasantries with Max & Zorro. Here's the response I got from my partners:
"Having a great day! Look at my happy, snow-covered head!" exclaims happy Max.
"You talk to Max, I'm going to eat snowcones until we start again!" states silly Zorro with a huge
snowball in his mouth that he is chomping down on.
A peaceful day gliding around French Gulch and its many side trails: 8.2 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.
2016/2017 Season to Date: 65 days on the trails covering 514.6 miles with 54,500 feet of elevation climbed.
Having a good time (actually a GREAT time) running with the dog sled teams from Good Times Adventures this morning!
Letting a team pass by at a trail intersection. "Hi friends - we want to come too!!!" say
Max & Zorro flirting with their friends.
Notice that my hands are flailing into view in the prior photo. We were paused calmly to let this team pass; but, as they moved by, Max & Zorro wanted to join in the fun NOW! I had to quickly dig my skis into the ground as my hands & arms flew upward trying to keep my partners at bay without launching into this team! What sillies!!!
We encountered three different dog sled teams to play with on the trails this morning. The first was a team we saw go down a trail in front of us. I held back my partners to give them a head start and then off we flew in chase:
Flying Max & Zorro as you see the blue pants/white coat of the musher in front of us and
you can barely make out the 8 sled dogs pulling this person along.
Here is another fun encounter. We just came out of the trees on an "upper trail" and found a team trucking down the main trail. We were going to play chase with this team but they took a hard right in front of us and went off the other direction into the trees themselves.
Cruising along the upper trail as you see the team & musher taking a hard right in front of us.
I was impressed with this musher's skills as he navigated this tight turn perfectly without
tipping the sled!
We actually encountered each of the three teams 3-4 separate times on the trails. There are a lot of loops, figure 8s, etc so it is easy to wind around various trails to continue playing with the teams again and again.
Anyway, back to the first photo... Once I got Max & Zorro under control (versus joining the team passing by), we gave this team a head start on the trail and then proceeded to play chase & catch. Watch the fun video clip below as it looks like we are alone sprinting on the trail. But, watch closely, as the team we let pass by in the first photo begins to come into view in front of us. Max, Zorro & I continue to gain ground on this dog sled team until the end of the video where I call out a "right" to Max & Zorro. Wheeee!
Doing some serious trail breaking far, far back in French Gulch this morning!
Love this shot of Max & Zorro powering through the powder. You can see a side glimpse of
Max's happy smile as they love powering through powder! Wheeee!
The morning's outing took us out & back in French Gulch. We have not had much new snow in the last few days, so the majority of the outing was uncorked and fast on the frequently used terrain:
Zoom we go as I am gliding along behind the Siberian Bullet Train!
We slowed a little in upper French Gulch as the trail got a little narrower:
No longer sprinting, but still trotting at a nice pace on a narrow trail.
We did hit the brakes twice - both for moose tracks intersecting the trail, Here is one stoppage :)
"These smell VERY fresh! Where's the moose?!?" ask my moose inspecting pair sniffing the
moose tracks that crossed the trail.
Note that the real trail goes forward in front of us in the prior photo although it is barely visible. All tracks ended by the next set of trees and we were breaking trail as shown in the first photo.
Unfortunately we did not see any of the elusive moose. We have run into lots of moose tracks recently to fill our noses; but the visuals have been scarce lately...
Every once in a while one of my partners will back off the gangline to give me a fun glance of approval. Max & Zorro so love the snow and skijoring:
"I'm having a BLAST today - how about you?" asks cute little Zorro taking a quick opportunity
to glance back approvingly before continuing forward.
A primarily fast day on the well traveled parts of French Gulch with a little trail breaking and moose sniffing in the upper elevations: 9.8 miles traveled with 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.
2016/2017 Season to Date: 63 days on the trails covering 495.3 miles with 52,500 feet of elevation climbed.
French Gulch presented us with "4 types of trails" on this morning's outing - fun!
Zoom we go sprinting along in lower French Gulch.
The lower and middle sections of French Gulch was fast-packed and wide. We were flying along at a torrid pace on the lower & middle trail. The GPS clocked us topping 24 MPH. I put together two short clips from our sprint on this section of trail - somewhere along the way in these clips is where we were topping 24 MPH. Wheeee!
Our skijoring pace on the lower/mid trail was ridiculously fast, I was thinking we were going to top 11 miles on this outing at that pace. But, as is always the case with French Gulch, eventually the super fast lower/mid trail gives way to lesser used upper French Gulch. The upper section of trail was a narrow single track just barely 2 Siberians wide.
Slowed by a narrow trail, but still having a blast cruising upper French Gulch.
Love the view of the "sun soaked" mountain in front of us. We are shaded by a large mountain
to our left in upper French Gulch so the morning sun has not hit our trail yet.
Eventually the "human made" tracks ended and we were past the last meadow of French Gulch and heading towards French Pass. Max & Zorro quickly found a moose trail to follow!
Swimming in a trail set by moose. Look closely and you can see the moose trail leading
us into the trees ahead of us. We never saw the moose itself, but my partners noses said the
trail was VERY fresh!
The moose trail eventually dipped down into French Creek so we continued straight on our own. Our 4th type of trail this morning: No Trail as we set our own path towards French Pass.
Nobody, not even moose, have been out this far in French Gulch!
Finally, the silly human declared it time to turn around and head back...
"Well, I'm going to roll snow angels to cool off first!" demonstrates silly Max.
"I see no, absolutely no, reason to turnaround!" says intense 'moose scanning' Zorro.
Four types of trail all within the French Gulch system: fast-packed, narrow-packed, moose-trail and no-trail. What a fun morning: 9.2 miles traveled with 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.
2016/2017 Season to Date: 62 days on the trails covering 485.5 miles with 51,400 feet of elevation climbed.
Having a blast frolicking with multiple dog sled teams from Good Times Adventures on the trails this morning!
"I sense this is going to be a FUN day!" says happy Max looking back at me to give his
foreshadow of the day.
"Hi friends - we'll be running with you soon!" says Zorro to his sled dog buddies passing by.
We had a great day of "back & forth" with the dog sled teams. We'd fly by some, we'd watch others pass us by and we'd run along with a few more. Here we go - wheeee....
Cruising along the trail as we flirt with a team paused on a trail to our right:
"Hi guys! Catch us if you can!" say Max & Zorro to their buddies.
Our turn to pause and let a team go by:
"Hehe - we see you looking at us too!" as you can see two friends looking over at us
as they go by.
We came around a corner from one trail to another and their was a team that just connected to this same trail from the opposite side. Oh boy "sled dog chase" :)
"Here we come!!!! Zoom!" say Max & Zorro putting the pedal to the metal to run with the
team in front to us.
Sprinting along as we see a team paused to let us fly by:
"Hi friends - can you match our speed?" say Max & Zorro to the team watching us
from the right.
One more "sprint by a paused team" - wheeee:
You can see the Siberians from the other team just over the snow wall to our right.
We are all "just tall enough" to see and flirt with each other over the snow wall.
Finally, here is how Max & Zorro like to perform a close "on by" with a paused team. The behavior of each matches their personalities perfectly. Max will typically back off the gangline and slow so he can flirt with the other Siberians. Zorro, on the other hand, will kick it into overdrive as he likes to sprint past any stopped sled dog.
"Hi friends - happy to see you!" says Max slowing to flirt.
"Haha, look at me FLY by!" says silly 'haha Zorro' picking up his pace to pass.
Some much fun interacting with all the dog sled teams from Good Times this morning: 10.3 miles traveled with 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.
2016/2017 Season to Date: 60 days on the trails covering 466.9 miles with 49,100 feet of elevation climbed.