Smiles from all 3 of my skijor partners as we conclude a great day skijoring atop the awesome snowpack at Rabbit Ears Pass (ok, only 2 of my partners really skijored, but little Rudy feels like he was part of the outing :)
"We had fun!!!" declare the happy trio!
The snowpack at Rabbit Ears is still in excess of 5 feet of snow at the base and increasing to over 9 feet of snow as you go up in elevation. Quite an impressive amount of snow for late April. The conditions ranged from perfect on the set trails to perfect off trail - just perfect all around :)
We were thrilled to find the main trail to be groomed and/or packed without too many ruts from snowmobile traffic. That allowed us to open up the skijor engine on fast terrain:
Flying Zorro and Jack as you see groom lines to our left and gently packed surfaces to our right.
We abandoned the set trails for most of the outing and skijored the solid crust atop the 5+ feet of snowpack. I love this shot of Jack. Look closely as he is smiling at Zorro as we fly along the spring crust. His bushy tail is obscuring some of his head, but you can just make out his happy smile looking at Zorro.
"You sure are a fun big brother! Wheeee!" exclaims happy Jack.
"Just keep following my lead!" declares Zorro.
Temperatures were in the low to mid 40s (F) during our outing, making this Jack's first skijor on a hot day. Well, if you've been following along this season, you know Jack is really into rolling snow angels to cool off during breaks. So, what did you expect from him on his hottest day skijoring...
"Phew, gotta cool my jets!" demonstrates silly Jack.
"What a goof!" declares happy Zorro.
It is pretty humorous that all of Zorro's skijor partners have turned out to be "snow angel pros" (first Max and now Jack). You've got to wonder what Zorro thinks of these silly antics from his partners (although Zorro will, on occasion, join in with rolling an angel himself).
Despite a "warm day", we sure had a blast skijoring the set trails and wandering off trail atop the great snowpack at Rabbit Ears Pass. Right guys?
"FUN!!!!!" that pretty much summarizes Zorro and Jack's thoughts on the day.
Great time bringing along young Jack: 2.8 miles traveled with 400 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.
2017/2018 Season to Date: 49 days on the trails covering 324.0 miles with 30,700 feet of elevation climbed.
Young Jack's first "hover husky" shot alongside Zorro as we skijored Breckenridge Ski Resort this morning. Quite impressive, Jack!
Zorro and Jack catching air as they are synchronized flying along the fast & groomed terrain!
It had become a tradition with Max, Zorro and I: we would "skijor Breckenridge Ski Resort" within a few days of its annual closing every year. Well, yesterday was closing day for the ski resort, so this morning we introduced young Jack to our annual tradition. Boy did we have a blast!
The beauty of skijoring the ski resort soon after closing is that the trails would have been recently groomed and not too chopped up and/or icy yet. But, this morning we found a real treat: the ski resort had run a groomer up the main trail from Beaver Run to Ten Mile Station. We were first tracks on the fresh "groomie zoomie"! You can see how beautiful the groomed trail was in the first photo.
Of course, we are still doing short runs with young Jack so our outing was to skijor from Beaver Run up to Ten Mile Station and then down to the Maggie. Turning around at Ten Mile Station, everybody having a good time?
"Oh yes, oh yes! We are having a blast!!!" declare my happy pair as I call out time to stop
and turn around at Ten Mile Station.
Coming back down and a fun shot of the galloping sled dogs, a ski lift above us and the Beaver Run Conference Center coming into view to our left.
Zoom, zoom, fun fun!!!
A fresh groomie zoomie on fast downhill trails and guess what happened? Jack hit his top speed of his young life: 19 MPH! Wow, I did not think we would hit this speed until Jack was much older (Zorro, of course, can top 20-24 MPH regularly, but we keep our speeds to Jack's limit right now). Come along and watch as we topped 19 MPH somewhere in this video clip. Zoom!
All smiles looking back to me at one of our break points on this morning's skijor!
"So fun being a 2 husky team again!" declares satisfied Zorro.
"I'm really getting the hang of this and LOVING it!" declares happy young Jack.
We went to the trails of Breckenridge Nordic Center this morning hoping that they would be freshly groomed for one of our last "groomie zoomie" outings of this season (the nordic center closes on Sunday). Unfortunately, the groomers had not been out on the trails yet today. But, not to be deterred, Zorro, Jack and I found a way to have a great outing anyway.
Our solution? Well, stick to the lesser used of the nordic trails and hope they were not too tracked up. The result? Success! Look at the following shot.... You can see some existing tracks in the middle of the trail; but the shoulders are pristine and/or barely touched! Now, look closely as the shininess of the set tracks - this is ICE! You cannot skijor on ice as the human becomes frictionless and the sled dogs take "lack of friction" as a signal to floor it. Well, "floor it" and "ice" rarely combine into a happy ending :) But, notice the angle of this photo and you see that I am on the shoulder with my skis while Jack is sprinting the easy set track with Zorro straddling the shoulder and track.
Fast & flying Siberian Huskies with just enough untouched shoulder for the human to
safely come along.
Today's short video clip goes with the prior photo. Come along and watch as I am able to safely ride the "just wide enough" shoulder and avoid the icy middle track as we top 16 MPH skijoring with Zorro and young Jack. Wheeee!
We are still taking 2 breaks during our short skijors as we train and grow young Jack. The breaks are good practice for him to learn to listen and stop on command and they are also good to give him a couple of chances to rest and catch his breath during the outing. Zorro, of course, could do these short runs with no rest; but that would only serve to discourage Jack as he could not keep up.
"Stop again? Ok! Did I mention I am having so much fun!" declares happy Jack.
"If I point us to the right, can we get started again?" asks Zorro.
Everybody loves puppy photos. So here's your closing shot for the day as little Rudy joins us for "end of run" pork treats.
"Here I come, here I come! Save some for me!" states cute little Rudy.
Another fun, fast albeit short "start to finish" run with Jack joining Zorro: 2.1 miles traveled with 400 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH.
2017/2018 Season to Date: 47 days on the trails covering 318.4 miles with 29,600 feet of elevation climbed.
Young Jack's first skijor run laying fresh tracks all morning long!!! Whee!
Great view of sprinting Zorro & Jack laying fresh tracks in about 2 inches of new powder.
Great view of the ski runs of Breckenridge Ski Resort on the mountains across the valley
This morning was Jack's second "start to finish" skijor with Zorro and I. He was having a blast laying fresh tracks in the morning's new snow. Come along and watch as I have spliced together 2 fun video excerpts from the outing. First, you'll see us laying fresh tracks on a trail covered in wonderful untouched snow. Second, you'll see us running alongside our "out tracks" on a section of Prospect Hill where we did and out & back. Fun, fun, fun....
Zorro and I are thrilled that young Jack has grown to the point that we are now a "2 dog skijor team" once again!!!
Nice form as Zorro and Jack are in a synchronized sprint tuck as we fly along the top
of Rabbit Ears Pass.
Yesterday morning was a HUGE milestone for young Jack. First off, we skijored for two miles - his longest outing of his young life! Second, he started the day with Zorro. To date, Zorro and I had been doing skijor runs before hooking up Jack to finish. We did this so that Zorro could get some exercise and be ready to "go easy" with Jack for the finish (i.e., we did not want Jack to be discouraged trying to keep up with a fresh and rested Zorro). But, we decided that yesterday was the day to see if Jack could start with the big boys. Well, SUCCESS!!! Jack did fantastic. He actually surprised Zorro and I a few times with his speed as we were expecting a gentle jog all outing but had to pick it up to keep with Jack's pace a few times! Zorro, of course, can still go faster than Jack; but he is so excited to have a skijor partner again that he has no problem slowing to Jack's pace to have a partner.
Come along for a short excerpt from yesterday morning's skijor atop Rabbit Ears Pass. So proud of Jack's performance and so proud of Zorro's metering himself to match Jack's pace. Wheeee!
Being Jack's longest outing, we stopped twice to take rest breaks before restarting. Here we are approaching the official Rabbit Ears Pass Marker as I call out "time to stop" to my team:
"Okey dokey! No real reason to stop, but we are happy to listen!" declare the happy
pair glancing back at me as we glide to a rest break.
Jack has the whole "rest break" figured out. If you are taking a break, you might as well roll snow angels to cool off :)
"Nice form, kid. You remind me of Max!" says onlooking Zorro.
"Rub a dub dub, need to cool my jets!" demonstrates silly Jack.
Speaking of Max... He was famous for his snow angels that he would typically to roll during any skijor break. Jack has certainly inherited that trait from Max. In honor of Max, we took a chance to sprinkle a few of his ashes atop Rabbit Ears Pass during our second rest break. Zorro kept a solemn watch on Max's ashes blowing in the wind while Jack gave me a beautiful happy smile:
"Miss you Max; but happy to have Jack!" says solemn Zorro.
"I wish I had known him as Zorro speaks to highly of Max!" says happy Jack.
Done with our break and back to the trails. Go Jack Go!
Once again, nice synchronized form from the sled dog pair!
How was your first big outing young Jack?
"Oh my, that was FUN!" declares ecstatic Jack.
"Nice, kid, VERY nice!" states approving Zorro.
We have reached our pinnacle of skijoring with Jack for this season. Starting with a fresh & rested Zorro and going 1.5 to 2 miles will be our pattern for the rest of this season. Zorro and I are happy to go these shorter distances if it means we are a skijor team again! Yay Jack!
2.1 miles traveled with 2 rest stops for young Jack. A top speed of 16 MPH and 300 feet of elevation climbed.
2017/2018 Season to Date: 45 days on the trails covering 314.3 miles with 28,800 feet of elevation climbed.
Jack skijored his first mile this morning! Woo Hoo, way to go Jack!
"I had a BLAST!" declares happy Jack.
"Yes, fun, but eating snowcones to cool off now!' declares Zorro.
"Hey big bro, what are you eating?" questions little Rudy (who has not discovered the
art of eating snowcones yet :)
Before hooking up Jack for his first 1+ mile skijor, Zorro and I did a quick 4.5 mile skijor out & back at Breckenridge Nordic Center:
Zipping along with Z, Wheeee!
Jack actually got to experience two skijor milestones today. The first, of course, going over one mile in distance. The second was experiencing "off trail" skijoring through tight trails in the forest. The next photo may look innocent; but bringing a young pup on his first weave through the forest is a milestone. Think of all the potential to go off trail and into the trees! But, no, Jack was perfect and kept in step with Zorro, following the narrow single track.
It is perfect skijoring form when you can barely tell where one sled dog ends and the other
starts! Shoulder to shoulder perfection!
The reward for being perfect on "off trail" single tracks? Well, then you get to open it up on the wide & fast main trail. Zoom...
Young Jack flooring it as Zorro jogs along letting Jack set the pace (Zorro is still much faster
than Jack if he floors it himself :)
Being Jack's longest skijor in his young life, we made sure to take 2 quick breaks along the way. Jack let me know he was having a blast at each pause:
"This is fun, no need to stop!" declares happy Jack.
"You need to learn to eat snowcones to cool your jets at break points!" declares snow eating Zorro.
A fun day and young Jack is really coming along, right Zorro:
"Yes, yes, fun all around!" declares ecstatic Zorro.
A fun 5.7 mile skijor outing: 4.5 with Zorro and then 1.2 with Zorro and Jack. Zorro's top speed: 20 MPH. Jack's top speed: 16 MPH! A total elevation gain of 700 feet.
2017/2018 Season to Date: 44 days on the trails covering 312.2 miles with 28,500 feet of elevation climbed.
Jack got his first experience skijoring the "Spring Crust" yesterday morning.
Needless to say, he had a great time :)
Shoulder-to-shoulder Zorro & Jack laying fresh tracks in about an inch or two of new snow
atop a solid springtime crust.
What is spring crust? Well, it is the time of year where temperatures rise well above freezing in the daytime but still fall well below freezing overnight. The result is the snowpack softens every day and then the "soft layer" refreezes overnight into a crust that can support Zorro's weight (and, thus Jack's too) while also supporting my weight on skis (I would punch through the crust off skis, but can glide atop the crust on skis). What is so fun about the spring crust? Well, you no longer have to follow set trails, you can simply skijor and glide wherever your heart desires. This also provides great left and right training for Jack as he has to listen to me and/or follow Zorro's lead instead of sticking to set trails.
Come along for a short excerpt of Jack's first time skijoring the spring crust. You'll note Jack is a little "bouncy" in his execution but does a very good job of snapping back into line with Zorro whenever he drifts. Pretty good for a young guy on his first unset trail!
Back to the beginning of yesterday's outing. Zorro and I did a quick 4.1 mile skijor on Prospect Hill before collecting Jack for the finish. You get some great views of Breckenridge Ski Resort across the valley from Prospect Hill:
Zorro sprinting atop the spring crust as we make our own path on Prospect Hill and take in
the nice view of the snow-covered ski runs of Breckenridge Ski Resort.
For our second short video of the day... Come along with Zorro and I gently gliding and setting our own path on a great crust layer. It is fun to pay special attention just over 20 seconds into this video. If your volume is up loud enough, you'll hear me call out a "right" to Zorro (which he quickly executes) as I initially think drifting right is the best path to avoid obstacles. But, almost immediately after I say "right", I notice a better line of unobstructed crust to the left. As a result you can hear me call out "left" and see Zorro immediately abandon the right and cut us left instead. Zorro is such a great listener!!!