It was a beautiful morning with perfect conditions to skijor the trail to Buffalo Park atop Rabbit Ears Pass. Wheeee!
What incredible conditions! Is it really March 31st? :)
Love the "snow poofs" behind Zorro and Jack's feet.
The prior photo exemplifies the trail conditions we had most of the day. If you look closely you can see that we are on a groomed trail with an inch or so of fresh snow over the groom. There was the occasional snowmobile track on the trail too (as you see above) but we were able to ride on the untouched sides of the trail almost all morning. Perfect conditions for the human to let the sled dogs go as fast and far as they wanted :)
A little further along and same conditions:
Zorro & Jack riding the freshies on the side of the trail with me as Rudy flirts in & out of
the snowmobile track going down the middle.
For today's video highlight, we feature Jack and his now patented "high speed, high degree of difficulty and high precision" lane changes. Typically everyone maintains their current position when we are going fast. But, Jack has become our team expert at changing lanes. Sometimes he just wants to be in a different lane and he executes the "lane change" with perfection: back off, change lanes and then launch back into the sprinting pack. Nice work Jack!
It's fun to note Jack giving me a few glances as he does the lane change. I give him a "yes" head nod whenever he does. He just wants to know I am ok with the maneuver - of course I am, he is so good at it! The "head nod" comes from his therapy dog training as this is a positive reinforcement I give him when working and I do not want to talk and interrupt his therapy work.
Time to turnaround and head back and...
"They are both doing it again, aren't they?" asks Zorro.
"We stop, I roll!" demonstrates Jack who has rolled at least on snow angel on every skijor
outing of his young life.
"I'm following suit too!!!!" adds goofy Rudy who has recently started rolling snow angels
almost as much as Jack!
After following the main trail most of the morning, we decided to abandon the set track at one point and skijor the "spring crust" covering the meadows atop Rabbit Ears Pass. This was young Rudy's first ever skijor on spring crust - a fun time of year when you can abandon trails and simply skijor any direction you want atop the solid crust!
Freshies on the Spring Crust! Wheeee!
Not the best "triple face shot", but you can still see the happy & satisfied expression on everyone's face when I paused to check our distance and ask how they were doing:
"Perfect, let's keep going!" declare the happy & satisfied trio.
A beautiful morning with perfect conditions: 7 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.
2018/2019 Season to Date: 86 days on the trails covering 475.5 miles with 42,600 feet of elevation climbed.
It was a beautiful day to lay fresh tracks in 2-4 inches of new snow on the trails at Swan Valley!
A beautiful morning to lay fresh tracks all outing long!
My partners have a pretty extensive vocabulary - ranging from "stop" to "go", "easy" to "fast", "left" and "right", etc, etc. But here's a new one to them:
"Caution? Hmmm, never heard of that -we'll take it to mean GO!" say the sprinting trio
throwing caution to the wind as we fly along the trail :)
We found ourselves laying fresh tracks on the trails all morning long. The only other tracks we encountered were our own from doing an "out & back" on various trails. Come along as we zoom along the trail laying fresh tracks to the right and you can see our "other direction" fresh tracks to the left. Fun day!
Love this fast action shot. Jack really is a tad bigger than Zorro and not that much smaller than Rudy; but he looks like a tiny bowling ball in this shot :)
Flying Zorro, running Rudy and bowling ball Jack!
Two things typically happen on the trails at Swan Valley. First, we usually encounter other dog sled teams to flirt with on the trails. Second, we often encounter moose on or nearby the trails. I paused to see if I could hear dog sled teams or find a moose. Well, I paused, so....
"You stop, I roll!" demonstrates goofy snow rolling Jack.
"Searching for sled dogs, searching for moose!" declares intense Zorro.
"I'm just a happy young guy!" adds cute Rudy.
While we failed to have an encounter with either sled dogs or moose, we did have fun laying fresh tracks all morning long. A satisfying outing for everyone?
"YES! We'll take Late March Freshies any day!!!" declare the happy trio.
Fresh snow to ourselves all morning long: 6.3 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.
2018/2019 Season to Date: 85 days on the trails covering 468.5 miles with 42,000 feet of elevation climbed.
Great shot of the skijoring engine launching me up a rise in the trail. Zoom!
Riding the "tow rope gangline" behind the fast uphill trio!
This was our third skijor at Gold Run Nordic Center this week. Why so many outings on the same trails in one week? Well, this nordic center closes on Sunday, so we wanted to get as many "final week outings" on the fun groomed trails as possible. Given all the snow you see in the pictures, you are probably asking why is this nordic center closing? The "dogs allowed" trails are on the upper elevation trails at Gold Run while the lower "no dogs" trails are on the Breckenridge Golf Course. These lower trails have virtually no shade and, being lower, get hotter daily temps. So, this nordic center always closes at the end of March even though the upper trails are in perfect shape.
Back to the day's fun. We love catching & passing cross country skiers in front of us. Nobody can ski faster than my partners and we catch & pass anyone in front of us :)
"Hi - coming through!' say the fast trio. The pair of skiers saw us coming and stepped to the side
to let us pass and bring smiles to their faces. Flirtatious Jack drifted as close as he could to the
group to flash his happy face :)
The nordic center has been grooming the trails daily for this final week of fun. Come along for an impressive video as we are on a section of trail that is technically uphill although I am merely standing on my skis being towed along the up rising terrain. Love the Zorro, Jack & Rudy skijoring machine!
Rudy was having a great time all day, he just had to tell Zorro about it on one stretch:
"I said - I AM HAVING A BLAST!! Can you hear me now?!?" yells silly Rudy to Zorro :)
At our midpoint of the outing as we were transitioning from one trail to another. I thought I had my body twisted far enough left to capture all the happy trio. I wasn't far enough to get all of Zorro's body; but I was far enough to get all the happy faces:
"Love these fast groomed trails!" declare the happy trio waiting for me to transition onto
the new trail.
We end the day with the happy, happy boys running by Nancy near the trailhead.
"Hi mom!" says Rudy flashing Nancy a glance.
"Happy, but focused forward!" add Zorro & Jack.
We may be able to use the trails at Gold Run after new snowfall; but today was our last day on the "groomie zoomie" terrain of Gold Run. Thankfully, we still have many other trails still available (including the Breckenridge Nordic Center which is much higher in elevation than Gold Run): 7.2 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.
2018/2019 Season to Date: 84 days on the trails covering 462.2 miles with 41,400 feet of elevation climbed.
A ridiculously fast morning on freshly groomed trails with my ridiculously fun skijor partners!
"We are having a BLAST!!!!!" declares the happy trio waiting for me to turnaround at our
midpoint of the day's outing.
We spent the entire outing on the trails at Gold Run Nordic Center. We were thrilled to find the trails freshly groomed as we were either first or second tracks on the trails all outing long! Zorro, Jack & Rudy were in a real groove and we were flying all over the place all morning long. I could not believe how juiced these three were to floor it all day long. Come along for the fun...
It was catching air on each side of flying Zorro:
Jack & Rudy catching air as Zorro sets the speed flying down the middle of the group. Zoom!
I was riding behind flying Z when we got to a stretch of trail that weaved through the trees.
I have my right ski behind Zorro to keep pace with the trio and my left ski outside of Zorro
to maintain control. You can just make out the upcoming left weave in the trail - thus the reason
I am riding my left leg outside of the group to enter the curve. Wheeee!
We had Rudy the Flying Reindeer along for the ride this morning too:
Look - a flying reindeer!!!! Nice shot of flying Rudy with Zorro & Jack hovering on each
side of him.
We hit long open straightaways and got perfectly synchronized to launch the human along:
The synchronized trio catching air. Skijor Hovercraft :)
Come along for a "skijor minute" of today's fun. You get a little of everything in this video clip: down dips in the trail, up dips in the trail and fast/flat straightaways. There is one constant through the entire clip: the human in merely standing on the skis and the juiced trio tows me up, down and all over the place. The team was in a real groove this morning!
I slowed at one point to check how long we had been out on the trails. It was not a stop, but Jack & Rudy felt we slowed enough to do their "we are stopped" antics :)
Rudy threw himself off trail to roll in the snow. Jack quickly followed suit and threw himself
further off trail to roll in the deeper powder. Zorro couldn't bear to watch the children's antics :)
What a ridiculously fast day on absolutely perfect trails: 7.1 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH. I was actually shocked the GPS did not clock us at a faster top speed, it sure felt like it!!!
2018/2019 Season to Date: 83 days on the trails covering 455.0 miles with 40,800 feet of elevation climbed.
Fun shot of the sprinting trio as we conclude our morning outing. Wheeee!
Zipping along the fast & wide snowmobile trails in Swan Valley.
Today comes with a nice "shot from the front" of the skijoring trio and then an action video of us running towards and on by Nancy on the side of the trail.
Happy trio towing me quickly by Nancy on the sideline.
Now the video counterpart of the prior photo. We start out as a little dot way up the trail and then come more & more into view as we sprint towards and then on by Nancy. A rare video including me and not just the Siberian Huskies from the GoPro on my chest.
The goal of today's outing was to introduce young Rudy to the dog sled teams from Good Times Adventures that run these trails at Swan Valley. Usually we save runs on these trails for weekends to get the most interactions with the dog sled teams. We decided to introduce Rudy to the fun on a weekday thinking there would be a little less traffic and good training for Rudy. But, we over planned :( We did not encounter any teams on the trails this morning. We like to go out early, especially now that daytime temperatures are getting well above freezing, so targeted interacting with dog sled teams on their 9am tours (this always works on weekends). But, not today, apparently Good Times does not run 9am tours on weekdays this late in the season. We did see evidence that they still have 10am tours on weekdays; but we were already done with our morning outing well before 10am :(
There are signs all over the trails similar to the one below which reads "Caution. Watch for Sled Dogs on Trail" with a cute cartoon of a sled plus dogs on the top and bottom. That is what is supposed to happen: encounter teams and have fun flirting and learning to "on by".
"Watching.... Watching!!!!" say Zorro & Jack who have run these trails with dog teams
"Not sure what I'm watching for yet..." adds novice Rudy.
Here we go, flying by the Caution Sign and running & watching for dog sled teams all morning long. While we did not see any, we did have a lot of fun running :)
Searching and searching for teams to flirt with can wear a youngster out - just ask Jack & Rudy:
"On fire, must roll snow angels to cool our jets!" demonstrate the young goofs.
"Kids nowadays, who can figure them out?" says Zorro.
While we failed to find any teams to flirt with, we still had a very fun outing:
"Running on snow is a treat in itself!" say happy Zorro & Jack.
"Ok, so what was supposed to be the big deal about these trails?" asks puzzled Rudy as he
still does not know why we drove farther than usual to get skijor what were empty trails today :)
The season for dog sled tours is rapidly coming to a close at Good Times (they are limited by the forest service, not snow, for how long they can operate each winter). We may try to go back on Saturday or Sunday to hopefully introduce Rudy to the fun of flirting with the dog teams.
But, an outing alone on the trails is better than none at all: 5.9 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.
2018/2019 Season to Date: 82 days on the trails covering 447.9 miles with 40,200 feet of elevation climbed.
A fun day exercising the human to start the outing and then the Siberians to end the outing :)
"What a fun day! Glad you could keep up back there!" say the happy trio at our turnaround
point of the outing.
How did we exercise the human? Well, we started the outing on a narrow backcountry trail. The trail is about one snowmobile wide which is wide enough for Zorro, Jack & Rudy to fit side by side and go fast. But, it is too narrow for me to put both skis in the set track. If I do, then I have no room to snowplow and my partners take that as a release signal to go as fast as they can with me having no ability to stop or slow down! What do I do? Well, put one ski "in track" to allow speed behind my partners and one ski "out of track" for speed control behind my wild partners.
Right ski "in track", shift weight there to encourage & allow speed.
Left ski "out of track", shift weight there to slow the speed machine.
Come along for a short glimpse of me skiing in/out of the single track. This is a real workout on my legs keeping the speed machine under control in such a narrow trail. We had about 1 mile of me working the terrain before finally dropping onto the wide trails of Gold Run Nordic Center. The video ends as we drop onto the wide trails. Love how polite Jack slows, looks back and makes sure I am ok before taking off with Zorro & Rudy on the wide trail :)
Quickly cruising by the historic Sally Barber Mine:
"Hi mine, bye mine!" say the fast trotting trio.
Apparently I was the only one interested in slowing to view the mine :)
It was an interesting day out on the Sally Barber Mine Trail. To start the day, we had to climb over a large snow wall to get from the road and onto the trail. My pals got up & over the wall just fine, but I had to put one ski over and then stop, kneel and slowly put the next ski over. Well, it was a stop, so you know what Jack did...
"We stop, I roll! Powder Angel!!!!" demonstrates goofy Jack rolling a massive angel in the
deep side powder while I crawl up & over the snow wall.
"You almost ready back there?" asks happy Zorro.
"Are you sure I am the goofy youngster? Look at Jack!!!!" declares patient little Rudy!
Over the wall and snow angels complete, time to take to the trail. Well, we came upon another interesting situation for the day. We have had so much snow in March that "ski only" trails are extremely narrow (humans do not like to break trail, so everyone is using any existing track and not widening the trails). I did not think it would be a problem because Sally Barber is such a popular trail that I assumed the set trail would be 3 Siberians wide. Well, I was wrong. As you see in the following photo, every time we tried to use the set track, all 3 could not fit:
Zorro & Jack fit, but Rudy does not as you see Rudy kicking up powder on the shoulder of
the set track holding Zorro & Jack.
The problem with all 3 unable to fit with the addition of deep snow on the shoulders is that whoever is "out of track" cannot keep pace with the 2 in track. It is not fair to ask one of the trio to try and keep pace in the deep shoulders. So, what did we do? Well, we abandoned the set track and made our own trail all day long. Zorro, Jack & Rudy will happily set the trail if it means all three can run in sync!
Forget the set track, we'll make our own!
Zorro, Jack & Rudy setting a new track in the deeper shoulders.
You can see my left ski floating over the snow while my right ski is buried in the
deeper snow behind Rudy.
A fun, albeit interesting & creative, day on the trails. Time to celebrate the end of another fun day:
"It was snow, so we had a BLAST!" say the focused trio.
We only had time for a short run today and we had to get creative on the terrain. The result, a shorter than usual outing: 4.7 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a modest top speed of 17 MPH.
2018/2019 Season to Date: 80 days on the trails covering 436.4 miles with 39,200 feet of elevation climbed.
Just enough new snow on the fast packed trails to safely uncork the skijoring engine! Zoom!
Laying fresh tracks in about 1/2 inch to 1 inch of new snow on the fast packed terrain
underneath. Love the "snow poofs" in Jack's tracks!
We were on the fast trails of Breckenridge Nordic Center this morning and were thrilled to be the first on the trails with the little bit of new snow. My partners love laying fresh tracks and I love having fresh snow to give me some control behind the power trio! Check out the "Rudy Machine" in the following shot:
Rudy putting every bit of his 46 pounds into his pulling frame!
Zorro & Jack flying along beside the Rudy Machine.
The tracks to our left are our "out tracks" as we were laying fresh tracks out & back
all morning long!
Now for the video counterpart to the previous two photos. Come along as we fly along the trails laying light freshies in the little bit of new snow. Wheeee!
It was an interesting and almost too difficult day to skijor Boreas Pass!
"You about set back there?" ask Zorro & Rudy at a break on the trail.
"Boring.... boring... Can we go yet?!?!" asks impatient Jack.
Nice view of the ski runs of Breckenridge Ski Resort on the mountains across the
valley from us.
So, what was interesting and difficult? Well, the primary set track on the trail was only 2 Siberians wide (3 could not fit shoulder to shoulder). In addition, the set track was so packed it was closer to ice than packed snow. So, interesting was the trio could not fit side by side. Difficult was that I could not put both skis in the primary track - it was so narrow and packed that I had no ability to stop or even slow down if I put both skis in this narrow chute. My pals have been taught that if you feel no friction from me then you are allowed to go as fast as you want. They are right 99% of the time. Today was the other 1% as I had no way to introduce friction in the narrow slick track! Yikes.
We cannot all fit, so Jack takes a turn jogging behind Zorro & Rudy.
But, aha, look at my skis in the prior photo. There was a secondary ski track to the left of the narrow and slick primary track. I could put my left ski out in this track and suddenly I had some ability to control our skijoring machine. Phew! Zorro quickly noticed what I was doing and said, "Hey, if the secondary track works for you, then it will work for me!" Smart guy.
Finally able to do a little skijoring with Zorro and my left ski in the secondary track
and Jack & Rudy and my right ski in the primary track.
It was still difficult as I was skiing with each ski in a different track (and the space between the primary and secondary constantly fluctuated); but we did it. Come along for an interesting and difficult skijor in strange conditions :)
Rudy caught on to what Zorro discovered too. He and Zorro took turns running in the solo track while the other stayed in the primary track with Jack. Jack tried the solo track once and did not like it. No problem, Zorro & Rudy were happy to alternate and let Jack stay in the main track.
Rudy's turn to run solo with my left ski. Wheeee!
All went great higher up on Boreas where we had the primary and secondary tracks. But, the last 1/2 mile was impossible to skijor. Notice anything in the following photo?
The straight line coming off my shoulders and by my head are my skis mounted on my backpack.
Yes, we are jogging, not skijoring!
So, what happened? Look closely and Zorro, Jack & Rudy are in the set track. It was wide enough for 3 down low (from lots of traffic); but it was also packed to the point of ice, not snow! Now look at the shoulders outside of the set track. There is no secondary track and, in fact, there are post holes all over the place (presumably from crowds stepping off for photos, etc.). So, my skis could not operate outside of the set track but the set track was too narrow and slick to provide any speed control (and my partners would, as taught, take off without friction). Yikes, too dangerous, time to put the skis on the backpack and jog the last 1/2 mile.
This is pretty much the only time that skijoring is at a complete disadvantage over traditional dog sledding. A dog sled has a brake, skis don't!
Oh well, we still had a great time - just a bit more difficult and interesting than planned: 5.9 miles traveled with 400 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.
2018/2019 Season to Date: 78 days on the trails covering 425.5 miles with 38,000 feet of elevation climbed.
Another Day, Another Freshly Groomed Trail equals Another Zoooom!
"Ready to go, just say 'when'!" says leader Zorro looking back to me at a turnaround
point on the trail.
"We are watching you big bro, tell us when to GO!" say youngsters Jack & Rudy looking to
Zorro (instead of me :) for instruction.
I love the occasional "size illusions" we get from Zorro, Jack & Rudy. Look at the prior photo and you can see the reality: Rudy is the "big boy" of our pack - look at him compared to Jack while Jack looks the same size as Zorro. This is the reality as we have Rudy (46 lbs), Jack (41 lbs) and Zorro (40 lbs). But, now look at the following photo and doesn't Rudy the Flying Reindeer (to the right) look smaller than everyone else?!?! Rudy the Flying Optical Illusion :)
Apparently the Flying Reindeer shrinks when he is airborne. What beautiful flying form from
Rudy; but don't Zorro & Jack look so much bigger than him in this photo?
Back to the day's fun outing... We were THRILLED to find the Harrison Creek snowmobile trail atop Rabbit Ears Pass freshly groomed. We were first tracks on the fun groomie zoomie. For the second time this season the GPS registered 24 MPH as our top speed!
Pretty views of "Colorado Below Us" from atop Rabbit Ears Pass.
Pretty view of the hover husky trio floating above the trail :)
Now for today's beautiful video. This is not the section where we hit 24 MPH; but it is such a pretty section of trail that I had to share. Come along as we glide on perfect terrain in dense forest until near the end of the video when we transition from dense forest to open & stunning views. Trees to Views - wheeee!
The "Power Trio" driving to the finish at the Dry Lake Trailhead.
It was a steep and complex day - anybody tired? Nope - just ME!
Zorro got to teach young Jack & Rudy about the fun starting a skijor from Dry Lake this morning. This trailhead is the starting point for Steamboat Powdercats: a touring company that takes people to deep backcountry terrain by snowcat. We always get on the trail head of the cats and then have fun watching them pass and then chasing them up the trail.
We stepped off the trail to let a cat pass us and here comes Jack & Rudy.
"Hey - that machine is cool - let's follow!" declare the pair hopping back on trail to chase.
Where is Zorro in the prior photo? Well, he knows to let the cat completely pass and wait for my release. Ok, all safe, here we go:
"Boing! Here I come - let's catch the cat!" demonstrates Zorro launching himself on trail
to join Jack & Rudy to play chase the cat.
Do we catch the cat? Well, no. The reason: steep elevation! If we are on flat, downhill or shallow uphill terrain we can keep pace and even pass a snowcat. But, the goal of this powdercat tour is to get people up quickly to high elevation powder. As a result, we have fun chasing the cat up steep terrain but cannot keep pace. How steep? Well today's outing was 6 miles with 900 feet of elevation climbed. The outing was an "out & back" so that means we went up 900 feet in 3 miles before turning around and catapulting the human back down.
Quick break at our high, turnaround point:
"Wow, we started way down there and are now way up here?!?!" say young Jack & Rudy.
"Just stick with me kids, I've got so much more to show you!" adds veteran Zorro.
Turnaround and ZOOM we go downhill...
Nice views from our high point. Wheeee!
Come along for today's video highlight as my power trio is propelling me downhill fast. The terrain was choppy and hard packed. My knees feel the result of being catapulted down steep terrain for 3 straight miles :)