Thursday, October 31, 2019

Narrow Perfection

"Water Crossing! Danger! High Jump! Long Jump!" declares water averse Zorro.
Nice high & long water clearance from Zorro :)
Zorro cracks me up in that prior photo. The water crossing was actually frozen, so no need to leap to avoid it. But, it you hate water as much as Zorro, you can never be too safe. Better to high & long jump than to discover it was not really frozen.

We did a split run this morning, taking young Jack & Rudy for the first half of outing while elder Zorro rested and then joined us for the second half.

Jack, Rudy and I skijored up the backside of Sally Barber Mine, then went out & back on the Trail of Tears side trail and then down the front side of Sally Barber Mine to join with Zorro for an out & back in French Gulch.

The Trail of Tears side trail is a very narrow extreme backcountry trail. By "extreme" I mean a trail that winds through the forest. The set trail is barely 2 dogs wide and the trail with or without snow is often barely 2 dogs wide! This was Rudy's first time skijoring extreme backcountry and Jack's fifth. But it was Jack's first without Zorro's guidance. It takes a lot of trust in your partners to ski through such tight trees. You are so near the wildlife - squirrels to moose and everything in between. You have to have a lot of concentration and self-control to listen to your human and remain on trail. Jack and Rudy did PERFECT - so proud of the two youngsters!
Staying focused with safe speeds and staying on-trail through the forest of distractions!
So proud of the young two!
The reward for being perfect sled dogs on the narrow trails? Well, I let them really open up the engine once we were back on the wide Sally Barber Mine Trail. Wheeee!
Almost our first "hover husky" shot of the season. Jack has what looks to be a single
toe of his front right touching the snow :)
Once we joined up with Zorro, we found more "interesting" terrain. French Gulch contains a handful of private cabins and the owners have keys to the winter gate, allowing them to drive the gulch. Well, a vehicle had been on the trail. The result is you get two "set tracks" that mirror the tire tracks. Unfortunately, the tire track is rarely wide enough to fit three sled dogs. So, we spent most of the day with 2 in one track and one in the other:
Rudy running solo in the left track. Zorro & Jack running joint in the right track with Jack
dipping in & out of the side powder to let elder Zorro remain in-track all day. Polite Jack.
Occasionally, though, the set track widened. Whenever it was "3 Siberians Wide", everyone immediately re-joined and we opened up the throttle. Zoom!
Perfect - wide enough for 3 - here we goooo!
Turnaround time, goofy Jack time...
"He's doing it again!" states Zorro.
"Haha, hehe, roll, roll, roll!" demonstrates snow rolling Jack.
"Head dunk!" adds silly Rudy.
Done with a great day, who is ready for end-of-run treats?
"Me, me too, me three!!!!" says the focused trio.

A fun "long outing" for the youngsters with Zorro coming along for the second half: 9.2 miles traveled with 750 of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 12 days on the trails covering 71.9 miles with 7100 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


Fun "shot from the front" of the happy sled dog trio towing me to the finish of this morning's skijor!
Such a happy trio! Love being towed by these three!
Today's skijor took us up & down Boreas Pass. We were thrilled to find a snow berm at the trailhead preventing cars from driving the pass.  As a result, we found ourselves laying fresh tracks up Boreas in 1/2 to 2 inches of new snow.
Laying fresh tracks up Boreas in about an inch or so of new snow.
We were cruising up the trail as a nice speed when suddenly my partners slammed on the brakes and planted their noses in the snow. What did they find? Well, FRESH moose tracks!!! You have to stop and smell moose tracks!
Two moose footprints behind and to the left of Zorro. All three noses in more moose prints.
I could tell from my partners' intensity that these tracks were FRESH.  By everyone's actions, it was clear the moose had recently come from the trees to our left, crossed the trail and then went up the right shoulder. Zorro was determined to track down this delicious smelling moose!
"Kids - THIS WAY!!!!!" declares Zorro following the trail of moose tracks you see in front of him.
"But they smell sooooo good!" adds the silly kids too distracted by the smell to notice Zorro has
found the path of tracks to follow :)
You can see the tracks go up the trail a short distance before dipping off the trail into the trees to the right. My partners really wanted to dip off the right too. I vetoed that request :)

Eventually it was time to turnaround and head back down. I am becoming convinced that Jack thinks the "turnaround" command means "stop, drop, roll and then turn around" :)
"Turning!" states all business Rudy.
"Um, Jack is clearly confused on this command!" reports Zorro.
"Got it - stop, drop, roll and THEN turn around!" demonstrates goofy Jack.
Jack finally got upright and completed the turnaround. But, then, they all had to wait for the slow human to move his skis around. Come along and watch my "barely patient" trio trying their hardest to wait for me to turn around. Once around I give slack on the gangline and utter a soft "OK" and that is all it takes to launch us down the trail. I have a little trouble getting my ski poles on right; but who needs poles when you have a sled dog trio :)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Closing shot of the day - usually you get incredible views of the Breckenridge Ski Resort across the valley from this point on Boreas. But, the resort was barely visible through snow and clouds this morning. Look really close and you can make out some white strips on the mountains across the valley - those are the ski runs of Breckenridge.
Pretty view of the sled dogs. Come back another day for a stunning clear view of the ski resort.

Fun day up/down Boreas with some fresh moose scent for added entertainment: 5.6 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 11 days on the trails covering 62.7 miles with 6350 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


A very entertaining outing skijoring French Gulch this morning.

We had serious speed with a light layer of snow over the packed trail. Here's a cool shot of flying Zorro, hovering Rudy and powder Jack. Zoom...
Zoom, zoom, zooooom we go!
While the conditions were perfect for a fast day, there is only one thing can can pull Zorro and Jack to a stop on the trails - scent of moose!!! Rudy is still perfecting his "moose sensors" but Zorro & Jack both have very accurate moose sensors. Jack's moose sensor didn't develop into this level of accuracy until he was over 2 years old; so we expect Rudy's to become refined very soon too :)
"We DETECT moose to the right!" declares the moose aware Zorro & Jack.
"Sniff, sniff - that does smell wonderful! How did you both notice it before me?" asks young
Rudy catching a whiff of moose after stopping to see why his brothers drifted right.
Then, sure enough, just around the corner from the previous photo and FRESH moose tracks!!!
"Oh these are FRESH!" declares the track inspecting trio.
You can barely make out one moose print to the left of Rudy and then a set going
right of Zorro.
Despite the freshness of the tracks and the intensity of Zorro & Jack's stare into the trees, we failed to see a moose. But, I did hear cracking branches and then splashing water as it was clearly moving away from us and into French Creek.

No moose sighting, so back to perfect conditions, whee!
Wide angle shot showing the speed demons in front and my ski tips in the back. Hang on!
Todays fun video clip: Fly, Control and then Go. Come along as we are flying along the French Gulch Trail when we come around a corner and encounter two people and a loose dog coming up the trail. Watch as I use all my leg strength to push into my skis to get the trio under control so that we can safely pass on by. Sometimes I really do have to do some of the work :)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Of course, we had the usual once it was time to turnaround and head back:
"I'm still searching for moose!" declares forest inspecting Zorro.
"Stopped, rolling!" demonstrates goofy Jack.
"Stopped, dunking!' adds head dunking Rudy.
Finally, the end of a very entertaining day on the trails and time for end of run treats. Oh Rudy, you have the attention span of a 1 year old :)
"Ready for treats!" declares the mature Zorro & Jack.
"Hi Mom? Wait, what treats?" adds no attention Rudy :)

A great day with the sled dog trio on the trails: 5.4 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 10 days on the trails covering 57.1 miles with 5750 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Perfect Plan

Riding the "Jack & Rudy Tow Rope" as we lay fresh tracks skijoring up Boreas Pass Road!
Laying freshies in 3-5 inches of fresh snow all the way up Boreas. Wheeee!
We came up with a perfect idea of how to make use of Boreas Pass in early season as we try to exercise the youngsters (Jack & Rudy) while still allowing elder Zorro to come along for part of the outing. Here was the plan: (1) Jack, Rudy & I would start skijoring up Boreas Pass and Nancy & Zorro would stay behind at the trailhead; (2) After giving us a headstart, Nancy & Zorro would eventually drive up Boreas until they reached us; (3) We would then add Zorro to the team, Nancy would drive back down Boreas and Zorro, Jack, Rudy & I would skijor down the pass.

This plan was perfect for two reasons: we got a full outing in for Jack & Rudy and then Zorro got to come along for a short run downhill in packed tire tracks. Perfect!

Jack, Rudy & I were making such good time going up, that we skijored roughly a mile past Bakers Tank and then turned around and skijored back to Bakers Tank to wait for Nancy & Zorro. We got to open up the skijor engine coming back in the track we set going up:
Zipping along in the track we laid on the way up.
We were so fast, that we got back to Bakers Tank before Nancy & Zorro arrived. What do you think Jack & Rudy did while we waited for Nancy & Zorro? Ha, you guessed it...
"We are stopped, so we will roll snow angels!" demonstrate the goof twins.
Pretty shot of Bakers Tank too :)
Once Nancy & Zorro arrived, we added in Zorro and ZOOOOM, we took off using the tire tracks Nancy & Zorro set on the way up as a pseudo groomed trail. Wheeee!
Yay, we've got Zorro added in for the short & easy return leg.
Today's short video clip is the counterpart of the prior photo. Come along as we make use of the tire track for a fast packed trail coming back down Boreas Pass.
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Eventually we caught up with Nancy waiting for us a ways down the road. Happy, happy sled dogs completing their morning run:
"Hi mom - this was a PERFECT day!" exclaims the happy trio.

A perfect day exercising the youngsters with a fun way to add Zorro into the end of the day's outing: 6.5 miles traveled with 650 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 9 days on the trails covering 51.7 miles with 5250 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, October 25, 2019


What is right and wrong about the following skijor shot?
What is right? Jack & Rudy topping 24 MPH skijoring the Sally Barber Mine Trail!
What is wrong? Where is Zorro?
What is right and wrong about the following skijor shot?
What is right? The trio (Zorro/Jack/Rudy) flying along the shallow layer of fresh snow in French Gulch.
What is wrong? Well, nothing :)
Ok, so what is the deal with these two photos from today's outing with Zorro missing from one? Well, we knew this would be happening this winter. Zorro is almost 11.5 years old whereas Jack is nearing 2.5 and Rudy is nearing 2 years old. While Zorro is a very healthy 11.5, he is also 11.5 - that means he has shown a few signs of slowing down and enjoys shorter runs instead of long distance runs. Jack and Rudy, on the other hand, are entering the prime of their lives and really want long runs. So our solution is that we will start some outings without Zorro and let Jack & Rudy run for a while before adding Zorro to finish the outing. Today was the first time we did this setup. Jack, Rudy and I skijored up, over and down the Sally Barber Mine Trail and then met Nancy & Zorro at the Sally Barber/French Gulch intersection to add Zorro for and out & back in French Gulch.

How did Zorro handle it? Well, wonderful! Zorro had no problem staying with Nancy as the youngsters and I started the outing. Zorro had no problem waiting to join us at the French Gulch intersection and he was very happy to join for the short distance end of the day's run.

How did I handle it? Well, it was VERY strange to be on skis without Zorro as we started the day. I realized that I have been on skis with Zorro for 1097 straight outings. The last time I was on skis without Zorro was 1098 outings ago - dating back to February 2010. So, yes, it was odd to not have my Z along for the ride; but Jack & Rudy sure picked up the slack.

As for Jack & Rudy. Clearly they had been paying attention to all of Zorro's tutoring. Jack has 1-1/3 seasons of skijoring under his belt and Rudy has about 3/4 of a season. On their first ever skijor without Zorro they looked liked seasoned professionals! We were going to make it up, over and down the Sally Barber Mine Trail in record time; so we turned around and redid a section of trail to get our exercise. In addition, the pair topped 24 MPH skijoring - I do not believe we have ever topped 24 MPH in October. Come along for a great video clip of Jack & Rudy looking like seasoned pros!!!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Anyway, back to the other entertaining points of the outing...

We had fresh smelling moose tracks!
"Sniff, sniff, FRESH!" declares the moose sniffing trio.
The tracks started from Zorro's left and went through the trees above and to the right of Jack.
All three wanted to abandon trail and follow the tracks. I vetoed that request ;)
We had the usual snow rolling, goofball Jack at our turnaround point:
"I'm turned around, when are these kids coming?" asks Zorro.
"Rub a dub dub!" adds Jack.
"Head Dunk!!!!" states Rudy.
Finally, of course we had end-of-run pork treats:
All smiles, all focused - hand them out!
An enjoyable, albeit very interesting day on the trails. The first time in 1097 straight outings that I have been on skis without Zorro. Jack & Rudy's first "solo run". An amazing top speed of 24 MPH in October. Rudy's first 9+ mile skijor. What a day... 9 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 24 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 7 days on the trails covering 38.1 miles with 3800 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Breaking trail in 6-8 inches of fresh powder in October. Wow!
Beautiful shot of the trail breakers with deep tracks in the snow behind then and untouched
perfect snow in front. What an October gem.
The forecast was for 5-9 inches of snow overnight and that is just what we got! We were out just after sunrise on French Gulch to get the new snow all to ourselves. If you've followed in past years, you know French Gulch is a popular place to encounter moose. Yet, our first three outings in the gulch this season did not have any moose entertainment. Finally, this morning brought us some moose entertainment as a fresh smelling set of moose tracks crossed the trail in front of us.
"Sniff, sniff - these are fresh!' states track inspecting Rudy.
"I know, let me in the tracks!' adds Jack.
"Yes - fresh indeed! says Zorro the seasoned moose expert.
You can see the moose tracks coming from the left then across the trail and into the trees to the right? How did I know the moose went from left to right? Well, my three partners TOLD me! All three dipped their noses in the tracks and wanted to go right :)  We failed to see the moose; but it was nice to finally get some fresh tracks in French Gulch to keep our moose hope alive.

After an aerobic time breaking trail out the gulch, it was time to turnaround. But, first...
"Are we turning around? Wait, must roll first!" demonstrates goofball Jack (nice form though).
"DUNK - let me cool my head first!' adds head dunking Rudy.
"Kids, I tell ya, kids these days!!!!" comments Zorro.
Once we got the kids turned around, it was time to run back to the trailhead. The only tracks on the trail were the ones we laid on the way out. When all three could fit in the set track they would. But, when the track was too narrow, we had polite Jack & Rudy. They gave the elders (Zorro & me) the set track while putting themselves in the side powder. Nice to preserve the elders and exercise the youngsters in the powder :)
Zorro & I in the set track, Jack & Rudy making their own trail in the side powder.
Today's fun video clip goes along with the prior photo. We start will all three using the set track as best as they can until we transition to Zorro & I "in track" with Jack & Rudy setting a new track in the right powder. Preserve the elders and exercise the youngsters :)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

End of an October trail breaking gem, time for end of run treats:
"Ready!!!" state focused Zorro & Jack.
"I am ready too, even though I look like I'm in la-la-land!" adds Rudy.
We only had time for a short outing this morning, but it was an aerobic trail breaking treat: 4 miles traveled with 400 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 6 days on the trails covering 29.1 miles with 3000 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

First 20 MPH

First time topping 20 MPH skijoring for the 2019/2020 season - zoom!
Flying Rudy to the left with sprint-tucked Zorro & Jack on the right. Zoom!
We returned to French Gulch this morning. Yesterday's outing had just enough snow to go while being cautious about early season rocks and other obstacles. Well, it continued snowing on & off during the day and night and, as a result, French Gulch was perfect this morning. No caution needed and, as you see above, we were able to uncork the skijoring trio and top 20 MPH in October!!!!

We also found some great "shallow powder" far back in the gulch. Perfect conditions to kick up powder all around your body as you glide through the snow.
Kicking up powder around Zorro & Jack. Wheeee!
Today's short video clip: having a great time weaving up, down and through the forest as we glide through shallow powder for miles and miles. What a fun October outing!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

It is safe to say that Jack & Rudy thoroughly enjoyed their snow angels at our turnaround point on the trail. What a pair of goofballs!
"Aaaahhhh, just plain AAAAHHHH!" declares the snow rolling goofs.
"Sometimes I can't even watch! Kids these days!" adds Zorro in denial of his goofy little brothers.
What a beautiful skijor for late October, right Zorro?
"Yes! I had SO much fun!" cute Zorro tells me.
"We have the attention span of 1 & 2 year olds!" adds the distracted youngsters :)
A rare "3 days in a row skijoring in October" this morning: 5.4 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH. 4 in a row tomorrow? Maybe, check back and see...

2019/2020 Season to Date: 5 days on the trails covering 25.1 miles with 2600 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Just Enough

Great conditions far back in French Gulch this morning. Powder Fun!!!
Great shot of the power trio towing me through 5+ inches of powder in the upper
terrain in French Gulch.
It is still October, so there was just enough snow to have a blast in French Gulch and there was also just enough lack of snow to be cautious now and then :)

An example of lack of snow below. Zorro HATES water, he will never touch it and will long jump any water obstacle we encounter on the trails. We had a couple of obstacles this morning. Jack and Rudy do not mind getting their toes wet; but Zorro will pause, align himself and then long jump any water obstacle!
Nice long jump from Zorro as he clears the water obstacle. It wasn't that big so only a little
hop was really necessary. But, Zorro does a long jump anyway just to make sure he misses
all the water!
Another example of just enough and almost not enough... Come along and watch as we are cruising along the trail until the end of this clip when you hear & see my ski catch a rock. I almost wipeout but there was just enough snow to recover and continue. Phew :)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

For the most part, though, the day was perfect (especially for October). Fun shot below as Zorro & Rudy are in set tracks on each side of the trail while Jack & I ride the powder middle. Jack loves powder and will always take the powder path if he can.
The bookends (Zorro & Rudy) cruising the sides with powder Jack down the middle.
Finally, any amount of snow is enough to roll snow angels, just ask Jack & Rudy.
"Oh my, here they go again!" comments Zorro about his little brothers.
"Got Snow? We Roll!!!" demonstrates the goofball twins.

Just enough snow to have a great morning skijoring French Gulch: 5.6 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 4 days on the trails covering 19.7 miles with 2100 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Yay Snow

Yay for a great dump of new snow high up on Boreas Pass. 
What fun we had this morning!
"We had a GREAT time!!!!" exclaims the ecstatic trio to be back on such good snow!
We only had a few inches of snow in town so we decided to drive up Boreas Pass and see if there was enough snow to skijor up high. Success! We found great conditions up high. Boreas Pass is open to vehicles until November, so we also found tire tracks in the snow to make for a fast packed trail. Love this photo of all 3 sled dogs fitting in one tire track. Where does one end and the other start? :)
Fast running bundle of connected sled dogs :)
In case you cannot tell, it's Jack (left) then Zorro (middle) and Rudy (right).
As I said, Boreas is still open to vehicles. We were out early so we would not encounter much, but we did have one car come up the pass behind us. I pulled us over to let the car pass and then told my partners it was ok to restart. Well, Rudy HATES being passed by anything (car, bike, snowmobile, you name it). As soon as I gave the OK to restart he launched us up the trail to catch the car. We actually kept pace, uphill, for a surprising amount of time!
"None shall pass, I'm coming to get you!" declares monster Rudy restarting us out at top speed :)
There was comical Rudy and his "none shall pass" and then we had the usual goofball Jack at our turnaround point on the trail:
"Kid, you are going to roll DOWN the hill!" states Zorro to silly Jack.
"Don't care, rolling, rolling, rolling!' demonstrates silly snow rolling Jack.
"I think we can catch the car if we restart!' adds all business Rudy still focused up trail
in the direction of the car that passed us.
Come along and watch what fun we had on the trails this morning. Don't worry, the Jeep we are approaching is Nancy coming up trail to pick us up. I tell the guys "It's mom" as we approach so they know it is ok to keep approaching the vehicle as we know Nancy will stop for us :)
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A very successful and satisfying skijor for October, right guys?
"Yes, but ready for end-of-run pork treats!" states Zorro.
"Yes and you have my FULL attention!" smiles Jack.
"Satisfying indeed!" adds cute Rudy.

About as much fun as you can have in October! 5.2 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top seed of 18 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 3 days on the trails covering 14.1 miles with 1600 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Good, Bad, Ugly

Yay for our second outing of the 2019/2020 season on October 12th!
Celebrating a fun day on the trails at the of this morning's run.
"It was 'interesting' but we still had a blast!" declares the happy trio.
Snow in October in Colorado typically only lasts for a few days and then it melts & dries in between storms. It is not until November or December that you expect the snow to stick between storms. We had a nice dump of snow on October 10th for our first skijor outing of the season and went out early this morning in hopes of getting one more run before this storm's snow melted.

How did it go? Well, it was The Good, The Bad and The UGLY. Come along for the details.

The shaded parts of the trail were wonderful, just look at the following example of The Good:
Beautiful October 12th conditions as Zorro, Jack and Rudy are in a fast "sprint tuck" flying
along the great conditions in the shade.
But wait, what is that in the bottom center of the prior photo? It's not "ski tips" but, instead, it is the front of our dog sled. I knew today's outing would be a mix of good and bad. Well, using skis requires good conditions. The sled, on the other hand, can handle bad conditions. We go out very early when we use the sled and expect bad conditions as the sled can bounce and slide over frozen ground just fine.

As expected, we had many stretches of The Bad. Note the narrow "ribbon of death" ice going down the center of the photo. Rudy is aligned on the ice while Zorro & Jack jog on either side. The sled is also centered on the ice. If you look closely, you can tell by my shadow that I have both feet on the left runner of the sled. The right runner can bounce & slide on frozen ground IF my weight is not on it. So, I have both feet on the left runner with just enough ice to slide down the trail behind Rudy.
The Bad - riding a "ribbon of death" ice patch down the center of the trail.
I totally expected patches of The Bad today; what I did not expect was The UGLY! We found ourselves on extended patches of no snow or ice! Zorro, Jack & Rudy can pull the sled over this completely exposed yet frozen ground; but I have to get off the sled for this to happen. I attach myself to the sled by another gangline and I try my hardest to run fast enough for my pals behind the sled. The UGLY sure is a workout for the human!
Nice view of Breckenridge Ski Resort across the valley; but what UGLY conditions on the trail!
The conditions may have been all over the map, but we still had a very fun outing. The usual antics from the youngsters at our turnaround point and the usual happy Zorro flashing me a smile.
"It's still better than summer!" declares happy Zorro.
"Rub a dub dub, love rolling in the snow!" demonstrates the goofball youngsters.
Well, that wraps up what we will get out of this past storm after much more UGLY than expected on the trails this morning. But, we did get two short & fun outings out of the storm. We'll take that in October any year! 4.8 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 16 MPH.

2019/2020 Season to Date: 2 days on the trails covering 8.9 miles with 1100 feet of elevation climbed.