Sunday, November 29, 2020


 A very fun & aerobic deep snow day in Indiana Creek this morning!

"Deep is fun!" declares happy Jack & Rudy at a pause on the trail as
I try to determine which direction to go.

The forest service and county has spent the last 6ish years trying to reduce visitors to Indiana Creek as it had grown out of control due to being too popular. The last time we skijored Indiana Creek with any regularity was 2013. Well, the forest service has accomplished their goal as virtually no visitors/tourists know about Indiana Creek any longer and only local, serious backcountry skiers venture there any longer! All the tourists are now over in French Gulch and, thus, the reason we have abandoned skijoring French Gulch and reintroduced Indiana Creek to our trail set.

We started the day on a narrow single track:
Shoulder to shoulder in a narrow single track as we start trotting up
Indiana Creek.

But, after just a mile or 1.5 miles at most, all existing ski tracks ended (it's a lot of work to cross country ski 2-3 miles roundtrip in backcountry conditions :)  Once the existing tracks ended, we had our choice of three trails to continue on, all requiring serious breaking trail in 15-20 inches of powder. The first photo above is of us paused as I assess our trail choices. Well, apparently I took too long in my assessment:

"Wooooo - Let's Gooooo!" exclaims impatiently wooing Rudy :)
"Looks good to my left!" adds patient Jack.

Despite taking way too long to pick a direction, according to Rudy, my selection turned out to be perfect. We looped back to my left (not the direction Jack picked above) to break trail out in the sun and deep snow. What was so perfect about my decision? Well, only one animal had been on the trail before us: a moose!!!! 

Moose tracks to follow in front of Jack & Rudy!

A tall, long-legged moose does NOT make an easy, packed trail to follow in deep snow. Notice the deep snow Jack & Rudy are still plowing through above. This was quite the trail breaking exercise but had "moose juice" added to give them extra motivation and power :)

We broke trail in 15+ inches of snow, following the moose tracks, until the moose abandoned the main trail after 2ish miles:

Jack & Rudy off the main trail sitting in moose leg holes.
"Moose went this way! Can we too?" asks the moose seeking kids.

No, we didn't follow the moose off trail. Instead it was time to turnaround and head back. We did have the fun of now being able to run a little faster in the track we set on the way out. But, a single ski track in 15-20 inches of snow does not make for a packed return track (you need multiple passes to pack the trail):

Kicking up powder as we try to fit and run in the single ski track I
set on the way out. Wheeee!

Finally, well earned 'end of run' treats with Zorro at the trailhead:

Such focus as all three patiently await their end of run treats!

A fun return to Indiana Creek after many years off. We'll be going back to this trail for serious trail breaking exercise on/off this season. 5.8 (trail breaking) miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 17 days on the trails covering 126.6 miles with 11,500 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, November 28, 2020


 Happy Jack & Rudy during a quick break on this morning's 10 mile skijor!

"I could do 20 miles!" exclaims happy Jack!
"Me too! Quick break then I'm READY to go!" adds chilling Rudy.

We had an incredible morning skijoring every possible inch of "dogs allowed" trails at Breckenridge Nordic Center this morning. These trails are high up on Peaks 7 and 6 of the Ten Mile Range and you get some really nice views once you get high enough for the trees to start thinning (i.e., approaching treeline):

Great trail in front of us, great sled dogs flying down the middle
and incredible views of the Rocky Mountains to our right!

When you go as fast as Jack & Rudy, eventually you run out of nordic terrain but not sled dog energy! In order to keep going, we'll dip out of the set trails and make our own path breaking trail for a few short stretches:

The "powder twins" plowing through 15+ inches of untouched powder
off the main trail. Wheeee!

We did two short stints of breaking trail on untouched side trails. But, we spent the majority of the day flying fast all around the set trails of the nordic center. Nice shot of us skijoring near treeline. Whee!

Catching air (just barely) in a synchronized sprint tuck high up on Peak 6.

Now for the video counterpart of the prior photo. Come along as we are on an endless cruise along the highest elevation trail at Breck Nordic Center. Fun, fun, fun!

What a wonderful morning for 10+ miles of fast & fun skijoring, right?

"Thanks for exercising the kids!" says Zorro.
"Whew, that was a fun outing!" adds Jack & Rudy.

You may have noticed we've been spending a lot of time on the upper elevation trails of Breckenridge Nordic Center this November. Well, that's where just about the only good snow is right now (it's been too dry and warm on the lower trails). That's ok, we'll take the same trail over NO trail any day! 10.2 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 16 days on the trails covering 120.8 miles with 11,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Friday, November 27, 2020


Cool shot of Jack kicking up fresh powder as we fly along in the morning's new snow!

Fresh snow flying off/behind Jack as we sprint along!
Same for Rudy, but the gangline is obscuring most of his kick dust

We had a blast laying fresh tracks in 1-2 inches of new snow on the trails at Breckenridge Nordic Center this morning. 

The GPS registered our top speed as 21 MPH; but I sure felt faster to me! How fast? Well, I cannot answer that, but look at "how fast" this looks:

Jack the Airborne Bowling Ball :)
Rudy the Flying Missile :)
Looks darn fast to me!

Come along for the video counterpart to this photo. Zoom, zoom, zoom!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

But, alas, the GPS said "21 MPH" so that's what will go with for the day' outing. It was plenty fast enough for Jack & Rudy to take a dip in the snow to cool off at our turnaround point:

Well, ok, so they roll snow angels to cool off at every
turnaround point :)
We had an early morning appointment that made our run shorter than typical. Funny evidence of this at our end meeting up with Zorro:
"I'm ready for 'end of run' treats!" declares reliable, retired Zorro :)
"We are going to burn some more energy digging a hole in the snow
" demonstrates the silly kids.

What were they digging for in the snow? Who knows with these two goofballs. But, once I reminded them we had 'end of run' treats, they do know what is more important:
"Finally children!" says Zorro.
"Reporting for duty!" says the now focused Jack & Rudy

A fun albeit quick morning run laying fresh tracks for 6.4 miles with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 15 days on the trails covering 110.6 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Room for Turkey

 After 15+ miles of skijoring the last two days, we have made room to enjoy some Thanksgiving turkey!

"We'll accept pork as well!" declares the focused trio happy to get
'end of run' pork on Thanksgiving :)

It was a beautiful bluebird day skijoring the trails of Breckenridge Nordic Center yesterday:

What a beautiful morning! What incredible conditions! Zoom!

Along the way, Jack and Rudy decided to make use of one of the warming huts situated throughout the nordic center. What does a Siberian Husky do at a warming hut?

Yep, you roll snow angels at warming huts :)

Need some video evidence of yesterday's beautiful morning? Here you go:

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We only had time for a quick 6.8 mile outing yesterday, so did 8.4 miles this morning to make sure we got 15 "turkey earning exercise" miles. We decided to try French Gulch this morning:

Snow, but super thin coverage in French Gulch.

It was quite disappointing to find the coverage in French Gulch this thin 24 hours after we had a foot of snowfall. I have come to the decision it is time for me to retire French Gulch from our list of skijor trails. It is hard for me to let go, given its history. It was the first trail in Breckenridge we ever dog sledded with our first two sled dogs, Paco & Cisco. It was Max & Zorro's favorite trail (for both pristine snow and seeing moose) for years & years. But, even in Max & Zorro's later years skijoring, French Gulch was becoming increasingly overused and beaten down. I kept trying to hold on to this trail for Jack & Rudy, but it has continued to get more overused and more mistreated every year. I've decided to remove it from Jack & Rudy's list of skijor trails so that I can always have fond memories of the incredible outings I had with Max & Zorro on this terrain. I don't ever want to forget those Max/Zorro memories due to what is now a beat up and abused trail. Not to fear, I have other trails that did not exist in Max/Zorro's tenure that will becomes cornerstones for Jack/Rudy's career instead.

With such poor conditions on French Gulch, we did a quick out & back on this trail and then turned to the Sally Barber Mine trail (which shares the trailhead with French Gulch) to get some better skijoring:

Perfect conditions at Sally Barber Mine while this trails meets up
with an abused and beaten French Gulch just a few miles away!

Pretty parting shot from yesterday's 'end of run' treats with Zorro:
Pretty snow covered peaks in the distant with cute & happy sled
dogs in the foreground.

Beautiful 6.8 miles yesterday. Beat up initial miles this morning and then great miles to finish once we abandoned French Gulch for Sally Barber Mine. Two day total: 15.4 miles traveled with 1250 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 14 days on the trails covering 104.2 miles with 9500 feet of elevation climbed.

A sad farewell to French Gulch; but the fun Paco, Cisco and then Max, Zorro had with Nancy & I on this trail with forever be etched in our fond memories!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Just Enough

Just enough of a dusting of new snow to glide over just enough snow pack on the upper trails at Breckenridge Nordic Center this morning.

Zooming along! Just enough "snow dust" to safely open up the skijoring
engine on the hard packed surface underneath. Zoom!

The highlight of my day was the dusting of new snow that made it possible for us to skijor without any worries. This same terrain would have been hard packed to icy and very dangerous to skijor just yesterday. But, the safety dust made today a breeze for me to glide behind Jack and Rudy!

Jack and Rudy's highlight of the day? Fresh moose tracks crossing the trail and going into the forest:

Jack & Rudy standing in moose tracks as they scan the forest with
extreme intensity.

I could tell these tracks were very fresh from the kids' intensity. They REALLY wanted to go off trail and follow the tracks into the forest. Sorry, guys, the musher vetoed that idea :)

Back to my fun :) Here we go starting on the left side of the trail. I realize the right side is better conditions for me to ski. So, an "over to the right" command and Jack moves, then another "over to the right" and Rudy moves. Once on the right, it's pedal to the metal skijoring. Also notice about 36-37sec in and everyone slows without command when they hear my skis scrape and then they pick up the speed again once the skis sound right. Perfect skijor partners!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

As you can see in the first photo and video, the conditions were VERY nice most of the morning. But, it has been a dry & warm past week, so we did encounter some scary thin patches of trail. I had to take my skis off to walk over one extended patch of dirt and rocks. Then I had to stop to put the skis back on. Yep, I stopped and guess what happened :)

"You stop, we roll!!!!" demonstrate the snow rolling goofballs.

Finally, back to the trailhead and time for 'end of run' treats with elder Zorro:

"Serve them up!" declares the happy & focused trio.

A great day on the trails with just enough "snow dust" for fast & far skijoring: 9.6 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 12 days on the trails covering 89 miles with 8250 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Elk Encounter

 Celebrating a wildlife entertaining skijor with well-earned end of run treats:

Smiles all around :)

The highlight of yesterday morning's skijor? Elk encounter!!! 

When Jack and/or Rudy get a scent of wildlife nearby, I'll often let them drift to the side of the trail to peek into the forest for what has caught their attention. Since I can see there is nothing (such as a moose or elk) standing at the edge of the trail, it is safe to let us drift over and stare into the forest. Well, today was a bit different. It started out normal as Jack & Rudy wanted to drift to the trail edge to inspect the forest. As we were drifting over I saw what looked like a set of tree branches sticking up out of the snow and I thought, "That set of branches is so cool, it almost looks like antlers!" and I was getting set to get a photo of the antler looking branches. Then, as we got closer, the "branches stood up!" Oh my, it really was a set of antlers on the head of a big bull elk! The elk was laying down off the trail with only the tops of its antlers visible to us until we got closer and he stood up. Whoa! Needless to say, I was in panic mode getting Jack & Rudy reeled in and myself ready to hold them back. 

It's interesting that, despite how big elk are, they are very skittish, much like deer, and runaway quickly. A moose on the other hand (especially a bull) will stand ground and challenge you. But, bull elks apparently do not realize how big they are and they runaway quickly. Anyway, I eventually got myself, Jack & Rudy under control (as I was initially staring face to face with the elk). Once under control, I attempted to turn my chest to get the elk on the GoPro around my chest. He had already started running off by the time I got turned, so I do not have a photo of the impressive and scary initial "face to face" - here's what I did capture (click on the photo to enlarge):

Jack & Rudy staring at the big elk butt running into the forest at
the far right of this photo.

Still hard to see the elk in the prior photo, so here is a zoom into the far right of this photo:

There he is running away. Big "light brown" lower body and butt.
Dark brown shoulders & head with a big set of antlers on top!

How about a video of the encounter? Come along for a super slow motion clip to show the elk moving away once I am under control and able to point my chest towards him. Just watch Jack to see where to look and notice la-la-land Rudy isn't even looking the right direction to start but quickly syncs up with Jack and the elk :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

After this elk close encounter, imagine my work in convincing Jack & Rudy to turn and go the direction AWAY from the elk (that was the direction we needed to go to get back to the trailhead). Well, after a some discussion about why to go the "wrong way", we started up the trail and encountered fresh moose tracks!!!!

We came by this section of trail on the way out only 20-30 minutes earlier
and there were no moose tracks!

Needless to say, the very fresh moose tracks got Jack & Rudy over going the wrong direction from the elk as we were now going the right direction for moose. We never encountered the recent moose, but it did help get the team going the intended direction with gusto :)

Oh yeah, we went skijoring today too:

Initially the conditions were thin and sketchy as were were on a trail
with constant sun exposure.
Once we got onto more protected terrain, though, it was perfect conditions
to run fast, hunt elk and search for moose :)

Whew, what an interesting close encounter of the elk kind yesterday morning! 6.6 miles traveled with 550 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 11 days on the trails covering 79.4 miles with 7350 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


 Fun shot of Jack & Rudy running fast as we complete a 10+ mile skijor!

Impressive pair 10+ miles later!!!

Today we had a blast playing in all kinds of tracks!

We had rodent tracks which pulled Rudy off trail in one of his patented rodent swan dives:

"Rodents this way! Incoming!!!!" demonstrates diving Rudy.
"Whoa, really, here I come!" adds Jack reacting to Rudy's dive off trail.
Jack did a mini-dive of his own to join Rudy, but nobody gets the lift
of Rudy in a dive :)

At one point, Jack declared, "We MUST exit the main trail HERE!" I obliged and said, "Sure, tell us were you want to go Jack." I pretty much knew what Jack smelled in the air - MOOSE! Jack was exactly right, we found a trough of moose track leading far into the forest. I could tell by Jack & Rudy's energy that these tracks were very fresh:

The moose seeking twins power through deep snow to follow the
moose trail into the forest!

Despite the intensity of Jack & Rudy's energy, we never actually caught up to the moose (phew). When you are as large as a moose, you move through deep snow effortlessly!

My favorite part of the day? Cat Tracks (snowcat, that is). We saw a snowcat leave the trailhead and go out the same trail we were planning. 
Jack in one cat track, Rudy on an older snowmobile track.

What was so special about the cat track? Well, it was fresh! If you look at the prior photo, the left and right of the trail has fresh & soft cat tracks. The middle of the trail is an older (and now frozen) snowmobile track. This made for perfect conditions as I skied with one ski in the soft cat track (for control) and one ski in the frozen snowmobile track (for speed). Put weight on the snowmobile ski for speed and put weight on the cat ski for control. Come along and watch the day's cat track fun:
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Rodent tracks, moose tracks and cat tracks all in one day! What fun!!! Let's tell Zorro about it as we celebrate the 10+ mile skijor with 'end of run' treats:
"Oh my, what fun!" declares ecstatic Jack.
"Yea, yea, tracks, I heard - what about those pork treats in your hand!" says Zorro.

What a wonderfully entertaining day: 10.4 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 10 days on the trails covering 72.8 miles with 6800 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, November 16, 2020


 Fun shot of the "ears" on top Rabbit Ears Peak:

View of the ears from the northwest side of Rabbit Ears Peak.
The two rocks atop the peak are the ears. At least Rudy and I were
entertained. Oh silly, snow rolling Jack :)

I got a tear in my eye today skijoring one stretch of trail along Rabbit Ears Peak:
Jack & Rudy skijoring Rabbit Ears Peak Nov 2020.

Max & Zorro skijoring the same trail at almost the same location
in Oct 2017.

Why the tear? Well, the Oct 2017 photo was one of Max's last ever skijors. Add that this was young Jack & Rudy's first ever skijor on this particular trail. In addition, Rudy & Jack are wearing Max & Zorro's "orange hunting season" skijor harnesses. We have an orange set we wear in Oct/Nov and then Jack & Rudy switch to their green & purple harnesses once we are out of hunting season. Well, Rudy is roughly the same size as Max and Jack is roughly the same size as Zorro. So, we get to see Rudy in Max gear and Jack in Zorro gear this time of year. Thus, the tear in my eye knowing we were flying along one of Max's last trails in his and Zorro's gear!

It was a fabulous outing on Rabbit Ears Peak this morning as we found a solo snowmobile track to follow forever:
Endless snowmobile track for endless skijoring!

Come along for a video counterpart to the prior photo. Endless, endless fun! Wheeee!
[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The only thing that can distract Jack & Rudy from an endless trail? Moose tracks!

"Moose went this way!" declares Jack standing in a trough of moose
leg prints leading into the deep snow off trail.
"Really? How fresh? Shall we follow?" asks curious Rudy.

Done running one of Max's last trails and time to celebrate the outing with elder Zorro:

"Did they do justice to the karma in those harnesses?" asks Zorro.
"We did, we did!" adds happy Jack & Rudy.

An nostalgic tribute to Max run this morning, miss you Max! 7 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 19 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 9 days on the trails covering 62.4 miles with 6000 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, November 15, 2020


 "Made you smile!" as we cruise by a skier coming up the trail beside us :)

Besides smiling, he also said, "Wow, that is cool!" as we smiled
at him while cruising on by.

Remember I mentioned yesterday that it was a very windy day? How windy? Well here's one piece of evidence:

Uh-oh, wind blown downed tree across the trail!
"Uh oh indeed!" says Jack looking back for guidance!

Over the course of this morning's outing, we encountered TEN (10) downed trees across the trail from yesterday's extreme winds. That is a record for us from one day of wind! Some trees were so large that we simply turned around to take different trails. Other trees, like the one above, were small enough for me to take off my skis, hop over, re-attach the skis and then restart. But, wait, did I say "re-attach" the skis? Yes, and you must be stopped to re-attach. So, you know what that means:

Re-attach = stop = Jack & Rudy roll snow angels :)
Where does Jack end and Rudy start? Your guess is as good a mine.

Then, there were the occasional downed trees that had one little window of skiable crosssing:

Jack & Rudy crossing this downed tree at the ONLY point where
there is enough snow for me to ski over too! Impressive!

Just how impressive is the prior photo? Well, let's put it to video to show the incredible skills of Jack and Rudy. Come along as we are flying along the trail until we approach a downed tree. All it takes from me is to utter "over the left" and then "easy, easy" for Jack & Rudy to move to a safe place for my skis to gently glide over the tree. Once we are all over, it is petal to the medal again. Such impressive listening and execution!!!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Nothing could make me prouder than the prior video. Consider that Jack & Rudy are only 3 and 2 years old; yet they are already perfect "listen and execute" sled dogs. The skill at which they skijor does not get much more impressive than this!

Finally, what to do when the trail was clear of downed trees? Floor it as we hit our fastest speed of this early season this morning: 22 MPH. Pretty good for "early season conditions!"

Our first synchronized "hover husky" of the season as it takes
real synchronicity with your brother to top 22 MPH!

Today's fun parting shot: frisky Zorro! We got back to the trailhead to meet up with Nancy and Zorro. Once Zorro joined us, he had a friskiness about him and wanted to jog around the parking lot a few times before getting our end of run treats. Go Z Go!

"Whoa, wait up big bro!" says Rudy surprised by elder Zorro's burst.
Go Z Go!

What a great day to showcase young Jack and Rudy's perfect sled dog "listen and execute" skills! 8.6 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 8 days on the trails covering 55.4 miles with 5400 feet of elevation climbed.