Saturday, October 16, 2021

Fast Packed

Everybody having a great time skijoring Boreas Pass again this morning?

"Yes! I'm having a blast!" exclaims happy Jack.
"You bet, but why are we stopped?" adds Rudy.

After incredible conditions being first on Boreas yesterday morning, we returned with the hopes it had not deteriorated too much in 24 hours. Well, Boreas is still open to vehicles through October so, unfortunately, it had deteriorated a LOT in 24 hours! The reason we use Boreas Pass in October, despite being open to vehicles, is that we can drive the pass too and get up high enough in elevation to skijor in October. Trails lower in elevation have snow but not enough to ski or even dog sled. 

To avoid encountering vehicles, we start up the pass in the dark and begin our skijor outings just after sunrise:

Nice stretch of "vehicle packed" trail just after sunrise.

Despite lots of traffic in the last 24 hours, we did find some really nice stretches once we got up near 11,000 feet elevation. Here's our first "dual hover husky" shot of the season with Jack & Rudy hovering over the trail as we get into some nice speed. Notice my left ski in the loose snow and my right ski in the packed tire track: lean left to slow/control the ship, lean right to open up the throttle :)

The hover huskies are back!

Come along for a glimpse into a really nice stretch of vehicle packed trail near 11,000 feet elevation. Jack & Rudy truly understand when it is ok to open up the throttle and when they should tune it down a bit.

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We had to drive very far up Boreas Pass Rd before we found conditions good enough to skijor. Unfortunately we were within 1.5 miles of treeline where we started. Once we reached treeline, the trail was very wind blown and void of snow - just ice. Skis & ice don't mix well :)

As a result we did 4 laps on Boreas: up 1.5 miles, down 1.3 miles, back up the same 1.3 miles and back down the same 1.5 miles. Sometimes Jack & Rudy will balk at repeating sections of trail but today the sides of trail were littered with elk tracks. Nothing like a little "scent of elk" to motivate you to go up, down, up and down the same short trail :)

Paused to inspect the numerous elk tracks just off trail.
"These smell very fresh!" states Jack.
"Where'd they go? Where'd they go?" asks Rudy studying the
tracks leading off into the trees.

Of course, going up/down/up/down means we had 3 turnaround points in the outing. That's way too many for the "turnaround, roll around" brothers to pass up:

Turnaround... Roll Around!

Back to celebrate a short but very fun outing with retired elder Zorro:

Rudy cracks me up in this photo! What a silly tongue!

A short, but fun, 5.6 mile outing with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH. It was short for Jack & Rudy's standards; but it was skijoring in October!

Unfortunately we are entering a string of warm days, so skijoring is on hold until Mother Nature brings us more! Pray for Snow!

2021/2022 Season Totals: 3 days on the trails covering 20.1 miles with 1800 feet of elevation climbed.



Friday, October 15, 2021

Skis

Laying fresh tracks up Boreas Pass this morning. Wheeee!

New snow all to ourselves this morning!

But, wait, what is that in the bottom center of the prior photo? Yes, it's a "ski tip" and, yes, we were able to ditch the dog sled this morning and get out the skis for a wonderful skijor up/down Boreas Pass! We had the sled out for our first outing on Wednesday. But, with cool temperatures Wed/Thu and a new round of snow Thu night, we were able to break out the skis for our excursion up/down Boreas this morning! Yay!

Not only was there enough snow for skis; but we were also first on the trail this morning! It was a fresh tracks glide all the way up Boreas. The further we went, the more interesting it got...

How interesting? Well Jack & Rudy have their noses in a set of
moose tracks in this photo. You can make out one moose print next
to Rudy's right shoulder and then follow that line up the trail.

How interesting did it really get? Well, we found ourselves breaking trail in 8+ inches of fresh powder at our highest elevations on the trail this morning. Powder Fun!

Jack & Rudy powering through deep snow!

Come along for a quick video counterpart to the prior breaking trail photo. What powder plows! But, also look to our left and you'll see a set of tire tracks. While we were first tracks up Boreas, once we turned around, we encountered a Jeep coming up the pass (the road is open to vehicles June through October). Despite there being a tire track down the trail, Jack & Rudy wanted nothing to do with it and wanted to run in the deep powder outside the track all the way down. Powder plows!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

I stopped momentarily at one point to check our time out on the trail. Jack & Rudy quickly remembered what to do when the human pauses - the roll around twins!

"You pause, we roll snow angels! Wheeee!" demonstrates the
silly, silly kids.

Back down the pass and time to meet up with our favorite retired mentor, Zorro, for end of run treats!

"Ready!" declares focuses Zorro.
"Great day, waiting my turn!" adds happy Jack.
"Slurp, I can taste them with anticipation!" says silly Rudy.

Yay for the conditions to support skis on just our second outing of the season! 8.3 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH. If it does not get too warm today, we might try for one more early morning run on Boreas tomorrow. After that we'll be in limbo waiting for the next storm to arrive. Pray for Snow!

2021/2022 Season Totals: 2 days on the trails covering 14.5 miles with 1200 feet of elevation climbed.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Season Opener

 Let the 2021/2022 Skijoring Season begin! Wheeee!

Pausing with Jack & Rudy to celebrate reaching the top of
Boreas Pass on the Continental Divide this morning!

While skijoring is our primary activity in the winter, sometimes we have to use the dog sled instead of skis to get out in early season conditions. Frequently our initial 1-3 outings are on the dog sled as the conditions are not good enough for skis. The sled can glide over frozen ground and bounce among exposed rocks, the skis cannot! 

But, it turns out that this was actually young Jack & Rudy's first time ever hooked to the dog sled. The lucky kids had me on skis every other season opener of their lives (Jack is 4, Rudy is 3). What did Jack & Rudy think of the sled? 

"If it glides on snow, we pull it!" demonstrates the youngsters in 
perfect form on their first ever sled outing.

Most of my footage usually comes from the GoPro on my chest. But, as you see above, when I'm on the sled, a lot of the action is blocked by the sled and my arms and Jack & Rudy are often completely blocked from view. No problem, though, look at what I have mounted on the sled handlebar above - a secondary camera! So, with the sled, I often get better shots from the secondary camera than the primary on my chest:

Nice shot from the secondary camera of Jack & Rudy flying
along near the summit of Boreas Pass.

Today's video highlight goes along with the prior photo and comes from the secondary camera. Come along as we are gliding along the trail near the summit of Boreas Pass. Wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Today was Jack's 485th "skijor outing" (ok, 484 skijors and 1 dog sled outing :) - well, he kept his record intact, he has rolled at least one snow angel on every single one of the 485 outings. What a silly goof!

"You didn't really think my streak would stop, did you?" says
silly Jack as he rolls his patented snow angels.

Back to the trailhead to meet up with our favorite retired mentor, Zorro. The 13 year old still loves joining us for "end of run treats" after every outing!

"Yum, just as good as I remember!" says treat taking Zorro.
"Me next!" Jack is telling me.
"I see the stash in your hand!!!!" declares Rudy.

A fun dog sled run to the summit of Boreas Pass and back to start the 2021/2022 season: 6.2 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 14 MPH.

Pray for Snow!


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Season Finale

Despite the nice photos you will see below, today was our finale for the 2020/2021 Skijoring Season!

Laying fresh tracks midway up the trail from the top of Vail Pass
to the top of Shrine Pass.

We returned to Vail Pass this morning for what we expected to be our last outing of the 2020/2021 season. With deteriorating conditions in the open meadows we usually skijor in May and with fresh snow overnight, we were able to use the main trail that takes you from the top of Vail Pass (our starting point) to the top of the next pass, Shrine Pass. Here's a fun shot of Jack & Rudy plowing through some deep snow as we are now at the top of Shrine Pass.

Powder plowing kids. Wheeee!

Ok, now you have probably looked at the last two photos multiple times and are asking, "How in the world is this our last outing of the season?" Well, it is subtle to notice in the photos. But, the new snow was very wet and heavy and the surface under the new snow was slush and/or mud. If you look closely in the first photo, you can make out some dark footholes behind Jack - this is mud/slush his foot poked through to contact. If you look closely in the second photo, you can see some similar footholes behind Rudy. Basically, despite these two very nice looking photos from this morning, the reality is all this snow will be gone and the trail back to slush after a few hours of sunshine. The sun is now out as I am typing and the 2020/2021 skijor season has come to and end.

Back to today's outing, we went up from Vail Pass to Shrine Pass and then skijored across the top of Shrine for a while before turning around to come back down. Oh, did I say "turnaround"? I bet you are expecting the usual turnaround snow angel photo next. Well, nope, Jack & Rudy like to keep you guessing what form of comedy they'll produce at turnaround points.

Today's comedy act? Rodent dives and digs.

Rudy showcasing his patented "rodent swan dives" at our
turnaround point.

Not to be outdone, Jack had a very nice rodent dive of his own. He is not known for the high arching swan dives of Rudy, but had some today!

A high arching swan dive from Jack! Impressive!

It only seems fitting to close out the 2020/2021 season with a comedy (instead of skijoring) video. After all, the three year olds, Jack & Rudy, have provided constant entertainment this season. Come along for their funny sequence of rodent dives and digs atop Shrine Pass this morning. Oh, and "no", they did not actually catch any rodents :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Back to the trailhead for our final 'end of run' treats for the 2020/2021 season. Rudy would like to point out to everyone what a "mellow & chill" adult he has become. Yes, our wild red boy has become Mr. Smooth :) But, don't worry, Rudy is always one woo away from his wild side :)

"Poke, poke - me first!" Zorro reminds me.
"What a fun season!" adds happy Jack.
"Chilling!" declares mellow Rudy.

An aerobic run in wet & heavy snow to end the season: 5.8 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2020/2021 Season Total: 154 days on the trails covering 1253.2 miles with 107,400 feet of elevation climbed.

Thanks for sharing in the fun this season. Check back in June or July for our "2020/2021 Season in Review" highlight video.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Red Black

Yikes! The signs of "end of season" are starting to rapidly appear!

Yikes! Barely enough snow to for my skis (and Jack :)

The prior photo is actually quite interesting in the context of all our years skijoring. For the 8+ years I skijored with Max & Zorro, I frequently made mention of the following: note how Zorro goes to all extremes to keep his toes on snow whereas Max will drift onto exposed dirt in order to keep going forward. This "risk/reward" blog entry from years ago is one such example of this.

Now fast forward to 2021 and compare the prior photo to my history with Max & Zorro. The black boy (history: Zorro, current: Jack) goes to all extremes to keep toes on snow while the red boy (history: Max, current: Rudy) has no problem drifting onto the side dirt to keep trotting. It must be a "red vs black" thing :)

Back to this morning, given the deteriorating conditions we had a gentle trot up, across and down the Sally Barber Mine Trail. At one point along the stretch the kids decided to discuss whose fault it is that the conditions are deteriorating :)

"Your fault it is melting!" demands Rudy.
"Is not! Dare you to say that again!" responds Jack.

While the conditions on the trail around the mine are quickly deteriorating, we did have one unexpected and pleasant surprise this morning. The spring crust over French Creek was still intact and firm enough to hold our weight! I was completely expecting the crust to have been melted or not firm enough to hold us. But, look at this pleasant surprise:

Wheeee! Flying along the firm crust despite the large number
of bushes starting to poke through!

Look closely at the prior photo. Do you see the snow on Rudy's back? Do you see the snow on Jack's right side? How did then get snow on top of themselves? Well...

When you roll snow angels in wet/sticky snow you then have
snow on your back when you are done :)

Back to the surprise crust. Come along for a short & fun video clip of the morning surprise. Wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Done for this morning's short outing and Jack & Rudy are in goofy moods due to lack of sufficient exercise. Silly kids.

Chilling Rudy sitting up high on a snow wall.
Goofy Jack propped up sideways on a snow wall.
Veteran Zorro at full attention for 'end of run' treats.

Sad to report the season is winding down. We may only have one outing left. Today's condition shortened run: 4.4 miles traveled with 400 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 153 days on the trails covering 1247.4 miles with 106,900 feet of elevation climbed.


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Threepeat

Everyone ok skijoring the spring crust atop Vail Pass for a third day in a row?

"Oh yes! We'll threepeat anything for toes on snow in May!" declares
the happy kids.

Yes, this morning was our third day in a row making use of the great conditions high up on Vail Pass. How great? Well, take a look at this incredible photo for May:

Jack & Rudy catching air atop a perfect and vast spring crust!

Once we got up over 600 feet in elevation, we were able to leave the vast meadows and skijor the crust through groves of trees. What fun!

Zipping along as the crust among the trees was perfect
and firm this morning too!

I mentioned yesterday that we had to navigate through exposed shrubbery at the lower elevation to begin and end the outing. Well, 24 hours later and we found we had to navigate through and around occasional patches of exposed shrubbery at the mid elevations of the outing too. Plants poking through at the lower and mid elevations now. Eek! But, here's a perfect shot of perfect Jack & Rudy getting together tight to navigate me through a shrubbery minefield. We all just barely fit through these occasional obstacles!

Jack, Rudy and my skis navigating the shrubbery minefield :)

Today's video highlight goes along with the prior photo. Come along as we are on really nice crust but have to navigate the occasional minefield of shrubbery along the way. Perfect navigation by all and perfect listening to me calling out "right" at two points along the way to avoid large bushes. Great skijor partners!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Fun shot of mentor Zorro spotting us approaching at the end of the morning run. Zorro always spots us as soon as we are in view and watches his mentees perform :)

"Nice work kids! Bring dad back, I have plans for him!" says
onlooking Zorro.

Plans?

"Yes! End of run treat plans!" declares Zorro.
"Good idea big brother!" adds cute Jack & Rudy.

A nice threepeat of Vail Pass the last three days with today's outing covering 8.8 miles with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 152 days on the trails covering 1243.0 miles with 106,500 feet of elevation climbed.


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Repeat

Beautiful morning to "catch air" skijoring atop the solid spring crust at Vail Pass!

xx

We had so much fun yesterday skijoring Vail Pass that we returned again this morning. As I mentioned yesterday, we are getting into that time of year where the only snow left to skijor is on the high mountain passes in Colorado. Well, Vail Pass is one such high mountain pass, so we'll be using it as much as possible while the snow holds up.

But, the change in conditions near the trailhead from yesterday to today was quite shocking. Oh those warm melting afternoons we've been having! Getting in and out of this morning's skijor required a lot of careful navigation through shrubbery starting to poke through the snowpack. Good thing Jack & Rudy listen so well!

Yikes! Shrubbery!!!!! But, Jack & Rudy nicely following
my verbal commands to weave through the weeds.

Yet, once you get through the shrubbery down low, you see why we did it. Compare and contrast the prior and following photo of the conditions down low versus the conditions up high. Amazing difference!

Winding through the shrubbery to get to this up high
was well worth it!!! Wheeee!

Come along for today's fun video highlight. We start out flying along the perfect crust and then eventually transition into a ravine to fly through. So much fun up higher where the conditions are still incredible!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Today's "non skijoring" entertainment from the silly kids, Jack & Rudy: snow angels with a view :)

Pausing to roll snow angels nice mountain
views in the foreground.

Done for the day, time to celebrate with our favorite retired gentleman, Zorro!

"Ready!" declares focused Zorro.
"Patiently waiting our turn!" adds sweet Jack & Rudy.

Two days in a row getting in some really nice skijoring high up on Vail Pass. Today's tally: 9.6 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 151 days on the trails covering 1234.2 miles with 105,700 feet of elevation climbed.


Friday, April 30, 2021

Vail Pass

It's Vail Pass time of year. Hey Jack & Rudy, how firm is the spring crust this morning?

"Solid crust!" confirms Jack & Rudy rolling snow angels
to test the crust before we got started this morning :)

What do I mean by Vail Pass time of year? Well, every season at some point in April or May we will start using Vail Pass more often for skijoring. The terrain at Vail Pass is above 11,000 feet in elevation (and much higher as you climb). All of our other skijor trailheads are in the 9,000 to 10,000 foot elevation ranges. So, at some point in April/May, the trails at 9000/10000 feet start to dry up while the trails above 11,000 are still in good condition. So, Vail Pass is a bit further drive than we normally do for skijoring; but it is well worth it in April/May when the closer trails have melted.

The good news: we had a blast skijoring the spring crust atop Vail Pass this morning. The bad news: a lot more ground is starting to show at Vail Pass than you typically see in April. 

Beautiful crust as Jack & Rudy fly along.
But, that's a lot of exposed ground and bushes ahead of us
for April!

But, you are guaranteed one thing at Vail Pass: the higher you climb, the better it gets. Check out the perfect conditions near our high point of the outing:

Perfect! Nothing but white as far as the eye can see!

One of our favorite things to do at Vail Pass is skijor by the backcountry huts high up. We often run into crowds at the huts of people who have skied in, stayed overnight and are up milling around in the morning. Unfortunately, the 3 huts we passed by today were unoccupied. Our only encounter was with the caretaker making her morning rounds.

No visitors to flirt with at the huts, so we might as well flirt
with the caretaker and her two dogs :)

Now come along for a video highlight of us cruising along the excellent spring crust atop Vail Pass. Despite how much the camera is bouncing in this clip, it did not really feel like a bumpy ride in person. I was pretty surprised to see how much the camera was bouncing given it felt like a smooth ride to me!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Finally, smiles all around as we celebrate this season's return to Vail Pass.

All smiles! Fun boys!

A nice late April outing atop Vail Pass: 9 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 150 days on the trails covering 1224.6 miles with 104,900 feet of elevation climbed.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Slogging

Hopping off trail for a moment to search for rodents under the snow :)

"Sniff, sniff, where are you little rodents?!?" asks Jack.
"Poke, poke - just us friendly predators up here!" adds Rudy.

Today was probably the stickiest skijor of my life. We where slogging along in wet and sticky conditions all outing long! We got a handful of new inches of snow overnight but it was very wet/sticky snow. To add to the conditions, the surface under the new snow never froze before the snow started falling. So, we had wet & sticky snow falling on top of a wet, sticky and/or muddy base. Wet/sticky + wet/sticky/muddy = the stickiest conditions we've every been on!

We did an out & back on Peak 7, hoping the conditions would get better as we got higher in elevation. But, nope, it was wet & sticky the entire outing. At the highest point of our venture, we were laying fresh tracks as we had out skied others on the trail. When we turned around, Jack & Rudy tried to take me down the fresh snow to the side of our "out tracks".

Trying to propel the human through the untouched
but sticky snow.

Jack & Rudy quickly realized I was close to an immovable object trying to take me down the untouched wet & sticky trail. But, if you put my skis in the tracks we set on the way up, then I started to glide a little better! Smart guys.

"Ok, reuse our 'up tracks' so this deadweight behind us
starts moving!
" declares Jack & Rudy abandoning fresh
snow to reuse our out tracks.

Come along for a video view into slogging along in wet/sticky conditions and Jack & Rudy are giving it "their all" to move my through the sticky conditions. Nice work by the sled dogs!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Now go back to the video and pay attention to the trail about 6 seconds into the video. What happened? Well, here's what transpired on the way out: an impromptu "stop, drop & roll" from Jack followed by an impromptu "jump, tackle and wrestle" from Rudy.

"Impromptu stop, drop & roll!" declares Jack.
"Incoming jump, tackle and wrestle!" responds Rudy :)

It may have been slow & sticky conditions, but it was snow!

Everyone in tight for end of run treats.
"Slurp, I can taste them with anticipation!" adds silly Rudy.

It's not often you can slow Jack & Rudy down. But put the human deadweight on wet & sticky conditions and that's what happens: 6 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a wet/sticky top speed of only 17 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 149 days on the trails covering 1215.6 miles with 104,100 feet of elevation climbed.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Below Freezing

I think Jack & Rudy had a great time skijoring this morning, how about you?

You don't get two faces much happier than this!

We returned to Rabbit Ears Pass this morning for a short and fun skijor. This was our third day in a row skijoring on terrain near the top of the pass. The primary difference between today and the last two days was that temperatures were below freezing instead of being in the low 40s (F).

With temps below freezing, we were able to abandon set trails and make our own path for most of the outing:

Abandoning set trails to skijor atop the perfect spring crust. Wheeee!

But, the downside of the cool temps is that snowmobile tracks on the set trails were frozen and slick. It is a lot of work on my legs to keep the skis from getting caught in a frozen snowmobile track. If it happens, I suddenly have no ability to stop! So, I when we had to use set trails to get from one point to another, I tried to ski the shoulder as much as possible.

Perfect shoulder for us to skijor the right side of this set trail and stay out of frozen snowmobile tracks!

The shoulder was not always as nice and wide as the prior photo. Come along for a video view into me battling the frozen snowmobile tracks until we finally round a corner and the shoulder gets wide again. Phew, that's a lot of work on the human's legs! But also very nice of Jack & Rudy to keep the speeds to a minimum when they hear my skis battling the conditions!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

With temperatures back below freezing, what did Jack & Rudy make of that? Well, surprise, same as every outing!

"We roll to cool our jets at EVERY temperature!" declares the snow rolling goofballs.

Fun day, time for 'end of run treats'...

You have our full attention!

A short fun run this morning: 7.2 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 148 days on the trails covering 1209.6 miles with 103,500 feet of elevation climbed.