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.


Monday, April 26, 2021

Passing 1200 Miles

Young Jack & Rudy's second consecutive season with over 1200 miles skijoring! Impressive!

1200 miles and counting!
"Ready for 1200 more!" declares the happy kids.

We skijored the trails around Harrison Creek and Walton Peak at Rabbit Ears Pass this morning. The day started on well packed trails that had been groomed within the last 48 hours.

Zooming along the groomie zoomie trail!

Then, after getting a little higher in elevation, we found this incredible endless meadow with a solid crust! It was quite surprising as temperatures were near 40 (F) all morning long! But, the increase in elevation and partly cloudy sky kept this crust perfect for us!

The hover husky twins catching air along a perfect crust
in this endless meadow!

Come along for a fun glimpse into this awesome meadow. Jack, Rudy and I were having a blast making our own path around & across this vast meadow. Wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

As expected, the goofy kids rolled snow angels to cool off at our turnaround point. Talented Jack showing he can roll snow angels and eat snowcones at the same time!!!

"Aahh!" demonstrates Rudy.
"Yum!" adds rolling and eating Jack.

Finally, a great shot with Zorro to end the day. He and Nancy met us a bit up trail to join us for a short stroll back to the Jeep. Zorro was "feeling the 1200 mile" accomplishment as he joined in the group for a fantastic jog with the group back to the trailhead. Go Zorro Go! 

"I remember all my 1200 mile seasons! Nice job kids!" declares
Zorro celebrating the accomplishments with the kids.

Another great long skijor for late April! 9.7 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 147 days on the trails covering 1202.4 miles with 103,000 feet of elevation climbed.

1300 miles, you ask? Probably not... Despite how great today's photos look, the snowpack really is melting soon. But, we'll see how many more outings we can get...


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Perfect

Absolutely perfect trail conditions on the trails around Walton Peak at Rabbit Ears Pass this morning!

Wide angle shot to showcase the incredible conditions
and the impressive hover huskies Jack & Rudy :)

While we were not "first tracks" on the recently groomed snowmobile trail, we were pretty close to first tracks. There was the occasional snowmobile that had been on the trail as you see above and a handful of ski tracks from a few others that had been on the trail before us. But, with such little trail use before us, it pretty much felt like we were first tracks on the trail. Jack & Rudy were in a ZOOM mode all morning long!

The fast kids FLYING along the perfect trail!

How fast today? How about a 23 MPH burst partway through this short video clip of the outing! I tell you, the kids were zooming today!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The only slight drawback this morning? Well, temperatures were in the low 40s (F) all outing long. There was a nice breeze to keep us a little cooler; but 40 degrees with a fur coat is hot :)

Must stop, drop & roll to cool off at our turnaround
point of the outing!

Now for a fun "meet & greet" moment on the trail as we paused to let a bikejoring sibe pass on by along the trail. Jack & Rudy are such flirts!

"Hi dude, cool bike for your human!" says Jack & Rudy.
"Hello to you too, cool skis for your human!" adds the oncoming friend.

Such an amazing morning to find a recently groomed trail to zoom around Walton Peak!

"Treat time!" declares Zorro.
"We had so much fun this morning!" adds Jack & Rudy.

What a late April skijor treat! 10.5 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 146 days on the trails covering 1192.7 miles and 102,200 feet of elevation climbed.

Surpassing 1200 miles tomorrow? Probably! Come back and see :)


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Nice Up High

Laying fresh tracks in 3+ inches of untouched snow on April 24th. Nice!!!

Fresh tracks for Jack & Rudy with untouched snow in
front of us and great views to our right.

Today's outing took us on a tour around Peak 7. These are very popular trails near the trailheads, so I was very happy to have a light layer of new snow atop heavily used trails. Just enough new snow to let Jack & Rudy open the throttle on what would have been slick and dangerous trails yesterday!

Not nearly as pretty trail conditions as the prior photo when
we were near the trailhead. But, still enough fresh snow to
open it up.

But, having Jack & Rudy to tow me along, we are able to quickly out ski the heavily used trails near the trailheads. To our great surprise, though, we found that NOBODY had made it very far from the trailhead. We had fresh snow all to ourselves for about 1/2 the outing!

More fresh tracks and stunning views. Wheeee!

Come along for today's fun video of Jack & Rudy laying fresh tracks in 3+ inches of snow. Then, about 20 seconds into the clip and they almost get drawn off trail by what must have been very fresh fox tracks crossing the trail. But, they quickly regain focus and continue forward. Who wants to chase a silly fox when you can skijor instead?!? Good boys!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Turnaround time and look at mature Rudy! What a grownup three year old! Jack, well Jack is the snow angel king, so no surprise here :)

"Hi Dad! Jack sure is a silly boy!" exclaims happy Rudy.
"Stop, drop and roll - that's my motto!" demonstrates silly Jack.

Back to the trailhead and such focus from my favorite retired gentleman, Zorro. Nice attention from Jack & Rudy too :)

"You have my FULL attention!" declares Zorro.
"Mine too! What a fun day!" adds smiling Rudy.
"Down in front! I had a blast too!" adds partially eclipsed
(but smiling too) Jack.

A pleasantly surprising "fresh tracks" outing for most of the morning on Peak 7: 9.2 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 145 days on the trails covering 1182.2 miles with 101,400 feet of elevation climbed.