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


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


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.

Thursday, April 22, 2021


Oh those silly three year olds at one of our turnaround points skijoring atop French Creek this morning!

"I dare you!" declares Jack.
"I accept!" responds Rudy :)

We started the morning going to check the status of the spring crust over French Creek. I was hoping the crust was still solid enough to hold us. Well, success!!! The crust was perfect and even had an inch or two of fresh snow atop it!

Laying fresh tracks in the solid crust over French Creek.

We did multiple laps around and across the meadow in the prior photo. Then, we exited the crust to skijor to Sally Barber Mine and then come back. Well, coming back meant we stopped to turnaround at the mine. Yep, turnaround is roll around time:

The "snow angel twins" doing their usual turnaround antics :)

The trail to/from the mine was actually a little beat up from warm days and heavy use. So, we did less skijoring on the mine trail than usual and went back to the French Creek crust for another few laps before ending the day.

Great shot of the expansive meadow of crust over French Creek.
Nice shot of Jack & Rudy laying fresh tracks with snow
poofs behind them.

Today's video highlight is, of course, a fun clip of us skijoring atop the spring crust over French Creek. Watch at about 28 seconds along and I surprise Jack & Rudy by calling out a "right" to go through a gap in the bushes. But, the smart kids immediately find the gap for my "right" command and they quickly pass through and realign to keep on going. Wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Another fun day on the French Creek crust to report to elder Zorro:

"Sounds like they did good!" surmises Zorro.
"Skijor, play and snow angels - perfect outing!" adds the giggle twins.

Great crust outing today with a bit beaten down trail to/from the mine in between: 6.7 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 144 days on the trails covering 1173.0 miles with 100,600 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021


Another great morning Skijoring Breckenridge Ski Resort. Wheeee!

Jack & Rudy zipping along as we pass by trail
signage at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

We had so much fun skijoring Peak 9 yesterday that we got up early to go again today. As I described yesterday, Peak 9 is now closed for the season but you can still find a groomed trail or two (or more) as the ski resort is still doing maintenance and other tasks on the mountain. This does not go unnoticed to locals in the area. Everyone who lives here knows that Peak 9 is still useable with a random groomed trail here and there. You just have to skin or hike up the mountain to make use of the "tourist free" terrain :) As a result, we encounter the occasional kindred spirit along the way:

Jack & Rudy flying along as the "dot" in front of us is a
snowboarder coming down the mountain.

Come along for the fun video counterpart to the prior photo. Watch closely and you can see the snowboarder coming down in front of us. Jack & Rudy were intrigued and wanted to catch and inspect the moving object in front of us. But, alas, the snowboarder crossed by before we got to him. So we might as well continue flying along the trail we are on :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Yesterday we had a ton of soft powder to gallop through when not on groomed trails. Unfortunately, those same powder trails from yesterday were punchy trails this morning. Not solid enough to be a crust but hard enough to be punchy. But, once we got high enough in elevation, the untouched snow was soft again. As a result we went powder plowing for a while when we were above 10,500 feet in elevation.

Powder fun! Wheeee!

But, the majority of our outing was spent below 10,500 feet in elevation. Not a problem, we just stuck to every groomed trail we could find!

Flying along a groomie zoomie as we cross under a chairlift.

Remember ski resorts are designed for downhill skiing. Thus, we climb a lot of elevation on our tours around the resort. After each big climb, the silly kids needed to cool their jets before launching back down:

"Aahh!" declares the snow rolling giggle twins.

Back to the base area to meet up with our retired mentor, Zorro, to show him how well he taught us the last 2 years!

"Hi Zorro!" smiles Jack & Rudy.
"Looking good, I taught you well!" adds inspecting Zorro.

With a steep skijor on the ski resort this morning, we were able to surpass 100,000 feet of skijoring for the season. Yes, Jack & Rudy have towed me up (and launched me down) over 100,000 feet in elevation! Today's tally: 8.7 miles traveled with 1600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 143 days on the trails covering 1166.3 miles with 100,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Skijoring the Ski Resort

A beautiful "fresh tracks Tuesday" on this late April morning!

Jack & Rudy laying fresh tracks in about 4 inches of
fresh powder. Wheeee!

But, wait, look at the prior photo a little closer. What is that far to our left? Hey, a chairlift! What is that dead ahead of us? Hey, the Peak 9 Base Area of Breckenridge Ski Resort! Yes, that's right, today was one of our favorite annual traditions: Skijoring the Ski Resort! We try to get out on the ski resort trails shortly after they close for the season. Technically speaking Breckenridge Ski Resort is still open. But, the resort has ski runs across 5 peaks of the 10 mile range (Peaks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10). With dwindling tourist traffic in April, the ski resort will shutdown operations on peaks 6, 9 and 10 around mid-April. Peaks 7 & 8 will stay open as far into May as the snow remains. 

Back to today. Peaks 6, 9 and 10 are now closed for the season and Peak 9 is our favorite peak to "Skijor the Ski Resort" so off we went this morning. For the first few days after these peaks are closed, the resort will still groom select trails for maintenance, training and other resort operations. If you are lucky, you can catch a freshly groomed trail on one of the closed peaks. Well, luck indeed, check out this fun photo:

Jack the "skijor bowling ball" and Rudy the "skijor missile" FLYING
along a freshly groomed track on Peak 9 as we cross under
a chairlift. 

Today was probably one of our best ever skijors on the ski resort. Why? Well, we had a nice dump of fresh snow overnight. Around 3 inches at the base of the mountain and upwards of 10 inches mid-mountain! So, whenever we ran out of a groomed trail, we transitioned to perfect powder trails along the way. POW!

Jack & Rudy plowing through over 8 inches of powder
along this trail under a chairlift. Pow, pow, POW!

This excellent combination of "groomed and POW" made for an incredibly fun outing. Come along for an extended video highlight of one of our laps. We start out FLYING along the fast groomed trail. Then, it's time for us to change directions so I call out a "Left" and Jack & Rudy transition onto a powder trail with me and off we go powder plowing. What a fun morning!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Remember that ski resorts are designed for downhill skiing, so the trails are steeper than our typical outings. That meant Jack & Rudy had to roll and cool the jets after each climb before we launched ourselves back down:

"Rub a dub dub, cooling the sled dog jets!" declares
the silly kids.

Finally, a fun shot of us arriving at the base of Peak 9 to meet up with Zorro and Nancy!

Happy kids towing me to the finish.
Excited Zorro greeting us to join in for end of run treats!

Such a fun day on the ski resort, we might go back tomorrow! 6.4 miles traveled with a top speed of 24 MPH and 1300 feet of elevation climbed (remember, ski resorts are steep :)

2020/2021 Season to Date: 142 days on the trails covering 1157.6 miles with 98,500 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, April 18, 2021


Beautiful bluebird morning to hover over the trails at Breckenridge Nordic Center.

Beautiful morning to zoom along!

Breckenridge Nordic Center closes for the season after today. That meant Jack, Rudy and I had to get out for one last skijor on the fast, fun and easy "groomie zoomie" nordic trails. We knew the groomer would go out on the trails one last time today and were hoping to arrive just after for a fresh groomie zoomie. Unfortunately, we got on the trails before the groomer had been out. 

But, the trails were groomed yesterday morning and did not have too much use yesterday.  There was still enough soft snow from the groom for me to let Jack & Rudy go full throttle. If there had been too much traffic on the trails yesterday, they would have been too packed & icy this morning for me to feel comfortable going full throttle. Instead it was perfect conditions this morning!

Jack & Rudy FLYING along the fast & fun trail. Wheeee!

Come along for a video glimpse into the day's fun. Jack & Rudy really love to open it up on the nordic trails and I love to glide and corner behind them. Such fun!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Given that the nordic center is closed after today, this may be our last skijor on these trails. Probably not, though, as there is still a bit of snow, it just will not be groomed. But, don't tell Jack & Rudy that, they made a celebratory "good bye" to the Hallelujah Warming Hut.

Doing what we always to at the warming huts:
roll snow angels to cool off.

As we were finishing the day, we ran into the groomer driver coming to do the final groom of the season. Darn, we missed the groom; but he was going out later than we like to skijor. We did stop and chat with him for a bit. Our conversation went roughly as follows: Me: "Is this really the last groom of the season?" Groomer: "Probably, but never say never." Me: "Darn, well THANKS for all the grooming you did all season." Groomer: "No, thank you for supporting us and giving me some entertainment to watch on the trails!" (the drivers LOVE seeing Jack & Rudy towing me around).

"Hey dude, thanks for the groomie zoomies!" says Jack & Rudy.
You can see a bit of the groomer machine in the upper right.

Back to the trailhead. Pretty view of the pretty sled dogs. Pretty view of the mountains far to my right.

So focused for 'end of run' treats.

Our last time on groomed nordic center trails this season (we may still find a groomed snowmobile trail if we are lucky): 8.2 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2020/2021 Season to Date: 141 days on the trails covering 1151.2 miles with 97,200 feet of elevation climbed.