Monday, June 6, 2022

Season Finale

Our final skijor of the 2021/2022 season with a beautiful ride from the top of Buffalo Pass.

1315.4 miles for the season - great job young Jack & Rudy!!!!!

So nice at the top of Buffalo Pass. Yes, this was June 5th with over 5 feet
of snowpack still atop the pass!

Buffalo Pass is always the last pass to have significant snow in Colorado. It is often the location of our last (and sometimes first) skijor of every season. Today was that, a final run up & down Buff Pass to end the season with an impressive 1315.4 miles traveled. 

Once at the top of the pass, we took an opportunity to spread some of Zorro's ashes. Zorro and his love for skijoring and passion for snow is how we discovered Buffalo Pass years ago. Our wonderful mentor and great buddy will appreciated part of him living atop Buff Pass for years to come!

Zorro's ashes coming off my right hand and Jack & Rudy watch the
ashes drift away in the breeze. Miss you Z!!!

Along with great snowpack atop the pass, we also had great stretches of open terrain on the trails near the top. Time to zoom!

Whee we go along an open straightaway near the top of Buff Pass.

Come along for the video counterpart to the prior photos. Yes, the camera (and, thus, me) are bouncing around quite a bit on the choppy terrain. But, it's skijoring in June! You can't beat that.

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Ok, so, why the last run of the season? Well, it's getting harder & harder to reach this snowpack atop the pass with fast melting happening in every direction. We had to climb over 700-800 feet in elevation before the conditions got as nice as you see above. On the approach (up & down), it was soft, melting and slushy:

Soft slush coming up from Jack & Rudy's feet.
All the white dots against the trees are balls of slush flying off the kids too!

Of course, with warm June temperatures, we had lots of snow angels from the kids to cool off! It was in the 40s! Jack & Rudy were melting! :)

Rub-a-dub-dub demonstrates the snow rolling goofballs.

Time to celebrate the end of a bittersweet albeit very fun & successful 2021/2022 season. The great success was Jack & Rudy surpassing 1300 miles of skijoring (and having their third straight season with over 1200 miles). The bittersweet sorrow was losing our super fun elder and original skijor mentor,  Zorro,  on  May 20, 2022.  We sure miss you Zorro!

"Z would really have appreciated this June 5th on snow!" declares
happy Jack & Rudy.,

The tally from yesterday's last run of the season: 9.3 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

Final 2021/2022 Season Totals: 158 days on the trails covering 1315.4 miles with a top speed of 27 MPH and 123,300 feet of elevation climbed.


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Ashes

We took the opportunity to spread some of Zorro's ashes atop Rabbit Ears Pass this June 1st which would have been Zorro's 14th birthday. We sure miss you special Zorro, Woooo!

The black "cloud of dust" directly up from Jack are some of Zorro's
ashes being sprinkled from my right hand.
"Woo, we sure miss you special Z!!!"

It had become a tradition over the past 13 years: to skijor (or dog sled) on whatever snow we could find to celebrate Zorro's birthday with him. Zorro had a true love and passion for snow, so "toes on snow" in some form of skijor or dog sled outing was always the best present Zorro could receive. Still mourning the recent loss of wonderful Zorro, Jack, Rudy & I decided to keep the tradition alive and celebrate what would  have been Zorro's 14th birthday with a skijor in memory of Zorro and a chance to sprinkle some of his ashes atop Rabbit Ears Pass along the way. 

It is June, though, so conditions are naturally deteriorating. Yet, we did find some nice stretches of snow to open up the skijoring engine. Whee:

Great stretch of snow along the Harrison Creek Trail at Rabbit Ears.

But, for every nice patch of snow, we also encountered an ugly patch of exposed ground! Yuck!

Uh-oh.....

When we did get on a nice stretch of snow, it was the usual "go, go, go" from talented Jack & Rudy. Come along for a video look into one nice stretch near the trailhead as we completed this morning's outing in celebration of Zorro.

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Not many people in the northern hemisphere get the chance to celebrate Zorro's June 1st with a skijor and toes on snow - Jack & Rudy really appreciated the day!

"Fun, fun! But we sure miss our mentor Zorro!" says the wonderful kids
awaiting 'end of run' treats.

A short run on deteriorating conditions; but still a wonderful June 1st celebration of Zorro: 3.6 miles traveled with 300 feet of elevation  climbed and a top speed of 17 MPH.

2021/2022 Season to Date: 157 days on the trails covering 1306.1 miles with 122,300 feet of elevation climbed.

We may have one more skijor left this season (on Buffalo Pass this Saturday) or today may have been our last outing. Stay tuned to see if we can squeak out one more skijor run...


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Passing 1300

The kids' (Jack & Rudy) first season surpassing 1300 miles of skijoring!

1302.5 miles and counting...

"Ready for 1300 more!" states always happy Jack.
"WOO!" adds always wooing Rudy (as if you expected him to be
saying something else? :)

We visited the Walton Peak area at Rabbit Ears Pass this morning hoping for conditions that could support a 9+ mile skijor. We were not disappointed as there was a fun layer of about 1/2 inch of new snow over snowmobile trails still packed from the past 6 months of use. Laying fresh tracks in May? Yay!

Cool footprints behind fast running Jack & Rudy.

As long as we stayed on the "established snowmobile trails" it was fast & fun. Come along for a video glimpse into the fun. Whee! Also watch perfect Jack & Rudy listen to my "over to the left" instruction about 25s into the clip as I try to find the smoothest path for my skis to travel. Such great partners!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

But... It is May... What does that mean? Well, there was not enough snowpack to drift off the set trails and into the open meadows. Without enough snowpack, there is not a crust that can support our weight over a meadow of grass & shrubs. Yet, even the set trails are deteriorating in places too. Here is a shot of our "forced turnaround" this morning :)

Yikes, trail ends here! This is actually a hole of open water. The early
morning snow is hiding this fact until the sun comes up to re-expose the water.
"Can we cross to our right?" asks Jack & Rudy.
Unfortunately, no, this water hole extended as far as we could see to the
left and right.

Ok, forced turnaround at the water hole. No problem, let's cruise back the way we came. I love this shot of us gliding back in our "out tracks" - the only tracks we saw all morning were our own.

Whee - what goes out, must come back. Cool "out & back" shot
from this morning :)

But, we did travel roughly 4.7 miles out before hitting the hole that made us turnaround. I knew we had over 9 miles before even checking my GPS. I was giddy that we flew past 1300 miles for the season and was very chatty about this at 'end of run' treats time. What did Jack & Rudy think about my chattiness?

"Yeah, yeah, it was fun - come on dad!" says Jack.
"Are you going to talk FOREVER or dish out the treats?" asks curious Rudy :)

This morning's wonderful outing: 9.4 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

Young Jack & Rudy have a pretty impressive string of seasons going. 1204.1 miles as 2 year olds, 1253.2 miles as 3 year olds and now 1302.5 miles (and counting) as 4 year olds! We probably have 1-3 more outings we can squeak out before announcing the end of our great 2021/2022 season. Stay tuned...

2021/2022 Season to Date: 156 days on the trails covering 1302.5 miles with 122,000 feet of elevation climbed.

 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

For Z

Today's skijor was in honor of and for Zorro.

Jack & Rudy hovering over the trail. Just like Zorro taught us!!!

Our beloved elder and lifelong mentor, Zorro, passed away on Friday, May 20. We have been sad and crying since. We all miss the wonderful guy SO much...

On Friday, I was telling myself I'd never skijor again. How could I possibly go to a trail without Zorro? Then, the logical and emotional sides of my brain started arguing. On Saturday I realized I would skijor again with Jack & Rudy but certainly not this season. 

Meanwhile, a late season winter storm swooped over Colorado and dropped fresh snow all over the mountains Friday and Saturday. Late Saturday, the logical side of my brain started telling me to think about what Zorro would want. Zorro had a pure LOVE of snow and absolute passion for skijoring. Zorro's lifelong actions exemplified his motto: "I love snow, summer is useless (unless you are hiking to snow leftover from winter)."

With fresh snow Friday and Saturday, I finally realized it would be a disservice to Zorro's memory and lifelong passions to not be on magical late season new snow. Zorro lived for these types of late season storms. So, logic finally won out and Jack, Rudy and I skijored Walton Peak at Rabbit Ears Pass this morning in honor and memory of wonderful, wonderful Zorro.

What happened? Well, we had a super fun late season outing. We were not out too long as temperatures were rising and the terrain was softening. But, come along for a video glimpse into one stretch of perfect conditions on May 22nd!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

I did learn two new things on this morning's skijor. First, I can skijor behind talented Jack & Rudy with tears in my eyes and blurred vision. Good thing the kids are so perfect on the trails :)  Second, I can hand out 'end of run' treats with tears rolling down my cheek. Two things I never thought I'd need to learn...

In honor of Zorro we skijor and celebrate running on snow!

I want to conclude today's blog post with a fitting skijoring tribute to Zorro Below I have included a collection of memorable photos from skijoring with wonderful Zorro and added what Zorro would have been saying in each photo.

"Max & I - the original skijoring hover huskies - wheeee!!!"

[After Max passed and before Jack matured to join]
"Might as well 'fly by myself' towing dad around :)"

"Ok kids, let me show you how it's done..."
The "hover husky trio" taught by Zorro to Jack & Rudy.

"I have LOVED this since the day we started skijoring.
Big bro Max is SOOO fun!!!
"

[After Max passed and before Jack matured to join]
"I can still have fun even with just slow old dad :)"

[Zorro's 11th birthday skijor outing]
"Hmmm, the kids look like I wore them out - hehe!"

"Hang on dad, wait until you see what I taught Jack & Rudy."
Triple sled dog skijoring was a fast, fun & wild ride!!!

"'End of run' treats have always got our attention!"

"Get in line kids - time for 'end of run' treats but remember
I ALWAYS go first!!!
"

Today's outing: 5.7 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2021/2022 Season to Date: 155 days on the trails covering 1293.1 miles with 121,200 feet of elevation climbed.

For Zorro: we miss you more than words can express. You taught us everything we know, have fun rejoining Max over the rainbow bridge. Gone but NEVER forgotten.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

24 Hours

What a difference 24 hours can make...

We skijored this stretch of trail yesterday and the water to our left
was NOT there just 24 hours ago!!!

It is pretty amazing that so much melting can happen and so much water can become exposed in just 24 hours. But, it is the middle of May with warm daytime temperatures. Yet, it is still "toes on snow" and skijoring the most we can while the snow lasts, right guys?

"We'll do anything to keep the season going!!!" exclaims the happy kids.

Despite a lot of melting happening in the last 24 hours, we still found some stretches of "perfect for May" trail to open up the skijoring engine:

Zooming along the remnants of a packed snowmobile trail from the
past winter. Wheeee!

We even found one wonderful & endless meadow of firm snow to skijor across. Keep in mind that there is no road under this snow but just miles of bushes in the summer. Come along for a video glimpse into the fun:

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

As nice as that video clip looked, by the time we reached the end of the meadow, the sun had already softened the snow and we would have punched through if we tried to go back across the meadow! As planned, though, we connected onto a snowmobile trail over an actual dirt road to continue going (snow over a road stays solid longer than snow over bushes). Of course, it didn't help that the goofballs paused to 'stop, drop & roll' 3/4 of the way across the meadow. Come on guys, we have to get over the meadow before it gets too soft!!!

The 'stop, drop & roll' twins :)

Another wonderful day to report back to retired mentor Zorro:

Yay for 'end of run' treats with our elder!!!

After the dwindling conditions of the past 24 hours, I was tempted to call today our last outing of the season. Yet.... there is a Winter Storm Warning forecast for late Thursday night through Friday and into Saturday morning. If this storm really materializes into what is forecast, we'll be back on the trails soon after the snow lets up. But, if the storm does not deliver, we may be done for the season.

Stay tuned and Pray for Snow!

Today's skijor tally: 7.4 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2021/2022 Season to Date: 154 day on the trails covering 1287.4 miles with 120,700 feet of elevation climbed.


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Still Going

Jack & Rudy were THRILLED to be back on snow this morning!

"We LOVE snow!!!!" exclaims the happy, happy pair.

After an unplanned week off, we returned to Rabbit Ears Pass to try and get a few more runs in before the 2021/2022 season comes to an end. While the conditions were choppy, bumpy and full of obstacles, it was actually better than we expected. Come along for the fun ride this morning...

There was a lot of choppy & bumpy terrain to bounce the human across. Jack & Rudy can glide across this surface just fine, but my legs certainly felt it!!!

Bumpy & choppy terrain. But, hey, it's snow on May 17th!

For all the hard work towing the human through the bumps, we were rewarded with several large meadows of wide open terrain to go, go, go - wheeee!

The bumps were worth it to get onto vast (and smoother) open meadows!

Of course, the "end of season" signs were everywhere as we encountered many melt holes along the way:

Yikes, huge melt hole to the right, stay to the left!!!

Silly me, I forgot that all melt holes close to the trail are potential obstacles across the trail too. Come along for an example of what I mean. We are cruising along this wonderful section of trail when the melt hole appears to our right. Then, as the hole meets the trail, notice the big dip in the terrain. I completely forgot melt holes lead to deep trail dips if the hole is close to the trail. Watch as I scramble to slide left to send myself through the smoothest part of the dip. After the dip, Jack finds himself off the packed trail and on the choppy shoulder. But, it only takes him a few seconds to recover and slide left to rejoin Rudy on the smoother surface. 

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

May brings on warm temperatures, even in the morning. So, you know what that means...

Rolling, rolling, rolling - rolling snow angels to cool off :)

After a week off from skijoring, curious Rudy was wondering if he gets to be first for 'end of run' treats now (instead of his usual 3rd in line):

"Me first today?!?" asks cute Rudy.
"Silly youngster, when will he learn?" adds smooth Jack.
"Ahem, ahem - ME first!" declares elder Zorro.

The end of the 2021/2022 season is definitely close; but we are still able to get in some short runs on what snow is left: 4.8 miles traveled with 400 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2021/2022 Season to Date: 153 days on the trails covering 1280.0 miles with 120,100 feet of elevation climbed.


 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Passes

It's "skijor the high mountain passes" time of year in Colorado and Vail Pass lived up to all expectations yesterday morning!

A few hundred feet up from the "sketchy trailhead" at Vail Pass and Wow!!!
Endless & solid Spring crust as far as the eye can see! Whee!

It happens every season... As we enter May, all the trailheads start to dry up. But, when you look up, you still see snowcapped Rocky Mountains all over the state. How to make use of the higher snow? Well, skijor the many mountain passes. The two passes closest to us with the best, open terrain are Vail Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass. Thus, you'll see those two areas dominate what skijoring we have left in May.

Yesterday morning took us on a tour of Vail Pass. I was initially worried when we arrived as the snow was soft (no crust) with lots of exposed ground. But, within 10-15 minutes of climbing up, everything changed into a beautiful solid white wonderland. I love so many things about the following photo:

1) Nice view of the snow covered mountain peaks ahead of us. These peaks
keep us searching for ways to find & use snow :)
2) Cool footprints in the crust behind fast running Jack & Rudy.
3) Flying, literally flying, Jack & Rudy.

Here's another cool shot which needs a little background to appreciate. Notice we are on a significant slant going perpendicular to our skijoring direction in this shot. Now, when not moving, the crust is actually quite slick. If we stopped, I would start drifting right down the slant as my skis cannot prevent sliding. So, the only way to go forward across a crust slant is to use 2 sled dogs to propel you forward and perpendicular. It would be impossible for me to ski this direction & angle without Jack & Rudy's propulsion! Impressive :)

Skiing the "impossible direction" made possible by Jack & Rudy.

So much fun video to show from yesterday, I had a hard time deciding which to use. But, come along for a glimpse into the fun. We start out cruising across a wonderful Spring crust. Then, we come upon some icy snowmobile tracks. I see that getting over & across the tracks will get us back onto endless crust. So, bounce across the tracks we go until we resettle on the perfect crust and go, go, goooo! Wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Of course, temperatures are rising in May. Well, if Jack & Rudy roll snow angels to cool off in February, you KNOW what they do in May ;)

"Ah! Come on, join us dad!" says silly Rudy.
"Don't ask, he NEVER joins us - silly human!" responds rolling Jack to Rudy.

Another fun, fun day. Let's go thank retired Zorro for discovering Vail Pass for us (with Max) over a decade ago!

"Glad to have paved the way for you!" says wonderful Zorro.
"Ah, the youngsters ALWAYS benefit from the work of the oldsters!" adds
happy, happy Jack & Rudy.

An incredible outing for early May: 9.4 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2021/2022 Season to Date: 151 days on the trails covering 1266.8 miles with 118,900 feet of elevation climbed.

 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Mileage

Jack & Rudy surpassed 1257 miles of skijoring yesterday.

The most miles the two youngsters have logged in a single season!

"And we thoroughly enjoyed every single mile!!!!" declares the happy pair.
Jack just finished rolling one of this patented snow angels, in case you are
wondering why he looks partially down :)

Our single season mileage record is 1433.5 miles accomplished by Max & Zorro in 2016/2017. But, yesterday marked young Jack & Rudy's longest season yet. Last year was their personal record at 1253.2 miles. But, we are now at 1257.4 miles and counting for this season! Woo Hoo! We probably won't surpass Max & Zorro's 1433 mile record; but I do anticipate Jack & Rudy reaching 1300 miles! We'll have to see what the rest of May has in store for us.

Back to the outing. It was a beautiful morning to skijor around Dumont Lake atop Rabbit Ears Pass if you picked your path correctly. Check out these great conditions:

A light layer of new snow atop otherwise packed snowmobile trails.

What did I mean by "pick your path correctly" in the previous paragraph? Well, come along for today's video highlight. Watch as the clip starts with us bouncing along in a "tracked up" trail. But, a few seconds in and I notice the right side of the trail is really nice. So, an "over to the right" verbal call from me and Jack & Rudy slide right onto the smooth trail ad off we go! Perfect once we "picked the correct path" :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

A little further along and the following happened... It takes a lot for Jack & Rudy to abandon forward going and lock on something behind us!

Oh my, what has the kids' attention? What could make then want
to do a 180 while jogging?!?!?

The only thing that could get this reaction from them is moose or elk nearby. So, you better believe I stopped immediately to see what got their attention behind us (imagine a moose coming down the trail behind us!!!!!). Luckily, we never found the source of their 180, despite stopping to stare intensely into the trees.

Must be a moose nearby; but, luckily, we never saw one!

After failing to find the moose (or elk), it was back to forward momentum :)

Whee, off we go again with nothing but snow in front of us!

Fun, fun day. Let me go spend a moment with retired mentor Zorro before dishing out the 'end of run' treats!

Love these moments with my favorite old man!
"Waiting our turn!" adds wonderfully patient Jack & Rudy.

Setting the youngster's "season record mileage" and still going... 7.1 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2021/2022 Season to Date: 150 days on the trails covering 1257.4 miles with 117,900 feet of elevation climbed.


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Trees to Meadows

I think Jack & Rudy had a super fun skijor this morning, what do you think?

"We had a BLAST today!!!!" exclaims the happy, happy kids.

Today's outing took us exploring the Spring crust on the West Summit of Rabbit Ears Pass. Temperatures were above freezing as we started (but still in the mid 30s), so I was not sure if the crust was going to be solid enough to hold us. We started the day on set trails from the West Summit and then, once up a few hundred feet in elevation, we decided to abandon set trails and test the crust.

Success!!! The crust was surprisingly firm for the temperatures. As a result, we were able to set our own path and weave through the trees for the first 1/3 of the outing!

Cruising through the trees on a wonderful Spring crust.

Eventually the forest started to thin and we transitioned into vast open meadows. The crust was great in the openings as well. Jack & Rudy know what to do in vast meadows - no obstacles means floor it :)

Zoom, zoom, zooming along!

Come along for a short video highlight capturing the theme of the day. We start in the trees and then transition into a vast open meadow. I can't decide which was more fun: weaving in the trees or flying across the meadows. Both were great fun - we'll call it a tie :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

With temperatures above freezing, you know what Jack & Rudy were going to do at any pause along the way...

"Aaahhh - rolling snow angels to cool off!" demonstrates the goofy kids.

A fun, fun day to report back to retired mentor Zorro and share 'end of run' treats!

"Ready!" declares focused Zorro.
"We had such a great time!" adds the patiently waiting kids.

We love when the conditions match our expectations!!! 6.8 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2021/2022 Season to Date: 149 days on the trails covering 1250.3 miles with 117,300 feef of elevation climbed.