Monday, May 29, 2023

Record Season Finale

Yesterday was our final outing of a record setting skijoring season!

Way to go Jack & Rudy!!!!

"We did it! 1444.0 miles traveled! We set the record!" declares the happy kids.

Our record season had been 1433.5 miles traveled with Max & Zorro in 2016/2017. I knew going into this season that Jack & Rudy were primed to give the record a challenge. All we needed was the snow to hold up. Well, despite ending in late May (we often skijor into early/mid June), the impressive kids set a season record for our pack!

Our final outing of the season found us at Buffalo Pass. This location typically has the deepest snowpack in all of Colorado. But, it's a real haul and challenge to get to; thus, we typically do it only once or twice a season. Come along for the highlights of our season finale.

We started out on VERY sketchy conditions with little snow and spans of no snow at all!

Starting up on a narrow ribbon of snow with exposed ground ahead of us.

Why not drive past this point of the trail, you ask? Well, we start out driving up Buffalo Pass until we can drive no further. What happens is we will encounter a very deep (usually shaded) impassable span of snow at some point on the way up. Even with our 4WD Jeep, we will get to an impassible span at some point. So, we must start the skijor from the impasse, even though we know we'll encounter tough & exposed sections like the prior photo on the other side of the impasse.

We also know, though, that the further & higher we go, the better it will get!

Ah, nice deep snow covering the entire trail!
Notice the power in Jack & Rudy as my hands are on my hips as I ride
the Siberian Tow Rope up this stretch of trail.

Along the way, I paused at the location of some of Max and Zorro's ashes. While Jack & Rudy never got the chance to meet special Max, they did learn everything they know about skijoring from wonderful Zorro. As I paused to reflect back on Max & Zorro, Jack and Rudy did their "pause usual" :)

Rolling snow angels in snow over the location of Max and Zorro's ashes.

Then, as expected, we found some incredible conditions up high. Wish there was an easier way to get here, we'd come back every day if so :)

So, so, so nice up high!

Now, come along for our final clip of the season. We are a bit lower in elevation in this clip compared to the prior photo, so we start out cruising along nice albeit soft snow. Then, near the end of the clip, you get to see Jack & Rudy slowing to perfectly navigate me on skis through two narrow passages before opening up the throttle again. Perfect partners!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We cannot end the season without one final hover husky shot!

Catching air again. Wheeee!

Finally, concluding the season with our final end of run treats. No snow walls to climb this time, it must really be the end of season :)

"We LOVE snow!" declares the cool dudes awaiting end of run treats.

A monster outing to complete the season. You have to make full use of the difficult trek to get on snow at Buffalo Pass: 14 miles traveled with 1100 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2022/2023 Season  Total: 164 days on the trails covering 1444.0 miles with 130,600 feet of elevation climbed.

Very Impressive Jack & Rudy! Very Impressive!!!!

See you all in September (we hope) or October for the 2023/2024 Skijor Season beginning.


Saturday, May 27, 2023


If it is "snow in late May" we'll take it, right guys?

"You bet! We are having a BLAST!" declares the happy kids

We returned to Harrison Creek at Rabbit Ears Pass this morning. We did this trail 4 days ago and the conditions from then to now were deteriorated. We chose this route because it gets to upper elevation terrain quickly which is usually less melted than down low. But, at our highest point of the morning, quite a bit of shrubbery was breaking through the snow!

Still enough snow on the trail to go; but the view from here 4 days ago was
all white versus shrubbery coming  through on the shoulders today.

Getting to the upper elevation was also quite a challenge at first. We had many "barely enough snow to go" narrow sections of trail:

Just enough snow for me to keep going on skis.

Then, we had a lot of this ugliness! 

Yikes, how to proceed?!?!? 
I'm actually able to keep my skis on and step slowly across the dirt.
Jack & Rudy know to go slow until we are all back on snow. Good boys!

Now, a nice "nearing end of season" skijor clip of talented Jack & Rudy. Come along as we start the clip proceeding cautiously due to lots of exposed ground and narrow snow cover. But, as soon as the exposed ground disappears, Jack & Rudy kick it into overdrive as the conditions are now safe to GO. All of this without a single verbal command from me, just great understanding of the conditions from the smart kids!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The conditions were still nice up high despite a lot of ground starting to show on the shoulders. But conditions are really deteriorating on the way up and then back down the lower terrain.

Still good snow on our favorite upper elevation ridge line.

Of course, any snow is good snow for rolling snow angels...

Rub a dub dub!

Finally,  we were even able to find a small snow wall at the trailhead to climb for end of run treats:

"Yay, we found a mini wall to climb!" says the happy kids.

A short outing due to deteriorating conditions and rising temperatures, but it was still skijoring in late May: 5.8 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 163 days on the trails covering 1430.0 miles with 129,500 feet of elevation climbed.

Was today our finale? I think (hope) not, but we have very few outings left. Stay tuned...


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Nice up High

The snow is still so nice up high, if you can get there....

Beautiful conditions at our highest elevation point along the Harrison
Creek Trail.

"If you can get there" is the key phrase in that introduction above. We had to traverse numerous hazardous openings in the snow in the initial climb to the upper elevation goodness. Here are a two examples;

"Woo is me, I don't want summer!" woos Rudy.
"We can still make it if we hug the snow to the left!" states lead dog Jack.
Jack, of course, is right, but I still had to stop to slow us down to proceed
cautiously on the thin strip of snow to our left.

Did I say "thin strip of snow"? Well, how about this one...

Yikes, barely wide enough for my two skis to fit.
But notice how perfect Jack & Rudy are getting in tight to stay on the
little snow there is. They know to keep me on snow to continue to go!

But, as I said above, it was still so nice up high! This particular route starts with a steep initial climb (across lots of hazards this time of year) and then levels out into miles of gently rolling high elevation terrain. So nice up high!

Cruising along a wonderfully snow covered ridge line.

Now come along for the video counterpart to the prior photo. A beautiful stretch of trail yesterday morning, especially for late May. But, getting to and back from the nice conditions is getting really difficult!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

The snow up high was also great for rolling conjoined snow angels :)

Where does Rudy end and Jack start?
Silly kids rolling conjoined snow angels at our turnaround point.

It was also a day of wildlife entertainment for Jack & Rudy. First we encountered coyote tracks to follow along the trail for a while. Then we encountered elk tracks to sniff and follow for a short stretch. Finally, the highlight was finding fresh smelling moose tracks crossing the trail and going off into the trees. You must stop for fresh moose tracks, you know :)

"Sniff, sniff, these are fresh!" states the moose inspectors.
Notice the big two toed print between my two skis.

Despite all the tracks, we never got a visual of any of the wildlife. I am just fine not seeing a coyote; but I do enjoy seeing the big vegetarians (moose, elk) from a safe distance, as do Jack & Rudy!

We had a camera failure with Nancy's camera at the trailhead. So, we don't have our usual "end of run" treats shot to close out the blog. In place of that, we'll conclude with a shot of the happy kids looking back when I needed to pause momentarily to rest my burning legs on the difficult terrain down low on the way back from the great conditions up high.

"Just let us know when you are ready to go!" says the happy kids patiently
waiting for my burning legs to get a quick break.

So nice up high, so iffy down low; but it was worth it for a wonderful skijor on the upper terrain: 9.8 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 162 days on the trails covering 1424.2 miles with 129,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Monday, May 22, 2023


May 22nd and still going! Wheeee!

Cruising along on snow over a vast summer meadow.

Notice anything different in the prior photo? Look closely at what we are approaching. A little closer and we had to stop because of...

Water, water everywhere! Look at all that exposed water to our left, right
and forward! Yikes.
This was as close as I was willing to let us approach the water as I didn't
want to break through any surprises we might encounter closer.

Yes, the "final melt" is in full swing on the Walton Peak trails at Rabbit Ears Pass. In a good year, we typically skijor for another 1-3 miles past this point before turning around. But, it was a very warm late April and May. So, despite having great snowpack entering April, it is melting fast! Yuck! 

Well, since we could not continue forward as planned, time to turnaround and find more terrain to extend the outing. Did I say "turnaround"...

"Yes, you said 'turnaround', so we must first roll around!" says the silly kids
rolling their typical turnaround snow angels.

In order to extend the outing, I needed to find leftover groomer trails. When the snowpack has fallen this far, we cannot go off set trails as we do earlier in Spring on the Spring Crust. The off trail terrain is super choppy and bumpy. But, the set trails where a heavy groomer ran all winter long are less bumpy from months of heavy groomer packing. Luckily I know where the groomers run all winter. So, we backtracked from the water hazard above and took an out & back on a winter groomed side trail:

Ah, yes, nice condition on this leftover groomer route.
Notice the nice terrain is about the width of a groomer and look to our
right for an example of just how choppy & bumpy the off trail snow
has become. My knees cannot absorb going over that choppiness!

Did I say we did an "out & back" on a side trail? Yep, so that means we had another turnaround point. I bet you were expecting another snow angel photo or a wooing Rudy and rolling Jack, right? 

"Hey, we can simply 'turnaround' sometimes!" says the happy kids showing
they can 'stop & turnaround' instead of 'stop, drop, roll then turn' (sometimes :)

Finally, it was back to my favorite stretch of trail in this area this time of year. This is again a heavily used and frequently groomed stretch of trail. As above, notice the "smoother snow" is about the width of a groomer and outside of that is extremely choppy, bumpy and knee killing terrain.

Ah, so nice on the groomer leftovers :)

Now come along for the video counterpart to the prior photo. While we ran into a lot of sketchy conditions and exposed water this morning, this stretch was, as expected, perfect! Wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Back to the trailhead and the kids found a mini snow wall to climb for end of run treats. It's not as tall as they prefer, but it's better than making me come all the way down to their level :)

"We had a great time today!" declares the happy kids.

A great morning with a little bit of re-routing due to exposed water: 8.4 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 161 days on the trails covering 1414.4 miles with 128,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

1400 Miles

The 5 year olds, Jack & Rudy, first season surpassing 1400 miles of skijoring this morning.

1406.0 miles to be exact and still going! 

"Ready for 1400 more!" declares happy Jack.
"YES, 1400 MORE!" belts wooing Rudy.

While we surpass 1000 miles of skijoring almost every season, our pack has only surpassed 1400 once before and that was with Max & Zorro in 2016/2017. Well done Jack & Rudy, well done!!!

Today's outing took us to the upper terrain of Harrison Creek at Rabbit Ears Pass. After a steep initial climb, these trails flatten out in some vast upper elevation meadows that typically have the best snowpack at Rabbit Ears this time of year. Today was no exception:

Out-stretched as we round a corner on wonderful conditions up high!

Along the way, we had a short stretch of very distracted driving by Jack & Rudy in front of me!

Distracted by wildlife to the left, but not breaking stride.

It is only moose or elk that can distract Jack & Rudy this much along the trail. But, a couple of seconds after the prior clip and it was distractions to the right this time:

Distracted by wildlife to the right without breaking stride again.

Now come along for the video counterpart of the prior two photos. Watch as Jack & Rudy are distracted to the left, then distracted to the right, then distracted to the left, then distracted from behind, then distracted by prints on the trail, then left again, etc. etc. But also notice that we continue onward skijoring without breaking stride. Pretty impressive that they maintained forward momentum despite tons of distractions!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

You better believe that I was whipping my head left & right too just in case something was close by. But we never actually saw any bodies. Yet, given Jack & Rudy's level of intensity, they could clearly smell moose or elk nearby. I am suspecting it was elk since they travel in much bigger herds than moose and that would match the number of times they are distracted in every direction.

Once we were past the "scent of elk (or moose)" both kids promptly threw themselves on the ground to roll snow angels to cool off from such intense activity :)

"Must cool off after sprinting amidst elk aroma!" declares the silly kids.

Back to the trailhead and time for end of run treats. This was also the trailhead we started at yesterday and the snow wall for end of run treats is still there :)

Atop the snow wall for "eye to eye" end of run treats!

Some sketchy terrain near the start but VERY nice up high: 8.8 miles traveled with 800 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 160 days on the trails covering 1406.0 miles with 127,400 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Jack 6000

5 year old Jack surpassed 6000 career skijor miles this morning! Way to go Jack!!!!

"And I have LOVED every single mile!" declares happy, happy Jack.
"If we are not celebrating ME, I'm not paying attention!" adds poor Rudy.
If you've met Rudy, you KNOW that is what he was saying :)

Jack is currently 5 years and 10 months old and he has accumulated 6000 career skijoring miles (6007.0 miles to be exact). Now, consider that almost all of those miles happened since he was 1.5 years old (as he was too young or doing short training runs before that) and we've had a few evil summers in the way and that is quite an impressive career he's putting together! For the curious, Rudy is about 5 months younger than Jack and about 175 career miles behind him. Rudy will have to wait until the 2023/2024 season for his 6000th career mile; but it will happen early next season.

Back to today, We went to Rabbit Ears Pass to get what was left of the rapidly melting snow. Conditions were actually much better than I expected for May 20th and the amount of remaining snowpack. We started the day on the (old) groom track that we and others have been using in May. It hasn't been groomed in over a week but it is still pretty much intact!

Starting the day on the leftover groom track.
It is not obvious we are on the groom track from this photo with the sun
behind the clouds; but it was clear in person. You'll see the clear groom track
in a photo below when the sun was out on our return.

After a successful skijor on this 1.5 mile groom track, it was time to see if we could still get out to the open meadows at the base of Walton Peak. In order to do this, we had to hope that two snow bridges were still intact. These are not real bridges but bridges built from a season of groomers and snowmobiles packing the snow over two creeks. I was actually quite surprised to find both bridges still intact as I was planning on having to modify our outing at one of the bridges!

Crossing the first of the two snow bridges we needed to be intact! Yay!

Why were the bridges so important? Well, if you get over both water crossing then you are treated to some endless snow at the base of Walton Peak. How's this for May 20th once we got over both bridges?

The hover huskies catching air at the base of Walton Peak!

Now come along for today's video highlight of us skijoring a wonderful trail at the base of Walton Peak. Sure, it's a little bumpy (as you'll see the camera bouncing) but you cannot get much better than this on May 20th in the Northern Hemisphere! Wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

After doing an out & back skijor by Walton Peak, it was back over both snow bridges and onto the leftover groom track to conclude the day:

See, once the sun came out, the groom track is very evident as opposed
to the shady photo above.

Jack also has another feat to add to his skijoring career: not only has he amassed 6000 career miles but he has also rolled at least one snow angel on EVERY single outing of his career (and many more than one on most outings :)

6000 miles of rolling snow angels. What a silly goof.
"Woooo, I want to be at 6000!" bellows wooing Rudy.

Back to the trailhead and we found a snow wall for end of run treats amongst all the otherwise melting snow!

Yay, I can dish out the treats from a standing position!

A relatively flat outing by our standards today but still a ton of fun: 8 miles traveled with 400 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 159 days on the trails covering 1397.2 miles with 126,600 feet of elevation climbed.

Jack's career to date: 6007.0 miles traveled with 1+ snow angel rolled on EVERY single outing :)


Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Rolling snow angels to cool off at the official "Rabbit Ears Pass Geological Marker" - sillies :)

Some (humans) pause to look at the geological marker.
Others (Siberian goofballs) roll snow angels because the human paused :)

It was a mixed bag of conditions on this morning's outing. We had some really nice stretches relatively untracked snow:

Wonderful straightaway for mid May!

We also had many sketchy stretches showing that summer will eventually arrive:

Yikes, exposed asphalt on what is the road to Dumont Lake Campground in
the summer. But, still snow on the sides for us to keep going.

Finally, there was some pretty bumpy, but fully snow covered stretches of snow.

A bit of a bumpy ride along this stretch. But, hey, it's snow and not
exposed ground!

The snow covered open straightaways were very nice. Come along for the video proof of this fact. It is melting fast, but we are still able to go and floor it occasionally!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Finally, for the first time in a while, we had no snow walls for the kids to climb for end of run treats. After handing out the treats, it was time for me to get up from a kneeling position. Oh boy, those old knees of mine, I realized how much I miss those snow walls for Jack & Rudy so I can dish out treats from a standing position!

"Sorry you have to come to our level today instead of vice versa!" says the
happy kids.

A quick "sometimes nice" and "sometimes not" outing on Rabbit Ears this morning: 6.4 miles traveled with a top speed of 20 MPH.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 158 days on the trails covering 1389.2 miles with 126,200 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Above the Clouds

Who was enjoying this morning's skijor outing?

"We are! We are having a BLAST!" exclaims the happy, happy kids.

This morning found us skijoring out & back on the beautiful Harrison Creek Trail at Rabbit Ears Pass. Once we got up in elevation a bit, the conditions were wonderful. See for yourself:

What a perfect trail in mid-May! Wheeee!

See those clouds far to the right in the prior photo? Well, here's those same clouds at our turnaround and highest elevation point of the outing.

Cool, we are higher than the clouds!

It was a interesting day contrasting the trail conditions in the shade/forest versus in the open and sun. In the shade, the snow was quite covered with needles & moss that had fallen from the trees.

Lots of needles & moss littering the trail. Buy, hey, it is snow in May
so we'll take it :)

Come along for today's fun skijor clip of us flying through the forest. Even though the snow is a little dirty from tree needles & moss, we were out early enough that the needles/moss were still frozen into the snow so we could glide over them. Later in the day, once the snow softens, these needles/moss would lead to sticky conditions. Good thing we are early birds :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Then, back to the great trail conditions in the open:

Zipping along the clean snow again.

Such a fun outing this morning, let's celebrate with end of run treats:

"Ready!" declares the happy & focused fun kids.

Another great May outing: 8.8 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2022/2023 Season to Date: 157 days on the trails covering 1382.8 miles with 125,800 feet of elevation climbed.