Sunday, April 21, 2024

Mid Winter in Late April

Look at these awesome "mid winter like conditions" we found this morning in late April!

Laying fresh tracks in a light layer of new snow atop an otherwise
perfectly flat & packed trail!

How was this possible? Well, the light layer of new snow is thanks to Mother Nature. The trail is the furthest from civilization on what is Gold Run Nordic Center during winter. But, the nordic center is closed and few, if any, make it out to this trail without a groomer helping pave the way. But, I have Jack & Rudy and that is as good as a groomer for me :) So, this particular trail has sat pretty much untouched since the nordic center closed 3 weeks ago.

So, a trail that has been packed by a groomer all winter + a trail too hard/far for most people to get to + a nice layer of fresh snow from Mother Nature. Well, Jack & Rudy knew what to do with these surprisingly great conditions in April. Come along and watch the video highlight to see for yourself:

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Along the way we did side "backcountry out & back" to visit one of our favorite old mining ghost towns in this area. This is probably our last visit to this location this season as it is very sun exposed and melting fast:

Whee! Zipping by all the old mining buildings in this cool ghost town.

The tracks you see in the prior photo are our own out tracks. Well, that meant we had to turnaround at some point before coming back through the ghost town. Well, yep, you guessed - turnaround, roll around!

Snow angels with a view from the comedians almost intertwined to stay
on the snow and not hit that dirt in front of us :)

Eventually, though, we had to come back to civilization. As I expected, the trail near and leading to the trailhead had been very tracked up with lots of post holes. But, with the morning's new snow (safety dust, as I call it), we were able to continue at a nice pace over the chopped up trail:

Catching air with the help of the safety dust along a trail full of
deep footprints and post holes.

That was fun, right guys?

"Oh yeah! We liked zooming on the mid winter conditions best of all!" says
my fun pals happily awaiting end of run treats.

Some surprisingly nice conditions for most of this late April outing covering 8.8 miles with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 135 days on the trails covering 1155.7 miles with 114,600 feet of elevation climbed.


Thursday, April 18, 2024

Nice Up High

Turnaround, roll around. Turnaround, woos abound.

Classic Jack rolling his snow angels at our turnaround point this morning.
Singing Rudy offering a tune of woos for his turnaround fun :)

The conditions are pretty nice in the prior photo, right? Just a single set of ski tracks and lots of untouched snow. Well, that photo was at our highest elevation and furthest from the trailhead point of this morning's outing. Here is what we had to endure to get to these "nice up high & far" conditions:

It was tracked up and beat up down lower and close to the trailhead. So beat up that I had to take my skis off and hike down the final hill to the trailhead on the way back! Ugh!

Going gently on super tracked up, choppy and icy trail conditions!

The further we went, the less tracked the trail became, but it was still cautious skiing at the mid elevations of today's outing:

We were able to trot at the mid elevations, but not much faster than that!

Then, as typically happens with my assistance from Jack & Rudy, we out skied just about all existing tracks and footprints. At our highest and furthest from the trailhead section of the outing, it was picture perfect! Only one or two skiers had been out this far before us. Oh my it was BEAUTIFUL up high:

Amazing conditions, especially compared to the mid and low level photos above!

How nice up high? Well, come along and see for yourself. Wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Today's comedy interlude was hopping off trail at the mid elevations of our outing to search for those pesky rodents hiding under the snow. 

"I think the rodents are down HERE!" declares dunking Jack.
"Really? Well, then, INCOMING!" responds rodent diving Rudy leaping
to join Jack's location.

Once Rudy's dive was complete, the kids started a joint excavation of snow in search for the rodents:

"Dig, dig, dig, where are those pesky rodents?" asks the excavating kids.
Despite lots of searching and digging, nobody came up with a rodent in his mouth!

If you can't chew on a rodent, you might as well accept end of run treats instead, right guys?

"Ok, treats are good; although we'd prefer fresh rodents!" says the
happy & focused kids.

Today's outing was on the short side because I expected the tracked up and hard to navigate conditions at the mid and low elevations. If only we could teleport ourselves to & from the wonderful conditions up high!!! 5.7 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 133 days on the trails covering 1138.7 miles with 112,800 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Still Soft

Wonderful mid-April snow conditions at Sallie Barber Mine this morning! Yay!

Start of the outing on soft snow in an array of pre-existing tracks.

We had 6 inches of fresh snow Monday night and another 3 inches Tuesday day. With that new snow amounts, we decided to try out the Sallie Barber Mine Trail for this morning's skijor. It is really hit or miss what you find on this popular trail, especially now that we are into warm April days and subfreezing nights. To our delight, as you see in the photo above, we found a wide swath of ski tracks from yesterday with still very soft snow in and out of the tracks (the snow can get very punchy and/or icy quick this time of year). So, it was a wonderful glide up front side of the trail to the mine this morning!

Once at the mine, the comedians, Jack & Rudy, put on their typical Sallie Barber Mine Skit: rolling snow angels to cool off after the initial climb to the mine:

Rub a dub dub, snow angels at the historic mine.

We then went down and back up the back side of the mine trail. This side is popular with locals and not so much with tourists, so it is always a little less tracked up. But, today was a shock. Only a single set of ski tracks existed on the back side of the mine - wow! If needed, Jack & Rudy can squeeze into a single set of ski tracks. But, I know Jack (also known as Powder Jack) and he prefers to run in the side powder if it is shallow enough for him to keep pace with Rudy running in track. If it is too deep to keep pace on the side, he'll squeeze into the track with Rudy. But, today, the side was shallow enough for Powder Jack to enjoy fresh tracks alongside in track Rudy:

Rudy using the set track while Jack runs in the shallow side powder.
Powder Jack!

As usual with these two, after going down and back up the back side, it was time to fly by the mine as we started the final descent back down the front side:

The Jack & Rudy usual: rolling snow angels on the first pass by the mine
so you can fly on by the second pass :)

Then it was the final descent of the well-used but still very comfortably soft front side of the trail:

Whee! This will be too icy (in track) or punchy (out of track) in a day or
two to safely skijor (for me :)

Today's video highlight? How about a peaceful glide along excellent conditions on the front side of the Sallie Barber Mine Trail. Come along for a glimpse into the fun:

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Finally, we found nice little snow shelf in the parking lot to climb for end of run treats. But, you had to squeeze in tight and close to fit for the treat handouts :)

The fun kids packed in very tight and close to me to fit for
end of run treats.

A really nice mid-April day on Sallie Barber: 7.6 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 132 days on the trails covering 1133.0 miles with 112,100 feet of elevation climbed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Rudy 7000

6 year old Rudy surpassed 7,000 career skijor miles this morning!

Way to go handsome & powerful Rudy!

"I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of the 7000 miles!" declares happy Rudy.

For the curious, Jack is roughly 5 months older than Rudy, so his 7,000 mile event happened last month.

What did we do to observe Rudy's awesome milestone? Well, look closely at that first photo again. What do you see in the upper left of the photo? Yes, that is a chairlift! To celebrate "Rudy 7000" we skijored Breckenridge Ski Resort this morning!

We try to make this an annual tradition: skijor Breckenridge Ski Resort within a few days of them shutting down some peaks for the season. Technically, Breckenridge Ski Resort is still open; but, they shutdown operations on 3 of the 5 peaks as we got into the second half of April and leading into May. It is the most fun to skijor the ski resort with a layer of fresh snow (otherwise it is a bit icy for me). So, although the trails on Peak 9 closed for the season yesterday, we waited until this morning to skijor the ski resort as fresh snow was expected overnight. 

Well, the wait was PERFECT! We had a wonderful layer of light snow over the otherwise hard packed trails. Jack & Rudy really love this activity. I can feel their excitement in the force behind the gangline attached to my waist :)

We had fun flying on by trail signage on the resort:

"Don't need no silly signs, we know where we are going!" says the fun kids
flying on by some of the trail signage.

We had fun flying under both stationary and moving chair lifts:

Crossing under a lift, no reason to slow down for that :)

We had fun zipping alongside chairlifts:

Fresh snow all to ourselves as we fly down this untouched ski run
going alongside a chairlift.

When we are out after they close Peak 9, we always run into a few others. There will be the occasional skiers who have skinned up the trails to come back down. But, more common is coming across resort employees. We will see them on both snowmobiles and the occasional moving lift as they are carrying out shutdown tasks on this peak. The employees always smile, wave and cheer us on as they see the crazy guy skijoring a ski resort behind two powerful sled dogs!

Zipping by some resort employees as you see the passenger giving us
a nice wave (I waved back :)

So, let's put it all together for today's video highlight: flying by trail signage, cruising under chairlifts, running along side (a moving) chairlift and encountering the occasional resort employees on snowmobiles and riding chairlifts. All this is set against wonderful active falling snow all around us with the occasional big gust of wind, as you'll see in the video.

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

What a fun morning. Let's celebrate with end of run treats in front of the Breckenridge Trail Map in the background:

"That was FUN!" says the happy, happy kids awaiting treats in front of
the big trail map poster.

Remember, ski resorts are designed for downhill skiing, as a result we always trade an increase in elevation for a decrease in distance skijoring the resort: 7.4 miles traveled with 1500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 131 days on the trails covering 1125.4 miles with 111,400 feet of elevation climbed.

The 6 year olds, Jack & Rudy, have now each surpassed 7,000 career skijor miles! Impressive! 

Saturday, April 13, 2024


Look at these absolutely PERFECT groomed trail conditions this morning!

Jack & Rudy catching air as we are first tracks on the freshly
groomed nordic trail. Wheeee!

Today is the last day the trails will be groomed at Breckenridge Nordic Center. As a result, we tried to time our outing to be just after the groomer and, hopefully, first tracks on the fresh groom. Well, it was a rousing success! We were first tracks almost all morning long except when we repeated a few stretches of the trail and then were second and third tracks to ourselves. Woo Hoo!

Catching air on our second pass by the Kathy's Viewpoint Warming Hut.
Second tracks to ourselves!

I think Jack & Rudy got the memo that this was the last groom on these trails this season as they were zipping along all day long!

First tracks catching air again!

Now come along for today's video highlight. We are having a great time gliding along this gently rolling (slight ups & downs) section of trail. You can also see some nice "high elevation views" to our right whenever there are breaks in the trees. This was one of the sections of trails I intended to repeat. So, as we glide off trail at the end of the clip to turnaround, we get the usual from the Jack & Rudy comedians: stop, drop and roll before turning around :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Temperatures were above freezing during our entire outing. So, I knew I'd get rolling snow angels to cool off from the sillies at every turnaround point of the day:

Yes, another turnaround, roll around from the silly kids.
Nice views from this snow angel vista too :)

Ok, who is enjoying this final groom at Breckenridge Nordic Center:

"We are! WE ARE!!!!!" declares the super happy kids.
Oh, don't worry, they rolled snow angels right before this photo. With
warm temperatures, every pause on the trail this morning was met with
rolling angels.

Thanks for hauling me around this morning guys, how about some end of run treats in return?

"Ready!" says the happy & very focused pair.

A beautiful and perfect final groom at Breckenridge Nordic Center this morning: 10.3 miles traveled with 1200 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 129 days on the trails covering 1110.5 miles with 109,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

1100 Miles

Look at what Jack & Rudy accomplished this morning!

"We could go for 1100 more!" says the proud & happy kids
acknowledging their impressive accomplishment.

Yep, we surpassed 1100 miles of skijoring for this 2023/2024 season this morning (1100.2 to be exact). That's 1100 miles and counting for 5 straight years for the impressive 6 year olds!

Today's outing took us to the trails of Gold Run Nordic Center. But, the nordic center closed for the season last Sunday, so there is no more grooming happening on these trails. For the curious, despite some really nice snow photos today, the majority of the nordic center is lower in elevation on Breckenridge Golf Course and these trails melt quickly in April. The two upper elevation trails are the "dogs allowed" trails. It is always sad when we see how much great snow is still on the upper trails but the route to these trails for the groomer would be over the quickly melting trails on the golf course.

Anyway, back to today. We had a light layer of fresh snow fall overnight and into the morning. With a layer of fresh snow, the leftover nordic trails are safe to ski again (they get too slick for me without fresh snow). So, we started the day on the highest elevation loop of the nordic center. Only a few people had been out on these trails since Sunday and all had stuck to the same narrow set ski track. We intended to repeat this upper section of trail three times (out, back and out again). When I saw the set track was too narrow for Jack & Rudy fit shoulder-to-shoulder, I skied next to it to create another track for the kids to fit. On our repeats of this trail, sometimes Jack & Rudy would make use of the two tracks and sometimes they'd slide far right to enjoy the untouched snow on the side of the trail:

Laying fresh tracks on the untouched right hand side of the wide trail.
Notice the (now) two set tracks to our left.

Laying fresh tracks in the prior photo, then taking a break to run in the set tracks for a bit:

Rudy in the original set track from previous days.
Jack in the new track I made with my skis on the first pass along this trail.
See, I can be useful!!!!!

Today's turnaround entertainment was snow angels, as always, from Jack and wooing today from Rudy - you never know what you are going to get from the silly redhead: rolling, wooing or both :)

"Rub a dub dub!" goes snow rolling Jack.
"Today I WOOOO!" sings wooing Rudy.

After some fun laps in the new snow on the highest elevation trail, we then connected to the next, main trail, to skijor to the trailhead. This trail gets LOTS of usage when the nordic center is open and even after it closes. As a result, I really needed today's light layer of fresh snow to skijor safely behind my pals:

Phew, a nice layer of "safety dust" snow on the otherwise well-worn trail!

Every outing eventually has to come to an end. Whose idea is it when we end? Well, since Jack & Rudy NEVER tire, it is me who eventually calls the fun to an end. Come along and watch Jack & Rudy running strong, as always, to the finish of this morning's 9.6 mile skijor. Oh, and a nice glide on by the dog on the side of the trail near the end of this clip.

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Passing 1100 miles for the season, what a way to earn today's end of run treats!

"Ready for 1100 more and READY for those treats!" says the happy
and focused fun kids.

A nice layer of new snow to allow us to get a long April outing: 9.6 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 128 days on the trails covering 1100.2 miles with 107,800 feet of elevation climbed.


Monday, April 8, 2024

Fresh Tracks All Day

The comedians hopping off trail to search for those elusive but very distracting rodents under the snow!

"I think they are down HERE!" declares excavating Jack.
"What? Really? Well, then INCOMING!" adds rodent diving Rudy once
he saw Jack hop off trail and start digging in the snow.

Today's outing took us on a fresh tracks tour around Walton Peak at Rabbit Ears Pass. We started the day under the shade of clouds laying fresh tracks in a shallow layer of new snow:

Fresh snow as far as the eye can see!

Within 10-15 minutes, though, the clouds parted and we had really pretty fresh tracks skijoring in the sun:

Zipping along having fun in the sun!

Jack & Rudy were really enjoying the fresh snow and were pedal to the metal all  morning long. Come along for a fast & fun glimpse into the action. As you see, the kids were really flooring it today!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

We did an out & back route this morning which meant we had to turnaround at one point. You guessed it...

"Turnaround, Roll Around!" goes the snow rolling sillies cooling their
jets in the snow before turning around.

Under the new snow, the trail we were on was a very wide & packed snowmobile trail. With such a wide trail, we could lay fresh tracks all the way back by remaining on the right side of the trail each direction. So, it was fresh tracks all day long!

Whee - wide enough to ignore our "out tracks" to our left and keep layinng
fresh tracks on the right side of the trail all day long!

A really fun & peaceful outing laying fresh tracks both directions and not encountering another soul on the trails all morning long!

"The whole wilderness all to ourselves what fun!" says the happy kids
preparing to receive well earned end of run treats.

Today's tally: 9.6 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 126 days on the trails covering 1084.2 miles with 106,300 feet of elevation climbed.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Fresh to First

Jack & Rudy catching air as we fly by the Hallelujah Warming Hut this morning!

"Warming? How silly and unnecessary!" says the sled dogs who have no
use for a silly warming hut :)

Today's outing had a really fun mix of conditions for us to enjoy. When we started the outing, we saw evidence that the groomer had gone out on the trails just before us. But, the network of trails we were on had the groomer turn away from our intended path within the first 5 minutes. After the groomer track disappeared, we were thrilled to find ourselves laying fresh tracks in 2-3 inches of new snow for a few miles:

Fresh tracks - wheeee! The "haze" in this photo is both actively falling snow
and blowing snow as there was a stiff wind all morning long.

Think of the trail network we were on as a figure 8. After laying fresh tracks along the bottom of the 8, we crossed the middle and found the groomer going up one upper side of the 8. Jack & Rudy tow me faster than a groomer drives on flat and downhill grades while they are about the same speed as the groomer on mild uphill grades. When we first encountered the groomer, we were on a mild uphill section of trail. With the groomer to catch, Jack & Rudy had a great time towing me up the trail and keeping pace with the groomer for quite a distance:

Cruising up the trail at "groomer speed" behind my Siberian Husky Tow Rope.
Don't worry about Rudy trotting in the classic track, my skis were in the
track too, so I smoothed out his footprints right behind him.

Eventually, we got to a very steep section of trail. This is only time a groomer can lose Jack & Rudy as we have to work hard on going up steep grades. The groomer driver clearly knew this as when we got to the start of the steep grade, he put his hand out his window and waved "bye" to us :)

Instead of climbing the steep grade, we turned around and followed the path the groomer had taken all the way back to the trailhead. You know what that meant, yep, we were first tracks on the freshly groomed nordic trail. Groomie Zoomie!

"We know what to do with a fresh groom!" declares fast running Jack & Rudy.

How about a "fresh to first" video to showcase the day's fun? Come along for a combo video with us laying fresh tracks for the first 30 seconds of the clip and then laying first tracks for the next 30 seconds. Oh, if your volume is up, you'll hear the stiff wind we were skijoring into and you'll also see the gusts of blowing snow. I guess that's why we did not encounter any other people out on the trails this morning - wimps :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Today's entertainment from the comedians? Well, how about synchronized digging and excavating the snow in the search for rodents?

"Dig, dig, where are those pesky rodents?!?" asks the sillies furiously
digging to try and uncover rodents.

Fresh tracks, first tracks, we loved it all, right guys?

"You bet! Now how about those end of run treats?" says the focused
and happy kids.

Speaking of wimps, I did cut today's outing short due to the intense winds; but at least I got out on the trails with my pals for a little while! 7.4 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 124 days on the trails covering 1068.6 miles with 105,000 feet of elevation climbed.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Groom Rules

Fresh Groom! ZOOOOM!

First tracks on a freshly groomed nordic trail. Groomie Zoomie!!!!!

This morning's skijor outing was, as always, a blast! But, I'm going to go through just one fun sequence form the outing as it showcases so much of wonderful Jack & Rudy. Here we go....

To start, we were coming down the main trail and encountered a groomer coming up the trail. We know the groomer drivers from years of skijoring these trails. We slow and approach cautiously. Then, once we are close, the groomer driver will stop and wave us on by (with a big smile on his/her face too). Once I see the wave I let Jack & Rudy pass. They know to pass cautiously without any verbal commands from me:

Cool Jack moving on by the groomer.
Rudy likes to keep a little more distance between himself and the groomer
and has used this snow wall as his passing lane.

What's on the other side of the groomer? Well, a freshly groomed trail! Jack & Rudy did not need any instruction from me to know what to do with the fresh groom. ZOOM!

The hover husking flooring it to catch air on the fresh groom.

Then things got even more interesting. There is a hard left on the trail just past where we passed the groomer. I typically love to take this corner fast with my pals. But as we were approaching the left today, I saw a skier coming up trail through the trees. So, I was slowing Jack & Rudy a bit as we came around the corner to find the skier had a loose dog with her. Not a problem (as long as the dog is nice :) and I was preparing to stop when I noticed Jack & Rudy had other plans. While they like meeting the occasional dog out on the trails, today was different. We had a FRESH GROOM! As a result, Jack & Rudy merely gave the dog a fleeting glance and flew on by. You don't waste a fresh groom to meet a random dog!!!!

"Sorry dude, the fresh groom rules! Later, we need to zoom!" says cool
Jack & Rudy not having a need for this dog when they had a fresh groom!

Once past the dog.... Zoom, the fresh groom rules!

Safely on by so catching air again. Wheeee!

Now come watch the video of all this fun action put together. I love all of it: passing the groomer cautiously, flooring it, declaring "groom over dog" any day and then zooming again. This really show that running and running fast is at the top of Jack & Rudy's hierarchy of activities and interests :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Back to the trailhead and despite warm temperatures lately, the kids still found a very high snow wall to climb for end of run treats:

"The Groom Rules! That was FUN!" declares the fun kids at eye level
with me!

Fun, fun day: 9.4 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 23 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 123 days on the trails covering 1061.2 miles with 104,100 feet of elevation climbed.