Friday, May 17, 2024

Endless Meadow

Another wonderful, early morning skijor atop a perfect Spring Crust.

Today was at the base of Walton Peak at Rabbit Ears Pass.

Cruising behind my fun pals with Walton Peak in the upper
left of this photo.

Today's outing took us to one of my favorite Spring Crust tours. We started out cruising along a nice ridge line with steep slopes on each side of it:

Steep to the left, steep to the right, but perfect ridge line down the middle.

The goal, though, was to use this ridge line to get to the base of Walton Peak. Once at the base, we are treated to two absolutely endless snow covered meadows. With a firm Spring Crust, we are able to abandon set trails and roam back and forth through these two large meadows. Jack & Rudy, of course, know what to do with a firm crust and endless terrain - zoom!

The hover huskies catching air as we fly through this endless meadow.

How endless? Well, come along and see for yourself. Today's video highlight is a minute of fast skijoring through a meadow that never ends :)

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

When we finished one large meadow, we hung a right to do the next meadow. Everyone ok with that plan?

"Sounds wonderful!" states always happy Jack.
"I apprOOOOOOOOve!" adds wooing Rudy.

We then went out & back in the second large meadow. But, that means we had to turnaround at one point. Yes, you guessed it: Stop, Drop and Roll:

Look at those blissful faces as the sillies roll snow angels to cool off.

The only letdown on today's outing? Well, there were no snow walls to climb for end of run treats. Oh well, I can kneel sometimes to come down to Jack & Rudy's level:

"We had a BLAST today!" states the happy, happy kids!

What a wonderful May skijor: 9.4 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 21 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 152 days on the trails covering 1285.1 miles with 127,700 feet of elevation climbed.

 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Flirts

Can't you just feel the power behind strong Jack & Rudy in this photo?

The power twins putting all their strength into their shoulders to
launch me along. Wheeee!

We returned to Vail Pass again this morning. As with two days ago, we got out on the terrain before 7am in hopes that the Spring Crust was still firm early in the morning. Well, as you see in the photo above - success! The early morning crust was perfect again today as we were able to abandon set trails and skijor any and every direction we chose. 

Along the way and... It's a bird, it's a plane, it's super Jack & Rudy:

The power kids literally flying along. Beautiful airborne shot of Jack
and nice power shot of Rudy (looks at his shadow to see he is all four
feet off the ground too).

One of the fun attractions at Vail Pass is the backcountry huts where groups snowshoe and/or ski to and stay overnight. But, since we have to get out early in May for the crust, it is hit or miss whether any of the overnighters are up when we cruise by early in the morning. Well, today was "hut success" as we encountered quite a few overnighters up & about early. Jack & Rudy LOVE to flirt with the crowds and the crowds love to meet them too!

It started off with two kids - one for each :)

The flirts, Jack & Rudy, each taking one kid to play with!

Then the crowd grew. So many people to flirt with. What to do? Well, Jack will take multiple kids at once and Rudy will entertain the entire group singing his beautiful woos :)

"I'll take as many kids as want to touch me!" says cool Jack.
"I'll WOOOOO to entertain EVERYONE at once!" belts singing Rudy.

Once done flirting at the huts, it was time to head back to the trailhead. We had power and flying Jack & Rudy in the photos above, so let's add a hover husky to complete the day's action:

The hover huskies catching air with pretty Rocky Mountain views in front
of us.

Today's video highlight contains the previous hover husky shot. Come along and watch the kids having a blast flying along the perfect crust. Top speed in this clip? 22 MPH - wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Back to the parking lot and the sillies found one of their tallest snow walls of the season to climb. I had to climb partway up too in order to get to their height!

"Treats taste better atop snow walls!" declares the funny kids.

Another wonderful Vail Pass crust morning with some great flirting along the way: 9.3 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 151 days on the trails covering 1275.7 miles with 126,800 feet of elevation climbed.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Early for Crust

We started this morning's skijor before 7am. Why? Well, the early bird gets the firm Spring Crust still available early in the day atop Vail Pass!

Beautiful, firm and endless Spring Crust atop Vail Pass as far as the eye
can see! Wheeee!

After an initial climb from the trailhead parking lot, we were treated to the endless Spring Crust and wove our way every which way atop Vail Pass this morning. While most of the top is wide open with very few trees, there is one half mile cool corridor through dense trees on each side of you. I love flying along this corridor behind Jack & Rudy. It was so much fun, we did it twice as we could turn right at the end of the corridor and come back up the other side of the trees until we got to the top of the corridor again.

Second pass through the fun tree corridor as you see my ski tracks from the
first pass under and next to Rudy.

Today we got a trifecta of entertainment from Rudy and a double feature from Jack. 

First item: with warm May temperatures, the kids are always ready to roll snow angels to cool off during any pause along the way:

Rub a dub dub, rolling to cool their jets :)

Second item (for Rudy), repeat for always rolling Jack: woos and angels at another short pause during the outing:

"Turnaround, roll around!" goes always rolling Jack.
"Turnaround, woos abound!" sings wooing Rudy.

If you look at the sky in the previous photos, you see it was a pretty overcast morning with lots of cloud coverage. But, for the last 10 minutes or so of the outing, the clouds parted and we got some great footage in the sun. This brings a conclusion to Rudy's trifecta and Jack's double feature:

The hover huskies catching air with cool lighting and shadows from the sun.
Rudy's trifecta: rolling, wooing, hovering.
Jack's double feature: rolling, hovering. Fun kids!

Today's video highlight will go along with the prior photo as it is always so much fun to watch Jack & Rudy run in the sun. Come along and watch the fun!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Back to the trailhead and the creative kids were able to find a snow wall to climb for end of run treats! This trailhead parking lot gets plowed all winter so the snow walls last pretty long into the Spring melt:

"Ready!!!" says my focused and happy pals perched up on a wall for
end of run treats.

A wonderful Spring Crust early morning atop Vail Pass: 9.2 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 150 days on the trails covering 1266.4 miles with 125,800 feet of elevation climbed.

 

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Heavy Workout

Look at what we awoke to find this morning!!!

Yes, that is the Breckenridge Ski Resort snow stake which measures 24 hour
new snow at mid-mountain on the resort. Yes, that is about 11 inches of new
snow on May 12th!!!!

The forecast did call for snow overnight last night, but nobody expected this much! With such a surprise on the Breck snow stake, we headed to the trails on Peak 7. These trails are very close to the snow stake. We start a little lower in elevation than the snow stake and then go higher than the stake on the way up. So, we found about 8 inches of fresh snow at our starting point and over a foot at our highest point. The only drawback? Well it was very heavy & wet snow as is typical for the middle of May. Not a problem, Jack & Rudy can power through heavy & wet snow, it is just quite the fun workout!

Nearing our highest point of the morning as we are breaking trail in over
12 inches of fresh, but heavy & wet, snow at this point!

Along the way, a moose had crossed the trail and headed into the trees. Jack & Rudy thought we should too :)

"Moose went this way! We should too!" says the silly moosers.
The real trail goes up the left side of this photo, I had to convince my pals
to return to the real trail and abandon following the moose into the trees :)

With such heavy & wet snow, we did an "out & back" route today so that we could reuse our out tracks on the way back. An out & back means you have to turn around, right? Well, that does not go unnoticed by Jack & Rudy :)

At first I thought the kids were going to simply turnaround and go.
But, no, we all turned around and then did our turnaround comedy for the day.
"Turnaround, roll around!" goes always rolling Jack.
"Turnaround, woos abound!" adds singing Rudy.

Then, as planned, we picked up the speed using our "out tracks" on the way back. But, with only our single out tracks and the wetness & heaviness of the snow, it was still a real workout on the way back!

Fun kids pulling strong as we reuse our out tracks on the way back.

How much work on the return? Well, come along and see for yourself. Jack & Rudy are running hard in our out tracks but, as you can see, it was still quite the workout. Fun & powerful kids!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

It was heavy & wet, but still quite the treat, especially for mid-May, right guys?

"Oh, we had a BLAST and those end of run treats are going to taste great!" says
the focused & happy kids at the end of the day.

A wonderful mid-May workout: 5.7 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 18 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 149 days on the trails covering 1257.2 miles with 124,800 feet of elevation climbed.


Friday, May 10, 2024

Angel & Ears

Rolling snow angels with the ears of Rabbit Ears Pass in the background!

Love the looks on Jack & Rudy's faces. What sillies!
The two rocks atop the peak directly above Jack are the ears for which
Rabbit Ears Pass is named. 

It was a beautiful day to follow snowmobile tracks all over Rabbit Ears Pass. I was hoping for a firm crust so that we could abandon set trails and go our own way; but the crust was not strong enough to hold hard running Jack & Rudy (they punched through the thin crust the two times we tested it). So, it was following packed snowmobile tracks all morning long. Still a ton of fun!

Cruising along the trail to Dumont Lake as the ears are far in front
of us on the peak directly above Rudy.

While the crust looked tempting, it just was not strong enough to hold Jack & Rudy. It was firm enough to hold me on skis though. So we had a fun time with Jack & Rudy running in packed snowmobile tracks while I rode the ski-worthy crust right next to them. This gave them a firm trail and me a smooth surface next to them.

The fun kids squeezing tight into a snowmobile track while I ski
the nice ski-worthy crust next to them.

It was like this most of the day - Jack & Rudy on packed snowmobile tracks and me on the smooth side crust. Opposite angle of the last shot but same results: the kids in the packed track and me on the smooth side:

The fun kids catching air as I swoosh along behind them and slightly
to their left.

Now come along for the video example of what I was talking about. Watch as Jack & Rudy are running hard and fast in the packed tracks while I have at least one ski out of the track and on the smooth side. The snowmobile tracks were actually too packed for me on skis and keeping at least one ski out of track gave me control and comfort to let the kids go, go, go.

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Back to the trailhead to celebrate another great May outing with end of run treats:

"It has been a great May so far!" says the happy & proud kids.

Today's tally: 7 miles traveled with 600 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 148 days on the trails covering 1251.5 miles with 124,100 feet of elevation climbed.


Thursday, May 9, 2024

May POW

Happy kids in wonderful new snow in May at the official Rabbit Ears Pass geological marker!

Smiles all around and look at all that fresh & untouched new snow!!!!

The last two days have been incredible fresh snow days in May! It has been a May POW celebration with Jack & Rudy.

Yesterday we skijored the high elevation trails on Peak 7 in Breckenridge. There was 10-15 inches of fresh snow on the trails. One skier had been out before us, so Jack & Rudy tucked themselves into the two ski tracks and towed me up the mountain:

Tucked in tight as the snow is over 10 inches deep out of the ski track so
one could not keep pace with the other if both did not squeeze into these tracks.

I knew Jack & Rudy would appreciate a little wider "set trail" on the way back as it is hard to run fast in a single set of ski tracks without constantly bumping into one another. So, I skied next to the single track you see in the prior photo all the way up. This meant Jack & Rudy had 4 ski tracks to spread across on the way back. Remember, though, there was upwards of 15 inches of fresh snow. So, a single ski track does not pack the trail, it just makes it slightly easier to run fast in. But, there was still plenty of powder in around the ski tracks. Just look at all this powder flying up around Jack & Rudy on our return leg!

Kicking up TONS of powder as the kids blast fast in the 4 ski tracks trail.

With all that deep snow, it was a short (distance wise) outing yesterday: 5.4 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed. 

This morning we went to the Dumont Lake area at Rabbit Ears Pass. Rabbit Ears is very popular with snowmobiles, so we found 1-2 of fresh snow over pre-existing snowmobile tracks to run in:

Laying fresh tracks in new snow over snowmobile tracks.

It was like mid winter at Rabbit Ears this morning. Quite incredible! Come along and see for yourself as this is near the start of our outing and the kids are having great fun running fast in snowmobile tracks.

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Eventually the snowmobile tracks turned away from the route I had planned. We continued on anyway, but then quickly found ourselves breaking trail in over 8 inches of fresh snow:

Breaking Trail - Wheeee!

But, after such deep snow fun yesterday, I wanted to give Jack & Rudy a more shallow & fast outing today.  So, we turned around pretty soon after the prior photo and changed our outing to follow snowmobile tracks wherever they went:

Zipping along laying fresh tracks in snowmobile tracks.
The ski tracks (and dog foot prints) you see to our left are our own tracks
going the other direction on this stretch of trail.

What an excellent set of mid winter powder days yesterday and today in May!!! Right guys?

"Oh, we LOVED it!" says the happy kids propped up no a little snow
wall  to get end of run treats.

Today tally: 8.6 miles traveled with 700 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 147 days on the trails covering 1244.5 miles with 123,500 feet of elevation climbed.


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Perfect Corridor

Cruising by the historic Sallie Barber Mine with active snow falling all around us! Wheeee!

Cruising on by with lots of snowflakes visible against the mine, trees
and Jack & Rudy. Beautiful day for May!

We started the day on the backside of the Sallie Barber Mine Trail. This side of the trail gets warm afternoon sun on clear days and it really showed. Even though we had fresh snow, it was very thin in areas and we had to keep the speeds down to a gentle trot for me to avoid partially snow covered obstacles for my skis!

Great partners keeping the speeds to a gentle trot as I watch
for obstacles to avoid on skis!

Then we crested at the mine and started down the frontside. This side does NOT get afternoon sun and it was amazing! We found ourselves laying fresh tracks in a wonderful layer of new snow at the top of the frontside trail. This perfect corridor only lasted for about a half mile or so before it started to deteriorate due to the decline in elevation; but, oh my, was it ever a perfect corridor! How perfect? Well, we repeated this magic corridor 3 times before finally continuing back down to the trailhead.

Pass number 3 along this perfect corridor!
We were fresh tracks in the new snow on the first pass and then kept 
repeating and reusing the tracks we set on previous passes.

Now come along for a minute of this perfect corridor. Like I said, it was only about a 1/2 mile of perfect; but it was incredible as you'll see in the video. What a magic corridor of perfect trail!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Of course, repeating the perfect corridor meant we turned around a few times. You know what that means...

"Turnaround! Roll around!!!!" goes goofy snow rolling Jack.
"Turnaround! Woos abound!" sings vocal Rudy :)

Back to the trailhead and the creative kids are always able to find any snow wall to climb for end of run treats if one exists!

"You have my full attention!" says focused Jack.
"I love snow walls!" adds cute Rudy

A short outing today by our standards; but all outings in May are wonderful and the three laps on the short perfect corridor was amazing: 4.2 miles traveled with 500 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 20 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 145 days on the trails covering 1230.5 miles with 122,100 feet of elevation climbed.


Sunday, May 5, 2024

Return

We had so much fun skijoring the Spring Crust at Vail Pass yesterday that we returned to do it again today!

Jack & Rudy flying along the endless and wonderfully firm Spring Crust
atop Vail Pass!

The only difference between yesterday and today was today was heavily overcast skies whereas yesterday was a bright & sunny bluebird day. So, yesterday had lots of cool shadow effects in the photos while today was virtually shadowless; but the photos are still cool :)

We spent most of the day on the endless crust as you saw in the first photo. But, at our highest point of the outing, we turn towards the backcountry huts which are situated amidst some somewhat dense trees. But, the trees are sparse enough that you can weave through the trees continuing on the firm crust. I really enjoy this slalom through the trees behind Jack & Rudy!

Swooshing through the trees - wheeee!

With the overcast skies, it did not feel as warm as yesterday despite the actual temperature being slightly warmer. The sun at 11,000 feet above sea level adds significant "feel heat" that does not happen with thick clouds. As a result, Rudy took the chance to give us a song instead of rolling snow angels at one turnaround point of the outing:

"WOOOOOOOOO!" sings beautiful voice Rudy.
Jack, of course, ALWAYS rolls snow angels regardless of the weather
or temperatures :)

But, it is still May, so the temperatures were near to slightly above freezing. That did not go unnoticed by Rudy at our next turnaround point of the day!

"Turnaround! Roll around!' goes the snow rolling sillies.
Which legs are Jack's and which are Rudy's? Hard to tell :)

The majority of the day, though, was spent flying along the wonderful and endless Spring Crust:

Ears pinned back - nice aerodynamics from the fast running sled dogs!

Now come along for a minute of what it is like to abandon set trails and glide anywhere you want atop the firm Spring Crust. Wheeee!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

Once back to the trailhead and the smart kids made a beeline for the same high snow wall they found to climb yesterday. They do not forget anything!

Perched high up for treats yet again!

Another fun day atop Vail Pass: 8.2 miles traveled with 900 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 144 days on the trails covering 1226.3 miles with 121,600 feet of elevation climbed.


Saturday, May 4, 2024

Vail Pass

Look who was very excited to be back on snow after a couple of days off:

"We are THRILLED!!!!!" states the super happy kids.

As we enter May, we have to start getting creative with our skijor outings. This time of year you will typically find us skijoring high mountain passes or high peaks. Well, today was Vail Pass and the conditions were perfect once we got up in elevation a bit:

Beautiful morning, beautiful Spring Crust, beautiful sled dogs :)

Now come along and witness the great conditions for yourself. Sure there were a few snowmobile tracks and ski tracks to cross. But notice now my pals know to cross these as close to perpendicular as you can. The smart kids know my skis have to be close to perpendicular for me to cross the frozen tracks safely. Smart and great partners!

[watch on youtube if no video loads below]

After an initial climb from the trailhead, we come upon the Shrine Huts - a series of backcountry huts that people rent by the night for a getaway into the backcountry (you have to ski or snowshoe to the huts as snowmobiles are not allowed). Sometimes we encounter some of the overnighters up mulling about in the morning. It is always fun to flirt with the hut occupants. But, today we were out pretty early as I wanted to be done before the temperatures got too warm and the Spring Crust softened. So, today we were going by the huts before 8am, so nobody was out & about for Jack & Rudy to flirt with. Oh well, we did see a handful of people waving at us from inside one of the huts.

Having fun jogging by one of the huts; but unfortunately we were too early
for anyone to be out & about yet.

After some fun cruising around all the huts, it was time to head back towards the trailhead. My timing was perfect for the Spring Crust as it held firm our entire outing and we were able to abandon set trails and go any direction we wanted. Fun!

Whee - what a perfect Spring Crust!

With warm May days, you know what we were going to get from Jack & Rudy at any pause or turnaround point.

"Stop, drop and ROLL!" goes the silly kids cooling their jets rolling on the snow.
Note the markers to the right: past the markers are the huts and the markers
designate the boundary for snowmobiles as they are not allowed to cross
and get to close to the huts.

Finally, back to the trailhead parking lot and the silly kids found one of their tallest snow walls of the season to climb for end of run treats. I had to climb partway myself just to get to their level :)

"We LOVE snow walls! Now how about those end of run treats?" asks the
snow climbing acrobats.

Gorgeous bluebird morning with a perfect Spring Crust on Vail Pass: 8.8 miles traveled with 1000 feet of elevation climbed and a top speed of 22 MPH.

2023/2024 Season to Date: 143 days on the trails covering 1218.1 miles with 120,700 feet of elevation climbed.