Grooming and trail maintenance in Kananaskis country

“In February of 2020, Albertans were met with surprise when the provincial government announced it would no longer be funding trail maintenance and grooming in three areas in Kananaskis Country: Ribbon Creek, Mt. Shark, and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.”

There is now a website dedicated to this situation. Kananaskis Trail Grooming

Here is another website which gives some ideas on how to stop the loss of Alberta’s parks: I Use Alberta Parks

Finally…a cougar!

Cougar on Bobcat trail. Photo by Alf Skrastins

We’ve had many wildlife photos submitted over the years, but never a cougar…until today. The photo was taken by Alf Skrastins at West Bragg Creek.

Alf remarked… “As you can imagine, I was a bit too busy getting my bear spray out to take a second photo with better focus. And when it decided to go up into the forest above the trail, I was happy enough to go in the opposite direction.

The photo was taken on the Bobcat trail.

I did see a bobcat crossing one of the ski runs at Nakiska on Saturday, but it disappeared too quickly for me to get a photo.”

Chuck was skiing at Moraine Lake road today and took 13 excellent photos including the spectacular shot of the Valley of Ten Peaks below.  If you are looking for the Top Real Estate Agents in Canada, in you can find all what you need

The view from Moraine Lake road. Photo by Chuck

Below is a gallery of photos of the animals we’ve seen:

Still skiing

Photo by Alf Skrastins

May 6, 2020

Thank you to Alf Skrastins for the following report(click on the link to see 46 amazing photos):

It was a fine day for a loop tour from the Burstall valley, around Mt. Birdwood and out via the Commonwealth Creek valley. There was even some powder skiing!

As long as most people drive out to trailheads on their own, we can expect to see a lot more vehicles in those parking lots. For the most part, it is a sign that people are physically distancing for the drive out to the trails.

Chuck’s latest adventure

Thanks for the trip reports over the past two days now that access to the provincial parks has returned. Chuck was lucky enough to spot the Harlequin ducks pictured above on his Mt Shark/Bryant Creek trip yesterday. You can read about his excursion on the Trip Reports and see all 18 of his photos

P-Jo reported good snow coverage on Whiskey Jack and Packers on Friday, and Alf found plenty of snow on the Sawmill trails. 

Mt Shark trailhead. Photo by Chuck.

Great News! Access to Provincial Parks opens May 1

I don’t know if there’s any skiable snow left in the mountains, but you can find out tomorrow(Friday).

“Vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks and on public lands will be opening on May 1.”

“No washrooms or garbage pickup will be available within provincial parks at this time. These services will be available as soon as Alberta Environment and Parks brings staff back.”

Physical distancing requirements of two metres will remain in place through all stages of relaunch and hygiene practices will continue to be required of businesses and individuals, along with instructions for Albertans to stay home when exhibiting symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat.

Read more: Relaunch strategy from Alberta government

Back to the Hayfield trails

Freddie says “hurry-up” on the Forest Loop

Apr 6, 2020

This is the first winter in 14 years where I didn’t have Tessa the springer spaniel as my sidekick, and I’ve been missing her more than words can say.

Christine loaned me her dog for the day, so I returned to the Hayfield trails yesterday, this time with Freddie the springer spaniel in tow.

Cat tail trail

The weather was very different from Saturday. It was overcast with a moderate wind, so seemed a lot colder than the -5°C which registered on the car thermometer. In the big meadows the tracks were drifted in and the wind was brisk, but once down in the forest it was a lovely day.

I skied trails which I didn’t ski on Saturday, including the Forest Loop and the Cat Tail trail. 

I only met one other skier on the trails but there were four more vehicles in the parking lot with skiers preparing to ski when we returned to the trailhead. One of them was the groomer who mentioned that he might get back out today and do some tracksetting.

I’m enjoying the trip reports and banter, and seeing how creative people are at finding places to ski, and the new phrases which are being coined such as “Covid ski zombies.” I expect this pandemic will spawn a lot of books and movies. 

Beautiful conditions for April 4

The trailhead

The trails were trackset this morning. This is not in a provincial park or provincial recreation area. I wish I could tell you where it is, but I don’t want them to be overwhelmed during the pandemic. 

For now, I will refer to them as the “Hayfield Trails.” I covered 7K today and didn’t ski them all. 

Trails run through forest and meadows

If we’re not all dead by the time ski season starts this fall(either by virus or obesity), I will be happy to give this area some publicity with the start of the new ski season. 

Bonus: it’s dog-friendly. 

The temperature in mid-afternoon was -7°C  with a beautiful blue sky and no wind. I waxed with VR45(-2/-8) and had excellent grip. Although the sun was shining bright, the snow did not deteriorate today. 

Seven days without skiing makes one weak. I’ve been sitting at home, going for neighbourhood walks, and eating too  much. Getting out on the ski trails was beneficial for both physical and mental health. 

Thanks to The Norseman Outdoor Specialist for the following…

“Outdoor activity is a key component in our life, and as we move through these challenging times, we can feel lost and like something is missing. The Outdoor Council of Canada put together an article with information about how to enjoy the outdoors safely during this period. Practice social distancing and stay safe.”

Outdoor activity in the time of Covid19

Thanks for the tracks

April 1, 2020

Where would we be without the guys and gals who spend hours on their snowmobiles and snowcats, grooming the trails for us, at ungodly hours, sometimes exposed to extreme cold? We’d be plowing through some pretty deep snow.

Canmore Nordic Centre. Photo by Chris McKenna

It never fails to get me excited when I arrive at a trailhead and see new tracks. We’re very fortunate to have dedicated tracksetters who take a lot of pride in their work and make the trails so enjoyable for us.  All skiers are thankful for the excellent work and all the up-to-the-minute reports which you’ve given us.

Tracksetter Jody with chainsaw

Back on Nov 25 at the Pocaterra hut, I encountered PLPP tracksetter Jody heading out on a snowmobile to do some early-season tree-clearing and roller-packing with chain saw and shovel in tow. I suggested that we should call him “Chainsaw Jody.” Little did I know that one month later, the chainsaw would be in daily use on all the trails to clear trees after the Dec 20-22 snow and ice storm. 

I’ve posted photos below, but I’d like to mention the names of those I know about, but don’t have pictures…

Linda – Shaganappi golf course

Jamie Grant – Confederation golf course

Adam Aldridge – Canmore Nordic Centre

Stephane Wiseman – Canmore Nordic Centre

I hope the people who are missing from the gallery of photos will send me a picture.