Goat Creek and Spray River
(Just a reminder…you can click on any photo to see a larger version)
Goat Creek was trackset this morning and is in fantastic shape. The best I’ve seen in many years.Not a rock to be seen anywhere, not at the trailhead, not even on the downhill to the Goat Creek bridge.
We were guessing the Banff tracksetter had Goat Creek on his agenda for today. Skiing the first K to the Banff boundary doesn’t tell you anything because that portion is never trackset, however, it has plenty of snow with good skier-set tracks. The snowman marks the spot where you can put your skis on. The air temperature was -9 and the snow was -10, so it was easy waxing. I have a renewed appreciation for cold snow after the challenges presented by warm weather.
Upon reaching the Banff boundary, shrieks of delight were heard when we came upon the brand new tracksetting.
If you put your pole into the ungroomed snow, you could feel the icy crust which had formed from Sunday’s rain. The 2-3 cm of fresh snow last night was just enough to repair the damage, but the ice mixed into the snow has made it extremely abrasive, so be prepared to re-wax your skis at least once.
Cheryl skied out with me for about 4k and turned around and skied uphill, back to the trailhead. It was my turn to ski the trail and get picked up at the Banff Springs.
Conditions were wonderful on the frequent downhills for the first 6K. No need to remove your skis on the fast, winding downhill to the Goat Creek bridge, as all the rocks had disappeared into the 20 cm of snow which fell last week.
I didn’t even stop today to take a picture, just kept moving, across the bridge and up the other side, where I did pause in a sunny spot and snapped the above photo.
Approx 8K along, you’ll encounter another fast downhill with a sharp turn as you approach the Spray River bridge. I always have to stop here and take a few pictures. It’s one of the most scenic spots along the trail. With a couple steep hills coming up, this was also a good location to re-wax.
Upon crossing the bridge, and climbing one hill, the trail is officially known as Spray River West Side, where it becomes wide enough to accommodate a skating lane. The skating lane had been groomed but the tracks were not re-set. It’s 9.9K to the Banff Springs from here.
The tracks, which were icy from the freezing rain, had 2-3 cm of fresh snow in them, and were skied-in, but they were dreadfully slow, like skiing on sandpaper. The new grooming in the skating lane was a lot faster, so I skied in the middle for most of the remaining distance.
If you want to ski Goat Creek on good conditions, now is the time. As we saw last week, things can change dramatically in a couple days.
Here’s the latest on West Bragg from Steve Riggs:
Really fine conditions at West Bragg right now!
Tuesday afternoon- soft and powdery with well set tracks, I skied Sundog-Elbow-Iron Springs-Crystal Line East and then Sundog loop again to make the most of the great conditions, before the sun set.
Get it now before the dreaded chinook rolls in!