A new trail to explore
The Banff Trail report showed Bewster Creek was trackset on Monday, compelling us to check out this trail which ends at the Sundance Lodge. Starting from the Healy Creek trailhead at the Sunshine turn-off, it’s 10K one way. It was the first time ever that we’ve skied this trail.
It was another cold day, -14 at the trailhead with a brisk wind. I’ve biked this trail in the summer, so I knew what lay in store. Starting out from Healy Creek, we skied 1.7K to the junction with Brewster Creek and started climbing. For the next 3K there’s an elevation gain of almost 200M. Soon after we started, we spotted the wolf tracks:
The wolf likely came down the trail soon after it was trackset yesterday, judging by the deep depressions of the paw prints, and some windblown snow was already partly covering them. A little further along, we saw more evidence:
Wolves from the Bow Valley pack are managing to hang on in Banff National Park despite many challenges, mostly from the highways and train.
They have a litter of pups every year, but the pack never grows due to the mortality. I was terribly saddened by news of another wolf’s death last week on the train tracks. You can read more Wolf killed by train.
The wind disappeared soon after starting up Brewster Creek, and upon reaching maximum elevation, the trail is very pleasant as it undulates, twists and turns, giving occasional glimpses of magnificent scenery along the Sundance range. I’ve never skied a trail with more turns than this one.
About 8K along, there’s a stretch of trail, approx 100m, where you have to ski along a narrow ledge:
It took an hour and forty-five minutes to reach the Sundance Lodge where the tracksetting ends. There’s a lot more backcountry to explore up there if you had the appropriate skis for it.
As you can see in the photos, the trail is single trackset with skidoo tracks running along the other side, which I believe is used to haul supplies to the lodge. On the descent, if you get out of the tracks, you have to be careful because of the ridges left by the skidoo. It’s not as easy to manouevre as on a perfectly groomed trail. Perhaps a wider ski might be better on a trail like this. You won’t go as fast, but it would be safer.
On good snow conditions like we had, it was fun coming down, although lots of snowplowing with all the turns in the trail. You can read more about the Sundance lodge.