PLPP=Proceed Leisurely to a Perfect Place!
On Thursday Elkpass and Blueberry were in perfect conditions! No wind,no needles,no glazing on the tracks, temperature was between + 2 C and 0 C. It was mostly cloudy with some sunny breaks in between illuminating the mountain peaks.Sunset was spectacular with orange and yellow sky and dark clouds.
Get out and enjoy!
Skied at West Bragg Creek today and it was a true lesson in not giving up! We had ambitions to ski Telephone Loop and after being hopeful with purple wax, the start was pretty grim. There was a lot of debris on the trail including chunks of bark (not the dog kind LOL!) I thought we’d encounter less debris on the Mountain Road but knowing that it would be even warmer we slathered on some red (I don’t own klister and never will) and attempted to ski West against the hurricane force gusts. I came to a stop, having been disappointed in not getting up earlier, not heading out to Lake Louise or PLPP and turned around – planning to console myself with a latte in Bragg Creek.
I then thought, “no way”. Yes, I knew the temps were better in Lake Louise for the day, but I had also wanted to sleep in and having commitments in the evening, West Bragg was the best option.
Realizing that I hadn’t exhausted all options, I suggested we head onto the south side trails that were E-W where I was hoping they would be less sun affected.
There sure was a lot of debris on the trail (the tracks were filled in looking like rail lines with needles in some places) but the red wax was sticking and we were off skiing!
Wanting to avoid the ice flows/water of the lower parts of Crystal Line, we went out and back along the south leg and then started heading south along the Sundog Loop. At the top we found some skier set tracks heading off on Loggers Loop and it looked great. After skiing 30 m into sun affected snow and not getting any traction, I once again turned around, opting to continue south on the Sundog Loop to the Elbow Springs junction where I decided we would turn around and have a fast ski back to the parking lot.
When arriving back at the Loggers Loop junction, I thought I had given up too soon before, so I turned off onto it much to the delight of my friend who prefers skiing off track.
What a wonderful trail! We followed it around, down through the drainage and then up along the cutblocks to the point were you could overlook the area North towards the mountain road. Not being familiar with the trail and realizing that people along the Mountain Road had reported it in poor shape, we decided to turn back and ski back to Sun Dog where we had a fun ride down the west side of the loop back to the parking lot.
We came across a more “senior” couple in front of us and watched with our mouths open as we saw a series of short radius tele turns down the hard packed trail just before the bridge. Inspiring!
Of course, lots of people were out…skiers, quite a few walkers who had obviously given up (most had stayed out of the tracks – thank you!), friendly puppies, people with wobbly legs screaming down the hills (and bailing much to our entertainment ALL having big smiles on their faces and no signs of giving up).
And so, more than one valuable lesson was learned today…there are always options (the last one being to go for a walk along the Mountain Road), and maybe pack a pair of snowshoes as a back-up (although today proved we didn’t need them)…why walk when you can glide?… 🙂
Looks like I was chasing BillD up Pocaterra yesterday – saw another set of pole marks ahead of me on the fresh grooming past Packers. Perhaps I should have tried the blue wax he had, I had on a Start Purple because it was 0C at 3pm in the parking lot, found it a bit finicky. Plenty of wind yesterday means that there’s now a fair bit of tree debris and blown snow in the tracks all the way around. Still a fine day out – BillD is right, the grooming now is superb.
Awesome day today in PLPP! Slapped on a couple coats of blue and headed out from Pocaterra Hut, aiming to do an out and back to the lookout. Decent skier-set track to Packers junction. From there, I had the amazing luck to have first crack at freshly groomed virgin track and corduroy all the way to the lookout. The grooming in PLPP is like ice cream – it’s always good. But today… it was like getting the hot fudge, nuts and sprinkles on top as a bonus. The glide back down was spectacular, and I had it all to myself. Alas, the camera was right where I left it this morning – safe at home – so I have no proof of this great fortune. And, I’m sorry to say I wrapped up the day with a bit of darkside indulgence on the slopes of Nakiska. The devil made me do it.
I’m in Ottawa with Ryan Wilkinson of Canmore for the Canadian Ski Marathon. The total distance for the event this year is 166km – 83k each day. This will be our 3rd time doing the race so we are both eligible to do the Coureur de Bois Gold category, which requires us to carry our sleeping gear and food and sleep out over night on Saturday night. The weather forecast looks great for the event – highs of -3C and an overnight low of -12C.
It’s a classic piece of Canadiana that all Alberta xc skiers should do at some point in their life. And, it’s not a timed event! It’s all about the enjoyment of xc skiing and the challenge of trying to ski 160km over 2 days.
Enjoy the spring conditions in the Rockies this week.
Tom Maier, formerly Canmore