When skiing here, the goal is to not die!
Whether it’s from the sheer exhaustion of the relentless climb, or a catastrophic crash on the way down. On a cold day, you could also turn into an icicle during the fast descent. That might be a touch dramatic, but you need to be a glutton for punishment to enjoy these trails. Luckily, today was all good. Weather and trail conditions were ideal. I also learned that using the appropriate skis can add to the pleasure.
Initially, I was having second thoughts about skiing here when I saw the car thermometer reading +5 at the Ribbon Creek parking lot. Not to worry, the snow was still cold and I had no problems with wax. I applied purple at the trailhead and never gave it a second thought for the entire trip.
As the Ribbon Creek trail report indicates, the snow cover on lower Skogan is thin but skiable. I didn’t encounter any rocks. After going 3K, and climbing 140 metres, the tracksetting began, just before reaching the Marmot junction.
At the Sunburst junction, the tracks continued up the Skogan trail, but I headed up Sunburst which was groomed only, on my way to Hummingbird Plume. The trail has some tree debris, but overall it was fine. The trip to Hummingbird Plume is a total of 6.3K and 395 metres elevation. It took me an hour and ten minutes.
I returned on High Level which adds about 1K to the trip back. After a few minutes of climbing on High Level, the point of no return is reached and you’re down in 20 minutes.
The wisdom of maturity
As I creep closer to geezerhood, I’m realizing that sometimes faster isn’t always better. Instead of using my rocket-powered, ultra-stiff racing skis today, I wore an old pair of wider, flatter, shorter skis with some sidecut(and haven’t been waxed for five years!). It made a world of difference. Climbing was much easier, and I had more control on the way down. The sharp corners were easier to take, and it was still plenty fast enough. The skis I used were a pair I bought during my first year of skiing. I remember, as a novice skier, how much easier it was to ski on them as opposed to a longer, stiffer pair which I started out with.
I met a group of six snowshoers as I was climbing the Skogan Screamer, and they were fascinated at how easily I was able to climb the steep hill on my skis. I stopped and chatted with them and explained how the wax works. Maybe a few of them will give it a try.
Upon reaching the parking lot, I skied out on Ribbon Creek for about 300 metres and have included a photo. It’s thin and trampled, but still skiable.
The forecast is predicting 2 – 4 cm of snow tomorrow. We can use it.
I believe the old Hummingbird Plume “gazebo” was a fire lookout built during WWII by German POW’s who were “incarcerated” at a camp near present-day Barrier Lake (where the U of C station is?). Apparently, some of the POW’s enjoyed the area so much that they sayted after the war!