Diana: “Astoundingly busy at PLPP today!! The biggest challenges were finding a place to park…the snow was absolutely fabulous.”
Mike H: “Pocaterra, Info Centre, and Elkwood were all overflowing midday, and were still very full mid-afternoon – can’t say that I’ve seen that before at PLPP.”
Jan: “The downhill(on Blueberry Hill) was like floating….on all that champagne powder!”
Steve: “Fox Creek and Moraine were especially beautiful”
XC skiers were out in full force today at PLPP, enjoying the last nice day before the predicted deep freeze sets in. Parking spots were at a premium. When I passed by Pocaterra hut at 12:20 pm, there were already 30 vehicles lined up on the road. I’m not sure what the parking lot capacity is -maybe 200?
More trails were trackset last night, and I’m guessing that if last week is any precedent, we’ll see more grooming on the south trails tonight. I am especially pleased to see the trail report coming out so early in the morning. I was able to check it before leaving home, and could figure out where I wanted to go without having to stop at the Visitor Centre.
I snagged a parking spot at Elkwood Amphitheatre only because someone pulled out just as I was coming in. When most of the “middle and north” trails are in good shape, I like parking at Elkwood because it gives you so many options.
I started on Wheeler, and I must have met or passed at least 40 skiers in the 25 minutes that it took to reach the Whiskey Jack trailhead. There was already about 2 cm of new snow over last night’s grooming, but with all the traffic, the tracks were in great shape. The temperature was -5, and the snow at Elkwood was -6. I used VR40(rated for -4/-12) and it worked well all day, except for a brief time near the end of the day when I was in a lot of powder on the ungroomed portion of Meadow. It was a bit sticky there.
I ran into skiers at every intersection today. Some were out for their first ski of the winter.
The photo of Lis holding her skis is interesting. As you’re approaching the end of Wheeler, you are required to cross the Boulton campground road. I’m always amazed at how many skiers actually leave their skis on and ski across on the gravel. Cringe.
For about the sixth time this winter, I was able to enjoy the long downhill on Pocaterra all the way to the hut. Lots of weaving in and out of traffic, however, and on one occasion coming to a complete stop because of a skier down. I noticed a few training groups getting lessons as I got nearer to the hut. If I could do that stretch of downhill every day of my life, I still wouldn’t grow tired of it. The trail report warns, “Note that Pocaterra Trail still has some thin spots between Pocaterra Hut and Rolly Road – watch for hazards.” A very tiny area under one tree is all I could see where there was thin snow cover, but it would not impact your ski trip in any way.
After all the fun on Come-Along yesterday, I repeated the same route on my way to the hut and it was just as enjoyable.
The hut was a beehive of activity, inside and out. I stopped to have a snack and dry off. One group of ladies took pity on me, and invited me to sit at their table. It happened to be Flora and some of her training group from the Calgary Ski Club. She has a relay team to get ready for the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet next weekend.
When I headed across the road to continue on Lodgepole, the snow was coming down twice as hard as earlier. I climbed up the steep hill, and turned left onto Meadow. It had been trackset recently on this side of the road, but from the Visitor Centre to Elkwood it hasn’t been groomed for quite some time. This is where my wax started to stick.
It was terrific to see so many cross-country skiers out today. Tomorrow, we’re looking at a high between -15 and -20, depending on which forecast you ascribe to. It only gets colder after that, until a warming trend starts on Thursday. The good thing is that there’s snow in the forecast every day. Some of the neglected trails may finally come back to life, such as Goat Creek.
Thank you for all the trip reports today!