Dog-friendly Mount Shark

by Bob Truman on November 15, 2012

in Canmore, Dog-friendly, Early season, Kananaskis, Mount Shark

Tessa and SkierBob on Watridge Lake road at Mount Shark

Dog lovers are always on the lookout for trails where they can ski with their faithful companion. I have a page where I’ve listed the trails that are dog-friendly. It’s on the main menu under “Resources.” Dog-friendly ski trails

Wooden skis and bamboo poles were working well for Todd

I didn’t have high expectations after reading the trip reports we’ve had on Mt Shark, but I was pleasantly surprised. The snow cover is thin, but it’s been well-packed and  it made for a nice ski on Watridge Lake road with Tessa. From past experience, I know there’s always a rough patch about 300 metres from the trailhead as you enter the trees, but that was the only place where we had to be extra-careful.

We encountered occasional exposed rocks, but they were easily avoided. Only one time did we have to remove our skis, and that was for a small creek running across the trail. The snow has been well-preserved and is still cold, not icy or crusty.

Watridge Lake road at Mt Shark

We skied Watridge Lake road to the lake junction, which is 3.6k. I wasn’t about to snowplow my way down to the lake, however, with thin snow on the steep downhill.  I could see the trail was packed beyond the junction, but we didn’t go any further in that direction.

The other trails, except for Blue, looked to be pretty rough with lots of grass showing. I went about 500 metres in the wrong direction on Blue from the parking lot and it was skiable. Takes some effort and agility to keep your balance on the downhills, as it’s still quite bumpy.

Stuck on the Mt Shark access road

The access road to Mt Shark is icy and extreme caution is necessary. On our way in, we encountered a car in the ditch about 1k in from Mt Engadine lodge, right near the access road to Commonwealth lake trailhead. This is the third time I’ve seen a car in the ditch at this exact spot. The car was facing in the opposite direction that it was actually travelling.

Three people were in the car and just out for a pleasure drive. They were ill-equipped to be out there. Inadequate footwear for winter in the mountains, no shovel, no snow tires. To make things worse, there’s no cellphone coverage and Mt Engadine is closed at this time of year. The car was high-centered and impossible for us to push it out, even with the help of my shovel, and Todd, another skier who also stopped to help.

Luckily, a parks truck came along and radioed AMA.

We met only two other skiers on the trail today, and by the time we finished skiing around 4 pm, it was snowing moderately. The air temperature was -1, and the snow was -4.

Canmore Nordic Centre

Effective today, season passes are now valid at CNC, and the 9 a.m. – 12 noon training block is no longer in effect. You can ski anywhere, anytime. If you have a season pass, you no longer have to pay the $10 for Frozen Thunder.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Todd November 17, 2012 at 11:05 am

As you’re leaving Mt. Shark, there is a yellow warning sign (silhouette of cube-truck on a grade) at the “top” of the hill… the tricky bit is this: the grade increases very gradually and it’s not until you go down the road a ways and through several curves that you reach the real hazard at the “Commonwealth Corner”. To make that corner in all-season tires you’d have to slow to a crawl.

I’ve never explored the statistics but I’m willing to bet winter enthusiasts assume more risk just getting to the trailhead than engaging their sports. I’m also willing to bet the majority of us don’t realize it. On our way home that night, I had one of those eerie feelings coming into the long curves south of Mt. Kidd and slowed from >90 to 110.

Please, please, go easy out there folks.

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2 Todd November 17, 2012 at 11:09 am

… slowed from 90 to 80. Not slow enough. Ten seconds later I was standing on the brakes as hard as I dared – we were still whizzing along when by my window passed the arsse-end of the most enormous royal bull elk I’ve ever seen in my life. Ten minutes later near Nakiska I was passed by a pick-up doing more than 110.

Please, please, go easy out there folks

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