– Colin and Kalina on Wheeler –
It was a tale of two climates today. While Calgary was in the deep freeze at -18°C, a number of skiers were enjoying delightful temperatures near -4°C in Peter Lougheed Prov Park. It was -11°C when we left Canmore; it was -13°C at the Casino; -11°C at Ribbon creek(where the tracks looked excellent – see photo), and 10K down the road at Galatea it had warmed up to -3°C.
From Elkwood, I skied Wheeler on excellent conditions. The tracksetting of Wednesday had about 1 cm of fresh snow on top. At Boulton creek I headed up Whiskey Jack on fairly good tracks. There’s 5 – 8 cm of snow on top of last week’s tracksetting so the tracks were a bit soft but still well-defined and not wobbly.
From the top of Whiskey Jack I turned left and for the first time this winter, headed down the long downhill glide to the hut. The trail had about 4 cm of fresh snow over Wednesday’s tracksetting but was well skied-in. Ten minutes later when I reached Packers junction there was only 1 cm, and eight minutes later at Lynx junction, just a dusting. What a blast that stretch of trail is! From WJ to Lynx it’s 6.3K of downhill, fast but safe. The final 3.6K from Lynx to the hut is a very gradual downhill but the tracks were fast enough that I could double-pole 99% of the distance.
There are two thin spots of minimal concern on Pocaterra about 800 metres from the hut, and a few small twigs of no concern. I skied a few metres down Lynx and took a photo where there are some exposed twigs.
The snow temperature was -6°C and VR40(-4/-12) was what I should have been using. The VR45 which I had on my skis was a bit too sticky.
When starting up WJ, I noticed that Moraine had brand new tracks, so I would guess that Boulton creek and Fox creek are freshly trackset as well. I didn’t check the south trails but if history is any guide, Elk Pass, Blueberry and Hydroline may be getting trackset tonight. Tyrwhitt is still closed because of the aggressive moose.
The forecast is for some very cold temperatures over the next four days, so dress appropriately and come prepared. It would be nice, but don’t count on that pocket of warm air being in PLPP tomorrow.
I’m glad to see the good snow conditions in the north part of PLPP because that’s where the easiest and safest trails are for new skiers. Wheeler, beginning at Elkwood, is an excellent trail if you’ve had a bit of experience on skis but need a few small hills to practice on. If you are a raw beginner, head across the road where you’ll be on Spruce Road, the easiest, flattest trail in the park.
Pocaterra is another great trail for beginners, but you’ll have one small hill about 400 metres from the hut. After that it’s clear sailing for 3.6K to the Lynx junction. The trail starts to climb soon after the Lynx junction. If you just want to practice, there’s a five-lane practice grid in front of the hut. When you get cold, you can take a rest in the warm confines of the hut.