– There wasn’t a cloud in the sky today, but there were huge snow plumes on Mt Baldy –
I had my sights set on Mt Shark today, but with Spray Lakes road closed, I decided to go there anyway, but taking the long way via Hwy #40. That would give me a chance to check on a few other trailheads along the way.
I’m glad I went that way, because the snow plumes coming off the peaks were spectacular and a sight to behold. Thankfully all the wind was at higher elevations.
Ribbon creek had lots of new snow over the recent tracksetting. Grooming of the Bill Milne trail and Wedge connector were in progress. Wedge was already trackset(see photo). The temperature at Ribbon creek was -12°C. (Update Jan 12: Ribbon creek and the village trails were all trackset yesterday)
Before heading down the Spray Lakes road, I stopped and had a look at Pocaterra. Still lots of ungroomed snow on the trail. I expect that a lot of tracksetting will occur tonight in PLPP but I don’t have a clue which trails will be done.
Skaters and novices
The opportunities for skate-skiers abound this weekend in Kananaskis. The aforementioned Bill Milne, Wedge, and Evan Thomas will give you 12K one-way. All the trails at Mt Shark except Watridge lake road are single trackset with a skating lane.
Watridge lake road at Mt Shark is 3.7K to the lake, and a further 2.5 to the Spray river. The first 5K would be suitable for novice skiers, but the remainder includes a steep hill down to the Spray River and it’s a screamer. It would require some experience and finesse, not to mention lots of full-bore snowplowing. On the return, there’s a lung-busting climb of 100 metres elevation over 900 metres of distance. Most of the Blue trail is easy, but it has a couple small hills where you can pick up a good head of steam, so be cautious. There’s a practice grid with 7 trackset lanes at the trailhead.
The Mt Shark trails are pristine. After being trackset last night, only one other skier had been on the trails today. It was a little nippy at -18°C, but the sun was shining and the air was calm. I never go to Mt Shark without Tessa, but it was just too cold for her today.
I was on the trail later than usual because I stopped to help a stranded motorist who had become stuck on the Mt Shark access road. He had already been struggling for an hour when I encountered him. Take this as reminder to drive carefully(and carry a shovel). That being said, I thought the Spray Lakes road was in excellent winter driving condition(which is actually better than in the summer). I didn’t encounter any icy patches.
I skied Watridge lake road to the lake although it is groomed all the way to the Spray river. I did a few of the coloured loops and finished with a trail I’ve never skied on before. It’s hard to believe, but until today there was still one groomed trail in Kananaskis which was waiting for my skis to glide in its tracks: the trail to the Mt Shark helipad. It’s actually a fun trail with 80 metres of elevation over a distance of 1.3K. It’s a nice downhill on the way back with one steep section.
If anyone goes to West Bragg, please give us an update.