First tracks on Elk pass

by Bob Truman on November 29, 2013

in Animal tracks & sightings, Kananaskis, PLPP(P Lougheed Park)

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Today was about as good as it gets. I would have been satisfied with the events of this day even without skiing on the wonderful conditions in PLPP. (click on any photo for a larger image)

This group of Ramblers had skied the Blueberry Hill trail to the top

This group of Ramblers had skied the Blueberry Hill trail to the top

As I was driving out, I saw the most beautiful black wolf run across the road about 50 metres in front of me. It happened too fast to get a photo, and it’s too bad, because this wolf was stunning with its thick, black coat tinged with silver/grey. I saw it between Fortress junction and Grizzly creek. It’s encouraging to know that we are sharing the ski trails with these fascinating animals.

Lea and Dan had skied to the Kananaskis Fire Lookout and reported good conditions

Lea and Dan had skied to the Kananaskis Fire Lookout and reported good conditions

Let’s get down to business. The snow in PLPP has not deteriorated from the warm weather, at least not on the south trails. The temperature at Kananaskis village was +7°C, but had dropped to -1°C by the time I reached the Elk pass trailhead at 1:30 pm. The snow temp was -4 when I checked it at the Hydroline/Lookout junction.

Hydroline was double-trackset for its entire distance

Hydroline was double-trackset for its entire distance

It felt wonderful to be climbing the big hill on good snow conditions. The trail was groomed with corduroy on my way out, but I had excellent tracks all the way back from the top of Elk pass. One exception, there’s a new section of trail immediately south of Hydroline which is only groomed for 800 metres because it has had a lot of heavy construction machinery on it. Part of the trail was rebuilt due to flooding damage. It has good snow cover but not deep enough to set track yet. In fact, just as the tracks were ending, my ski hit a piece of dirt in the shallow tracks, so it’s better to have just corduroy for now.

The top of Elk pass at Tyrwhitt and Hydroline junction

The top of Elk pass at Tyrwhitt and Hydroline junction

I skied Elk pass to Hydroline, then proceeded up Hydroline which was already trackset. I was surprised to see Hydroline was double-trackset as it’s usually only single. I made a side trip on the Kananaskis Fire Lookout trail down to the creek and saw some interesting animal tracks. Rest assured, the Lookout trail has been groomed all the way to the top. The trail report is out of date.

This was a surprise to see on Blueberry Hill

This was a surprise to see on Blueberry Hill

Back on Hydroline I continued to the end where it meets Tyrwhitt and Elk pass. I skied a little ways down Tyrwhitt and took a photo. It’s not trackset, but it’s groomed and looks skiable with a few ruts and twigs which shouldn’t cause too much inconvenience.

At the Elk pass/Blueberry junction, I ventured up Blueberry to take a photo. I was about 200 metres in when I was very surprised by a couple snowboarders descending. The Ramblers reported that Blueberry was in good shape. It is groomed but not trackset. Sometimes it’s more fun descending on the corduroy without any tracks on these steeper trails.

I caught up to Tracksetter James near the bottom of the Elk pass hill

I caught up to Tracksetter James near the bottom of the Elk pass hill

The couple I spoke to in the parking lot said Fox creek was skiable but rough. In the photos below, I’ve included photos of all the side trails including Fox creek, Kananaskis Fire Lookout, Patterson, Tyrwhitt, and Blueberry.

So I’m back at the top of the big Elk pass hill, ending a perfect day with the fastest 1K downhill in Kananaskis on excellent snow. Pedal to the metal, I didn’t even consider snowplowing. I was almost at the bottom when I had to slow down quickly. I had caught up to the Pisten-Bully being driven today by James. Thanks for all the excellent skiing you have provided for us.

It looked like it was trying to snow(and did snow a bit during the afternoon), so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some fresh snow in the tracks tomorrow.

I talked briefly at the hut with Mike who had just finished skiing Pocaterra. He said the first 4K were a bit rough but skiable, but conditions improved considerably thereafter, and were terrific beyond the Packers junction.

Today it was my pleasure to meet Tracksetter James for the first time. We’ve all seen Jody who also tracksets in PLPP. We frequently hear from Jeff at Ribbon creek and John at Lake Louise. Anyone see a pattern here?

I hope someone can decipher which animal made the tracks(first photo below).

I don’t think the Kananaskis village/Ribbon creek trails have fared very well in this warm weather. You’d probably need waxless skis right now. Let’s hope the snow in the forecast materializes.

Fabulous news on the Trip Reports from Chuck. It’s rare to see the Takkakaw Falls road(aka Yoho Valley road) trackset.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Lorne November 30, 2013 at 7:09 am

Animal tracks in photo- The tracks appear to be either fisher or marten running (loping) across the trail. It is very difficult to distinguish between these species because of size overlap (males and females primarily).

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