- The Emerald connector -
When I arrived at the Natural Bridge in Yoho yesterday, I could see they had at least 10 cm of new snow in the past day or two.
My plan was to ski the Emerald Connector, as I wanted to check out the new section(aka the Re-connector), which was constructed this year to bypass the avalanche zone. The Emerald Connector is an extremely enjoyable trail with small rolling hills as it winds through the forest between the Natural Bridge and Emerald Lake.
The trail had been well skied-in by other skiers, and I did a portion of it again today after it was freshly trackset this morning.
Starting at the Natural Bridge it’s a short 300 metres to the turn-off to the new portion of the trail. Going left will put you onto the Re-connector which is about 700 metres long and it gains 50 metres of elevation, so it has some steep sections. It’ll be tricky if you’re coming downhill (towards the Natural Bridge). Today on the new grooming it was all fun. I could see the tracksetter had done some shoveling to smooth out one sharp downhill corner.
After the climb, it joins the original Emerald Connector which you can follow all the way to Emerald Lake. Total distance from the Natural Bridge to Emerald Lake used to be 8.9K. It should be slightly shorter now, maybe around 8K?
Truth be told, the best way to enjoy the Emerald Connector is to start at Emerald Lake and have someone pick you up at the Natural Bridge. There’s a net elevation loss of 70 metres.
I see the avalanche-zone portion of the Connector has a snowmobile track on it. Ski at your own risk, I guess. In the 10 years that I’ve been skiing this trail, I’ve only heard of the one avalanche on this particular spot on the trail.
This morning I skied around Emerald Lake and through the alluvial fan. The alluvial fan would have to rate as one of the most scenic trackset trails in the Rocky Mountains.
I started by going past the Peaceful Pond. It’s exactly the same start as if you were taking the Emerald Connector, but you turn left over a small bridge after about 100 metres. It’s nice to start here and finish on the Horse trail which runs along the west side of the lake, allowing you to ski a complete loop without retracing any steps.
I enjoy the Peaceful Pond section when it’s in good shape. Right now I wouldn’t recommend it, but not because of a lack of snow. It’s blanketed in new snow. There are steep hills where the grooming width is too narrow to do a proper herring-bone or snowplow, so it’s difficult going up and coming down a couple of the hills. I had to take my skis off twice.
The Yoho trail report says, “Peaceful Pond trail is groomed, not trackset. There are steep hills with sharp turns that require strong snowplow skills. Beginner skiers are advised to walk up and down these hills.”
The grooming on the east side of the lake was a few days old and the tracks were pretty much obliterated by snowshoers and fresh snow. When I reached the alluvial fan in 3K, the tracksetting looked to be fairly recent, maybe from yesterday.
Believe it or not, I was the first one on the trail today and had to break trail in a dusting of overnight snow. The air temperature was -2°C and the snow was a purple wax -3.
Just a reminder, if you enjoy skiing at Emerald Lake and Yoho, consider buying a membership in the Kicking Horse Ski Club. It’s due to their efforts that we have trackset trails in Yoho.
A long, gentle 1K downhill gets you started on the Kicking Horse River trail. It also starts at the Natural Bridge. Beware, if the parking lot hasn’t been plowed, park at the side of the road. I had to help a German couple get their rented 4WD Jeep unstuck today.
This trail had also just been trackset this morning and was beautiful as now the snow was falling. Your typical winter wonderland.
Unfortunately, all this beautiful new tracksetting will be covered with snow by tomorrow if the weather forecast is accurate, as there’s 10-15 cm predicted for Yoho.
This would be a good time to remind everyone there’s only three days remaining to enter the Emerald Lake Lodge contest. I’ve just added five photos to the contest, and I read some very interesting new comments.