– The Horyn family was enjoying Family Day on the Sundance Canyon trail. –
It’s a rare occasion when Brewster creek gets trackset, so today I headed for Banff.
To access Brewster creek, you’re required to ski on Sundance canyon for 2.4K, then on Healy creek for 2.9K. Previous to the floods, it was a lot simpler when we could start at the Healy creek trailhead and ski for 1.8K to access Brewster creek. Now we have to start at the Cave and Basin and ski 5.3K.
The worst part of this trip is the 500-metre walk in your ski boots to the trailhead. The new configuration of the Cave and Basin and its parking lot has made it very inconvenient for cross-country skiers. At the end of your ski, you have to do the long walk again.
Another downside to this situation is that you can’t check the snow conditions on the trail beforehand. Erring on the side of caution, I chose to take waxless skis. The temperature was +2°C at 1 pm so I expected my waxable skis may not perform adequately. It turns out that the snow was still nice and cold and wax would have worked. When I met Barb and Elaine, they were using waxable skis with VR50(0/-4) with adequate results.
I was pleasantly surprised at the good conditions at the trailhead. Sundance canyon trail takes a lot of abuse from walkers but so far, so good. It was trackset yesterday, so the foot traffic hasn’t had enough time to completely demolish it.
There is occasional debris in the tracks, and along the open areas near the river, there are large snow drifts which have created moguls for a distance of about 200 metres. They were easy to navigate and added some interest to what is normally a completely flat trail.
Healy creek is single trackset and conditions were good except for the pine needles. The wind has deposited a lot of tree debris onto the trail but with waxless skis, it did not impact me. It’s a pleasant trail which meanders through pine and spruce with small rolling hills. Except for the debris, it was in better condition than I’ve usually seen it on past ski trips.
Arriving at the Brewster creek junction, I could see skier-set tracks in the deep snow on the portion of Healy creek which is no longer trackset. It will eventually lead you to the washed-out bridge at the Sunshine road.
Brewster creek is a relentless climb for the first 2.5K where it gains a net elevation of 180 metres. Thereafter it flattens out somewhat, but you will still accumulate considerably more elevation over the remaining 6.2K to Sundance Lodge.
I don’t know if the tracksetting goes all the way to the lodge or if the flooding has impacted that also. I only skied to the 3.6K point which is where another trail joins in.
There were lots of wolf tracks on Brewster creek. It looked like three wolves had used the trail to get to their destination somewhere further along than I went.
My round trip was 17.8K. If you went all the way to Sundance Lodge, it would be 28K.