-Happy skiers at the Goat creek bridge-
I don’t know about you, but I had a difficult time deciding where to ski today because of so many excellent choices. Nice problem to have. It’s uplifting to read the trip reports these days…and thanks to everyone for your reports. I would have gladly given up my day on Goat creek to see the wolf on Pocaterra. Carlo is a lucky man to experience such an amazing sighting.
There are still a lot of trails which I haven’t skied on yet this winter, but I never get tired of Goat creek when conditions are good, and today that was my choice but I also decided that I’d ski the home stretch on Spray river east. It turned out to be another wonderful skiing experience on this delightful trail.
There was lots of vehicle traffic going up the Spray Lakes road past the Goat creek parking lot. I’m thinking we should be getting a trip report from someone who was at Mt Shark.
The snow and air temperature were both -6°C at the trailhead above Canmore with no wind. I waxed with VR45(-2/-8) and had good grip all day.
As we all know, the first 900 metres of Goat creek is in Kananaskis and is not trackset. The Banff tracksetter only goes as far as the Banff boundary. It doesn’t really matter, though, because the first 3K of the trail in Banff looks much like the ungroomed portion which you start out on. The trail and tracks get beat up mercilessly by snowshoers and walkers. It had excellent tracks only three days ago when I skied it.
It seems like the snowshoers all turn around at 4k and like magic, well-defined deep tracks re-appear. I can’t say the initial 4K are any problem despite the tracks being thin and washed out. I more or less expect it, so I’m not too bent about it.
At 3.5K I encountered a large group of skiers standing around at the bottom of one of those fast downhills, completely blocking the trail. I was hell-bent for leather and while I normally like to stop and chat, there are times when it seems inappropriate to break the momentum. This was one of those rare occasions where I had to yell “Track” at the top of my lungs. A lane was quickly cleared and I thanked everyone with a smile on my face as I sailed through.
If I had seen a skier down, or some other predicament, there would be no question that I’d stop.
The fast, winding downhill to the Goat creek bridge at 7K was still in pretty decent shape. The only issue is the last 20 metres before the bridge which has been scraped down to the previous icy track. The secret is to already be going slow by the time you hit the ice. Of course, all the sharp turns have big ridges of snow on them, so conduct yourself accordingly.
I met plenty of skiers enjoying the trail today. That is, until I skied on Spray river east. I saw only 12 skiers on the 5.7K into Banff. It’s much easier than Spray west with fewer hills. After reading Steve Riggs’ trip report, I’m thinking maybe everyone was at West Bragg?
Spray river east is in good condition with one very small ice flow which is easy to skirt. I was pleasantly surprised to see only one rock on the descent to the golf course. If you’re doing the crossover to Spray river west, there appeared to be lots of snow on the trail. It’s narrow, however, and some places it’s better to remove your skis and walk. The portion of the trail which runs along the river tends to get a lot of foot traffic.