-This peak on Rundle mountain is visible from many angles as you ski along Goat creek and Spray river. I took this photo from the Goat creek bridge-
Note: Goat creek is a trail for seasoned intermediate skiers. It’s not for beginners or novices.
Conditions on many ski trails have improved considerably in the past few days. Cascade valley sounds wonderful. PLPP offers skiing at its best right now. Ditto West Bragg creek. With the recent snow and coming cold weather, I hope you’ll get out and take advantage of this window of opportunity. How long can it last?
It may have been a premonition of things to come when I spotted cougar tracks near the Goat creek trailhead.
The air temperature in Canmore was -8 but up at the GC trailhead it was 0°C at 12:30 pm. Snow temperature was -6 and the snow did not deteriorate from the mild weather. VR45(-2/-8) worked well all day and I didn’t have to rewax. It actually got colder as I approached Banff.
900 metres in, I ran into three snowshoers at the Banff boundary. They were also cross-country skiers, so they knew to stay in the middle of the trail or to the side of the tracks. I reset my GPS to zero to see how accurate the signage was. It said 6.2K to the Goat creek bridge.
The tracksetting starts at the boundary, and the snow and trail conditions were near perfect. I was noticing a few paw prints in the middle of the trail.
It’s a net elevation drop of 170 metres to the Goat creek bridge and I was there in no time. The distance on my GPS read 6.18K.
The trail down to the bridge has lots of snow on it, but the many skiers had already snowplowed a sizeable ridge on the curve. It was still very easy to slow down and turn onto the bridge.
Starting up the other side, I noticed even more paw prints. I couldn’t decipher all of them. There were some larger ones which looked like wolf, and a lot of smaller ones which could be coyote or fox. Maybe even some cats. There were also occasional moose and deer tracks.
The next bridge at 9K also has a fast downhill and a very sharp turn as you approach it. Easy today, but the turn will be scraped bare in a day or two so be careful. You can’t see it coming, either. The bridge is a long distance from the turn so there’s no danger of going for a swim, as is the case at the Goat creek bridge. There’s quite a lot of soft snow at the side of the trail which you will crash into before hitting the trees.
The wolves, coyotes, and foxes were seemingly having a party by this time. Near the 12K mark, for a stretch of about 100 metres, the tracks completely filled the skating lane on the Spray river west trail.
At the Spray loop junction at 13.3K I ventured over to the east side, crossed the bridge and took a couple photos of the trail which looked excellent.
I’d only met one other skier to this point but on the final 5.6K I met about 15 skiers. I don’t know if it was the heavy traffic or what, but the tracks were washed out in a few places on this stretch of trail. A minor detail.
The total distance for this ski trip(if you don’t stray onto the Spray east trail) is 18.9K. Although there’s a net elevation loss of 280 metres, there’s still plenty of climbing.
Cheryl picked me up at the Spray west trailhead at our pre-arranged time of 3 pm. I had to go slow for most of the final 10k to make sure I didn’t get to the finish line too early. We enjoyed a dip in the hot springs and indulged in a delicious meal at Buffalo Mountain Lodge to finish off a perfect day.