I had a wide and varied choice of trails to ski today. Cascade? Mt Shark? Pocaterra? Blueberry hill? Spray river? Lake Louise? Ribbon creek? Bill Milne? Wedge? An embarrassment of riches considering it’s only mid-November.
I was a little envious of John M’s report of wolf tracks. I imagine they were on the Wedge connector because I’ve seen them there numerous times. After reading John’s reports, I always have a smile on my face.
I decided to ski the Skogan loop which was trackset yesterday. Skogan loop is a trail with lots of elevation, terrific views, and break-neck downhills. The cruel joke is that you have to climb about 400 metres elevation just to get there!
Influencing my decision was the fact that by the time we have such desirable snow and trail conditions again, I might be too old to make the climb.
Avoiding the parking maelstrom at Ribbon creek was foremost in my mind when I turned into the Stoney trailhead, hoping it was plowed, and indeed it was. Most people were setting out for Troll Falls on foot or on snowshoes.
At 12:20 pm the air temperature was 0°C and the snow was -5. I waxed with VR50(0/-4) thinking it would warm up during the afternoon. I probably would have done okay with VR45, but in areas where the sun was hitting the tracks, I needed the VR50.
I’ve been laughing at some of the creative captions which are coming in for the moron who tried to drive his Jeep on Skogan pass. Luckily his destruction came to an end before he caused too much damage.
Leaving that behind, I headed up Lower Skogan pass on a groomed trail with good snow coverage. It’s not often, or ever, that I’ll be able to say that in mid-November.
The sky was deep blue with a few fluffy white clouds. I was down to one layer of clothes, my lightest gloves and the SkiHere toque was rolled up to expose my ears.
The Screamer was trackset, although there aren’t many places where it’s level enough for tracks. I observed the usual mixture of expressions on the early skiers coming towards me, some smiling, others terrified. One carrying his skis. I saw Ray and Elisabeth but didn’t have the heart to stop them to talk while they were enjoying the fast downhill.
I plodded on past Marmot, Sunburst, High Level, finally reaching the junction of the Lower Skogan loop.
Skogan loop, clockwise, is a trail where you will want to stop frequently to take photos, which is great, because it also gives you a breather from the climbing. There is one last killer hill that will test your willpower to get to the top. In the short distance of 130 metres, it ascends 30 metres. The only other trail with that incredible steepness is the Kananaskis Fire Lookout south side.
The net elevation to the top of the loop is about 630 metres. Coming down the other side of the loop is the only time I feared for my life today. I hit 55 KmH and that was doing a partial snowplow.
Arriving at the junction with Skogan pass, I could see the trail to Skogan summit, which is a further 2.4K, was groomed but not trackset(just like TSJ’s report says). Here, I encountered a skier who refused to have his picture on the blog when I asked. I wondered, why would anyone want to live their life in such obscurity and anonymity when they could be famous and admired?
I was dubious about continuing to the summit. No tracks, I was already tuckerd out, and I convinced myself the wind would be howling up there, so it made for an easy decision to head home.
I don’t remember ever having such an enjoyable trip down. The good snow has created the best conditions for a fast but controlled descent. Twenty minutes and I was at the bottom of Ruthies.
On the way down, I encountered, for the first time ever, a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep on the trail. He saw me coming from about 50 metres away and ran down the trail for quite a distance before veering off into the forest. This guy could run a lot faster than I could ski. I wonder if he’s been shot at, and realizes humans are bad news.
I took Hay meadow to the trailhead. Lots of post-holing from walkers but still skiable.
I was glad to hear the parking lots in PLPP were plowed.
I came to the realization that my camera will take nice, vivid photos if only I would ski when the sun is still shining.
TSJ created a video yesterday while grooming Skogan pass.