More snow on the way

This map from the Weather network indicates that most of the snow is going to fall south of Calgary. It would be nice to see the Sandy McNabb ski area get at least 10 cm. There hasn’t been much skiing on the Sandy McNabb trails in recent years, and rarely do we ever get a Trip Report from that area.

I remember skiing on the Sandy McNabb trails in early November back in 2003. In fact, I wrote about it in the newsletter when I was nordic director of the Calgary Ski Club. Here’s another in my series Blast from the Past:

Calgary Ski Club newsletter from Dec 2003

Calgary Ski Club newsletter from Dec 2003. Click for larger image.

If you read the part about Christmas Eve Ski, you’ll see why I don’t look as lithe and fit as in the photo from 2003. 🙂


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  1. Our family fell in love with the Sandy McNabb area during our camping and fishing trips. As avid xc skiers we would love to see Sandy McNabb added to our go to xc ski destinations; especially, as highlighted above, the drive to PLPP (which we too love) can wear a person down. I would happily get involved with a group of people to get this area up and running. Granted that this area could be problematic when it comes to snow depth throughout the year much like Bragg ‘but’ I think that this year is going to be stellar. Wouldn’t it be great to have a xc ski destination alternative to PLPP?? 🙂 Is there grooming equipment in the area still or is it all gone… moved to PLPP?

  2. There appears to be some storms brewing off the west coast for later in the week. There is a special weather statement out for Yoho Park on Environment Canada. The Weather network is also showing lots of snow for Lake Louise on Thursday and Friday. Temps will rise though so it could be interesting.

  3. Gosh, I’d LOVE to have some reports for the Sandy McNabb area. Even if just snowfall amounts!!! I live about 30 minutes away. As much as I love PLPP (and I REALLY LOVE PLPP), doing a solitary, 2 hour, sometimes dicey drive, (one way) is becoming less inviting as the years go along. Especially this time of year, when daylight hours are fast decreasing.

    • O.K., Judith, your post is motivation enough to launch me into a new career reporting conditions at Sandy. I love PLPP also but I don’t always have the time to put in a full day of driving and skiing so to be able to drive 20 minutes (or in your case 30) ski for however long you wish (I always feel I should ski for at least as long as I have driven which makes PLPP an 8 hour day) and be home before sundown is a treat. Nothing to report today as my husband is at Bragg Creek but will be sure to pass along tales of our first trip to Sandy. Speaking of Bragg Creek, it is always a great alternative to driving to PLPP and the volunteers who look after the grooming are wonderful human beings that deserve medals for the hard work they put into making the trails just perfect for my arrival. Dogs are also allowed so there are no guilt feelings about leaving Bob (the dog) behind.

      • Sheila, that would be tremendous! I also like to ski at Sandy sometimes, though we live in Calgary, but we rarely venture out there because there doesn’t usually seem to be enough snow. I have pictures 🙂

        • Please post the pics! We were lucky enough to win the “Two night stay and Emerald Lake Lodge” two years ago with a picture we posted of our beloved dog “Bob”. It was taken at Sandy McNabb. While I would like to believe the photo stole the hearts of millions because Bob (the dog) is just so darn tootin cute, I now must concede that it might have been the scenery at Sandy. Needless to say, I will gladly enjoy keeping my fellow skiers informed of conditions at Sandy both positive and negative. As you can see, I like to talk.

      • Looking forward to your updates, Sheila. Yes, Bragg Creek has a great group of volunteers that work very hard, but…..I’m just not drawn to ski or shoe there. I’ve tried it, just doesn’t “do it” for me.

  4. There are a couple of ways to approach the issue of a lack of trail maintenance and grooming.
    You could send the occasional complaint or try some political pressure to see if the government can find a bit more money in the deficit to spend on trails.
    Or you could do what the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association has done. Mobilize volunteers, gather donations and work with Alberta Parks to just get things done.

    • These are great suggestions, Alf. While we have tried two written complaints and a number of vocal ones (delivered to unsuspecting employees at the PLPP Interpretive Centre} I thought my best suggestion would be for my husband to volunteer his time if the powers that be would volunteer their equipment. Wondering if I could lure track setter Jeff into coming out our way with the promise of a warm dinner and a hug from Bob (the dog). Track setter Jeff was “caught” by my husband today not only out on his equipment looking after the trails at Bragg Creek but going the extra mile and jumping off said equipment to remove any and all offending twigs that might spoil someone’s day. Not that I am a quitter but it might be easier to move to Bragg Creek.

  5. Skier Bob’s site does seem to have some political oomph from what I have noticed over time. Certainly the groomers seem to note the input that is made here. By all means your husband should contribute especially mentioning the number of vehicles in a parking lot and the number of people that he meets on a trail as well as snow conditions. If grooming has been removed from Sandy MacNabb it is because it is perceived that few are skiing there. Your husband’s reports could change this.

    • It is a double edged sword. With better grooming comes more people. With more people comes, well, more people. What is a girl to do?? Quit complaining, I guess. However, in order to make it worth the groomer’s time and nix the idea that Sandy is my own private playground, I will let you in on a few secrets. First and foremost, dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they are leashed and like and want to play with my dog, Bob. There is one walking trail, but, like West Bragg, it is clearly marked that walkers need to keep to the side of all groomed trails. That being said, and in accordance with my original complaint, I can see that this might be confusing. The highway divides two completely different types of skiing. To the right (Ranger’s station) there is a wonderful uphill, heart pounding climb that rewards those willing to take it with spectacular views. The return trip is lots of fun especially when packed with snow and you are confident on the downhill. On days when snow is scarce or icy it can make Delirium Drive at Sunshine look like a bunny hill. The left side of the highway is much flatter but still a good ski with trails well marked. No matter which trail you decide upon, should you encounter a man with a neck warmer around the top of his head and steam coming out, do not be afraid, it is only my husband. His companion will, of course, be Bob the dog as I will, sadly, be at work (does ANYONE, see anything wrong with this picture). In any case, I will convince either Bob the dog or my beloved to report the facts on Sandy as they see em and hopefully convince those who care to bring back grooming!

  6. My husband and I live about 20 minutes away from Sandy McNabb ski there every chance we get. As my husband is retired, that adds up to a lot of skiing and I happen to get trip reports on Sandy’s ski conditions when I crawl home from yet another grueling work (there is something wrong with this picture, isn’t there). Anyhow, I would like to share with you our observations. A number of years ago there was a wonderful man who made grooming Sandy’s trails to perfection. He made it is mission in life to perfect the trails and I must say, we got rather spoiled. Not sure where this gentleman is now (Peter Lougheed, perhaps?) but sure wish he would come back. Since his departure, sadly, Sandy has gone down hill (oooh, pardon the pun) as far as grooming is concerned. Downhill enough to even prompt my husband to lodge a complaint or two in the hopes more attention will be paid to the area. The most dangerous complaint is that very little clearing of branches and debris get cleared from the trails. You can picture in your mind sailing down one of the trails steeper runs only to encounter something sticking out of the ground and ending up in a face plant. Sandy’s trails are, for the most part, very narrow, so this can certainly lead to some dangerous falls. I believe we counted about 4 times (could be less, I am being generous here) where the snowmobile went over the trails and actual tracking was even less. This often contributes to people believing that the trails can be walked on. In other words, more often than not, you will find Sandy’s trails to be poorly kept and definitely not a place to take a beginner. I have encouraged my husband to send in trip reports due to the frequency he is out there so maybe this will be the year. We are very lucky to live so close to such a beautiful spot (the other gateway to K-country) and would love to see it better maintained.

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