Another two-post. This update will be about my ski on Goat creek which was lovely except for a couple of serious problems for which I am going to propose a solution in my second update.
Although Goat creek had plenty of snow, I waited over a month for tracksetting to occur. You have probably already read Helen’s report about fat bikes on Goat creek. Fortunately the fat bikers had enough after 4K of destruction, and the tracks returned. More about this in my next posting.
I was exceedingly excited to see that Goat creek had been trackset on Sunday because it’s one of my all-time favourite trails. The trail has considerable variety, several interesting features, magnificent scenery, fast downhills, sharp turns, hills to climb, rivers, creeks, narrow bridges to cross, and wolf and cougar tracks are common.
The air temperature was a pleasant -3°C with partly sunny skies and no wind. The snow was -4 which called for VR45(-2/-8). It served me well until the last few km into Banff when I was starting to slip on very polished tracks.
From the trailhead you are immediately met with a fast downhill which usually has an exposed rock or two, but not today. Clear sailing.
The initial 900 metres of Goat creek is in K-Country and is not trackset. At .9K, you’ll see the kiosk for Banff National Park and within a few metres the tracksetting begins.
As previously mentioned, the tracks were flattened by the fat bikers, but I can’t let that spoil my day. At 4.2K, the fat bike tracks were gone and I had nice, well-defined tracks for the remainder of the trip.
The tracks were fast and some of the downhills are scary because you can’t snowplow(that will also be addressed in my next post). On three fast downhills I was holding on for dear life, including one where you have to line yourself up to cross a very narrow bridge at the bottom. The usual culprits, the downhills to the two big bridges were fine. Excellent snow cover and no rocks.
At 7k you reach the twisting downhill to the Goat creek bridge and I applied heavy braking action to stop myself before heading into the abyss. I stopped to take photos of the “crash site” at the side of the trail where skiers who were going too fast bailed before heading down the hill.
At this point, Brenda, with skis in hand, came walking up the hill and assured me there were no rocks or hazards. Brenda had gone about 8K and was on her way back, but chose to walk up the steep hill.
8K was where the trail got even more interesting with lots of wolf tracks. I followed them for 4K when they disappeared into the forest.
With wolf tracks to observe, the nice weather, easy gliding along good tracks, stunning scenery, I dawdled along in no particular hurry, but eventually arrived at the Spray river bridge at 9K. Again, I saw where skiers had hit the ditch on the sharp turn near the bottom of the hill.
After crossing the Spray bridge, you are on Spray river west trail. From the bridge, you are 9.9K from Banff. When you climb out of the valley, the trail widens and has a skating lane.
Just as I was picking up speed on the long downhill, I observed tracks which I didn’t care to see. Someone had walked 7k from Banff on the fresh grooming, and returned, postholing in the soft snow. Why anyone would enjoy doing a difficult walk like that on a ski trail is beyond me.
At the Spray east-west junction, I still had 5.5K to go, and had to do it in 31 minutes to meet my ride at the preordained time of 3:15 pm. Would I make it? I had spent a lot of time taking photos on the first 13.4K but only shot 6 for the remainder of the trip.
My grip was fading on the final 3K. This is a heavily-used section of trail near the Banff Springs hotel and the tracks were well-polished. With some extensive double-poling I pulled into the trailhead at exactly 3:15 pm.