The challenge today was to get to Banff in time to have the lunch special at the Silver Dragon. I was dropped off at the Goat creek trailhead above Canmore at 12 noon and my goal was to be at the Spray river west trailhead by 2 pm. The lunch special ends at 2:30 pm.
The air temperature upon leaving the house in Canmore was -12°C, but 15 minutes later and 280 metres higher, at Goat creek it was -7. Snow temperature was -9. Easy waxing with VR40(-4/-12). The tracks had a skiff of new snow which slowed me down a bit.
The cold temperatures have kept the snow in good condition. The fat bikers have not been back on the trail, and the tracks on the one side are almost starting to come back to life. I believe the skiing on here will still be quite enjoyable tomorrow(Saturday). Who knows, I may be back to do it a fourth time this week.
Having such great conditions on the trails close to home eliminates buying much gas for my vehicle. I’ve skied five times since Sunday. Driving three times to Goat creek trailhead, three times to Banff to pick me up, once to Cascade valley, once to the nordic centre, the total distance driven has been 280 Km. A round trip for me to Elk pass is 184 Km.
The steep, winding downhills to the two bridges are still in good enough shape for a controlled descent. They’ve been scraped down to hardpack but the skiff of new snow helped more than I would have imagined.
There are three downhills on the first 7K of Goat creek where it is difficult to control your descent because of the ridge, but I’ve learned to just go with it. Hopefully nobody ahead of you will fall. On one of them, just as you reach the bottom and you’re at top speed there’s a big bump which could send you flying. I’m aware of it and prepare myself accordingly. Good luck.
The snow is quite abrasive and I wish I had rewaxed at the Spray river east-west junction(13.3K). I struggled while climbing the remaining hills on Spray river west with a lack of wax on my skis.
I pulled into the Spray river west parking lot at 1:55 pm, plenty of time to get over to the Silver Dragon and enjoy some wonderful Chinese food.
I don’t know when I’ll get my fill of Goat creek. Most winters only allow for three or four ski trips on good conditions, but it’s never enough.
It’s not an easy trail, mostly because of the steep, twisting downhills which end at narrow bridges. Mind you, that’s also what makes it a lot of fun. The scenery is breathtaking. The ridge in the middle makes it difficult in some of the most precarious places. If you’re a novice skier, I’d recommend getting more experience before you tackle it.