-Pine marten at Sundance Lodge. Photo by Chuck O’Callaghan-
It looks like Chuck was at the right place at the right time today and got all the good photos. My photos consist mostly of rocks and trees which I was removing from the trail, and are not that interesting.
Make sure you check the remainder of Chuck’s photos if you want to see more incredible pine marten pictures and some amazing hoar frost.
After an absence of two years, it’s nice to ski the Healy creek trail from the west end again. It makes for a quicker access to the Brewster creek trail which I skied today.
The floods of 2013 completely washed out the bridge, the first 200 metres of the trail and a good portion of the parking lot.
The reconstructed trail follows a new route past the climbing wall, parallels the Sunshine road for about 80 metres, then circles through the forest to the new bridge. To reach the same spot on the trail which was previously 200 metres in, you will now have to ski 800 metres.
A new, larger parking lot has been constructed and features a proper outhouse.
The distance to the Brewster creek junction is now 2.5K.
First skier I met today was Aaron from Edmonton as he was coming down Brewster creek. I observed a lot of animal tracks criss-crossing the trail. Chuck’s photos show wolverine tracks, the tell-tale diagonal three print, which I also saw last winter on Brewster creek.
I’m obviously not a good “reader of the snow” because I had to add wax twice on the trail to get it right. The snow temperature was -9°C which normally would call for VR40(-4/-12). As I started climbing the steep hills, I had little grip, so I stopped and added another layer. No Improvement. I soon realized I was dealing with “sugar snow” and went with a layer of something stickier, VR45 which did the trick.
I did my first trail repair about 2K up Brewster creek when I came upon a rock protruding above the snow in the middle of the trail. After clearing the snow away, the rock wouldn’t budge so I gave it a firm kick with the heel of my boot and to my surprise it came loose. I filled the hole with snow and was on my way. The only nice thing about sugary snow is that it doesn’t make your gloves wet.
Around a few more turns I ran into Chuck, Jeannette and Melissa who were on their way back. Chuck said he had lots of good photos of a pine marten and I see he wasn’t kidding. They went to the end of the tracksetting at 8.8K, then proceeded on snowmobile packing a little further, and finished their trip to Sundance Lodge by breaking trail for the last bit. Total distance to the lodge is about 11.2K.
They warned me about the tree which had fallen across the trail and again, to my surprise, I was able to remove it, sort of. I moved it far enough so that it was off the trail. It left a lot of debris on the trail which I removed. As you can see in the photos by the curvature, the tree is “spring loaded,” and it wouldn’t surprise me if it moved itself back onto the trail part ways.
I turned around at the end of the tracksetting and had a harrowing trip back down. The snowmobile leaves a lot of ridges and ruts, and coming down those steep hills with turns can be scary. It’s imperative to stay in control, which means going slow. At the bottom of Brewster creek, I had to pry my legs out of the snowplow stance. With the trail in this condition, it would be a good idea to use wider skis and metal edges wouldn’t hurt, either.
Healy creek already has some tree debris(pine needles and spruce cones), and so does the lower part of Brewster creek. At higher elevations, Brewster creek was pristine.
I was sent the photo at the side by TSJ(Ribbon creek Tracksetter Jeff). It’s a new wax thermometer which has been installed at the Ribbon creek parking lot. Thanks to Lifesport for providing this useful item.