Between talking with numerous people on Goat creek/Spray river I managed to fit in 20.4K of skiing.
I had no ride waiting for me in Banff, so it was an out and back. If you haven’t heard, my goal is to ski Goat creek a dozen times this winter and I’m going to count this as an official trip since I did more than 19K. I don’t know if 12 trips will be enough to satisfy me, though.
Today’s skiing more than made up for yesterday’s disappointment. With the nice weather, it was conducive to stopping and chatting with skiers. I only planned on going to the Goat creek bridge and back(14K), but the good conditions, pleasant weather, delightful people, and spectacular scenery kept pulling me further along.
Conditions were pretty good, relatively speaking. Charlie’s trip report didn’t surprise me. I heard the exact same comment from a skier, too. Expectations on Goat creek have to be “moderated” somewhat, and I’ve adjusted my attitude to expect lots of “multi-use” on the initial 4k. It always seems to steadily improve the further you get away from the trailhead.
The Banff trail report indicated that Goat Creek and Spray river had been trackset yesterday, but there wasn’t much evidence of it near the Banff boundary. As mentioned, that changed when you got out a little further.
The air temperature was -6°C at 12:30 pm, snow was -10. Easy waxing with VR40(-4/-12). I started off a few minutes behind a couple fat bikers, and I saw them for the first time about 500 metres later as they encountered Hugh(who leaves numerous trip reports on here). I noticed they pulled to the side and let Hugh have the right-of-way as he was coming down a small hill.
I encountered four fat bikes today, and all were courteous and staying out of the ski tracks. Thanks!
At the steep hill down to the Goat creek bridge I observed many skiers removing their skis and walking down, and others, going the opposite direction, walking up. I managed to ski down with some strong snow plowing. It’s in better shape than usual.
I’m glad I continued on, because the trail was simply beautiful between the bridges. That’s where the top photo was taken. The steep hill down to the Spray river bridge was easily navigated and I stopped at the bridge to ponder my next move. I took some photos and carried on up the other side of the river bank.
At the top, I ran into Kirsten, Drew, and Ann who had stopped at the sunny spot to have lunch. They read my blog last night and changed their minds about going to Redearth creek. It was gratifying to hear that my misadventure helped someone avoid a bad ski trip.
After skiing another 100 metres, I encountered none other than Jo Lunn, who had skied from Banff, and which resulted in a 15-minute gabfest. Jo is one of the organizers of my favourite ski race, the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet.
Still not satisfied, I skied on Spray river west, up the next hill and finally decided to stop in my own sunny spot for a snack at 10.2K.
Within a few minutes, I see Barb coming up the trail. She’s been all the way to the boundary and on her way back which will result in a 36K ski trip. She’s an expert on animal tracks, so we discuss yesterday’s tracks which I couldn’t decipher and we both head off in opposite directions. I’ve finally turned around and am heading back to the Goat creek trailhead.
There were still lots of skiers, and a couple more fat bikers on the trail coming toward me, so I was careful to keep an eye out for approaching skiers on the tricky downhills.
The tracks grew shallower and shallower as I neared the trailhead, and I’ve included a photo where they disappear altogether. I could swear there were tracks when I was here earlier!
One final hill and I’m back at the trailhead where there was still a lot of activity with snowshoers, hikers, dogs, and three skiers who were just setting out for Banff. Nice night for a moonlight ski.
A snowfall warning is in effect for the mountains, and depending which forecast you believe, we could get anywhere from 5 – 15 cm.