I’ve come to expect a lot of multi-users on the initial section of Goat creek. Today, all the snowshoers turned around at 3.8K, at which time a nice set of tracks presented themselves.
The tracks were non-existent for much of the first 3.8K, but the skiing was pleasant enough. There’s fresh snow on the trail with inconsistent depths. At the Goat Creek trailhead and for most of the first 7K, about 3 – 4 cm of fresh snow was on the trail, but it became quite deep on Spray river west at 14K with 8 cm. As I approached Banff, the final kilometre on Spray river west only had about 2 cm.
The temperature when I left my house in Canmore at 1:55 pm was -13°C, but a few minutes later, at the Goat creek trailhead, it was -8 with no wind and a clear blue sky. I could feel it getting considerably colder after the Spray bridge at 9K, and the Spray west trailhead at the end was -13. The snow temperature was -11, and VR30(-10/-30) did a good job.
My mantracker skills told me that three or four skiers had been down the trail, so I had a reasonably nice skied-in track. The new snow made all the steep downhills slower and safer. The final turn to the Spray river bridge at 9K has a lot of unseen ridges under the fresh snow. It’s always fun trying to remain upright there. It’s now in a state which takes me back to my stock car racing days, with a high-banked turn.
The wolves were out in full force last night, and left a lot of tracks for about 1K along the trail from 12 -13K.
Although the fresh snow slows me down, I appreciate having the pristine conditions with no tree debris, just beautiful white, cold snow.
After the junction where Spray east meets west(about 13.5K), the trail had seen a lot of action today. The 8 cm of fresh snow would have made it a lot of work for the skaters. Most skiers were finished for the day, and I only saw two others(and a couple snowshoers) the entire day.
Don’t be under the misconception that Goat creek/Spray river is downhill all the way. In the first 7k, you’ll lose 180m of net elevation. From the Goat creek bridge to Banff you’ll lose a further 100 metres. Over the entire 19K to Banff, however, you’ll still have a total ascent of 240 metres, so there is considerable climbing.
The Bill Milne trail, Wedge, Ribbon creek, and some of the Kananaskis village trails were trackset this afternoon and evening.
Make sure you view the incredible photos on Steve Riggs’ Trip report from West Bragg creek. After reading about Telephone trail from Alf and now Steve, it makes me want to check it out. West Bragg should be crawling with people this weekend considering all the fresh snow and the new grooming. Check the Groomer’s Reports for tonight’s update from Groomer Jeff H.