I encountered Doreen and Laura about five minutes into today’s ski down Goat Creek/Spray River. They weren’t getting any grip so had stopped to wax their skis. I offered some waxing advice(they had VR45 and that’s what I recommended) and it must have worked because they passed me about 10 minutes later.
This ski trip was a lot of fun. The few rocks which remain embedded in the trail can be easily avoided except on the 100-metre downhill to the Goat Creek bridge at 7K where you should remove your skis. The weather was nice at -5°C, and I left the light breeze behind at the trailhead. Best of all, the new configuration of the trail allows everyone to enjoy their activity without any interference.
I enjoy this ski trip immensely because of the variety of things I encounter. Lots of twists and turns, ups and downs, incredible scenery, rivers, creeks, bridges, scary stuff, frequently seeing wildlife tracks, and hot springs at the end!
While I was stopped at the Goat Creek bridge taking photos, a large group of skiers, most of them skiing down, started to arrive. One of them bit the dust. The lady in the purple jacket said she hit every one of the 30 exposed rocks on the way down! I wonder where she rented her skis?
Guy, Fran, and Denise, a friendly group of fat bikers were just leaving the Goat Creek bridge when I arrived but it wasn’t the last I saw of them. I managed to pass them before we reached the Spray bridge and took photos as they came downhill and approached the bridge. We jockeyed back and forth for the next 6K.
The downhill to the Spray bridge has some exposed rocks but you can thread your way through them if you’re careful and go slow.
The next section, 4.3K on Spray River West to the East-West junction is absolutely beautiful. There is only one track and while going downhill on the left side, I was able to test the “right-of-way” with skiers coming up. It worked.
I had a good race with Guy on the long downhill, proving that skis are faster then fat bikes. 🙂
At the East-West junction(13.3K) you’ll be overwhelmed at the number of signs directing traffic. Eight of them! Nobody has any excuse for not following the rules. Signs direct the skiers onto Spray River West where there is now two ski tracks and a skating lane, and multi-users onto Spray River East. I skied a few metres onto Spray east and took a photo. It has been groomed(not trackset), and has the marks of a trail used by hikers. You can still ski it, too, but you just won’t have any tracks.
The final 5.6K into Banff has three or four exposed rocks which are easily avoidable. There are five or six large tree canopies where the snow didn’t get through to the trail, but it’s easy enough to simply ski on the other side or in the skating lane.
With 700 metres to go, conditions deteriorate considerably. This is the section where all the multi-users can walk, snowshoe, and bike until they reach the turnoff. The tracks are washed out and it doesn’t look very pretty but it’s totally skiable.
Too bad about the deteriorating conditions at Shaganappi right after it was groomed, but as Helen says, we need to know the bad as well as the good. This information will help skiers make an informed and wise choice as to their skiing destination tomorrow.