I’m sure that Aldona and her group from Regina aren’t the only ones wondering what the conditions are like on Goat Creek, so I made a reconnaissance mission on the first 2K of Goat Creek this afternoon.
I walked because I thought it would be too icy to ski. I was wrong. After getting to the Banff boundary at 900 metres, I regretted not wearing my skis. The trail is in way better condition than I expected.
That’s not to say it would be rated very highly, but it’s definitely skiable at the Goat Creek end. The meltdown seems to have had no effect on the snow texture at the high elevation of the Goat Creek trailhead(1680 metres).
The tracks are still well-defined but very firm and would be lightning fast, but they are not icy. The critical determinant in sketchy conditions on Goat Creek is “how are the downhills.” Well, it’s a whole new ballgame this winter with the removal of the dangerous ridge that used to be in the middle of the trail. The snow is hardpacked, but I believe you could still get an edge into it on the downhills to slow yourself down.
There were minor bits of tree debris but overall, not that bad.
I don’t know if conditions deteriorate as you lose elevation to the Goat Creek bridge at 7K. I’m guessing it’s probably okay until 11.8K. That’s where the trail loses a lot of elevation on the long downhill to the Spray River East-West junction.
We know that Spray River West from Banff to the East-West junction is in poor shape. As Greg Burt reported a few days ago, “It is icy and littered with debris.”
The first 900 metres from Goat Creek trailhead to the Banff boundary has been well-packed by all the multi-users, but it looked skiable. The first hill down from the parking lot still has four exposed rocks. They’re pretty much right in the middle of the trail.