One of my favourite ski trips is Goat Creek/Spray River to Banff, and it’s always a challenge for me to make it to Banff in time for the lunch special at the Silver Dragon. Lucky for me, the conditions were excellent.
I was on the Goat Creek trail at 12:01 pm. I have to allow myself about 20 minutes of “stopped time” for photos, chatting, drinking, waxing and whatever. That gave me one hour and thirty-nine minutes of “moving time” to get to Banff by 2:00 pm. That’s the time I asked Cheryl and Tessa to be at the Spray River West trailhead.
After scouting the trail yesterday, it was as good and maybe even better than I expected. The tracks are in great shape, fast, and the grip was excellent with VR40(-4/-12). The air temperature at Goat Creek was -8°C. The final 3K into Banff was getting a bit slick and VR45 would have worked better. It would be nice if it snowed a cm or two tonight.
I felt like I was flying on the mostly downhill portion to the Goat Creek bridge at 7K. You’ll notice in the photo the snowshoers, hikers, and fatbikes were staying on the multi-use side of the trail.
Occasionally a fatbiker would stray into the ski tracks but it wasn’t an issue. At 7.4K, the new snow on the trail was a little deeper and hadn’t been packed down and it was now uphill. The fatbikers all turned around at this point.
I was able to ski all the way down to the Goat Creek bridge without seeing a single rock. The final 50 metres is hard-packed and if you’re going too fast, you’ll regret it. I expect with all the snowplowing skiers this weekend, a few of the rocks lurking below the surface will raise their ugly heads.
The downhill to the Spray River bridge at 9K is pretty easy until you hit the final turn where it is deeply rutted. Just go slow.
As expected, the new tracksetting started at 9.2K and was wonderful. I passed a number of skiers on the long, fast downhill to the Spray Loop junction. I was in the tracks, they were all on the corduroy. Someone must have warned them about the crazy person coming down the tracks.
From the Spray Loop junction it’s 5.6K to Banff on the West side. I pulled into the Spray West trailhead at 1:59 pm, hungry. My moving time was 1 hour and 39 minutes. Stopped time 19 minutes. This was one of the most enjoyable trips ever on Goat Creek!
Thanks to HeatherD, we know that Cascade Valley was groomed and trackset today.
Nice to hear that West Bragg Creek is back in business. Check the glowing trip reports for details.
Baker Creek to Castle Lookout was trackset today.
A reminder, it’s the Cookie Race in PLPP tomorrow(Saturday). Parking will be next to impossible at Pocaterra hut and the Discovery Centre.