Mysteries in the snow

What is this?

While adventuring off-track in the Elk Pass area, MaSid came across this fascinating imprint in the snow. His theory is that it was made by an owl while swooping down to catch a rabbit or other unfortunate creature. 

“Wing tips in the snow? Anybody know what this is? No bird foot prints. Sets of doubles too. And rabbit tracks. An owl diving for rabbits maybe. 6-8 inch impression length.”

Also, a number of skiers reported the smell of burning coal while on top of Blueberry Hill. Where’s that coming from?

More grooming was completed in PLPP last night including Tyrwhitt and Upper Pocaterra(but not trackset). Lookout was trackset. Wheeler, Fox Creek, Spruce road have also been groomed but are thin. Check the PLPP Live Grooming Report for more details.

Wheeler, William Watson Access, Spruce Road, Fox Creek and the Boulton Connecter were all snowmobile groomed but not trackset. Watch for thin spots with exposed pavement or ice and undulating terrain. Tyrwhitt, Upper Pocaterra and Upper Lake Access were all machine groomed only and need another good snowfall before track setting may occur. 

The Canmore Nordic Centre has updated their trail report. It looks like you have approximately 1K of snow for recreational skiing during the day on Banff trail to 200 metres past junction 2. After the races are over for the day, all trails are open to the public. There is an 8-lane lesson grid in the stadium/daylodge area if you want to practice. 


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  1. Owl wings, for sure.

    I saw a similar print on a morning ski at Shadow Lake a few years ago. There had been a light snowfall overnight. The print was part of the vivid telling of the last minutes in the life of a wee rodent.

    A tiny set of tracks ran across the snow directly from one tuft of dry grass to the next. On the the fourth or fifth trek, a little farther than the others, the tracks just ended. As if the little critter had disappeared into thin air halfway to the next safe stop.

    Which he clearly had. On either side of his last step was the clear trace of wing feathers, just like MaSid’s photo above, symmetrically framing the final scene.

    It was a thrill to be able to envisage the dramatic story, so clearly depicted in the snow.

  2. I’m going out on a limb and say yeah, owl wings

  3. Couch visitors informed me the stink is from a coal mine in the elk valley.

    • Come to think of it, saw snowmobile tracks going up/down blueberry just before grooming Thurs night. Perhaps it was park staff going in there and burning off something with a smouldering coal pile. They did something similar around Lookout last year yah?
      Sometimes when the wind is strong from the south I sense whiffs of the Elk Lakes cabin fireplace but only faintly. Consider also the Aldrige Creek coal fire (burning since 1936) but that’s halfway to Elkford.
      On calmer days blasting at the fording river and greenhills mines can create a dark cloud of particulate drifting north on stratified air. If you happen to be on top of Lookout, why, you can just taste the selenium.

      • I also smelled it last Tuesday. I thought it might be from the Elk Lakes cabin stoves. Is there anyone who has been there recently to confirm, or not, the use of coal at the cabin?

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