New Year’s eve skiing in K-Country

by Bob Truman on December 31, 2017

in Kananaskis

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It was a pleasure to meet Ulrike and her family on the Bill Milne trail. You may recognize the name; she leaves trip reports occasionally on this blog.

The trails I did today are all very easy, and offer some spectacular scenery. I did a 7K loop including Evan-Thomas fire road, Wedge Connector, and Bill Milne. After warming up, I also did a few Ks on the village trails. 

Bill Milne trail

The temperatures diverged a lot on the way out. I left Canmore in -18, the casino was -26, Barrrier Lake was -16, and when I arrived at Evan-Thomas, the temperature was -17. The snow temperature was -21. I’ll say one thing for this bitterly cold weather, it’s sure easy to wax. 

The Evan-Thomas trail was groomed but not trackset

I arrived at 1:20 pm and the snowplow was just finishing clearing the snow from the parking lot. 

The grooming on Evan-Thomas goes for 1.8K. It’s all corduroy, no tracksetting. This trail sees lots of hiker traffic so I was happy to be skiing it with the footprints of only two hikers. 

Wedge Connector is trackset

The tracks of the hikers made me laugh and shake my head. There were a few thin spots on the trail where some dirt was mixed in with the snow. The hikers were walking side-by-side except when they came to the spots with dirt, they veered away and altered their course to remain walking in the pristine, white snow. This situation occurred at least three times. Go figure. 

The snowshoe trail which connects Evan-Thomas and Wedge Connector. The bridge marks the start of the Wedge Connector. 

I encountered three rocks on the trail, two of which I was able to remove. The Evan-Thomas trail gains 50 metres of elevation to the end of the grooming.

At 1.8K, the snowcat has to turn around because the trail gets too narrow and the MacDougall Creek bridge would be impossible to cross. You can ski on a snowshoe-packed trail for 100 metres but you need to remove your skis at the MacDougall bridge for the final 50 metres which is steep and narrow with tight turns.

The Bill Milne trail

At the bottom, you will arrive at the bridge over Evan-Thomas Creek and the beginning of the Wedge Connector trail.  

Before the floods of 2013, the snowcat could go right through from one trail to the other. 

Wedge Connector

The Wedge Connector was trackset and in good shape with just a couple thin spots which were easy to avoid. After 2.2K on Wedge, I arrived at the Bill Milne trail which is on pavement and in excellent condition. 

Terrace trail

Bill Milne trail

There are a couple fun hills on the way to the road crossing. From the road crossing, the trail takes you through Mt Kidd RV Park, over another bridge, and back to the Evan-Thomas parking lot. When the trail comes within 50 metres of the highway, watch for the snowcat tracks which is your cue to cross the road and go back to your vehicle. I walked about 150 metres from the road to my car.

This beginner skier was doing well on Terrace trail. You can see some grass in the tracks under the tree. 

Terrace trail

You’ve already read the trip report from Michelle and as she said, pretty good conditions with the occasional thin spot. Large tree canopies are usually the culprit when there’s a thin spot. The horse-drawn sleigh ride(actually a wagon with wheels now) was operating in the skating lane on Terrace and I wouldn’t advise skating there now. Wherever there are horses, there’s lots of horse manure. 

All the best to you and yours for a great 2018!
Happy New Year!

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