I checked out Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Hydroline and Patterson in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park today. I didn’t go on the Kananaskis Fire Lookout trail, but if you have any plansto go there, make sure you read Mike W’s trip report if you’re concerned for your health.
Trip reports have been posted on both the Nov and Dec trip report pages, so check both.
Chuck spots some amazing wildlife on his ski trips. Check out the Three-toed woodpecker on his Mosquito Creek backcountry trip.
Don’t judge Elk pass from the first kilometre. It gets a lot better once you’re on top of the big hill. Starting out, the tracks were semi-icy and the snow was somewhat sugary. As soon as you hit the Boulton Creek junction at .5K, the snow quality improves and I was finally getting some grip.
The big hill is fine going up, but late in the afternoon it was already getting scraped down to hardpack so you’ll need to be careful if you’re descending. If it snows there tonight, as it is supposed to, you can probably forget what I just wrote.
I expect there will be some fresh snow on the trail because it was snowing late this afternoon.
Starting up Elk Pass, the VR45 which was on my skis from yesterday gave no grip so I added a couple layers of VR50(0/-4) and as I remarked earlier, I had good grip once past the Boulton junction, and it served me well for the rest of the day.
Conditions improve dramatically once you reach the top of the big hill. Excellent tracks and nice snow quality. There’s some minor debris on the trail but of little consequence.
I had a lovely ski to the top of the pass, frequently stopping to talk and take pictures. I imagine a lot of skiers will want to check out Tyrwhitt tomorrow, so I skied down about 400 metres and took a few pictures. Other than a few wayward twigs, it looked very good. No tracksetting yet, but it was just fine skiing on the corduroy from the recent grooming.
It was already snowing, and Hydroline had a cm of snow in the tracks. It was faster to ski on the corduroy. Ditto Patterson. You can tell it was snowing from my Patterson photo which I’ll post in the gallery. Normally you’d see a mountain looming above the trees but nothing shows in the photo. It’s the same mountain you see in Morgan’s photo which was taken an hour earlier.
From the Patterson junction I enjoyed the pleasant downhill on Elk Pass to the Hydroline junction. The tracks are washed out on all the turns, so don’t even attempt to stay in the tracks.
I felt sorry for a couple who were on their way to the Elk Lakes cabin. He was on AT gear, she was on snowshoes. It was around 4 pm, and they had stopped about 1.7K into their trip because he was wearing new boots and already had a blister. They had first aid equipment.
After I had climbed the big hill, I saw their water bottle laying in the middle of the trail. Fortunately, they told me they had headlamps and all the gear they needed in case they had to camp out before reaching the cabin.
Another couple was climbing the steepest part of the big hill on their way to the cabin. I came to a stop and asked them to watch for the water bottle and try to get it to the owners.
At the Elk Pass – Tyrwhitt – Hydroline junction, it was nice to see that snowshoers had actually taken the snowshoe trail.
I stopped at Pocaterra hut and saw about 1 cm of fresh snow over a layer of ice. It looks dangerous.
That was me struggling with the new boots on the way to the cabin. We eventually made it and had a great weekend at Elk Lakes.
Also, the water bottle did find its way back to me thanks to a very nice young couple of x-country skiers that went out of their way to run it up to me.
Thanks for looking out for us!
Thanks for the update, Ken. I’m happy to hear it all turned out well.
Another very thorough report, thanks Bob, we sure appreciate your website and everyones trip reports!