Spray River Loop was interesting

Spruce Grouse on Spray River West confronts intrusive skier

Today’s skiing was a lot of fun. Baby Pippa in the chariot would normally have been the feature photo but I also had the good fortune to encounter a spruce grouse on the trail who wasn’t shy about protecting his territory. 

Baby Pippa on Spray River West

I am normally coming from Goat creek when I ski these trails, so going the opposite direction on Spray River West was quite novel. Soon after I started out I encountered four deer on the trail about 40 metres ahead of me. I’ll post a photo in the gallery.

Tommy, Jayme, and Baby Pippa on Spray River West

I had not yet skied Spray River East this winter. As you are aware, this is the side which is recommended for snowshoers, hikers, and fat bikers. The west side sees many more skiers than the east side. 

I’m surprised to say the east side was in much better condition than the west side. The east side was trackset four days ago, has 5 cm of new snow, and the tracks were excellent.

Miguel had come from Goat Creek

I was also surprised to see no snowshoe tracks and only one fat bike track which went 2.5K up the trail. A couple hikers had been in the multi-use lane. The good news doesn’t stop there, either. The 1.2K connector trail between east and west was totally skiable. The snow is hard packed from all the walkers but the snow coverage was good and I didn’t encounter any rocks. 

Paul and Karen on Spray River west

The west side tracksetting was done six days ago and the tracks have been “widened” and washed out in places. They were, as Arie mentioned yesterday, still discernible. I continued up the west side past the east-west junction for 1.5K to the top of the hill. This section had more fresh snow and the tracks were in better shape. 

Spray River East was in good shape

As I was climbing to the top of the hill, Paul and Karen screeched to a stop on their downhill run to chat for a spell. We stopped in the right place it would seem because who should appear from out of the forest but a territorial spruce grouse who entertained us for quite a while with his antics. 

I met Miguel at the east-west junction. He was coming from Goat Creek and said conditions were fine. 

Spruce Grouse on Spray River west

The air temperature at 2 pm at Spray River West trailhead was -6°C, and the snow was -8. VR40(-4/-12) did the job. 

Soon after starting the connector, there is a narrow, steep downhill which I’d recommend walking down. The Spray River loop is 12.7K including the connector. You can see how the connector joins the east and west trails on this map. I’ve posted a few more photos of the grouse in the gallery below. 

Grooming Updates

Ribbon Creek/Kananaskis Village 

“Approximately 3-7cm of new snow fell in this area Jan 29. Accumulations very greatly depending on elevation. Ribbon parking area has the low end of the scale the upper part of the Kananaskis Village trails the most. Trails groomed today were all trackset and in very good condition.

Large ice flows still dominate both Bill Milne Trail and lower Skogan Pass caution is advised.”

Pipestone trails at Lake Louise were trackset today. 

Castle Lookout/Baker Creek/Morant’s Curve: James, manager of Baker Creek Mountain Resort sent an email this afternoon:

“Just thought I’d let you know we will be completing track setting both directions within the hour or so.  We’ve had so much snow we had to widen the track so easily the best conditions all year.  We will see how it goes with snow over the weekend, but the guys have instructions to track set at least in one direction each day.  With 5 – 10 cm’s each day it will be a little weather dependant.”

I’ve been informed that Castle Junction to Castle Lookout will be trackset tomorrow(Thursday). The Banff trail report indicates that it was done today but that is incorrect. Castle Mountain Chalets take care of this section. 

The Lake O’Hara fire road will be trackset tomorrow according to the website.

PLPP Check the Live Grooming Report in the morning to see what they accomplished overnight. 

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