It’s rare to experience such exceptionally good conditions on Goat Creek. New tracksetting, cold, clean snow, bluebird skies and nobody walking in the tracks. A day of skiing to be savoured!
In fact, the only multi-users were a couple snowshoers who were encouraged by Jos to turn off at the High Rockies trail which they did. I met Jos at the Goat Creek bridge as he was returning to the trailhead.
The air temperature at 12:45 pm was -10°C and the snow was -11. With sunshine and no wind, -10 is a comfortable skiing temperature. I used old Swix green(-7/-13) and it worked well. I had to top it up as I was returning up the hills to the trailhead.
Upon reaching the Banff boundary at 900 metres, I could see this was going to be an extraordinary day with new corduroy and tracksetting starting about 10 metres away, and no fresh snow in the tracks. It was a pleasure cruise all the way down to the Goat Creek bridge. The trail loses 190 metres of net elevation over 7K, so there’s not much work to do on this portion. Of course, you’ll be paying for it on the return.
The tracks were still a bit soft so I didn’t break any speed records. On the other hand, all the downhills were extremely safe with the usual exception. The final 100 metres down to the Goat Creek bridge was not as easy as I was expecting. The trail is severely dished, or V-shaped, so it’s not that easy to get a good snowplow going. You won’t achieve anything by putting one ski in the soft snow at the side because it’s mostly hard and icy on the edges with just a deceptive skiff of fresh snow over top.
My original plan was to ski to the Goat Creek bridge and back, but with conditions so fine, I continued on to the Spray bridge at 9K. As I was standing on the bridge admiring the magnificent scenery, I could hear Spray River West calling my name, so I ventured another 2.8K on even better conditions.
Glad I continued on because I caught up to Jerry, a Calgary ski club acquaintance from years ago who was returning to Banff after skiing to the Spray bridge.
I turned around 11.8K at the “point of no return” where the trail goes quickly downhill for 1.5K to the East-West junction.
As I was nearing the Goat Creek trailhead at 4 pm, two ladies were just starting out for Banff. They were proficient skiers and I could see they would have no trouble making it before dark in these excellent conditions.
I didn’t feel any wind while skiing but I saw snow plumes coming off the mountains, so there was wind at higher elevations. It hit me with a cold blast as I climbed the final hill to the parking lot at Goat Creek. I drove through a lot of drifting snow as I left the trailhead.