I had the pleasure of meeting Chuck on Redearth Creek and wishing him Merry Christmas in person. Lucky for me, he was already on the return and was able to give me the intel on the final K of the trail.
For its first tracksetting of the season, Redearth Creek is in surprisingly good condition. The Banff trail report rates it at Good/Excellent and that’s not too far from the truth.
This might be the only time I’ve skied it after the first tracksetting and not picked any rocks! As we’ve already heard from Chuck, John Blum was taking care of the rock picking, and I saw a couple divots where rocks had been removed.
The tracks, which were excellent, started as soon as I topped the initial hill, about 300 metres in. That’s where I met Al and her family who were on the way back.
Beyond the campground at 7K, the trail is corduroyed and the grooming stops at 9.6K, or 1K from the end. The final K has deep snow with skier tracks. I’m wondering if any of our knowledgeable readers would care to speculate on why the grooming didn’t go to the end?
Redearth Creek involves a fair bit of elevation. To 9.6K, I had a net elevation gain of 315 metres and a total ascent of 370 metres.
The only place where you might still encounter a rock is just as you approach the Lost Horse Creek bridge at 6.9K. The snow is thin under the heavy canopy there. I was able to pick my way through with no trouble.
The snow is still a bit soft, so I had an easy, controlled, enjoyable descent on those steep hills while returning.
New this year, there are avalanche warning signs at 3.7K and 4.7K.
The air temperature was -10°C when I started around 11 a.m, and the snow was -8. VR40(-4/-12) worked well.
As always on a cold, calm day, the temperature at the campground at 7K was extremely cold. For about 15 minutes, my hands, toes, and face all were telling me the temperature was closer to -20. My skis were squeaking noisily, too. The campground is not a good place to stop for lunch on a cold day.
The Banff/Lake Louise trail report indicates the Pipestone trails have been snowmobile packed. Does this mean the construction is finished, and we now have access to the trails? I hope so.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
You were wondering if any experienced Red Earth Creek skiers know why the trail has not been groomed to the end. Well I am an experienced Red Earth skier, but I can’t say. What I do know is the last time I skied it a couple of weeks or so ago, someone on a snowmobile had pushed the snow from the right side of the trail (looking up valley) and made a berm kind of on the centre left of the trail for quite a long distance. I was blown by the amount of snow that was moved. The trail at that time was only snowmobile packed to just before this digging location. The snowmobiler actually walked several meters from their sled and then commenced to digging like a wild dog. Someone moved a lot of snow by hand. I skied on the berm to try to pack it down somewhat. This is a location where I have widened the snowmobile trail in past years by ski packing the powder on the left side- in order to encourage wider grooming of the trail in the area for skating purposes.
The location where the grooming currently ends is likely where the trail was dug out on the right side. The only reasonable theory I could think of as to why the snow was moved was perhaps someone wanted a more level trail in that location- once it snows more to fill things in. The berm that I skied on was potentially built to prevent snowmobiles from sliding towards the left edge of the trail. The part that makes this a crummy theory is, I did not think the trail was that heavily sloped to the left and any good snowmobiler should be able to ride that part of the trail without dong work to it- unless they are maybe on an Alpine single ski sled as those old snowmobiles really suck to ride ( I should have looked at the tracks to see what kind of sled was being driven- all that I know is it was not Santa Claus’ sled).
So, there you at least have a theory as to why the grooming ended about 1 km from the end of the trail. Maybe ask the guy who drove the snowmobile if my theory was correct. Let me know if you do. I like to keep score of the accuracies of my theories.
Keep on Ski “Bobbin” down the trails.