Friday morning update

by Bob Truman on January 11, 2019

in XC

No signage at Lake Louise this winter. Photo from Nov 2017.

Most of us have noticed a significant increase in hikers and snowshoers on the trails this year. Would anyone like to speculate on why we aren’t seeing the usual signage at Lake Louise this winter?

Update: The below comment and attached photo was submitted after I posted this update:

Hi Bob,

Click for larger image

Wow, what a fabulous ski today on the cascade fire road! However, on the way up I couldn’t help but notice the post-hole tracks from walkers in the soft snow. I would like to assume that things like this come down to education – they just don’t know that their deep foot prints have an impact. Below, I have attached a sign that is used in BC on trails where there are multiple user groups. I wonder if this education campaign is something that Parks Canada and the other Parks would consider implementing?? -Leslie

New grooming

The south trails in PLPP were trackset last night. Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Hydroline and Patterson. “Mid-winter condition.”

Tracksetting yesterday at Lake Louise included Fairview, Campground loop, Bow River loop, Tramline, and Moraine Lk Rd. 

Ribbon Creek was groomed. I’m asuming it was roll-packed with a snowmobile. 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 LEGALIZE REAL DEMOCRACY January 11, 2019 at 7:49 pm

Regarding signs on trails restricting walking or snowshoeing, they are likely not constitutional.

The National Parks permit travel by historical means which basically comes down to walking. The National Parks can prevent non traditional modes of transportation such as horse back riding or bikes on trails but not walking whether it is summer or winter- unless there are wildlife protection concerns. But there is no reason as to why Banff National Park can not put up signs to educate people about back country travel etiquette on ski trails. This would be up to the Banff Park Superintendent, who is responsible for operational decisions and budgetary spending in Banff. But the Superintendent is cheap when it comes to spending on trails in Banff.

My experience is that the Superintendent of Banff does not care much for trail conditions or spending much on the trails. The vast majority of backcountry summer trails are eroding severely making travel difficult and dumping sediment in fish bearing spawning streams. This is impacting ski trails as well as more snow or “snow work” is required to make these trails skiable. A number of the winter ski trails that were once double track set and or had skating lanes are now single lane only trails and they are getting narrower as trees over grow them due to a lack of maintenance. A cheap or out of touch Superintendent is why illegal volunteer guerilla trail work is done by skiers to keep trails skiable and why educational signage is not erected on the ski trails to keep them in better skiing shape.

If real democracy was legalized, where people make the decisions rather than politicians, chances are our trails in the National Parks would be in much better condition for those that use them. There should at least be participatory budgeting in Banff so that the park users make up at least a significant part of the budget- then maybe needed signs would be on the ski trails. A lack of democracy makes for worse ski trails.

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2 Gord January 11, 2019 at 8:55 pm

I wondered how long it would take to discover the true meaning of your posting ‘handle’ and I see it’s in reference to a very narrow and prescriptive understanding of the word ‘democracy’. Hey, a political discussion on Skier Bob, who knew?

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3 Eric January 11, 2019 at 6:39 pm

Banff National Park Guidance for Snowshoers “Non-skiers and dogs must stay on the far outer edge of the track set and groomed ski trails”
There should be signage indicating this.
https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/raquette-snowshoeing

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4 Jeff January 11, 2019 at 6:21 pm

I find it interesting that the think before sink signage comes from groomed fat bike trails. I agree it would help for messaging but the reality is unless you are paying for skiing you just can’t stop walkers from using ski trails. Places like Lake Louise and the Kananaskis Village get visitors from all over the world who just don’t understand what a ski trail is. The best we can do is try and direct where they walk on the ski trail “ don’t walk on the tracks” “ stay to trail edge” type of signage works for the majority of users, unfortunately we tend to hear about that one person who walks the entire newly trackset right on the track. Personally I’ve never encountered any damage that made me have a bad ski day. You glide over it and move along enjoying one of the hundreds of KMs if groomed ski trails we freely have access to living here in Alberta.

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5 KV January 11, 2019 at 9:21 pm

I have issue saying that we “freely” have access to trails. I pay a ton of taxes (business and personal) and buy my park pass every year…
These aren’t free services. We’re simply utilizing services we have all worked hard to pay for. The expense to provide those services is wasted when other user groups destroy the track setting.
I am a mountain biker as well. I am told I cannot ride my bike out to Assiniboine in the summer months as it is an “equestrian only” trail…perhaps this standard can apply to trails in winter and we can be more bold to keep some trails separate so that the tax money spent to create them isn’t wasted.

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6 Jeff January 12, 2019 at 11:34 am

I think you missed my point. Taxes pay for the trail to exist regardless of the user. The winter alternatives around certain areas all lead to the trails that are packed or groomed for easy access. Fresh corduroy is catnip to a hiker to walk on. The think before you sink signage coming from groomed fat biking trails just shows you skiers are no longer the only ones that have issues with other users marking up the grooming. Dividing trails into skiing , biking . hiking and snowshoeing is an alternative but requires far more tax funded resources to allow it to exist. Education not prosecution is the best way to handle what is really a minor irritant.
Ski and bike on brother.

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7 Peter N January 11, 2019 at 5:03 pm

Regarding the lack of advisory signage at LL this season: This Wednesday, tracksetter Jeff, who works for the Chateau, said that sometime last year a snow shoe user group (unnamed) had filed a cease and desist order with Parks. Parks complied and removed the signs. Any cross country loving lawyers out there willing to take on this issue pro bono ?

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8 Ken Meuse January 11, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Yesterday we went up Tramline and around Fairview and back to the village in a loop. Glorious snow on blue wax with an inch of fresh on the track set. Coming down Tramline starting at MLR we hit fresh track set, yummmm. It was spoiled somewhat by a young fellow who had walked, in boots, all the way up from the Village on the new track set, sometimes in the track but mostly just where it had just minutes before, been packed. I was shaking my head all the way down.

We saw him consulting the trail map at the start of MLR with trail brochure in hand but we did not approach him. I checked at the bottom of Tramline and while the river side trail says multi-use and only has one side track set the Tramline going up the hill has no signs about useage. Are you supposed to be able to walk up Tramline in boots? Some signage would help people (likely tourists) manage their way around the system.

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9 Jonathan January 11, 2019 at 3:32 pm

I suspect that the signs haven’t reappeared as they were not put there by Parks Canada. The trails that they were on are not closed to hikers or snowshoers and I suspect that Parks probably removed them. The guidance for snowshoes on the Parks website says “If you decide to follow groomed cross-country ski trails, please travel to one side in order help maintain them for other users.”

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10 Eric January 11, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Parks put the signs up. I saw them doing it. The signs have been up for the past five years. Judging from the amount of walking on the ski tracks this year, they were quite effective. Oh, if Parks didn’t put the signs up, who do you think did it, and why did Parks allow them for five years?

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11 Jonathan January 11, 2019 at 6:20 pm

I assumed (but could definitely be wrong) that the hotel put them up as they only seemed to appear on the trails that they groom. I’m fairly sure that if they were official Parks signs they would have to be bilingual.

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12 Eric January 11, 2019 at 6:34 pm

You mentioned the Parks website which gives guidance for snowshoers. It also says “Walking or snowshoeing on the track set portion of cross country ski trails endangers skiers who later use the track.”

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