Dec 6, 2019
Although it’s trackset, Telephone Loop at West Bragg Creek still has a few early-season challenges such as brush, bumps, uneven surfaces, open water, three rocks, and some areas where it’s very soft. If you go wide with your pole plants, you’ll break through. There was one other hazard which I’ll get to later.
All of the above issues were easily accommodated on this lovely trail with lots of variety and there was always enough snow to ski through the thin spots. The snow was cold, I had excellent grip with VR45(-2/-8), the weather was nice at -6 and I really enjoyed the north end where it is secluded, remote and beautiful.
Even with good snow, Telephone is not an easy trail and should not be considered if you are a novice skier. It’s a narrow roller coaster with numerous short, steep hills and tight turns. I was actually enjoying all the ups and downs on the good snow conditions for the first 3K.
At 2k I had the pleasure of running into Tony and Gillean Daffern. When I started going to the mountains in 1996, I used their guide books extensively. A few days ago I posted a photo of the cover of Gillean’s Kananaskis Ski Trails book from 1992.
One thing I wasn’t expecting which made the hills more difficult were the tracks and ridges created by a fat bike grooming machine for 3.9K between Snowshoe Hare and Long Distance. It’s hard enough to snowplow on this narrow trail, but the hard ridges made it extremely difficult.
I didn’t realize the tracks and ridges were from a fatbike groomer until I reached the Long Distance junction. There, I could see the tracks coming off Long Distance and onto Telephone.
If you go tomorrow, it would be best to use wider, stable skis, preferably with metal edges.
The trail gains about 90 metres of net elevation on the first 3.5K, then loses most of it over the next kilometre with many steep downhills and sharp turns.
As it turns south, the climbing starts all over again to a net elevation gain of 150 metres. Overall, my GPS had a total ascent of 460 metres, so there’s lots of up and down.
The final 2.4K is a very pleasant downhill which meanders through forest and some clearings. The barbed wire fence at the end of a downhill has been wrapped in orange plastic fencing so it’s much safer than it used to be.
There’s even cell service at the north end for a bit.
The total distance of Telephone is 12.4 but you have to also ski 300 metres to access it. At the end you have to ski 2.7 on Moose Connector and Mountain road for a grand total of 15.4K.
The Banff trail report indicates Cascade Valley has been packed. It doesn’t specify if it is roller-packed or snowmobile-packed.
It will be interesting to see if there is any new grooming with all the snow we heard about on the trip reports. There’s snow in the forecast for tomorrow(Saturday) and Sunday.
Some of the Spring Creek trails in Cypress Hills have been groomed and trackset. The perimeter trail is trackset, the inner trails are packed. Check the Live Grooming Report for details.