It would have been a tragedy if these trails hadn’t been groomed this winter. I skied on near-perfect conditions today while doing the loop that includes Evan-Thomas, Wedge Connector, and Bill Milne. I hope everyone will buy a Kananaskis parking pass.
Evan-Thomas was trackset last night for the first time this season and was in good condition. I did it three times, twice up and once back. There was foot traffic on the trail, but nobody had walked in the tracks as of 2 pm today.
Guess who the first person was that I met on the trail? Vic Urban. This was quite a coincidence because I posted a comment from Vic from two years ago on my previous update today. Vic was skiing with his son Kurtis and I caught them in a few photographs.
The Evan-Thomas trail is trackset for 1.8K. When the grooming ends, there’s a snowshoe trail about 200 metres long which connects to the Wedge Connector. You can ski part of it, at least up to the McDougall creek bridge, then it’s best to remove your skis for the short, steep, narrow downhill.
The Evan-Thomas bridge was demolished in spring flooding but there is a well-beaten path over the creek and no open water. The Evan-Thomas creek makes short work of bridges. Now there are two abandoned bridges in the flood plain.
If Evan-Thomas conditions were good, the Wedge Connector was pristine. Beautiful cold snow with no footprints and excellent tracks. The tracksetting crew has widened the trail considerably and it looks like you could skate for a portion of the trail, yet there is still double tracksetting.
Completing the loop on the Bill Milne trail, I had the pleasure of encountering Jeff with his two spirited dogs, Jake and Gordie. It looked like the dogs were doing most of the work as they pulled Jeff along.
I also encountered a blind skier on the Bill Milne trail, Shabu. He was being guided by his wife Shaida. A very pleasant and enthusiastic couple who would not be out here if it wasn’t for the groomed trails and excellent tracks.
The temperature hovered around zero today, and purple wax worked well.
Update on Kananaskis Parking Passes from Nordiq Alberta
Trail users have purchased more than 3,700 season passes and 500 day-use parking passes, and we’ve raised approximately $16,000 in donations (in addition to pass sales) to support the trail grooming program.
There is still some ways to go to reach the fundraising goal of $210,000, but we are optimistic that ongoing parking pass sales will generate the necessary funds by the end of the ski season. Huge thanks to everyone who has volunteered, bought a parking pass, or helped to spread the word—none of this would be possible without you!
I think there is plenty of opportunity to raise the remainder because only 2 of 15 cars in the Evan-Thomas parking lot were displaying parking passes today.
What is the distance of this loop? About 14km?
Katie, the loop is 7K. You can extend it, which I did, by skiing further, out-and-back, on Bill Milne. Better yet, when you finish the loop, do it again in the opposite direction as it’s a completely different experience.
I think people forget how much time, resources, people and relationship building it takes to effectively lobby the government. Especially true with this government who doesn’t want to listen and just marches forward.
Those who feel lobbying the government is the best method are often unwilling to take up and lead the fight. Sure, most people will sign a petition or put up a lawn sign, but are less willing to put in all the work behind the scenes that makes lobbying effective.
There is still time…you have a year until next XC season to start lobbying the government to reverse this decision. You will also have a plethora of data collected by Nordiq about use. Are you willing to lead the charge?
I fear that if a group like Nordiq didn’t step up, then there would be no track set trails this year in these areas.
I don’t think this means they made a choice for user pay for all Albertans I’m every situation, they simply stepped up to the plate when no one else was willing.
I will happily display my pass and volunteer to support groups that are willing to work and provide activity options for all Albertans.
Great points and perhaps an alternative for me is to make my own little protest sign and display it next to my parking pass. Of course it takes time and money to lobby the government. The best lobby is to simply vote them out of office. If you want to make the most efficient use of your time and money, donate to and vote for the NDP in the next election. Obviously I’m mad as heck at how this all played out…both at the current government for being so manipulative and then at the nordic community which appears to not even have considered alternatives or how their decision would impact the future of this resource. I’m not necessarily against user fees…I’m against the lack of consultation with Albertans on whether they feel groomed trails in Kananaskis should be freely accessible or user pay.
So if I were willing to lead this lobby are you willing to join me? Obviously we would need people who are diplomatic, knowledgeable at this sort of thing. Maybe we should start with a poll to see how people feel about having to pay to park in Kananaskis to cover a measly 220000 operating expense vs the billions of dollars given away. I would assume the benefit of grooming ski trails far outweighs the benefits of giving away money to corporations that have no interest in benefiting Alberta.
Cyndi, like you, I’m not ideologically opposed to user fees, but I do object to the government arbitrarily targetting one user group for fees without research or consultation, especially when there is a trivial amount of money (for the government) at issue. And this is only a small part of the government’s attack on Alberta Parks, aka “optimization”. Another way everyone can express their displeasure (or pleasure) is to fill out their “Alberta Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Survey”. Ironically, question #2 starts with “There has been a significant increase in recreation demand for a number of years”, which is somewhat inconsistent with the government’s claims of underuse. The same question talks about possible OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) user fees. I wonder how the OHV community’s reaction will compare to that of the XC community.
Go to https://cpaws-southernalberta.org/cpaws-comment-guide-on-the-alberta-sustainable-outdoor-recreation-survey/ for some background information on the survey questions and CPAWS’ (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) response to them. You should also consider donating to CPAWS to support their efforts to maintain all of Alberta’s parks and public lands.
THE SURVEY DEADLINE IS 4:30PM JAN 15.
Holy mother nature
Yipee yahoo for everyone who got the parking program going, and for the groomers that are making these trails fantastic! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your efforts and initiative – I would not have known where to start.
Albertan’s can learn from you – including me – we have to make things happen in this province – we can’t wait for the “government”” to do things for us.
(3700 x $50) + (500 x $10) + $16000 = $206000
Yeah my math also says only 4k short ??
The government had better not cancel grooming for these trails; they are a huge asset to Calgary and the cost, especially with the paid parking program, is minimal even if it doesn’t quite reach 210000.
As I see it, buying and displaying a pass is a way to help these trails survive: it is giving credit to Nordiq Alberta for working hard to save the trails, rather than to the government for being jerks. Besides, 50 bucks a season for some of the best trails in North America is pennies. It’s less than a tank of gas. Compare it to other ski trail pass costs!
Hi Bob. We didn’t cross paths again because … after we met on Wedge, upon reaching E-T parking lot, I came to my senses and simply backtracked to ski that outer loop clockwise not CCW for the second lap – got the same miles logged in but avoided doffing skis and walking the E-T parking lot twice. Nice tailwind to Ribbon. Strava said 26.8 km. See you next time.
Good job. You did double my mileage. -Bob
Love your page and love the reports.
I know it’s not possible to have these pristine ski conditions without Kananaskis grooming but to imply that we wouldn’t have grooming in Kananaskis without a user pay system is a stretch. The government threatened and the nordic community caved to the threats and set a precedent on behalf of all Albertans. I still think we could have lobbied the government in other ways to pressure them to maintain the grooming in Kananaskis. Now that the precedent has been set, I fear there will be no end to user fees going forward.
Our government is inept (as clearly seen in their covid response / leadership, plan to de-list parks and protected areas, opening up the eastern slopes for coal extraction, undermining our health care workers at a time of crisis, giving away billions of dollars to corporations with nothing in return…and the list goes on). I’m grateful to be skiing on nicely groomed tracks but I think we let the government off the hook way to easily.
I do appreciate the grooming efforts of staff as well as the volunteers that come out for various events, etc. Thank you very much for this!
I do not appreciate that we’ve gone down a dark rabbit hole without proper engagement, thought and discussion of all Albertans on the matter.
BTW – I bought my parking pass but I will not display it. I don’t need to give this government any more support for their poor decisions.
I don’t understand the message you are conveying by not displaying your pass. The government isn’t watching the K-Country parking lots.
Volunteers patrol parking lots and “educate” folks, not displaying a pass, by leaving a brochure on the windshield. Do you throw the brochure in the garbage?