Trip Reports – April, May 2020

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  1. Ticks were active and plentiful up high on south Lawson today. Stood still at one point for only a minute while my friend changed his camera battery and had a half dozen running up my pant legs!

  2. Missed that. Thanks!

  3. MORAINE LAKE ROAD – May 11

    With continuing solid freezes overnight, skate skiing was the way to go today.
    Details available in the captions here:
    https://1drv.ms/u/s!AgXbvmC40zK_iSboBQKfsTG7Olw6?e=KBcmXI
    Get it before it goes isothermic!

  4. Hello,

    Has any one gone out on the Smith Dorrien this week? Is the road still in good condition and does any one know if the trail to Rummel is open Thanks!

    • Was out last Tuesday. Road fine. Lots of snow. Don’t know exactly about Rummel, but my guess is it would be fine.

    • Actually the road has deteriorated the last few days, it’s now very bumpy, with a lot of potholes, especially in the narrow section. We were out Saturday and again today. We saw that Rummel is still open as we drove by though not sure what the best mode of transport would be on the trail – spikes? snowshoes? skis?

  5. Elk Lakes Cabin, May 5
    I’ve only been to PLPP a couple of times this season because skiing was so good at West Bragg. I hadn’t yet been up Blueberry Hill or Lookout this season, so that was my original plan today. I was the first car at the Elk Pass trailhead at 1030 when I set out on my fishscale light touring skis. Temperature was +4C on departure with sunny skies. There was good snow coverage right from the parking lot, although it was a bit dirty with scattered pine needles. The crust was just beginning to soften up, which gave me a bit of grip, but I had to herringbone up the steep hill. As the snow softened, the grip improved and was great for ascending Blueberry Hill. It was even soft enough for a safe descent. I continued on toward Elk Pass, but then decided to head over to Elk Lakes Cabin first in order to make better use of the light touring skis. I took the West Elk Pass route. The snow was getting close to isothermal by the time I reached the Cabin, so I quickly headed up the power line to East Elk Pass, where I met a pair of hikers and their dog. I was going to continue on to Tyrwhitt and Lookout but due to a wardrobe malfunction (wrong sock combo) I had developed some hot spots on my heels and decided to head back to the car. I passed another pair of hikers at the Blueberry Hill junction, but not a single other skier all day. I took the Fox Creek / Boulton Creek detour on the way back. About +10C when I arrived back at the car. I think this was the latest date I’ve ever skied at PLPP, and it looks like the snow will be good there for at least another week. Photos at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1m1RXb7rqM-6FEFMn_ATOur-rXNP2sc3i. To view the photo descriptions, double-click on the first photo, then select “Details” from the menu at the top right corner.

  6. Smith-Dorrien still has lots of snow!
    At 8:30 this morning, the Chester Lake parking lot was closed, but the Burstall Pass lot was full to overflowing. While I was getting ready, a bus arrived. Okay it was a small bus, but still……??
    As it turned out there were dozens and dozens of skate skiers on the trails. It was nice and cold, and there was superb crust skiing on and around Mud Lake. Maybe I should have stayed there, but I ventured up past Burstall Lakes into the Robertson Glacier valley, and was quite surprised to see lots of skate skiers up there. They went further than I did, right up onto what I guess is the terminal moraine?
    As usual, by 10 am the sun was getting very hot and snow softening, but the hardy skate skiers kept doing laps up there. I found the descent occasionally challenging with alternating sun and shade, and met some backcountry skiers and hikers with dogs heading up in the late morning.

    • Absolutely, there is still a lot of snow in the Smith-Dorrien. It was a fine day for a loop tour from the Burstall valley, around Mt. Birdwood and out via the Commonwealth Creek valley. There was even some powder skiing! https://photos.app.goo.gl/DpCEr8BQ3yvHbjy19

      As long as most people drive out to trailheads on their own, we can expect to see a lot more vehicles in those parking lots. For the most part, it is a sign that people are physically distancing for the drive out to the trails.

  7. BRYANT CREEK WARDEN CABIN – May 2

    Excellent travel conditions today, and yet I did not see anybody else all day (despite it being the first day with Covid-19 access restrictions lifted by the province).
    Details available in the captions here:
    https://1drv.ms/u/s!AgXbvmC40zK_iGG5mRQdIZPdqka6?e=Hc7HHA
    Get it before the snow goes isothermic.

  8. PLPP May 2. Parked at Boulton Bridge – Boulton Creek parking lot access is closed. Up Whiskey Jack, down Packers, out Moraine and back on Boulton Creek. Good snow coverage except for some short bare sections on Moraine near the bench and on the first hill leaving the parking lot. Travel conditions were reasonable with recent snowmobile traffic – looks like parks staff were changing over the winter signs.

  9. SAWMILL TRAILS
    My objective on the first day of the reopening of access to Parks and Public Lands was to check out conditions in the Kananaskis and Smith-Dorrien valleys. We encountered a seemingly random mix of taped off / barricaded parking lots and others that were open. Sawmill was open, with only one vehicle in the parking lot (Aqua toque?), so we decided to start from there. The Sawmill trails still have lots of snow and the surface was smooth and firm from several freeze-thaw cycles. Later, there was a nice corn-snow consistency, before becoming softer and stickier later in the afternoon. We even got some brief snow flurries. https://photos.app.goo.gl/NdmHhhGpmrefdK4d9
    By the time we drove home, all the barricades and closure signs had been removed.

    The Pocaterra end of the PLPP trails still have very good snow coverage, so I bet it’s quite good at the Elk Pass end. It also looked as if the higher Ribbon Creek trails are still snow covered, but the lower trails have thin or bare sections in sun exposed areas.
    We drove back via Highway #68 and noticed that the south facing slopes on the north side of the road were mostly snow free and actually quite dry.
    Anyhow, it’s great to be able to enjoy active, healthy outdoor activity, with plenty of space for physical distancing in our spectacular parks!

  10. CANMORE NORDIC CENTRE – May 1

    We got there a little too early to avoid the barricade, but the skiing was as good as it has been all along. Barricade was down by the time we we were done. Poor staff had not been given the message!
    Details available in the captions here:
    https://1drv.ms/u/s!AgXbvmC40zK_iE20GHZqVRICDsaC?e=xQ4d1r
    What exhilaration… like being let out of school early!

  11. Hey! Help needed if you want to advocate for K Country grooming and tracksetting. People who have the time to do a bunch of research to confirm/fact check information I have from a Parks staffer that it is financially feasable for Parks to keep up services as they are…er…were last winter.

    Email me if you’re interested via loftsuiteATyahooDOTca

    I have NO time for this, as I have COVID priorities.

    BIG meeting this week about it with the MLA for Banff Canmore.

    I can pass the info to at least one person attending.

  12. Four turns! Better than zero.

  13. Got some nice quaranturns in the backyard a couple days ago.

  14. After walking up the Smith Dorrien from Canmore we skied Goat Creek to Banff today. Considering it’s April 13 conditions were actually quite reasonable. About 4-5cm of new snow. The glide was good, the grip not so much.

    • You do know that the Back Country in Banff is closed and they had road blocks going into Banff to dissuade non residents from entering Banff. Goat Creek Trail is in Banff National Park 800m from the parking lot.

      This is why we can’t have nice things!!!!

      Just to be clear, the trails are open. Parking lots and facilities are closed. You can still walk or bike to the trails. -Bob

      • Just to reaffirm the above,, I spoke to the Alberta park’s enforcement officer parked outside of West Bragg Creek parking lot and was infirm the park IS OPEN but you will have to park your car at the Bragg Creek outdoor strip mall and hike/bike/ ski to West Bragg.
        Please everyone before passing judgement get your facts from policy or websites and not hearsay. I also support the other comment the government needs to open up green space as we will all be crowded in the very little greenery that is made available.

        • Nancy, sorry I was going on original reports from media on Parks. I investigated on the Parks site and it is clear as mud. The endless loops talk of certain trails being closed but there are no lists of which trails etc. On the site they say that if you go into the back country you do so on your own as Search and Rescue has been suspended but a recent list said they would still perform it. All in all it points to the fact that NPC site navigation needs to be improved on.

          I do know that visiting Banff is being discouraged as reported in the media with many stories about traffic measures to educate people going into Banff.

          There are plenty of places to get your fix and maintain physical distance, but there are plenty of people that don’t seem to care if they do or not and this will only add to the duration the whole event. Just look at Cargill if you want an example of how effectively this can move through a community.

          We should also treat these spots like a prized fishing hole and not broadcast all to the world least they be lost.

          • Some confusion here: Banff is in a National Park, with completely different regulations. West Bragg Creek is a provincial jurisdiction, so inferring one from the other is invalid.

          • Comparing the cheek-by- jowl work environment at Cargill and homes in High River with very large numbers of people living in those homes is not comparable to people going skiing, hiking or biking in wide open spaces.
            If people take reasonable measures, such as driving out on their own, maintaining a minimum of 2 metre spacing and using hand sanitizer on a regular basis, the risk of transmitting this virus is extremely low. Certainly much lower than going shopping for groceries or walking in an urban park
            What is needed is adherence to safe practices… not imprisonment of all citizens.

        • Hey Nancy, I feel this confusion comes from the government websites themselves.
          You are correct that the trails themselves are open. We are specifically told that parking lots and utilities are shut down. You are not to drive to the parks.
          The officer cannot stop you from parking at the mall.
          On the website the very next line after stating the acknowledgement that the trails is open but not parking facilities it states: If you have plans to visit the parks please cancel them. This is not the time to visit the park.

          I think anyone with the capacity to read this has the capacity to appreciate that they are attempting to make it as unappealing as possible to visit these areas and have stated in writing- please cancel your plans to visit these areas.

          I am basing this response on the Government of Alberta Website and the policies set out by the health minister.

          I don’t know, maybe we should listen?

    • thnx Bob. We can still have nice things!!!!!……..just not currently in the same quantity.

  15. Emminently skiable snow at Confederation this morning.
    Maybe 10 other skiers.
    And we saw a horned owl.

    • I heard the horned owl when I skied there at twilight. I couldn’t see it. Must have a nest in the area.

    • Thanks for the heads-up, guys! I love April lemonade, and some gnarly turns were carved Sunday morning 🙂
      (actually gnarly turns carved by someone else, probably Saturday, but I have a great time carving some really pathetic ones of my own 😛 )

  16. The snow at Confederation Golf Course was actually quite good this morning Just starting to turn a bit slushy at 2:00. Beats daytime TV. Maybe the last time out this year, but in Calgary, there are no assurances for April weather.

    • I thought we weren’t allowed to ski there since March 22nd?

      • Diana. The main parking lot is closed, but there are other open gates into the area. Fat bikers (and bikers with fat tires), walkers, skiers and tobogganers were all seen there in the past few days. Not big numbers, and people were being very respectful with distancing, etc. The only signs at the entrance I used said ‘no dogs’ and ‘don’t walk on ski trails’. Golf course staff are working there to clear the greens and did not indicate that we were unwelcome.

    • If the predicted snow arrives, Bill, we will have yet another opportunity after Friday’s precip.

  17. A brutal melt/freeze crust in Creekerland meant the skis stayed on the porch today.

    Two brave warriors were observed near the summit of Patio Mountain engaging our global invisible enemy.

    Godspeed.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/LfybiZrd6eActaf89

    • Perhaps that crust will make the yard turns fast instead of too deep over the next days.

      • So far the forecast Snowfall Warning for the area has amounted in dust on crust only.

        Still, it’s enough to keep the “look at me” motorbikers off the road for the time being.

        Peace on earth.

  18. Sorry for taking up so much space, but upon thinking about the sign more I realized what is happening is that if people persist in hanging out in the parking lot or on the beach, then all ocean access will be denied starting Tuesday April 7, which I suppose is analogous to what happened here for ski access.

  19. I wish we could adopt for skiing the approach for surfing being used in Maui where surfing is viewed as essential to life. Hanging out in the parking lot or on the beach is prohibited but one can go directly into the ocean and directly home. Of course this doesn’t address the matter of potential injuries but I guess they decided to accept the risk. See photo of sign in surf report:

    http://mauisurfreport.blogspot.com/

    Doug, I’ve uploaded the sign Surfing Rules sign -Bob

    • Hey Doug,
      Not to be too PC but there is evidence that CoVid is actually present in water and thus the restriction to beach/ocean access. Sometimes trying to circumvent these restrictions puts the rest of us at risk. By insisting on surfing they are actually immersing themselves in the toxin we are hoping to avoid.
      It is apparently related to where/how the local waste water is disposed of but essentially CoVid can live in Feces longer than we initially thought and thus when waste water is pushed out to the rivers/oceans we become exposed. They are currently unsure whether treatment facilities are enough to render it non-toxic but the more primative (Quebec has a habit of dumping raw sewage into the saint lawrence) the worse it is. Not sure how Hawaii handles theirs.
      Just food for thought.

  20. The Accidental Creeker

    (aka aqua toque)

    Yeah, I’m fortunate enough to have had a base out here in the sticks since ’02 but I must say, this is the first time I’ve ever gone looking for and found turns right off the deck. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/cfa2mJwUy9gMwgxaA

    • Yard turns! And with a deck designed for the conditions, spaced to hold ski poles readily. Red chairs. Fire pit. All the fixings. How much for camping?

    • Looks like the tracksetter has had a few too many AGD’s!
      By the way- your co-ordinates are showing.

  21. Sat apr 4: river bank skiing
    Accessible valley bottom terrain had just enough snow for a short shuffle this morning. Boots probably would have been better though. Beautiful day regardless and much needed.

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