Trip Reports – April 2021

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  1. Last week, we gathered some time-lapse with a phone propped up in a tree branch. It was blustery, the camera shifted, and resulting footage was too jittery. I’d always wanted to learn that stabilization software, so down the rabbit hole I went. Compositers! Renderers! Nodes! Oh My! It’s now watchable, and so earned my Jr.Blenderer badge.
    https://1drv.ms/v/s!AmEN_pg-34FehQYRUx4yGg8egtoL?e=MvYEZW
    (38MB)

  2. Elk Pass Extravaganza!

    From the Elk Pass parking lot, fresh grooming was cold and hard this morning, and my green wax was perfect. Inspired by MaSid, I went back to West Elk Pass, and was quasi-trailbreaking following drifted-in tracks, looked like a single skier (MaSid, perhaps?).
    Eventually the tracks and flagging did lead me to the powerline, where I had planned to turn left and head up to Elk Pass proper. Foolishly I was drawn to follow the old tracks up the cutblock on the other side, which was hard work but led to some stupendous views!
    I thought the hard work was over, silly me! But no, the tracks led me a merry chase further uphill through the trees, a long and crazy route over to eventually find East Elk Pass and more recent tracks. Even those took a tortuous route past some startlingly deep tree wells, and finally out to a familiar bit of Tyrwhitt. By now the snow in the meadows was getting very warm and sticky, and back on the trail my green wax was pretty useless!

    I completed the triple threat with a visit to Elk Pass proper, returning to the car via Hydroline, Patterson, Elk Pass trail – Fox Creek – Boulton – Elk Pass, all still in great shape.
    It was truly an epic adventure on skis today, and I only wish my son could have been there, and brought a good camera along! Many thanks to MaSid for tracks and inspiration 🙂
    (Photos to follow…..)

    • CONGRATULATIONS Diana on not only figuring out your way through West Elk Meadows thru to Hydroline but busting your butt through to East Elk Meadows where Masid and friends, M & J and myself were likely two hours earlier. I started early in -8 from Boulton up Whiskey Jack and almost walked the whole way up on Rode Blue -2 to -6. Tyrwhitt tracks had wolf prints throughout and outstanding views. Got to East Elk around 11:30am. Takes about 30 min to maneuver the many turns around tree wells to couch end of East Elk, but as I confessed to others, kick skins were equivalent to wearing my “big lady panties” as skiing alone, one needs a little extra security! Met Ma Sid as he was coming out with friends, and he lured me to check out the Patterson Meadows which were so much gentler. A social day it was and if this is it for Spring 2021 XC skiing, it could not have been a more perfect day! To Martin, Cheeky and Simona, I share the quote by James M. Barrie, “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” Thank you for providing us the gift of playing around in these stunning meadows again this season.

    • Well, fantastic! A three pass day for you and plenty of meadows. Another couple went through the opposite direction, perhaps you crossed paths. Sometimes you just get pulled along and keep going. Such a good day for unplanned adventure. Well done. We went into east elk first, then came around to west elk in the afternoon. I was too tired for the uphill of the traverse. Try it in the clockwise direction next year. Easier descending the open cut block than the tight trees of the boundary cutline, and better reveals.

      • I could see why you did it in the opposite direction! Maybe next year, but without tracks to follow I would probably get quite lost.
        I did not see anyone else off the groomed trails, it was a bit eerie to be alone for so long!

        • My guess is I’ll be doing it a lot next season. Such a good tour with high value for energy expended and two couches to lounge at en route. Looking forward to seeing your pics.

    • Thank you Helen and MaSid!

      Here are pictures, many will be familiar from other recent posts. I saw some interesting fresh tracks out there, made me a little nervous, but nothing really big…..

      My first stop was just before Hwy 68, where I saw lots of swans and just couldn’t resist, especially having a good camera in the car. It was too heavy to haul up the ski trail though 🙁

      https://photos.app.goo.gl/snGNeggPhsaXyJeZ9

  3. EPIC day!!! Such amazing conditions that everyone was out!
    PLPP – elk pass-blueberry hill- elk pass-Tyrwhitt-Whiskey Jack- Moraine-Elk pass
    Had a later start than usual around 11:15 am, -3 at the elk pass parking lot… which worked in our favour. As we were ascending Blueberry hill, around 12:10 pm, everyone was coming down, so we had a chance to enjoy the summit with only 3 other awesome people who graciously took our picture (thanks Shauna, Doreen and Ian), with an absolutely stunning backdrop. The descent was fast and truly stunning views.
    Up elk pass was great and tyrwhitt was just starting to soften up by the sun… around 3 pm at this time!
    Finished at 4 pm, 25 km later and if it’s the last day, then it was the perfect way to end the season, but I’m hoping for just one more day… maybe 2 ?

  4. Tue Apr 13: east elk pass
    -14 this morning at 730 in the the elk pass lot. Went in via Patterson meadows. Looked like a lone wolf had used the east elk track and visited Couch H2.0 early this morning (no surface hoar in the prints but on the ski track). Must read skier bob! As I was leaving, M&J came in, so back for more sun and talking turkey. One of the many subjects was wether we would see helen. On our return, there she was! We continued our happy tour back through Patterson meadows and into west elk pass and the Couch headquarters. No avalanches seen on fox, but heard. The elk pass grooming was in fine shape on the way back and should provide a few more days of mostly good travel. Some slushy spots on fox, but manageable. An excellent social day out, if it is one of the last good days, and perfect for day #70. Most I’ve ever skied in a single season, but nothing compared to helen. (-:

  5. CNC 1:00-3:30 2C-5C Skin skis
    What a great day at the Nordic Centre! It seemed all the natural snow trails past the meadow have been groomed and TS in the last two nights. Great skiing Tracks leaving the Stadium were either powder or margarita but on the way back 2.5h later slushy. Such is the nature of skiing this time of year. Skiing on the sunny side of a trail could be slow and in the shade rocket fast. Watch for shady spots and the quick transition to a sunny spot.
    Not a whole lot of skiers in the PM but the tracks left by earlier skiers showed a lot of traffic.
    We returned via Banff Trail later in the PM and the tracks and groomed trail was icing up.
    Thanks to the CNC grooming crew for such great trails to ski on!

  6. Tried the Cascade Fire Road Monday (because it was there). Wax did not work on the asphalt road so we walked to the Bankhead junction. Climbing the road was very clumpy even though air temp was-2. After lunch at the bridge the return was quite nice as our glide had reappeared. Snow depth was 5-20 cm, so still enough to ski. My advice would be to stick with the grooming in PLPP.

  7. PLPP Skier Bob Special in reverse. Four of us started at the Elk Pass Parking lot (-10C) at 9:30 am and headed up new track setting on Elk Pass Trail. We took Fox Creek Trail which was skier tracked (pretty good conditions) and then up to Elk Pass on wonderful tracks. Tyrwhitt was skier set on one day-old grooming with a few cms. of snow on top, so the downhills to the picnic table were soft and controllable. Skiing north on Tyrwhitt, we started to encounter a few sticky spots on sun-exposed places, and the descent to the Whiskeyjack table was good but quite slow. After lunch, our descent of Whiskeyjack was pleasant, not too fast, and ice-free, except for one spot on the S bend. Moraine was icy at the Boulton end on the exposed section at and past the two benches. The rest of Moraine was quite good. By the end of the ski, the snow was getting quite sticky and the temp was +2C. I’m glad we started early! Magnificent day for a final ski of the season. Nice to see Helen Read on Tyrwhitt. Many thanks to the track setters for such excellent grooming this winter, to the guys who plow Hwy. 40 and to Skier Bob for the invaluable info on his blog! Happy trails to all of you!

  8. PLPP still offers best skiing for mid April. 2nd car in Elk Pass parking lot and -6 C. Two using skin skis and me on Asnes with VR 45. Followed the new grooming up Hydroline then decided the perfect grooming with fresh powder were perfect conditions to climb up South Lookout. A little chilly/windy for a picnic and could barely see the mailbox buried by the flag pole. Met a passionate relatively new XC skier who is friend’s with the woman I met on Lionel yesterday. She graciously took our pic. Descending the north side was so enjoyable making nice slow S turns all the way down. Tyrwhitt did not disappoint although weather was all over the place today. Going down Elk Pass had alot of deep skier tracks to somewhat slow us down. Did not take in the East Elk Meadows today although tempting in the powder-trail was still visible. Fox was the perfect way to end the day; new snow buried any woodpecker bark chips. Speaking of chips, we deserved a few after our 20 kms circuit and over 500 M elevation (if I can believe Gaia)?

    • Helen, my Gaia recorded that route as 535 m total ascent, although when I did it a few weeks ago, Fox Creek didn’t look great, so I climbed up and finished with the Elk Pass wall!

    • So it was Helen who made those nice turns on Lookout north! Starting out at the crack of noon, we ran into waxing issues with our initial choice of VR45. Long story short- after a lot of cursing, scraping and rewaxing, kicker skins saved the day. The north side descent was still dry, soft and easygoing at 2:30 after a lazy break in the sun at the top, as was Whisky Jack other than the upper of the S turns, which was wet and grabby due to sun exposure.
      https://steveriggs.smugmug.com/SkiPix2021/i-RVSntL6/A

    • What an incredible snow day… it’s all about fresh powder!! Was lovely meeting you inspiring ladies today! And thank you for the tip re the knife 🙂

  9. Oh … I forgot to mention how calm it was to drive west of Castle Junction with virtually no traffic, as Hwy 1 closed this morning east of Golden for construction, and all through traffic is routed south on Highway 93.

  10. After Chuck’s intel from yesterday, we headed to Pipestone for “one last time” on the season. Saw only one other skier. Track surprisingly good, although a little thin and icy under some trees. Best on the farthest end of the loop. A few of the downhills were very fast. Merlin was a dream glide. Skin skis worked very well. Probably fastest I’ve ever skiied Pipestone-Merlin-Drummond.

  11. thanks for all the positive reports on PLPP. I wanted one more time there and we were able to start at Pocaterra and up to Whiskey Jack and back down along the valley trails.The downhills were especially dreamy. Our R-Skin skis excelled today, fast and non-grippy. Some skiers’ skis were starting to stick around noon. We had fresh cougar tracks first thing on the new grooming along the first section up Pocaterra. Mix of sunshine light snow and just a few gusts of wind right when we stopped for lunch and got clobbered by tree bombs! Overall a lovely day!

  12. Mon Apr 12: skogan pass.
    4″ of fresh at nakiska base. 8-10″ up top. Nice soft descent all the way down. The snowshoers on hummingbird thankfully stayed out of track. Clearly exceptional people. Some moist krunkle in sunny patches below hummingbird, but dry in the shade mid aft. Thin right at nakiska on return (that 4″ settled out quickly), but otherwise a nice gift this late. Might be a window for a dawn start tomorrow, maybe.

  13. Canmore Nordic Centre -5C at 8:15am with 5 cm new snow – Blue wax – Who Could Ask For Anything More!
    Thanks Ken Hewitt for your report yesterday that Rundle was groomed to the end.

  14. GIBBON PASS from RED EARTH CREEK – April 11

    Excellent snow conditions from the Red Earth Creek parking lot, with VR40 working great all day to and from Shadow Lake Lodge. With about 5 cm of fresh and dry snow on a solid crust, I started on a nice skier-made track, until I passed a young couple before RE6 campground (which by the way should be RE7) and a lady by km 8. Then after I followed a couple days old ski track with 10 cm of soft snow to the lodge. The climb up to Gibbon Pass entailed an elevation gain of 450+ m over about 3 km. I was able to follow what appeared as the downhill ski track made by Mike W and Carl a week ago, for about 1 km. Then either I lost their trail or it got covered by more fresh snow. I ended up going an open drainage area a bit too far east, getting about 50 meters above the broad open pass meadows. It was quite cloudy and overcast, that Storm Mountain was barely visible. Did a bit of a tour over the meadows, looking for the Gibbon Pass stone cairn; no luck! All I found was a hiking trail sign barely sticking out of the snow. There were 25 cm of soft snow on a supportive crust in the meadow area. The return to the lodge was a lot faster, until I got into the steep switchbacks, awkward to handle with narrow light touring 205 cm long skis. After a snack by the lodge, the ski out was really nice and moderately fast at times, on the trail that had been skied by a few people earlier in the day. Still dry snow by late pm, easy for controlling on a few short steeper sections. Even the last downhill to the parking lot was easy to ski down; no crust exposed. Note sure if this was last day of skiing for the season, but certainly my last time of seven this winter to the Shadow Lake area until November. Total distance for the day was just over 33 km with 1130 total elevation gain.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/PKsCayjhc22uNmkN7

  15. Mount Shark – Upper Spray (a little)

    My son managed to get a day off for the first time in months, so I enlisted his help to ski where I wouldn’t go alone!
    It was a beautiful morning at Mt. Shark trailhead, and the access road had just been plowed! The snow temp. was about -9 C, and there was tons of fresh snow over Friday’s grooming. To our surprise, the snow was quite sticky, and we did experience a lot of clumping and slow travel all day.

    After the bridge over the Spray, we found quite heavy trail-breaking up the Spray River trail. Fortunately my son is a strong young man who did most of the work, but it was slow and tiring. We enjoyed lunch in the big meadow, and ventured a bit further. An apparent detour (flood?) led us through the trees, which was not terribly pleasant. We came down to one of those crazy too-skinny-to-ski-over bridges, and turned around.

    It was a mostly cloudy day in the Spray valley, so not quite magical, but a lovely place to be nonetheless. The return trip was quite pleasant, but after slogging back up the big hill we did encounter hiker footprints all over the place. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Smith-Dorrien highway was still mostly frozen and snow-covered for the afternoon drive home.

    Photos might follow………..

  16. Baker Creek to Protection Campground and beyond,
    I persuaded my owners to stop at Baker Creek on their way to ski at Lake Louise. For this old dog, it was just the ticket.
    -5 at the start, -1 at the finish, and the snow stayed soft and untransformed. The crust was supportive and paw penetration was 5-7 cm on the track we set. The exposed area near the railway tracks was still ok, but caution required. Stream crossings were no problem.

    Mushers secret gave Pawsitively excellent grip, as did the waxless skis.No clumping on skis or paws. Animal tracks and smells abounded, so bear spray was a good idea.
    Such a treat to ski this trail this late in the year. I skied my age in Human years,(not dog years)

  17. Skied PLPP today on the new grooming. Conditions were great starting at Elkwood. Skied Wheeler, Whiskey Jack, Pocaterra, Packers…. Then had so much fun that I went back up Packers, Pocaterra and Whiskey to unwind. Return via Wheeler.

    Skied down the big S bend on Whiskey twice…once while waiting for ski partner on the way up and also while unwinding. The S bend was in great shape today (wheeeee!!).

    In response to Skier Bob……Not my final ski of the year. I commonly ski Whiskey between 10 and 20 times per year. My counting is not as precise as Skier Bob, but I certainly enjoy the trail.

  18. Sun Apr 11: elk pass area.
    Another beautiful spring day out harvesting the seasonal goodies while they’re ripe. And they were delicious! -15 this morning on arrival at 7. Nice cold snow. South side of big hill still in good shape. Patterson meadows provided good sun and warmth in the morning along with ankle ski pens (AT). Clouded over before lunch while hanging out at east elk pass so took advantage and did some runs on the west slopes of thyrwitt. Cold dry mid-boot powder over a dense base in sheltered trees. Just BTL in more open areas, recent storm snow sat atop an ice hard sun crust layer. Back over the ridge to the cut blocks and west elk pass via the summit meadows. Excellent travel across the top and down to the meadows while things were still shaded. Sun eventually reappeared in west elk pass and blueberry junction at 330, but snow remained mostly dry and no sticking, despite feeling hot. A slow descent for sure back to the car on the grooming but no real melt down. No snow fleas. Even the powerline descent paralleling the north side of the big hill was cold powder on the shady side. Elk pass trail and environs should provide good travel Monday and Tuesday too. Only saw 4 people all day. +1 back at the car at 5. This time last year, parks were closed, so felt like an extra bonus. No need to stop skiing yet with these conditions (and hopefully some more storms).

  19. Lionel/Pocaterra circuit

    Thanks Alf, after reading your trip report on skiing the Lionel/ Pocaterra circuit we decided to follow in your tracks today. We certainly appreciated the efforts of Alf’s trail blazing yesterday and Helen ( who had an earlier start than us) refreshing the trail today.We did meet two ladies hiking up the road and thanked them for NOT walking in the tracks. We were also greeted by the two skiers coming down the hill who did the trip in reverse.Once we reached Pocaterra conditions were so delightful we headed up to Whiskey Jack before skiing back down.
    Such a great adventure I wrote a poem.

    Lionel oh Lionel wow so few new
    A new trail to try with amazing views
    On our waxable skis up the hill we did climb
    For a ski in April it was truly sublime
    We did encounter some snow that was clumpy
    But not bad enough to make us grumpy
    We have traveled this road by bike and car
    But skiing on Lionel just raised the bar
    When we arrived at Pocaterra the tracks were amazing
    We strided and glided and went down the hill blazing
    Enroute Charlie met his goal of 1500 k
    What a great day Hip Hip Hooray!

  20. I took David Percy’s advice and hit the Skogan trail. Wasn’t pretty but once you get past the skihill, there’s powder in them thar hills.

    My alien blood 5G laced with chemtrails vacseen hit sapped my energy so I didn’t go past the sunburst junction, which was disappointing for me because the powder was even more plentiful and zero foot traffic from there!

    Not sure the temp but I bundled up heading down for the chill.

    Wide skis might help, I had no issues with foot traffic as there was a few cm of snow covering them but I did get bounced around a bit.

    • Oh and try to go early, it was catch and release on some of the exposed areas on the way back down. Little bit of clumping but nothing extreme.

  21. MORAINE LAKE ROAD and the GREAT DIVIDE – April 11

    Not only was the MLR trackset, but so was the Great Divide!
    Details available in the photo descriptions here:
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/semueRVqhuufRM1Q9
    and so was the Pipestone!

  22. ALF’s perfect description of Lionel/Pocaterra circuit combined with all those wonderful photos he shared of his trip yesterday, beckoned me to follow suit. Took my Asnes and VR 45 as temps -8 to -2 at end. I have never skied that route to Sounding Lake, off Rolly Road and such a pay off back in there!!! Saw alot of bear prints on Rolly Road corduroy so made my presence known since I was alone. Did struggle over the first wood debris across trail and post-holed my way to second log, but was determined to persevere. Once on Hwy 40, I was in my old stomping grounds and had AT tracks to ski in until I met a couple of skiers who were doing the ALF Lionel trip in reverse. So we happily exchanged skier set tracks as Alf’s were barely visible in places. The new grooming on Upper Pocaterra was divine and met a delightful family at Packers picnic table. I commend those young people who start their young families XC skiing. My distance was 18.3 kms. and was ready to see the hut, although it is closed for the season. Thank you again Alf, this ski was a stupendous way to enjoy cold snow so late in the season. Was rather surprised more did not get lured by your excellent Trip Report yesterday to explore this circuit for themselves.

    • Yes Helen, it was amazing. My son and I were the ones doing the reverse and so glad we did the trail and will definitely do it again. So lovely to be in the quiet of highway 40 with all the beautiful snow.

  23. Great conditions at Elk Pass today. Started at Bolton Bridge at -5, then Bolton Creek to Elk Pass Trail and Blueberry Hill. All good trails on skier track set on new soft snow. Using skin skis the grip was good and glide as well, no sticking at all. Very few people on the trail despite good mid winter conditions. Still great skiing to be had!

  24. Canmore Nordic Centre was in superb condition today. Kudos to the grooming staff for tracking setting not only the man made show, but also packing several of the natural snow. In fact, Meadowview was trackset to the very end, and even Rundle (natural snow) had a fairly recent track in very good condition.

    • To add to Ken’s report:
      CNC -7C skin skis. The best skiing of the weekend! The cold overnight setup the snow perfectly. No catch and release snow. Groomed and TS trails were fast and skier set we’re slower, but the tracks are getting glazed.
      We skied out Bow trail and returned via an unusual route of the old Recreational 15, hooked onto Rundle and onto Meadowview back across the meadow and back down Banff Trail.
      The snow in the meadows at the far end of the trail system has setup making for true cross country skiing. We noodled about through the meadows and ended up on the no longer used Rec 15 which was decommissioned close to 30 years ago. Lots of climbing to hook up on Rundle which has been groomed and TS.
      The far end of the trails were quite busy. There were more skiers at the far end than we’ve seen in a while. More skaters than Classic.

  25. Fairview and Moraine Lake Road were both exceptional today. Sunny skies, high temperature below zero, windless – and tracksetting on the MLR! Rode Super Weiss wax worked brilliantly throughout the day. Today was a beautiful day to be on skis in a spectacular setting.

  26. PLPP: Lionel-Pocaterra Loop
    Todays Checklist:
    -Good overnight freeze… -5C at Boulton Creek. Check
    -Weather forecast is cloudy, so no sun effect… and the temps should stay below 0C. Check
    -Melt-Freeze cycles have created a strong, supportive base. Check
    -A few cm of new, dry snow has fallen. Check
    -The PLPP crew has groomed Pocaterra Trail. Check (Thanks, Jodi).
    With all of the boxes checked off, it seemed like an ideal day to see if it is still possible to do the Lionel loop.
    Lionel? For a few years in the 1990’s, the closed portion of Highway #40 was groomed as an XC ski trail, which was called Lionel, for some unknown reason.
    Turns out, it’s still quite easy to do that trail. I started from Pocaterra Hut and took Rolly Road for about 500m. At a right-hand corner, the old “Sounding Lake” trail can be seen going straight ahead. An a few metres you get to Sounding Lake and the surrounding meadows, with exceptional views of Mt. Wintour and other Opal Range peaks. At the south east end of the lake, another set of meadows leads to a short bit of trail, which meets another trail at a T-intersection. This trail is the north end of Lionel. With the exception of a few skinny bits of deadfall and a few little christmas trees, Lionel is good to go right up onto Highway #40.
    The closed portion of Highway #40 is Kananaskis Version of the Moraine Lake Road. It’s a wide, easy ski with plenty of snow and no hazards. It would be the best “green” ski trail in all of Kananaskis Country.
    The new snow on top of the melt-freeze crust got deeper with every southward kilometre. After about 6 km, you could see the “back door” entrance to Pocaterra… which also used to be part of the Lionel trail.
    The “back door” segment had the deepest snow. It joins Pocaterra Trail at a T-intersection.
    The upper portion of Pocaterra has not been groomed for about a week, so there was 10cm or so of recent snow on the trail… but it had been nicely packed in by skiers. From Packers junction back to Pocaterra Hut, the trail was in wonderful condition. The few centimetres of new snow was nicely skied into the perfectly set tracks, so the skiing was fast and smooth. Amazing conditions for April!
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/Zy8UfVr9xrzYyvRP7
    Perhaps Lionel will be groomed again in the future… but as long as the current conditions last, it makes a great 18km tour!

    • Late March 2018, I skied up from winter gate to back door of Pocaterra but thoroughly enjoyed your photos today, how to retrace the “old Lionel” from Rolly Road and through Sounding Lake. Thanks so much Alf for the excellent Photo Story how to get to hwy 40 from Rolly Road AND for breaking trail in case I can get there in next day or two.

    • Thanks for the shots of conditions on the 40.

      Looks like the skinny-tire crowd will be cycling on it in no time
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      soon.

  27. Redearth Creek trail to the first campsite and back. Very sunny with around 10cm fresh snow. Nice fairly dry powder. Followed in tracks made by two other skiers. Thanks. Surprisingly sparse traffic for a Saturday with such nice snow conditions. A bit sticky but not bad once I scraped off most of my grip wax. V40 was about correct.

  28. PLPP – from Elkwood parking, we skied the fresh tracksetting: short section of Wheeler, Amos thru the campground, Lynx, and then Pocaterra south to Packers Jct. We returned by the same route, though it was so nice we repeated a few sections. -3C to start at 9:30am, with light snow for the first hour. Generally, about 2cm of fresh over the tracksetting, which gave a nice feel after being skied in by others. VR45 on my waxable skis, and my wife’s fishscale skis both worked well, with only minor clumping during the early snow period. Very nice to meet tracksetter James (on skis) and friend at the Packer’s picnic table, and chat with them. Quite a few people out enjoying the good conditions. 0C and cloudy at our 1:30pm finish. Should be good out there tomorrow.

    • Ray forgot to mention, we mostly skied on ‘corn starch snow’ today. Lovely, smooth, compresses easily, but not sticky. Enjoy it before it goes!

  29. CNC 9:00- 12:00. 0C- +3.5C Skin skis with 3-5Cm refresh snow.
    We skied out Bow up onto Cold Shoulder and back via Silvertip/Banff Tr.
    Bow was skier set Silvertip was groomed again (surprised) Skier set was slow and grippy (catch and release) TS trails were icy to powder.
    We felt one could have gotten away with hard wax. Fish scale skis would have worked well. By the time we left tracks were glazing up. Parking lots were nearly full.

    • Hugh was correct – fishscales worked well in those conditions. I skied Bow, Cold Shoulder, Banff and Meadowview between 10:30 and 12;45, and the tracks were excellent for me. The only grabbing was at the very end returning to the stadium. The skaters were really working hard in the new snow. Exceptional skiing for Apr 10.

  30. PLPP- starting from Boulton, whiskey jack, lookout, Hydroline, Patterson’s, West Elk Pass, back down Fox and Boulton. Winter wonderland with huge snow pillows and warm spring air. Flat calm at the summit of the lookout which was a surprise after the gusts on Hwy 40. Veeeeeerrrry slow: extremely sticky trail breaking through at least 5 cms of fresh wet powder all the way to Elk Pass (couldn’t see my tips on Lookout) with avocado snow after that. Hot sun once I hit Hydroline made things slippery. But such a beautiful day there could be no complaining.

  31. Fri Apr 9: fox/elk/blueberry +
    -5 @ 830. First tracks on fox in the morning were dreamy cold snow. Some use of Anna’s tracks the rest of the way and up blueberry, continuing on cold dry snow. Ventured into the upper blueberry meadows for a sit in the sun, then continued the off trail tour up the east ridge of the turret (2 on LT, 1 XC, all fishscales, no skins). Good travel along the crest of the ridge. Started to get sticky at our high point on a south aspect at noon. Back to the blueberry grooming (sticky and tricky descending in spots) and into the lower blueberry meadows, taking the higher/longer shady route direct to fork n meadow lunch log. Clumping most of the way through the meadows at the peak heat of the day while the sun was out. Lounged at the log until clouds moved in, track cooled down and wind picked up with some light snow. Snow fleas present in the meadows of west elk pass. A party came through west elk from hydroline, so track is in now. Better glide in the existing track after 330 back through west elk pass to the blueberry junction. Some catch and release on the downhill back to the car. Fox was still reasonable travel to finish the day. -1 at the car at 5. A good day out with cheeky and Simona in fresh snow covered meadows and open forest.

    • Haha, timing! I was never any good at that…….
      Sorry I missed you, maybe someday you might show me the way?
      I did not notice any snow fleas this morning, maybe they came out later?

      • Hi Diana, the route through to the hydroline got flagged by someone last year. But best to get in there when there is a fresh track to lead the way. The first navigational challenge is making the leftish turn where the large initial meadow forks (looked like you were just shy of that when you turned around). The right fork of the large meadows is the start of the Elkan drainage, which starts going downhill. The left fork continues south through smaller broken meadows, with the lunch log near the start of it. Don’t lose or gain elevation as you travel south, following the path of least resistance linking meadows and you will pop out at the hydroline. Hard to go wrong, but can always return the way you came if you are unsure.

  32. PLPP – West Elk Pass

    I decided to visit West Elk Pass today, and it was quite lovely! Great skiing up the Elk Pass trail with lots of fresh snow over recent grooming, and only one person ahead of me today (until I got passed!).
    Any hopes I might have had of finding a trail over to the hydroline were dashed when I found myself breaking trail through fresh powder after leaving the Elk Pass trail! It was well over my ankles, but relatively light so not too onerous.
    I visited Couch HQ, where there is not much left now, and continued down the meadow a short distance before turning around. I have never made the loop with the hydroline over there, and don’t know the way, so don’t get excited when you see my tracks now, they don’t go very far!

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/D86kiQnTsE9dtTTp8

  33. Skogan Pass
    Started at Troll Falls and had to walk for about 2km until there was enough snow to ski. The snow improved steadily as I ascended. Once I was above the ski hill the snow became quite deep and I had to break trail all the way to the summit. Conditions varied from 2cm to 20cm of fresh snow. I didn’t see any other skiers and it looks like nobody has been there for a long time. There is still lots of snow and I recommend making the trip.

  34. PLPP – Elk Pass parking to Blueberry Hill
    Kananaskis is a winter wonderland! It snowed for a good portion of the day with the temperature around minus 3 or 4. The 5 cm or more of new snow over last night’s grooming caused icing issues for some skiers. Skin skis had minimal icing. Very enjoyable skiing, but slow.

  35. CNC this AM 9:30 -3C 2-3CM fresh wet snow. Skins skis.
    Clear sky then a snow squall.
    On the way out, Man made was margarita snow. Tracks were fast, Skating was decent.
    At the end of the meadow on natural snow depending on where one skied either it’s been groomed and TS or just groomed or just skier set.
    Skied out Meadowview from meadow and found it skier set. 3/4 ways to the end trail was groomed up to Silvertip junction. Silvertip was groomed and TS (its been on its last legs for three weeks). Skied well from powder to margarita snow.
    On the return the snow started to accumulate. Add maybe 3cm. Saw some folks using Klister. It appeared to be a struggle.
    Website was maybe 50% accurate for grooming. There just didnt seem to be any logical pattern to the grooming. Just go ski!

  36. Anyone skied in Lake Louise over the last day or so, how are the conditions?

    • Thu apr 8: Louise (Fairview/MLR+)
      Started from the upper lake parking lot, arriving at 830 to 3″ of fresh , -4 and moderate snowfall. Broke trail in a relatively decent track all the way along Fairview and MLR, dodging off on what I think was Helen’s meadow track of the other day. Went another km further than Helens turn around until the grade got a little steeper. A nice unplanned diversion, thanks Helen! Rapid accumulation of snow over the lunch hour (another 4 or more inches) made for trail breaking all over again back the way I came, but deeper! Might as well be off trail, so explored some more meadows in vicinity of the old couch, both north and south of Fairview. South one is a longer track and ascends gradually through open forest to a small meadow on the shoulder of sadddleback. Snow eased off in the afternoon and sun was threatening to come out by 2pm. Stayed just below zero. Just cool enough for no stickage on the fish scale bases, but some occasional build up between boot and binding. A good reset in that area with potential for more trail breaking tomorrow as I only saw 3 other skiers. Redearth looked like it had fresh snow too, much less in Banff and east.

  37. Middle Spray trail – April 6
    I’ve been super interested in this trail for a couple years, but never found a day to ski it until today. Long story short: I would not recommend skiing from Mt Shark to Goat Creek.
    Short story long: I started skiing from Shark at 6am. I skied down to the lake and then straight across the the road below Mt Fortune. The snow on the road was crusty and I was able to skate most of the time. After visiting the decomissioned Fortune warden cabin, the road doubles back on itself and descends to the Spray River. At this point, the river has many smaller branches and I had to wade one of them. The next branch was bridged, but then the road was washed out and I had to bushwhack in the trees above the river for a bit. The next few kilometers were pretty smooth sailing. Then I got to a burned section, which is the section that makes this trip not worth repeating in my opinion.
    There was a lot of deadfall that completely crossed the road, requiring either a careful step over, skiing off the road and around, or removing skis and climbing over. Individually none of the trees were too bad, but they added up and slowed me down considerably. Also, and perhaps more importantly, most of the streams coming down the slope have washed out the road, creating gullies with steep sides. Some were relatively straight-forward to cross. Others were much more involved and took closer to five minutes to reach the other side. At one, I had to use my skis as axes to anchor myself as I kicked steps to cross a particularly steep wall of snow. The burned section was ~3km long and it took me a little over an hour to cross, and I’m amazed that I didn’t break any equipment. From there, it was mostly smooth sailing down to the second bridge over the Spray and soon after that I reached the Spray warden cabin.
    This is the part of the trip that I absolutely recommend. Between the cabin and Goat Creek, there is minimal deadfall and the travel is easy.
    I only had to take my skis off once! The road passes through another burned section where Parks obviously maintains the path and clears deadfall, and the views are lovely.
    I managed to make it to Goat Creek before the crust softened, which was great because I was able to skate and move quite quickly. I took Goat Creek up to Canmore and the snow was SLUSHY and the sun was hot. There isn’t any trackset left in this area and the walkers have taken over.
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/n4o6EsnmAj1BYprGA

    • Hey Sara,
      Very impressive… and a great description!

      • Thanks Chuck! I found your post about the Spray warden cabin from a couple years ago when I was planning and it was very helpful. From your photos, I could tell that it should be pretty smooth sailing once I reached the cabin, which was quite reassuring when I was slowly thrashing through trees!

    • I make that out to be 50km. Don’t know whether I should congratulate you or commiserate with you! One thing for sure, I’m glad I wasn’t on that trip! 😉

      • My GPS got 43km of skiing. Skiing across the lake instead of around it cut off a good amount of distance. But after my ski, I walked home from the Goat Creek parking lot which added 10km to my day, for a total of 53km! I was feeling pretty miserable on that walk, though. Almost had to phone a friend to come pick me up.

    • Never seen the interior of that one before (yet). Good encouragement, and stamina of course. Good sh#t as they say.

    • Quite an amazing day, Sara, I loved reading your report and seeing the pictures. well done!!

    • I was wondering about that route. Thanks for checking it out. Amazing endurance and perseverance!

    • Sara, you are a MACHINE!!

  38. I don’t have much to add to Marijan’s report, except I can’t remember nicer conditions on Hydroline and Tyrwhitt! Jeff G and I both opted for skins, and they worked perfectly the whole way (or 99% of the way; any type of ski would have had trouble with the wonky shadowy-then-sunny snow going down the big Elk Pass hill to the parking lot…. luckily we both narrowly avoided face plants). I’ll add another big thank you to the groomers who are giving us beautiful April skiing!

  39. What a day..skied Elk pass ,Hydroline ,Tyrwhitt ,Lookout ,Hydroline and back to Elk pass..grooming last night was amazing..perfect conditions..8:30am temp was -5 when I left around 12:30 was +5..Snow was really good until about noon then started to be sticky and rally slow on sunny sections for my fish scale skis..some icy spots under fresh grooming but nothing that bothered me on this sunny day ..

    • Agreed, Marijan …. It was a beautiful blue bird day in PLPP. Wonderful tracks and thanks to Nordic-Pulse we can see where the grooming took place over night.

      Unfortunately I have one negative comment: We skied up to the lookout from the north and descended on the south side. All was fine with the exception of very deep footprints on the steep sections of the trail (south side). Removing your skis and walking a section is fine …. but …. three skiers decided to walk up the CENTRE of the trail leaving deep footprints which are a hazard for those of us skiing down. Chris and I were able to spend some time and smoothed out some of the holes by snowploughing. Please, if you need to walk on a ski trail, do so at the side of the trail where the damage you cause will be minimal and not a hazard to other skiers. Thanks!

      Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/JPdM9VZ9csSC3BR89

  40. I wonder if the groomers have any idea of all the joy they bring into our lives?

    Today we skied freshly groomed trail in Peter Lougheed: A few loops of Meadow, Wheeler, Amos, Woolley.
    -2 when we started and +4 at 3;00 pm. Usual Spring conditions with hard tracks in the morning and some catch and release happening by the end of the day. A beautiful day nevertheless.
    We have been looking at Nordic Pulse & Bob’s blog (thank you Bob) every morning and keep going daily even though we’re tired because the countdown is on.
    My husband and I skied over 1200 km this season and still counting!
    Pictures of Wheeler on this link.
    https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B0QQJaKx2RX5QkVwd3QwOHQwQVk?usp=sharing

  41. Mon Apr 5: west elk pass +
    -10 in the elk pass parking at 7. +5 on return at 2. Nice dry powder in the morning on elk pass trail after losing any moisture over night. Snowmobile track all the way up elk pass over the uphill tracksetting, but no grooming. Made for fast travel on AT with wax, and a shallow skier set track on return. Looked like groomers had pushed snow from the powerline at the top of the big hill onto the south side of the hill. Easy descent in the morning. Excellent travel on a supportive crust through the meadows, on or off the old track. Skied a handfull of runs in the cut blocks before the heat got in there. Dust on crust skiing, on the thin side, but an excellent day regardless. Returning through west elk after noon made for some heavy clumping on the big sticks. Had to dodge over to the super shady side of lower blueberry meadows to make a good go of it. Scraped my wax off at blueberry and applied some parafin wax for glide (candle: two good tools in one!). The big hill back to the car was a slow descent in the sunny bits, and fairly chopped up for skinny skis at the top.

    • Good avalanche viewing off mount fox just after noon from the comfort of the fork n meadow lunch log, although it’s now shaded at that time, which wasn’t such a bad thing.

  42. Packers – Pocaterra – Whiskey Jack morning powder run, up to a point! It was cold enough to start, but by 10:30 the sun was getting very warm, and I was only on the Pocaterra section.
    The first section of Whiskey Jack was lovely, to the bottom of the steep hill. Then suddenly I hit sun-soaked snow which was instant superglue to my (waxable) skis! I don’t think I have ever experienced that before, and from there back to Boulton it alternated between somewhat slow and dead stop.
    I am still optimistic, especially if grooming continues, and I will try to be finished morning powder runs before 10 am!

    • I was just looking at Bob’s wonderful rogues’ gallery! Pretty sure I met Janice Perry on Pocaterra, with those amazing braids (could that be a song??) 🙂

  43. Upper Tramline/MLR to explore a meadow about 1.5 kms past Fairview turnoff, then back to F/V. Relaxing social ski chatting with a few people we met while sprawled out in the sun enjoying lunch. At 10 am snow was cold powder and no problems sticking. After our jaunt thru the meadow, at noon, things warmed up so another coat of glide went onto the fishscales to complete the Fairview circuit without incident. Because it was Easter Monday, patrols were directing traffic to maximize efficiently filling the LL parking lots. We saw maybe 6 people in 4 hours while skiing.
    p.s. Michelle, I would love to know the name of the furniture polish you have been told works on fishscales.

  44. Mt Shark. Sunday morning at 11 am. 2 to 3 cm of fresh snow on top of recent grooming and lovely weather. I was fine breaking trail with skins skis and relatively fresh glide wax. My friend on fish scales struggled and we stopped after an hour as she was constantly stopping to scrape snow off her skis every few meters. I need to pick up some of that furniture polish people keep talking about to help her.

    As everyone else says, the smith dorrien is brutal. It’s not too bad from Peter Lougheed to Mt Shark and maybe a few more kms north towards Canmore, but then it is constant potholes very similar to the Waiprous road. I should have gone back to Canmore via Hwy 40 as it would have been quicker.

  45. Elk Pass area. Lots (10 cm+) of new snow came down today from 10am to 2:00. Temp was just above zero. Quite sticky going up towards Elk Pass so I changed plan and skied Fox, Moraine and Boulton Creek. Much less sticky there; not sure why. Windless and beautiful- still lots of snow in this area. Season is definitely not over.

  46. Excellent spring conditions made the day yesterday at Pipestone. New snow varying in depth from 1 to 5 centimeters had refreshed the landscape, and all skier-set tracks were superb. Rode violet wax covering violet klister worked very well on the skis. Lunch in the warm sun was matched only by the glide in the warm sun back to the trailhead. HIGHLY recommended! 🙂

  47. Good Morning!

    Flurries, obscure skies, and 0 degrees C in Peter Lougheed PP, Info Centre.

    Hope everyone has had a good season!

  48. WARNING: There is a very large tree is across the Elk Pass trail- located at the base of the steepest downhill section coming down from Elk Pass before the Blueberry Hill junction. It is fairly visible so people should be able to stop well before, but still wouldn’t want someone to get hurt plowing into it. (Copied from email sent by Rhonda J late Saturday)

  49. Snowshoe: while I am well aware that the snowshoe link is no longer on site, I wanted to share with you the DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS of Smith Dorrien yesterday all the way from Canmore end through Goat Creek and all way to Hwy 40. Shark Lake was a fabulous relatively easy destination, although a few short sections of serious groin deep post-holing by hikers. Located at the base of Mount Shark, I have yet to research it’s alternate name of MARUSHKA LK. While I was always opposed to having that road paved, I would seriously sign a petition today. The increased use of it during Covid has made for even worsening conditions. I can only imagine what it is like today in the rain/wet snow mix. A Drive-through MUD bath for sure!! Our friends, however, got a great shot of a moose licking a car parked at the road side.

  50. Goat Creek and West Spray
    Parking lot to parking lot. Described as descent. A bit messy at the top. No trackset until after the first bridge. Conditions optimal through middle section to lunch shelter. Then quickly deteriorating to slush approaching the Springs parking.
    I don’t think they’ll groom again this season. Definitely the last weekend unless there’s a big dump of snow.

  51. Good morning it is -2 degrees at the Peter lougheed information centre. Skies partially cloud but the sun is peaking through!

  52. I skied Mt. Shark late this afternoon/early evening. I skied the 10 K yellow loop. It was track set overnight so the tracks were in good shape. Most of the trail in the trees was just soft. The last few K that are more exposed were quite icy. I was on waxless skis and had good grip. But the going was pretty slow on the soft snow. Plenty of coverage but just either soft or icy. Good news is that the hills were all on the soft side rather than icy.

  53. Skied out and back on LL’s Fairview today, tracks in good shape – more glazed closer to the Chateau but with our midday timing, things were soft enough to snowplow on the faster downhills. Thanks to beta from a happenchance meeting with the groomer, we skied the freshly-groomed-today Upper Telemark (small section trackset) – a real treat!

  54. Skied PLPP this morning in beautiful weather. Calm at ground level and near freezing at 9:30am. Skied up Whiskey Jack, which was decent except one icy black section that had gotten sun exposed (definitely wouldn’t want to descent it). Pocaterra was fine, Lynx, Amos & Wheeler to finish back at Boulton where it was definitely softer and thinner lower down as the sun reached its apex. I was on fishscale waxless and had decent glide and grip throughout. Friends on waxed lost a bit of their kick halfway through, but not too bad. Single track skier set (or on top of older trackset) most the way varied in quality and you had to take care on the descents where the smoothed out area to snowplow got narrow (as you definitely couldn’t snowplow in the crusty old powder to the side). Minimal or debris most the way (worse lower down on north end). Overall a great morning ski on a gorgeous day in April where we saw almost no one!

  55. PLPP south trails. Starting from Boulton I did the SkierBob Special, plus North Lookout and finishing on Boulton Creek. Extremely slushy conditions with very little to no grip (red wax) and lots and lots and lots of collembolas (Elk Pass looked like train tracks and my skis smell like earthworms now), but a beautiful day regardless.

  56. April 2 – Powderface Trail
    I started from the Dawson PRA around noon today. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there was surprisingly good skiing on the closed Powderface Trail! It’s a snowmobile road in the winter, so it was well-packed even though the crust had softened up. There were a few thin/bare spots that I had to walk around, but mostly it was ski-able on skate skis. I reached a big bare section at 6.6km, had a late lunch, and then headed back. Fun little spring ski!

    • Inventive. Nice. Cox hill wasn’t looking enticing? I opted for an early hike down the road and got out of there by noon. All manner of madness on the roads and in the parking lots. Perhaps a foreshadowing of our summer to come. Province could have made a lot of coin today with road infractions, just from parking alone. Best to get the ski swerve on when the gettings good (early, right after cold snow falls) and avoid the small number of hikable trailheads, especially this long weekend. Did a route with an alternate descent where I typically never see people, but ran into another half dozen parties for the first time ever. Unusual.

      • Actually, I went up Cox Hill first! My plan was to continue on to Jumpingpound Ridge, but the snow was too deep and unpacked in the low section between the two. Snowshoes would have been helpful… I could see the road from the top of the hill and it looked snowy enough, and all my various sport gear lives in the car so I switched sports when I got back down.
        There was only one group on the Cox trail before me when I started, but I passed a TON of people on the way down. Busy place!

        • Sounds like a good lengthy day. Not sure what your mode of transpo was on cox. Probably a good option with a fresh dump maybe, early start, AT gear? How was sibbald Rd?

          • I was on foot for Cox. Icy for the first few km at the bottom, then drier snow the rest of the way. There’s a ~50cm wide packed footpath up the middle of the trail. Probably skiable on AT gear after fresh snow, but definitely above my skill level (mediocre at best when it comes to AT).
            I assume you mean highway 68? Really good condition, dry and not too bumpy. Powderface trail before the gate was also fine. Lots of little sedans in the parking lot.

            • Sounds great for getting on it early if there is some significant fresh. Thanks for the intel Sara.

  57. Conditions were less-than-ideal today at Pipestone, but if you could get past the first 150 m or so of icy trail, the snow got better. I had a good time. No grooming, but skier track was adequate. The sky was overcast so the snow didn’t get soft and sticky and it looked like snow from last month.

  58. PLPP North and South ends
    Six of us parked at Elkwood (+4C) and skied Lodgepole out and Braille back, in order to avoid the debris we saw on the trails in the forest to the east of the parking lot. Braille was almost pristine, though a bit icy, while the first section of Lodgepole was somewhat littered with needles. Back at Elkwood, we then decided to try the new tracksetting so drove to the Upper lake lot and, after a tail-gate lunch, skied the connector to Elk Pass trail, then up Fox (nicely tracked) and up to the Blue-Elk table. All tracks going up were great, but by the time we came back down Elk Pass trail, the snow was softening and the tracks were playing ‘catch and release’ with us. The big hill down to Elk Pass Parking was glorious, with no icy spots. (+7C) I managed to squeak in my winter cumulative 1000 kms. today, with a little extra, in case it snows a ton in the next month and then I can reset my goal!

  59. Cascade Valley
    The snow cover on the Minnewanka Road is quite thin and icy, but once you get into the trees and start heading up the hill, it’s not bad. Up on top, there’s still a few cm of fresh snow from the other night and a fairly good skier-set track. I only went as far as the campground but the tracks continue beyond. It’s a shame they’ve stopped track-setting this trail for the season because there’s still plenty of good snow up there and definitely worth the trip. An overcast day made for consistent snow conditions and my skin-skis worked great.

  60. April 1- PLPP- Elkwood Parking-CCW- Wheeler-Amos-Wooly-Meadow-Elkwood Parking

    A nice day to get out. Good track setting with alternating snow with good texture and icy conditions. A fair amount of debris with the odd pine cone being the most dangerous, The centre median would soften up and become considerably slower then the groomed track.
    Attention to the conditions of the trail was on the mind of the skier at all times due to the hazards present. We had one skier take a face plant. We cut the day short in order not to become too tired and savor what we had done up to that point

  61. Nordic Centre 9:30 – 11:30 still in surprisingly good shape. Bow Trail’s hard surface good for fast skating, Banff Trail similar. Classic tracks OK, mild to moderate pine needle infestation. Some thin areas easily avoided. Better, (very good) conditions on Meadowview. Was passed by a team athlete who said he had good grip with Swix VR60 on classic skis. Best conditions on Olympic and Centennial, although downhill sections just above day lodge hard and icy.

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