A new blog is ready

I’d like to give a warm and enthisiastic welcome to SkierRoger.

Roger Sakatch

One of the nice features which you will notice is that trip reports will appear front and centre on the home page. Click over and have a look – Roger welcomes your feedback and suggestions. 

Roger has posted a self-introduction and tells you a little about himself. 

If there is any more skiing to be done this spring, I hope you will leave a report on the new blog as it will help Roger fine-tune and make sure everything is working properly. No doubt there will be a few glitches to iron out going forward. 

Most of the menu items from my blog have been transferred over, so it should be one-stop shopping. 

Snow-couch funding

MaSid’s Pipestone river couch

“Snow couch funding throughout the empire where decent seating unavailable!”

Like me, did you have a good chuckle upon reading MaSid’s suggestion for the slush fund?

This post isn’t about MaSid’s suggestion to underwrite funding for snow-couches, but it exemplifies why I’ve enjoyed the contributions to this blog. 

As Helen said about MaSid, “you have a gift for creative writing and your personality shines through your unique reports.”

That could be said about most of the people who have commented on here. 

The finish line for my blog is in sight

I’ve been trying to find the words to express my appreciation to everyone who has contributed trip reports and comments, so the following comment from Helen is what I want to say…

“It is ALL these unique reporters who share who they are and what they do that makes this blog such a gift to the rest of some of us, senior ‘armchair enthusiasts.’  I have loved everyone’s reports AND pictures: (Chuck/Alf/Steve/Normand/Diana/Jeff/Erin …..ALL who post) and vicariously inhale every single word that is written and photo that is shared…..I look forward to seeing you all next season.”

A new chapter is about to begin and I will soon be giving you a link to a new blog.

******
Kananaskis Conservation Pass

The final results of the CTV poll question, “Do you support user fees for Kananaskis Country?” were 1509-1415 in favour. 52% – 48%. 

The CBC Eyeopener podcast from April 28 has a segment on Pay-to-Play in Kananaskis

Statement from Bragg Creek Trails re: Kananaskis Conservation Pass

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) Minister Jason Nixon announced the details of a Kananaskis Conservation Pass on April 27th. The pass will help pay for conservation, public safety, and services. It will take effect starting on June 1, 2021. 

Bragg Creek Trails (BCT) is pleased to see that trail stewardship and access to public lands continues to be a focus of this government during a time of provincial financial constraint. The pledge to reinvest 100% of the collected fees back into K-Country infrastructure and services in response to the increased public demand will ensure the long term sustainability of this precious area.

In his address, Minister Nixon mentioned maintaining partnerships with nonprofit organizations such as BCT. BCT is dedicated to trail and environmental stewardship activities and relies heavily on grants and donations to operate.  It is reasonable to expect that implementation of a user fee will result in most of that private funding to BCT evaporating.        

The details around how partnership agreements will be implemented and funded moving forward have not been discussed with us yet.  We look forward to building this new model with AEP to ensure the existing services provided by BCT remain sustainable well into the future. As the details become available, BCT will provide further updates to all BCT members and donors.

Sincerely,

Conrad Schiebel 

BCT President

Paradise….

Valley.

Paradise Valley. Photo by Chuck

Thanks to Chuck for the report and photos. Chuck remarked... “Ski season is far from over in Banff National Park.” See all Chuck’s photos including another bird besides the Chickadee. I’ve probably seen a Savannah Sparrow somewhere but I didn’t know what it was. 

Chickadee. Photo by Chuck

A lot of excitement today surrounding the announcement of the Kananaskis Conservation Pass.  The new pass will cover grooming, so the Kananaskis Parking Pass will go down in history as a one-hit wonder. It was a #1 hit in my opinion. I’m surprised nobody asked Ken Hewitt about the slush fund of about $80,000 which was collected over-and-above what was required to pay the government. 

CTV has an online poll asking people “Do you support user fees for Kananaskis Country?” As I write this, it’s 767 – 712 in favour.  Poll Question

Thirteen winters have melted into spring since this blog started back in 2008 but I will soon be writing my final update. I’ve seen the first draft of a new blog to replace this one. It is a work in progress but I’m impressed. I’ll be posting a link to it when the website is ready.  I’m pretty sure you’ll easily forget about me.  (Truthfully, I knew someone could do a better job and I’m thrilled). 

Pocaterra trailhead.

The vultures are circling and getting ready to pick over the bones of whatever is left on the PLPP north end ski trails. I usually post photos like these a lot earlier, but the season has been prolonged by the fresh snow and cooler weather over the past few weeks. The high tomorrow(Wed) in PLPP is +8°C after a low of zero tonight. 

Boulton Creek

For the record, the two photos on this update were taken in previous years. I’m not sure if the Pocaterra trailhead has puddles of water, or snow, or dirt. I know the hill above the Boulton bridge is one of the first spots to lose snow. 

Shoulder season has always been a difficult time of year for me: skiing is over but it’s too wet and muddy for decent hiking. I’ve gravitated more towards bike riding in recent years and today I was out on some of the paved paths in Calgary. I heard a Chickadee but wasn’t able to spot it, so Chuck’s photo was timely. Saw lots of crocuses. 

$90 fee to access Kananaskis Country

Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon

“The pass will support the continued grooming of xc ski trails” – Jason Nixon

Effective June 1, The Kananaskis Conservation Pass will be required for vehicles entering K-Country. 

It will go by your licence plate and you can include two vehicles for the fee. 

A $15 day pass is also an option. The good news is that we won’t have to pay extra for ski grooming. 

It costs the provincial government $107 million to provide recreation, conservation, and public safety services in K-Country. The pass is expected to bring in $15 million. 

Kananaskis Emergency Services responded to 428 calls for help last year, a 51% yearly increase. 

Today’s announcement includes $1 million for upgrades to the Canmore Nordic Centre. 

Visitor Centres will be re-opened. 

Among those exempt from the fee will be low-income earners and First Nations people.

You can watch a video of today’s news conference.

Calgary Sun Nixon Comes Out Swinging

CBC has a story Alberta to charge $90 annual fee for Kananaskis Country….

“the Kananaskis Conservation Pass will allow the government to invest $11.5 million in K-Country. That will include trail maintenance, search and rescue operations, visitor services and the upkeep of facilities at day-use areas and campgrounds. “

Number crunching

With Tessa at Nipika in 2011

This blog reached 1.8 million+ readers this winter, and logged 2.4 million page views. 

The average winter readership over the past four years was 1.1 million. 

Photo from 1999

Since starting the blog in 2008…

  • I’ve written 2854 updates. 
  • 28,750 comments have been submitted. 

I don’t know what possessed me to log every ski trip and my distance traveled. Perhaps it encouraged me to try and do even more the following season. In any event, here are some final statistics:

My favourite trail, Tyrwhitt

Since I started skiing in 1997…

  • I’ve logged 25,029 kilometres.
  • The most kilometres I’ve skied in one winter was 1731 in 2012-2013. I skied 105 times that season. 
  • The most kilometres I’ve skied in one day is 71(Lake Louise to Banff in 2004). 
  • I’ve skied my all-time favourite trail, Tyrwhitt, 134 times(but no amount will ever be enough). 
  • My second-favourite: Goat Creek, 84 trips. 
  • I’ve climbed Whiskey Jack 203 times. 

First trail I ever skied: Terrace, at Kananaskis Village. My first winter of skiing in 1997-98, I logged 90 kilometres. 

Times I skied with my dog, Tessa: 156. I miss her every day. 

Medals I’ve won in ski races: 17

When I started skiing, all I was interested in was going fast. I entered a lot of ski races and had fun competing against my friend Peter who I met in the Calgary Ski Club. He was usually standing in my way of a gold medal but I finally beat him in a come-from-behind victory in the 2005 Cookie race which was a memorable event for me. 

Excellent “scraps” at West Bragg Creek

Moose Connector at West Bragg Creek. Photo by Ray Yong

Thanks to Ray Yong for the photo and report from West Bragg Creek…

“Snow was thin at the trailhead but fine in the trees.  It was wet and slightly sticky, but no problems with clumping or sticking.  I was using my skin skis and the grip was fine.  Made the mistake of trying mountain road – it’s really, really thin and rocky closer to the trailhead, so best to avoid that move!  The snow isn’t melting in the covered trails, which is great, so it’s best to stick to the inner trails.

Lots of people walking all over the trails, so be prepared for that.”

******

When Aqua Toque mentioned “scraps” at West Bragg Creek, I wasn’t expecting to see this. The photo above is a screen capture from the video. To see the 30-second video, click on this link Fox Video. 

Question about setting up ski trails in a Calgary park

Dylan Jones is looking for advice…

“I live in Woodbine in Calgary, and I’ve offered to help my community association potentially set up a ski trail/circuit in some park space that’s being underutilized. But I’ve got no idea what I’m doing lol!

I wanted to see if you could maybe help me out. Essentially I need to figure out what it takes to establish and maintain a ski trail: what equipment is needed? How much might it cost us? How much time/maintenance is required? etc.

Any tips you could help me out with would be really appreciated. I just recently got my family into the sport and am pretty new to it myself, and I’d love to help add some simple local access for my community.

p.s. really appreciate all the insights and help you offer on your site!”

Thanks a bunch,
Dylan Jones

West Bragg Creek; More snow on the way

Loggers at West Bragg Creek. Photo by Alf Skrastins

April 24, 2021

Thanks to Alf Skrastins for this report from West Bragg Creek: “5-7cm of new snow did fall at WBC.  The base has melted out a bit more over this past week, but enough remains to allow for a nice ski on the core trails.” 

West Crystal Line. Photo by Alf Skrastins

GMJ had this to say about yesterday’s skiing in PLPP(Whiskey Jack, Lookout, Upper Pocaterra, Packers): “Still remarkable good conditions for late April.”

A snowfall warning has been issued for Canmore and Kananaskis….

“A long duration snowfall event is expected to continue along the eastern slopes of the Rockies until Sunday evening. Snowfall accumulation of 20 to 30 cm is expected by the end of the weekend, with the highest amounts anticipated over communities at higher elevations.”

Grooming has ended in PLPP but the Canmore Nordic Centre is still tracksettting the man-made snow on Banff trail, Banff Loop, and Bow Teardrop until the end of this month. 

It’s -6°C at the Lower Lake this morning. Predicted high temperatures for today and Sunday in PLPP are -1°C and zero respectively, so the snow should be fairly cold. Things warm up on Monday and that will be the beginning of the end. 

Lionel

Lionel. Photo by Alf Skrastins

April 21, 2021

A few days ago, Alf Skrastins made a good case for resurrecting Lionel as a groomed ski trail  The easiest, longest, most scenic beginner trail in Kananaskis. 

The sky was overcast that day and his photos weren’t optimal for displaying the remarkable scenery along the trail. Yesterday, Alf returned to the scene and I’ve posted a few of the beautiful blue-sky photos. You can see more on Alf’s report. For those who are late to the game, Lionel is the closed portion of Hwy #40 from the winter gate to the Back Door, about 9K. 

 

Will Ski Mania continue?

I was reading an article in XCSkiResorts.com where they asked the question…

“We don’t know whether the introduction of XC skiing to many first-time XC skiers encouraged enough of them to become regular XC skiers”

As the Shirelles put it in their #1 hit song “Is this a lasting treasure, or just a moment’s pleasure?”

If things are back to normal by November, will the first-time skiers still be keen, or will there be lots of used gear for sale? Perhaps it begs the question, “Will Covid ever be conquered?” 12 months ago, I never dreamed the pandemic would still be raging.