Friday night update with good news


Pocaterra trail near the hut. Dec 18, 2009

Pocaterra is in nice shape for our daytrip tomorrow. No recent grooming, but the tracks are still good. The snow is cold, so there’s no problem with waxing.

Stephen Vermeulen sent this email regarding Pocaterra:

“I skied Pocaterra trail from the hut up to the Packers junction and then along Packers about 1km today (Friday 18-Dec-09) Snow conditions were nice, the tracks were pretty good along most of Pocaterra, but the top part of Packers needs to be track set (it was groomed but not track set and then about 10cm of snow has fallen on top since) as the skier set tracks are pretty sloppy.”

Recent tracksetting in PLPP

 Talk about good timing.

Tracksetting on Whiskey Jack. Dec 18, 2009

I went to Boulton parking lot to ski up Whiskey Jack . Just as I started out around 2:30, the tracksetter was just finishing. So I had new tracksetting for the entire loop consisting of Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox Creek and Moraine. It was all excellent, and once the tracksetting has had a night to set up, it should be fantastic tomorrow.

Hydroline and Blueberry were buried in new snow, probably 15-20 cm. There are skier-set tracks. If you’re heading for Elk Lakes in BC, here’s what the trail looks like(and you’ll want big baskets on your poles):

Trail to Elk Lakes in BC. Dec 18, 2009


Shelli sent this:

“I went skiing today at Hawkridge and, if not all, most of the trails are open.  The warm weather has caused some of the tracks to collapse, but there’s good snow coverage and I had a great couple of hours out there this afternoon.”

Ribbon Creek may be coming back to life 

 I’ve heard a rumour, from two reliable people, that Ribbon Creek is going to be groomed, maybe as soon as this weekend.  The Ribbon Creek trail report confirms that it will be groomed sooner or later.

The wolves

Wolf tracks. Dec 18, 2009

I had an incredible encounter with some wolves today. All I have to show for it is the photo of their tracks at the roadside, but it was a memorable event, one that I will never forget. 

It’s about 5:30 and driving home from PLPP after a great day of skiing. It’s been about five minutes or so since I turned onto Hwy #40. Near the Grizzly Creek day-use area, I spot a herd of elk at the side of the road and slow down as I pass them. About 200 metres further, there’s a coyote; no wait, that’s not a coyote. It’s far too big and does not have that pointy snout. I think that’s a wolf! 

I ‘m  quite a ways past by now, but I turn around, hoping to catch another glimpse. I drive up the road just in time to see the wolf(no mistaking it now) in hot pursuit of the elk herd who are now running up the hill into the trees.  Snow is flying from the wolf’s paws as he, or she, runs through the deep powder on the hillside, zeroing in on the weakest, oldest, or perhaps even a lame elk. 

They all disappear into the forest. Luckily there’s a pull-out exactly at that spot, and I kill the engine and open the driver’s window and listen. I look for shadowy figures moving on the hillside opposite. 

I think to myself how fortuitous to have seen a wolf. I’ve been fortunate to see wolves a couple times along the Bow Valley Parkway at a distance. Occasions like this never last long enough. I’m hoping to see more. 

We don’t have to be scared of wild wolves, Little Red Riding Hood notwithstanding.  They’re not interested in humans(smart animals!). We are not their prey. Those fairy tales created a lot of unnecessary hysteria about wolves, and led to their non-stop persecution. We have finally learned that wolves are a necessary part of an intact ecosystem 

I learned a lot about wolves when I sponsored a radio-collared wolf who lived in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park many years ago. Her pack was appropriately called the Peter Lougheed pack, and she was the the alpha female.  Nakoda was her name and she was an excellent mother. She kept her pups safe from the highway, and did not engage in killing cattle. She was shot by an elk hunter on Sept 22, 2000. Her mate was found dead a few months later, and no one knows what happened to their six pups, but I think we can guess. Why does someone get a thrill from  doing something so dreadful? Killing a mother wolf who is going about her business, trying to raise her six pups. Not even safe in a place like this. 

I’m sitting on the side of the road with my window open. Listening. No moon. No stars. The road is deserted and dark. I’ve only been here for a minute or two. Suddenly I hear heavy, loud breathing and the clicking of toenails on pavement coming from behind. I barely have time to look, but there running at full tilt within two metres of my open window are two more wolves, racing down the road for maybe another 30 metres, at which point they turn and head into the trees where their pack mate chased the elk. 

I sit for a few minutes and soak it all in. That’s more than a person could wish for in a single day. I didn’t stick around much longer, just spending a few minutes to look for their tracks at the roadside. 

I hope they are all having a good feast right now.

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