Skiing with the cougars – one on each side
Goat Creek was trackset on Tuesday, so I headed out yesterday afternoon to check it out. As you can see in the above photo, I was skiing with momma cougar on one side and baby cougar on the other. Fortunately for everyone, the cougars were here about an hour before me!
Indeed, the trail had been trackset and already there was a couple cm of new snow over the grooming. I had a skied-in track for about the first 3K, after that I had to break trail for about 10K, all the way to the Spray River loop. The cougar tracks started about the same place where the first skiers turned around. Coincidence?
In the photo below, you can see the cougar tracks running in both directions:
In some places, both cats walked in one of the ski tracks and broke trail, so that was helpful. The cougar tracks continued for about 10K, almost to the Spray River loop. It was interesting to watch where they veered off the trail – they never walked across a bridge, always choosing to go around.
Back to the trail and snow conditions, it was another cold day at minus 16 but once on the trail, it was quite pleasant. The ski tracks were good all the way to the Spray River loop, at which time they were pretty thin in places but immeasurably better than on Tuesday when I skied here.
The winding hill down to the bridge at Goat Creek still had some rocks, but they were covered with the fresh snow, so it was a guessing game on the way down. Didn’t hear any scraping sounds, so I made it down without incident. After a few more skiers snowplow their way down, it will expose the rocks.
Keep in mind, if you’re starting this trail from the Canmore end(the Goat Creek trailhead), the first 1.7K is never trackset. The tracksetting starts at the Banff National Park boundary. The first 1.7K will usually be well-packed from skiers, hikers, and snowshoers. Also, this is not a trail for novice skiers.
One of the best features of Goat Creek is that you end up at the Banff Springs Hotel, just a stone’s throw from the Upper Hot Springs. It felt really good to relax in the warm mineral water on such a cold day.
I’m hoping to organize a bus trip from Calgary, so we can all be droppped off in Canmore, and picked up in Banff and be whisked off to the hot springs without having to worry about the annoying car shuttle. Send me an email if you want to be notified when I get it organized. firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Banff trail report shows that Sundance Canyon and Healy Creek have also been trackset, as well as the trails around Castle Junction.
26 additional photos including one showing the cougar tracks avoiding a bridge.