The magic of winter

I revisited some little-used, low-priority trails around Ribbon Creek which had just been groomed, and had a blast. Before we get to that, have you read the comments that came in today for the contest? Unreal. Other wordly could describe the comment which Bill left. Make sure you read it. Contest

No, I didn't become a downhiller. Believe it or not, this is a XC trail that I'm on here. Look at the sign. Where is it?

When I say low-priority trails, these are the ones which seem to get groomed last. Hidden, Ruthie’s, Troll Falls, Hay Meadow, and Coal Mine. I probably haven’t skied Hidden for years, so started out on it this afternoon. It was a pleasant -5 in the Ribbon Creek parking lot with blue skies and snow temp was -7, made for blue wax.  

Hidden trail. This leads from the Ribbon Creek trailhead, up to Nakiska downhill ski area, continuing on to the junction with Skogan Pass and Ruthie's. Feb 2, 2011

With above zero temperatures on the way for the next three days, the window of opportunity might not last. The Hidden trail takes you right through the Nakiska ski area, and good luck finding your way. It’s an obstacle course at best, but it’s good to ski through here to remind yourself why cross country skiing is so much better than downhill. Line-ups, noise, and big $ just to ski. Furthermore, you ride up the hill in a metal chair instead of  struggling and sweating. What fun is that? What’s happened to the work ethic? 🙂 

Straight ahead, if you have sharp eyes, is the XC ski trail sign as you proceed through Nakiska. Feb 2, 2011

There are small XC skier signs if you can notice them. In the  photo, I’ve just skied past the lifts and the daylodge. You won’t have the benefit of the red arrow if you actually go there. God help you if you approach it from the other side. You may get lost and end up becoming a downhiller, banished to the dark side. 

After the racket of Nakiska, if you can find your way out, the peacefulness returns as you reach the junction of Skogan Pass and Ruthie’s. Ruthie’s is like the drop of doom, and you have to come to a screeching stop or you’ll fly right past the Troll falls trail on your left.

Troll falls. As you can see from the inset, I managed to get a photo of the elusive troll. You have to search a bit to find him. Feb 2, 2011

 The snow conditions on the 300M ungroomed trail to the falls was excellent. Good snow cover, well-packed from all the skiers and hikers. You can walk or ski, but if you ski, be prepared to do some tree-dodging on the return which is a bit downhill.

Hay Meadow. Feb 2, 2011

It’s rare to have such good snow conditions on Hay Meadow. In another month or so, this spot is where you’ll find observers from the  Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation counting the eagles as they migrate in the spring. This is known as the Mt Lorette observation site. Many years ago, I came across the legendary Peter Sherrington himself and was enthralled for half an hour with his stories.

I continued on to the Troll Falls groomed trail, back up Ruthie’s, through Nakiska once again, with my sights set on Coal Mine.

Coal Mine trail near the top. Feb 2, 2011

Coal Mine is a trail on which you want to have excellent conditions to get the full enjoyment. It’s a 240M elevation gain over 2.6K. I have to say this is the best I’ve ever seen it. To make a long story short, it took 33 minutes up, and four screaming minutes down. The climb is relentless. The trail doesn’t flatten out until you’re almost at the top.

I always thought my demise would be from a cougar, or freezing to death, but standing in the middle of the trail as I rocketed down was a big bull elk. Luckily(for me), he was fleet of foot and moved quickly. No time to get a photo as I whizzed past.

 What a beautiful sunset today:

Sunset over K-country. Feb 2, 2011

 Shaganappi has been trackset

I finished tracksetting at 8:30 pm Tuesday and it looked good with the snowmobile headlamp. BUT who knows after today’s Chinook temperatures and winds. Hopefully it will survive through the weekend.

When I checked in daylight before lunch today there were 40 school students and 4 teachers from a school in NE Calgary having fun skiing. How gratifying to see schools travelling great distances to enjoy our City-centre ski area.

There were also some 10 or 12 cars in the parking lot with many smiling faces packing skis away while others had a look of eager anticipation with the blue sky, sunshine and warmer weather.

If the weather cooperates and I have time I will shovel snow on the thin spots.

Alasdair Fergusson
Coordinator Tracksetting 1993 -Present

Shaganappi trail report


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  1. bah, I was certain! guess I need to work on my landmarking…

  2. Hey Bob,
    I just wanted to thank you for promoting Ribbon Creek’s lesser known trails. When the snow is good like now these are some of my favorites, especially Coal Mine a grunt up, but oh the veiws and awesome run down..
    Thanks again
    Jeff the Groomer

    Thanks for the great grooming job. The snow and trail conditions on Coal Mine were exceptional. -Bob

  3. Very good conditions at West Bragg on Wednesday afternoon. A bit of glazing in the sunniest spots from the warm weather, and occasional small icy patches from melting snow dripping from trees. Nonetheless, excellent skiing overall.

  4. I’m thinking that it’s hard to see because it’s Hidden.

    Good guess! -Bob

  5. looks like the side of Cascade and the Fairholme Range… thinking the Nakiska trail head looking notheast-ish. The Forty Mile Creek trail/touring system has been on my ski and hike list for a little while now! Had a good day with a short jaunt on Goat Creek (pretty melt/freeze affected. Crunchy in places) and then Brewster Creek until just short of the cabin. Great trail, great shape

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