– The Horyn family was enjoying Family Day on the Sundance Canyon trail. –
It’s a rare occasion when Brewster creek gets trackset, so today I headed for Banff.
To access Brewster creek, you’re required to ski on Sundance canyon for 2.4K, then on Healy creek for 2.9K. Previous to the floods, it was a lot simpler when we could start at the Healy creek trailhead and ski for 1.8K to access Brewster creek. Now we have to start at the Cave and Basin and ski 5.3K.
The worst part of this trip is the 500-metre walk in your ski boots to the trailhead. The new configuration of the Cave and Basin and its parking lot has made it very inconvenient for cross-country skiers. At the end of your ski, you have to do the long walk again.
Another downside to this situation is that you can’t check the snow conditions on the trail beforehand. Erring on the side of caution, I chose to take waxless skis. The temperature was +2°C at 1 pm so I expected my waxable skis may not perform adequately. It turns out that the snow was still nice and cold and wax would have worked. When I met Barb and Elaine, they were using waxable skis with VR50(0/-4) with adequate results.
I was pleasantly surprised at the good conditions at the trailhead. Sundance canyon trail takes a lot of abuse from walkers but so far, so good. It was trackset yesterday, so the foot traffic hasn’t had enough time to completely demolish it.
There is occasional debris in the tracks, and along the open areas near the river, there are large snow drifts which have created moguls for a distance of about 200 metres. They were easy to navigate and added some interest to what is normally a completely flat trail.
Healy creek is single trackset and conditions were good except for the pine needles. The wind has deposited a lot of tree debris onto the trail but with waxless skis, it did not impact me. It’s a pleasant trail which meanders through pine and spruce with small rolling hills. Except for the debris, it was in better condition than I’ve usually seen it on past ski trips.
Arriving at the Brewster creek junction, I could see skier-set tracks in the deep snow on the portion of Healy creek which is no longer trackset. It will eventually lead you to the washed-out bridge at the Sunshine road.
Brewster creek is a relentless climb for the first 2.5K where it gains a net elevation of 180 metres. Thereafter it flattens out somewhat, but you will still accumulate considerably more elevation over the remaining 6.2K to Sundance Lodge.
I don’t know if the tracksetting goes all the way to the lodge or if the flooding has impacted that also. I only skied to the 3.6K point which is where another trail joins in.
There were lots of wolf tracks on Brewster creek. It looked like three wolves had used the trail to get to their destination somewhere further along than I went.
My round trip was 17.8K. If you went all the way to Sundance Lodge, it would be 28K.
There are those of us who love to follow the tracksetters around and I “ditto” all of Bob’s comments re. inconvenience of parking at Cave ‘n Basin, also the “moguls” on Sundance (or were those cement heaves from the flood?), and found the snowmobile tracks better on Healy Creek than the x-c ski tracks (less debris). I was not intending to travel today all the way to Sundance Lodge, but 3/4’s way up I found a huge set of keys on a carbiner on the trail. On the off chance that someone might be at the lodge, I persevered through the new routing over new bridges to get to the lodge. Great repair work by Parks and Lodge staff. What used to be a lovely ski from Sunshine Road turned today’s EFFORT into a Labour of Love. The owner of the keys, in talking to Amanda who books the lodge, was a guest who skied out from the lodge on Sunday and will be delighted to find out his keys have been found. I doubt I will do Sundance Lodge again this season until Healy Creek bridge is replaced, but the snow was lovely on Brewster Creek and the wolves prints were impressive. 28 kms eh? No wonder I’m bushed!
Canada hates to lose to anyone in hockey, and expectations are high for a gold medal in both men’s and women’s.
Norway feels the same about xc skiing, and especially despises losing to their neighbour and arch-rival Sweden.
I rather enjoyed this article on the feud between the two counries: http://www.thenational.ae/sport/olympics/bad-blood-between-nordic-neighbours-sweden-and-norway-in-olympic-cross-country-skiing
(Full disclosure: My blood is half Swedish. My great-grandfather changed his name from Karlsson to Truman after emigrating from Sweden)
The Norwegians certainly found their legs in the biathlon today.
(You may be distantly related to the great pro golfer Robert Karlsson -)
I doubt it. You haven’t seen me golf. -Bob
Hi Bob! I checked out the sunshine end of Healy creek trail yesterday (where the bridge is washed out). And noticed that some skiers had crossed the creek on a fallen tree to the other side and continued on the trail. There’s a good chance of getting wet feet but at least you don’t have to deal with the cave and basin! I might use my hip waders and do the same thing next time!
Those hip waders may also come in handy on the washed-out Spray river bridge when doing Goat creek! -Bob