Sweet sixteen

Mark and Giselle on Elk pass

Fifteen wild Decembers have melted into spring since my first foray up that big hill, yet I never grow tired of seeing the fluffy, white pillows of snow which appear every winter on Elk pass. With low expectations for today’s trip, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The only poor conditions were at the Elk pass parking lot. It’s a skating rink under the new snow, and with ski boots on, it’s easy to slip.

Pillows of snow along Elk pass

Pillows of snow along Elk pass

For my first adventure on Elk pass this winter, there was about 5-6 cm of high-density snow over last night’s grooming. I was agonizing over which skis(waxable or waxless) to use because the temperature was 0°C and I thought it might be a “high-heels” day if I used wax. Other than the warm temperature, all the indicators were in favour of waxable. The snow had stopped falling, it was cloudy, and the tracks were well skied-in by the time I hit the trail around 2:30 pm.

It's about 1K and 80 metres net elevation to the top of the first hill

It’s about 1K and 80 metres net elevation to the top of the first hill

I decided to go with wax, and it turned out to be a good choice because I had no problems with icing, and grip was fine. Glide was rather slow with all the new snow, but the skiing was very enjoyable nonetheless.

I hardly had to herringbone at all while climbing the hill. I met Norman at 1.9K who had been up to the pass, and broke trail on Hydroline and Patterson for 2K.

There was about 5 - 6 cm of new snow over last night's tracksetting

There was about 5 – 6 cm of new snow over last night’s tracksetting

At the picnic table at the top of Elk pass I had a nice chat with Mark and Giselle who were returning from an overnighter to the Elk Lakes cabin. They said conditions were quite treacherous going in yesterday and spent a considerable amount of time walking down some of the icy hills. They had a much more pleasant ski out today.

On the return, I followed Norman’s tracks down Hydroline, then proceeded down Patterson. The snow on Hydroline was colder and powdery. The best part of the trip was coming down the 2.6K section of Elk pass from Patterson junction. It wasn’t super fast today, but still a lot of fun.

Am I ready for this?

Am I ready for this?

I ran into some skiers who broke trail all the way down Tyrwhitt and Whiskey jack, then had the unfortunate experience of trying to ski along Boulton creek. It’s been in very rough shape since the flood, and not recommended for skiing.

For me, a ski trip to Elk pass becomes more precious and treasured as every year goes by. I’m looking forward to climbing the hill many more times in year sixteen!

P.S. I’d be thrilled if someone recognizes where I stole the line “Fifteen wild Decembers have melted into spring…” I waited a long time to use that!


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  1. Hi skierbob! Great photos of Mark and I 🙂 Would you be able to send us a copy? Hope to run into you again, love the blog!
    Giselle and Mark

    It was a pleasure meeting you! Check your inbox, I’ve sent five photos. -Bob

  2. “Cold in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee,
    You paid dearly for tucking on the way down from Elk Pass…”


    • I hadn’t considered that one but it’s a fitting association. There are many lines in that poem which could be adapted to cross-country skiing, especially with the problems we’ve encountered in the past week. “And even Despair was powerless to destroy” could be modified to say, “And even wind, fallen trees, pine needles, and ice” were powerless to destroy.

      Here’s a link to the entire poem http://genius.com/Emily-bronte-remembrance-annotated/

  3. Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey

    Five years have past; five summers, with the length
    Of five long winters! and again I hear
    These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
    With a sweet inland murmur

  4. Emily Brontë, the “Remembrance” poem. Isn’t it?

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