-Pocaterra, between Whiskey Jack and Packers-
Before I get started, thank you for the birthday well-wishes. You make me feel loved and appreciated! The excellent conditions in PLPP were a nice birthday present, and there’s nowhere I’d have rather been.
I’ve come to the realization that the secret to enjoyable spring skiing is an overcast sky. The photos aren’t as vivid and bright, but the skiing was fantastic. If we could have conditions like they were today, I might become a bigger fan of spring skiing.
The sun was unable to wreak havoc on the trails except for the occasional minute or two where it peeked through the clouds. There was no fear of hitting quicksand when descending the steep hills. The conditions were consistent and uniform. When I say consistent, I mean consistently soft and wet. Wax would not have worked very well unless you were out really early. The tracks were still quite firm and my skis weren’t sinking in. There was some fresh snow over the recent tracksetting, and I found the corduroy to be faster than the tracks on Whiskey Jack and Tyrwhitt.
My zero skis were made for days like this. In 27.5K of skiing, I didn’t have to herringbone once. Not even on the steep part of Whiskey Jack. The ice flow on Packers was soft enough for me to have grip and stride right through. I was a bit concerned while skiing along Tyrwhitt because it started snowing lightly. Zero skis in fresh falling snow are worse than useless. If it had been snowing at the trailhead, I probably would have used the skintecs. The snow didn’t last, and I had no issues with icing or high-heels.
It was +1°C at Boulton Creek at 11:15 a.m. when I started up Whiskey Jack. As it mentions on the trail report, the initial 500 metres on WJ has some icy spots but they were not a problem. When I came down WJ four hours later, still no problem.
When I got to the top of WJ, I was undecided which way to turn. I knew there was brand new grooming lower down on Pocaterra, Packers, Lynx, Amos. I considered that loop, but decided to do the Tyrwhitt loop(WJ, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox Creek, Moraine), thinking it might be the final good opportunity for this winter.
Just as I was about to start my descent on the Elk Pass hills, I saw a horde of people coming up the hill. 26 in total. 17 were on showshoes with 9 skiers mixed in. I thought it best to stay put at the top of the hill, and just as well. Among the skiers were Henry and Anna, and I also got to chat with Rene, Bruce and Colin(thanks for the trip report).
The skiing was wonderful – until I came to Moraine. Even Fox Creek was pretty good with new tracksetting, although it had a few icy spots. Moraine was basically a luge track through the trees. I still had good grip on the ice, but I’m glad I was travelling mostly in the uphill direction. In the exposed area, it was down to bare ground where I removed my skis and walked for about 100 metres.
Upon arriving back at Boulton Creek, I decided to check out Packers. The conditions near the bottom were similar to WJ, with some icy tracks, but it improved with elevation and I kept on going to the top. Pocaterra, heading in either direction, looked wonderful, and I went south, climbing towards WJ.
At the WJ – Pocaterra intersection I met Barry who left the detailed trip report yesterday. He was thrilled with today’s conditions on his waxless skis. The trip down WJ was a lot slower than I would have liked, but I was glad that I had no sunny/shady transitions to cope with on the steep parts.
As I was driving back, it was raining at Pocaterra, but it looked like it could turn to snow. The trail leading out from Pocaterra hut has about 6-8 cm of new snow(from Sunday) over the underlying icy base.
At this time of year, you could see bear tracks in PLPP, especially on Tyrwhitt or Whiskey Jack. I took this photo of bear tracks on Tyrwhitt in 2006. It’s time to dig out the bear spray.
Speaking of bears, the “boss” is back in Banff National Park.