Don’t get me wrong. If you have a masochistic streak, or enjoy high-risk behavior, or have honkin’-wide metal-edged skis, this could be the trail for you.
With so many excellent places to ski, I made the one bad choice. I’m happy to hear all the glowing Trip Reports of good conditions, and to maintain that situation, I hope I can dissuade you from entertaining any ideas about skiing at Redearth creek, unless it gets groomed.
Other skiers must know something that I don’t, because I did not run into a single person today. I was the one and only vehicle in the parking lot.
It’s ironic, too, because on Wednesday when Paul at CBC called me for the Real Ski Report, I said it was impossible to make a bad choice for xc skiing right now.
While Chip and Ivo were enjoying Skogan pass, the trail with the gigantic Hill Pain Score of 360, I was struggling on Redearth creek which only comes in with a score of 91.
To make matters worse, the wildlife gate won’t close. I kicked snow away from the bottom so it would swing shut, but then the holes in the latch don’t line up.
I went the wrong direction. It was -11°C when I left Canmore, but at the Redearth creek parking lot it was -18 at 12:30 pm.
On a positive note, waxing was easy. It was very pretty with the occasional view and all the snow-laden trees and bushes. I also saw some wolf tracks, and some other animal tracks which you’ll have to help me decipher. Strangely enough, the entire trail had bootprints from a person who walked up and back, probably yesterday.
Skiing up was enjoyable despite the steep hills. There’s good snow coverage, a good track, and no rocks or dirt. I reached the first high point at 5.4K and was warm and happy. I even saw the sun for about 3 seconds.
From the high point, it’s a further 1.6K, slightly downhill, to the campground
Past the campground the trail was only packed. I skied 1.3K past the campground and turned around because I could see it was going to be precarious coming back. There’s lots of downhill on the return, and the narrow packed trail is very choppy with ruts and ridges. The 1.3K back to the campground convinced me I made the right decision.
The final 5.4K(when returning) has a net elevation loss of 240 metres, so it’s fast and fun(usually). I didn’t expect it to be so perilous. Going up you don’t notice just how bumpy the tracks are, but when going downhill with any amount of speed, it’s a freakin’ washboard.
Occasionally you’ll hit a big bump that could easily throw you out of control. I was lucky to have some fresh snow in the tracks to slow me down, because it’s difficult to snowplow with that infamous ridge. When I did snowplow, I almost went flying when my ski hit a chunk of hard snow, so I was reluctant to do much of that. There’s about 3 cm of fresh snow on the trail, so it’s difficult to see what hazards are lurking underneath.
In any event, it was not fun coming down. Actually, it was downright nasty. It’s been a rarity this winter to have anything but good conditions to report, so I guess it was my turn.
I hate the feeling, after a ski trip, of feeling cheated or unsatisfied. Or that you just made a narrow escape from being injured. It’s a letdown to have your high expectations dashed like this, and it’s a shame with all the snow and cold weather that we don’t have better conditions here.
The Banff trail report indicates that Goat creek/Spray river were trackset today, and Cascade valley was done yesterday. Let’s hope Redearth creek is next!
There’s 10 cm of snow in the forecast for Sunday night and Monday.
Sounds good, glad to hear it is uncrowded. This is a typical backcountry trail that can be adversely affected by the commercial sled traffic to Shadow Lake. I was wondering if they had opened for the Holiday season. It hasn’t changed much in that respect for 35 years. Users must be prepared for dealing with that, and then they can enjoy a peaceful day, or easier access to Egypt Lake if that is their destination. I wasn’t aware, is this one of the trails that is still supposed to be track set in the Park?
Thanks for the report.
Thanks Bob, for taking one for the team!
We have been doing our annual Boxing Day Turkeyburner ski to the Kananaskis Fire Lookout with friends for around 20 years, but faced with the possibility of bone-chilling morning temps to start the day in PLPP, we changed venues to West Bragg and were rewarded with plenty of sun and a high of -6, after starting out at noon in -14. Ski conditions on Moose and the Mountainview’s, etc were very good overall with recent snow over older grooming. Just watch carefully for the few bare spots on Mountainview West! The easterly part of Mountain Road, and Crystal Line west, had fresh track setting.