If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll be aware of the sketchy downhill to the Goat Creek bridge. I’ve emphasized the need for extreme caution when descending to the bridge. For anyone unaware of the danger, it’s an accident waiting to happen.
As you approach the drop of doom, you’ll first see a “Narrow Bridge” sign for one of the single lane bridges about 400 metres before the Goat Creek bridge. The narrow bridge is at the bottom of a fairly fast downhill and you want your skis to be pointed straight ahead or you will catch it on one of the handrail supports and …game over.
200 metres further up the trail, you’ll see another “Narrow Bridge” sign which is understating the danger as you arrive at the steep downhill to the Goat Creek bridge.
There used to be a “Caution” sign at the side of the trail, but it’s no longer there. In good snow conditions, you can snowplow your way down, but you still have to make a sharp last-second turn to access the bridge.
The trail builds speed the further down you go, so when you finally see the bridge, you might be going too fast to make the turn, and your only choice then is to bail, or as Steve just commented, “sliding to a stop by wrapping his arms around the rail, after running into it.” It might also involve a pretty severe blow to your mid-section.
I have probably walked down the final 100 metres as many times as I’ve skied down. After lots of skiers have snowplowed down to the bridge, it becomes hard-packed and difficult to control your speed. It’s also quite common in the early season to have rocks poking through the snow.
On Feb 19, 2013, I encountered two friendly skiers on Goat Creek who hadn’t previously skied the trail. This is what I later wrote:
“I skied with them for about 5K and scared them enough about the downhill to the Goat creek bridge that they removed their skis and walked down. Katelyn bailed at the top of the hill when she saw what lay before her. It was scraped pretty clean.”
Does anyone know what year Banff National Park started grooming the Spray River/Goat Creek trails?
Skrastins Senior Outdoor Club did this on Jan 19th. It had rained the night before and then a couple of centimeters of fresh snow had fallen on the trail after. So it became hard packed with the fresh snow on top of it. On the first major bridge from the Canmore side one of our members successfully navigated herself on to the bridge, only to cross a ski and take a tumble. From the skiers who had already crossed the bridge and waiting for the rest of the group to arrive it looked like she was going to go through the rails of the bridge and into the creek!. She was fine though and she said that she would not have gone through. To me there will have to be some kind of excavation made around the entrance to the bridge to make that area much wider, deeper(develop beyond the bridge) and much flatter than it is now. Does anyone know who is responsible for trail maintenance on this trial?
If a physical fix was possible, as per steves suggestion, what would work best? Just a widening, a run out lane, bridge change or a reroute of the trail? Don’t know the terrain enough to know what is possible/workable or easily doable. But no shortage of knowledge and expertise within the community. Perhaps some organized input is worthwhile, similar to improvements made to grooming methods in the area (thanks to bob et al). As one poster mentioned, if it prevents one injury…..well done.
I was amused to read this as I have had a “run in” with the bridge which had me stop by running into the end of the rail! Knocked my wind out and left me with sore ribs.