After seeing that Pocaterra had been roller-packed from the Hut to Packers, I wanted to check it out. Today I skied the entire length of the trail and met with a variety of conditions.
On Ray’s Trip Report, talking about Upper Pocaterra, he said “South Pocaterra is trackset and in great condition.” Well, I think he undersold it by calling it great. It was fantastic. Firm, well-defined, fast tracks but not icy. Excellent grip going up and ultra-fast glide going down.
I skied the late shift from the Back Door where there were 4 cars in the parking lot at 2:15 pm. The temperature was -1°C and the snow was in excellent condition. It has not been affected whatsoever by warm weather up there. I waxed with VR50(0/-4) but I think I could have used VR45 which is one step colder.
For our new readers, I want to clarify Upper Pocaterra Vs Pocaterra. Upper Pocaterra refers to the 4.4K section between Packers and Tyrwhitt. The elevation is between 1800 metres and 1900 meters. 1800m is the magic number for having excellent snow at this time of year. The Pocaterra hut is at 1640 metres.
From the Back Door I skied south to the Whiskey Jack junction. I had originally planned on going north towards Packers, but when I saw the tracks, I couldn’t resist going up, knowing how wonderful the downhill would be. And it was.
From Packers north to the hut, there is good snow coverage but it’s very bumpy and uneven. I guess you could call it fair, early-season conditions. No rocks, dirt, or ice. Every downhill was “sporty” as MaSid would say. Some are scraped down to hardpack. Today’s wind blew a lot of tree debris onto the trail, but the 2 cm of snow in the forecast should help mitigate that. The debris didn’t affect the skiing. Tonight’s snow is the last we’ll see for a while according to the forecasts.
It was nice to see the Pocaterra moose is back and already using the trail. She wandered from side to side for about a kilometre just below Packers junction. Two grouse were hanging around one of the picnic tables. Possibly offspring from the “boss.”
I made short side trips onto Whiskey Jack and Lynx to look at the conditions. Whiskey Jack which is trackset is excellent near the top. I imagine the steep S-turn is getting scraped down to hardpack. Lynx is much the same as Pocaterra.
One K from the Pocaterra hut there is a warning sign “Hazardous Downhill.” It was not hazardous at all. The snow was totally edgeable and I had no trouble making the turn.
I was amazed at how nice the skiing was on the 650-metre Back Door trail considering it’s not groomed. The Back Door trail runs from Hwy #40 to Pocaterra trail, midway between Whiskey Jack and Packers. The parking lot holds 10-12 vehicles. If you park on the road you’ll get a ticket. The Back Door is 8.9K south of the barrier on Hwy #40. The official name is Kananaskis Fire Lookout Access Road.
I’m not optimistic about Pocaterra Hut staying open with today’s Pandemic announcement. I guess it might be possible if they put a limit of 10 people at any one time. New signage indicates masks are mandatory in the hut.
Cypress Hills update
I received a report from the groomer at Cypress Hills indicating the Spring Creek trails have been groomed and trackset over the past two days. Ferguson Hill has been groomed. Watch out for one icy spot on FH.
A potential “resource” article suggestion bob: some kind of waxing primer for beginners, understanding the different types, varieties, do’s and don’ts, fluorocarbons, synthetics, and acronyms (brand naming etc: VR vs “special extra”). When is best to use fishs scales, skins, or wax. I’ve always used fish scales for cross country gear, being daunted by it and not wanting to bother (and never really cared about maximum speed or distance). I have used wax on my AT gear but have only had real success with polar wax temps. Anything warmer seems to be more art than science. There may be many new users looking for a similar overview and additional resources.