Chuck has posted some excellent loppet photos from Baker Creek west to McNair Pond. Early in the race, most skiers were still smiling.
When I asked Robin if she was doing the 72K loppet, she replied “Yes, what was I thinking?!” Robin had completed 43K of her 72K loppet challenge when I met her on the Castle Lookout to Baker Creek trail. I think she welcomed the 30-second break to talk with me.
I started skiing at the finish line(the halfway mark for 72K loppeteers) at Castle Junction and headed west around noon. The air temperature was -8°C with a bright blue sky and no wind. A perfect day for participants in the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet to complete their preferred chllenge.
This year’s race is a pretty relaxed affair. Bill Keeling stopped and posed for pictures 2k from the finish line. Others were happy to stop and chat for a while. Racers stopped at the side of the white-knuckle downhill(1.5K from Castle Junction) to let others go by. There was a long cue at the top of the hill, maybe around 10 skiers, waiting to take the plunge. The last person in line was having a lot of trouble and had only managed to descend a few metres when I finally convinced her to walk down.
The trails are in great shape but after a day of heavy use the downhills will be a bit sporty.
The trails have been double-trackset where it is possible. A few places, especially in trees, the two tracks merge into one but only for short distances. The trails are relatively clean. I only saw one spot with a lot of debris but it was just a few metres. It was in the trees, not far from the hill I was just talking about.
Anne, who you can see in the photo dressed as Joan of Arc, said her GPS registered 35.99 kilometres at the finish line.
There was no way of identifying who was and who wasn’t racing because there were no bibs this year. I took photos of lots of skiers but I don’t know which ones were in the loppet.
The Parks Canada trail report indicates that Goat Creek, Spray River West, and Spray River East were trackset today.