Castle Lookout to Baker Creek – superb!

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

A couple things before I start my report.

Chuck would like me to remind everyone that on single tracksetting, downhillers have the right-of-way. That’s very important on Cascade Valley(beyond the 6K bridge) where Chuck was today, also on the Castle Lookout to Baker Creek trail where I was today. I’m pleased to say that everyone was following the rules on my trail. 

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

What did Chuck mean when he said “you’re already one year older than your grandfather?” Look at his amazing photos to figure it out. (Hint: count the points on the elk antlers). 

Couch-builder MaSid 

I just finished reading Helen Read’s trip report and had to laugh. When I met MaSid on the trail, we were both wondering where Helen was. Now we know. She was long gone by the time I started, and MaSid(first one on the trail today) was probably at the Baker Creek end when Helen was turning around at the end of the railway tracks. 

Everyone I met on the trail today read the news about new tracksetting. The Castle Lookout parking lot was pretty well full when I arrived, but one early bird just left and gave me their spot. 

Sophie and Bajoue

The air temperature was -6°C and the snow was -8. Yesterday’s blue wax(VR40) worked well all day. 

I can’t think of anything they could do to make the conditions any better than they were today. I was even able to stop before reaching the road on that first downhill as you leave Castle Lookout. That would be the only place where I would advise caution on this entire trail. 

Cassandra, Debbie and dogs Odin and Joe

I guess if there was anything that could be improved upon, maybe steady sun throughout the day. I had a mixture of sun and clouds while I was on the trail between 12:30 – 3:00. This trail has stunning scenery and it displays best in full sun. Oh yes, and more dogs. 

If the hill down to the road is too scary, simply remove your skis and walk down. It will probably be scraped bare by tomorrow unless there’s new snow overnight. 

Cheryl, Leslie, and dog Billie

The first bit of this trail winds through the forest but at 1K you are suddenly greeted with a magnificent view of Castle mountain. Soon you will start the gentle and short climb on the first hill. Be aware of descending skiers. There is only one track and the downhillers have the right-of-way. I moved over a few times, and when I was descending, approaching skiers were quick to clear the track for me. 

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

The views from the ridges of both hills are among the best you will find along a ski trail in MAAD’s Great Canadian Rockies. The day wouldn’t be complete without a train going by, far underneath. 

When you finish descending the second hill, you will feel the cold air coming from the dark and cold “tunnel.” The tunnel is exactly 1K long and it’s possible that you’ll see a train on the other end. 

I stepped to the side for Jeannie and Brian

Skiers were telling me about a cow moose and her calf around the Protection Mountain campground area but I was too late to see them. There were moose tracks everywhere. 

It was a good day for seeing dogs and I enjoyed talking with the dog’s owners. In my photos, the dog Odin had just stuck his face in the deep snow. The photo of Cheryl, Leslie and Billie was taken in the dark and cold tunnel. 

Don’t get confused. There are two trails which depart from Castle Lookout. The Castle Lookout to Castle Junction trail, which goes east from Castle Lookout, has a few places where it gets “sporty.” The downhill through the trees is the one that always has me on edge. 

Ribbon Creek and the Kananaskis Village trails are being groomed tonight. 


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  1. Re Chuck’s “single track right of way”: I thought that if there was space for two tracks that the “right hand rule” still applied. Skiers often get out of the track anyway on the downhill sections to better perform a snowplow or to obtain a wider stance for stability.

    • In the case of a single trackset, irrespective of the width of the trail, I’ve never heard of a “right hand rule” that overrides the “downhill right of way” rule. If there is any trackset, it almost always means the slope is gentle enough that it’s not necessary for downhill skiers to get out of the track to slow down or gain extra stability. (Exceptions include unusually fast conditions, a beginner skier, or inappropriate tracksetting.) In many cases, the slope is so gradual that the only way for a downhill skier to keep up speed is to stay in the track rather than move off to the side. One could also argue that uphill skiers are better off out of the track in order to get more grip.

      Nevertheless, there is a general “right hand rule” that applies to all activities in countries where people drive on the right, creating confusion when it conflicts with the “downhill rule”. I think Mary Perrott has the best solution: On a long sloping single trackset trail, the trackset should be set on the right in the downhill direction. That way both the “right hand” and “downhill” rules coincide.

      • The downhill right of way only applies to a single track. Re Mary’s idea of putting the tracksetting on the left-hand side as you go up: does this mean that the skiers climbing up the track do not get any track setting? Or are they suppose to go up the left where you would be back to where you started in this argument. The right hand rule for skiing has been around since Ullr and when you start changing it you are going to have accidents. I am not saying that you should never use the set track when you are going down hill but the fact is if you meet someone coming up that track, you are to “give way” to that person. If you cannot give way because you are going too fast, then you are to shout “track” to advise them that you are in THEIR track

  2. Good to see you yesterday Bob, if only just to say hi as we went down the hill! And thanks for stepping out of the track, much appreciated!

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