I am trying to change the heading to: Trip Plaannig for a cold advancing air mass/ Goat Creek on Steroids / Trail Grooming at Lake Louise / Something Golden.
We have some amazing people on this website, from night skiers to winter canoe lovers...
Greg G.G. and JSG.
Out of the blue, I get a phone call from my youngest and tallest sister. She has openings for a 4 night 5 day hotel room, and her guests had to back out last minute. Now I must explain, that I had helped her purchase the latest version of wax less skis a year ago at a new and used ski shop up here in Edmonton. It was a high priority for me to get her onto skis in an enjoyable environment.
The first thing I did was to get a handle on the weather. Thanks to: having trained as a hot air balloon pilot, a few mountain weather courses with Alf, and numerous years of planning daytrips for the Calgary Ski Club (yes I helped mentor skierbob), she was in good hands.
Three days out: Yipes, it was a cold air mass slowly building and creeping down towards Canmore then gradually creeping up the Bow River Corridor towards the continental Divide. Now I didn't no where we were going to ski, but I wanted it somewhat warm, and hopefully some good quality track set terrain, which was a must for newer skiers when I was shaping our track set trail activities for the CSC.
Two days out: Well I am packing, somewhat frantically. Knowing that my sister had focus elsewhere with a home here in Edmonton full of guests, and a new pup. Food was being tossed into boxes, extra winter sports gear coming to mind with an intent to do when it was cold outside which would eventually include: skates, track set and Backcountry skis, snow shoes and and assorted poles and packs. All finding there way into My Ford Fusion, as I had a Canoe to bring back from Canmore. Yes I was the guy who had a canoe on top of his car, outside the Trail-Sports ski shop on the Thursday in minus 26 weather. Yes I did find open water (the Bow is open in spots in Canmore, and while at Trail Sports I milked it to the fullest by asking, "do you rent paddles" but I digress.
The cold air mass in the High pressure system was continuing to build. I didn't know how rapidly it was going to build, So I was looking at various track set trail destinations near the continental divide or over it. These included: the upper trail systems at Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, and Golden. Peter Lougheed, and Mt Shark. Nipika and Becky Scott. All offering information centers and day-lodges or substitutes.
one day out: Found me driving south in the afternoon, with a carload of gear in mild to cold weather. Totally trusting my sister, I failed to look at the map, electronically. I rolled into Canmore after dark, asking directions from my sis only as I was close to the large number of hotels, between the tracks and the highway. As a result, my mental map was out the ENTIRE time I was in Canmore. This is unheard of for me, when living in Calgary, towards the end I was in the mountains at least twice a month. Upon finding the front desk and my sis I must have unloaded some eight to ten boxes, packs, and what not for our brief 4 night stay. Hey we were here to put a very hectic 2021 behind us with a good recreational break.
After she had gone to bed, in the luxurious King size bed, leaving me to the fold out couch, I did my weather research. Our best day to get in an outing for cross country skiing was the next day (Monday).Snow was to occur overnight, which is typical of a building cold air mass, as moister air is being forced over it. So that it meant that between Canmore and the divide, there would be a dump of six to eight inches, maybe more. A closer examination was that at Louise the warmest spot of the day would be 12 pm to 2 pm. So that was the time we wanted to be skiing. At that time I was considering The Great Divide, as a good spot for a lesson, but being warry of Sundays winds up to 35 km was looking for a wind sheltered trail. like Fariview. Not being completly sure of my destination, we planned to be at the Lake Louise Information centere. I have used the Information centere some 20 plus years ago, when leading Never Ever Daytrips, as it is a good changing area from road clothing, to ski clothing, a place for snacks, and encouraging novices to get information on there own, so that they are not as reliant on the coordinator.
Much to my surprise, the Louise Information center is one of the most ideal locations for novices as it now centers the lower trails of pipestone, Campground loops, and is at the base of the tramline, which links the upper trials about the lake. Dare I mention, that young skiers and novices like to ski downhill. So that if you are travelling with two or more vehicles, one can do a car shuttle leaving one car in the upper parking lots. Larger groups like ski clubs, could do a bus trip drop off of daytrip participants, splitting up into groups of varying ability, meeting down in the lower townsite. Think the Goat Creek trail on steroids. I have never conducted such a trip, but did get the idea from Alasdair Fergusson, on one of many telephone conversations, some 20 plus years ago.
Now if they could only put in a children's, cross county ski terrain park, somewhere near the lower village. Perhaps by the information center, or by the old community hall (if it still exists), it would be the cats meow, for novice skiers. I digress yet again.
Well it is Day 0 and we get up at about 9 for an 11 ish departure. Its my sisters birthday, and yes I forgot her present. Thinking it through, given all I had sacrificed, like the King size bed, and the food I had brought up, I qualified as her man servant for the day. Both of us loaded up her Kia, with cross country gear, she drove, as its a stick. We head out to the Louise information centere, me not knowing if we were skiing Louise or my backup at Emerald Lake (not telling her). With the fresh snow it was 80 km all the way out. No big deal. We pull into the information Center, I go ahead, and talk to the staff there. Given the new snowfall, the gals at the desk didn't know what packing was occurring, be it Park Staff on the Moraine Lake Road and Great Divide, or the Chateau Staff, with their own snowmobile. We did agree that given yesterdays winds of 35 the best place to ski for windblown conditions would be The Fairview Trail starting from the uppermost Parking Lot.
As we pulled into the uppermost parking lot, there was Jeff a veteran of 15 years, packing the trails between the Chateau and Fairview, so that the guests would have the opportunity to ski. Jeff both packs and track sets the trails. and instructs for the guests, should they want lessons (I wonder if the chateau will offer lessons to the public}. Anyways we had a great day on Fairview despite it being packed and not track set. We met only one skier and I had a few conversations with Jeff about the forth coming 50th Anniversary, Lake Louise Loppet, held on the first Sunday in March.
Well the "Man servant" delivered a great outing and was thank youed before we left the parking lot. I may expound on the trip itself in a future column. After that anything that could go wrong, did go wrong during our four day stay. Exploding cords, a breaking electrical cord a day later, missing parts for my Thule....you get the pic. The one plus, sis got a great daytrip on her birthday. Oh and yes, the cold air mass continued to creep over the divide, and Emerald Lake could have been a destination of choice the next day, as it was warmer then Louise,
My one criticism of the Trail system at Louise, has to be the continued use of snowmobiles for track setting. On an annual basis they are dealing with a 4 to 10 foot snowpack. Its like using a lawn tractor to plow a quarter section of land. A snowmobile can only do so much, it can harrow but sometimes needs to plow. Over the past twenty years, think of all the manhours put in by the parks, packing the Great divide and Moraine Lake Road. How much easier it would have been if a decent trail groomer had been used, with just a few passes after each snowfall. The groomer need not be new, for over two decades cross country clubs in BC, have been purchasing used groomers from Alpine resorts. The hours accumulated on Nordic trails is far less then alpine, so it is worth the investment. Likewise up at the chateau, think of how much more Jeff could have offered to paying clientele, if he had a decent groomer purchased with the narrower undulating trails like Fairview, with considerably less effort.
Now a few of you may be wondering why I am writing a lengthy article at this time. After all I have been away from the Nordic scene in Calgary for over 15 years. It comes down to this.
Its the Golden Anniversary of the Lake Louise Loppet. I plan on promoting it and being there to the best of my ability. This week the Loppet committee has opened its recruitment for volunteers, and probably registration for the race. I would like to meet and greet many former CSCers, who may have volunteered in the past for the Loppet, or whom I encouraged to ski on daytrips. Lets make the 50th a blast. See the loppet registration area to sign up to volunteer.