bikes canada general moosling snow trip reports

February adventures: Fatbiking and skiing slush

An exciting round up of a random selection of trips that now get crammed into one post thanks to the fact that it’s now a month after the fact and I’ve almost forgotten what happened. Welcome to the exciting world of me having an un-injured knee again! (For a while) (It’s actually hurting again right now and I’m not sure why, but am attempting to pretend it’s fine, and that I’m not worried) (I’m actually a bit worried)

Adventure 1 was a fatbike trip from Canmore to Banff, via Goat Creek. With little snow and lots of warm days, Goat Creek was getting glazed and fast, easy riding conditions, and perfect for towing the trail-a-bike along.

We’ve actually hacked up our Tout Streamliner now so that it has a 2.4″ on it instead of the skinny tires it came with – downside is less gears available, as we had to remove half of the cluster to get the tire to fit.

As most of February has been, it was a gorgeous day, and nice and warm. There wasn’t much other traffic about, either on the road, or on the trail.

And so we rode our bikes, and mosied along, and the trip was uneventfully peaceful and pleasant. We may have sung Bohemian Rhapsody (or as the boy calls it, “the Mamalayo song”), and Everything is Awesome. Loudly, and with little regard for accuracy or tunefulness.

Not pictured is the end of the trip, where we arrived in Banff and descended on the Wildflour Cafe like a plague of locusts. And from there headed to the Roam bus stop, and the very friendly bus driver helped us load our ungainly pile of bikes onto the bus for the ride back to Canmore. Success!

The next random adventure was me deciding to ski the Cookie Race in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. I’d signed up a couple of months earlier, back when the snow was still good, and the promise of 42km worth of cookies seemed like a good deal. The shorter 24km race costs the same amount, but there are obviously less aid stations to pass through, and thus less home made cookies. I am not silly, and so opted to maximise my cookies.

When the day came, waxing conditions for classic skis were verging on ludicrous, and I set off hopefully with a couple of sticks of borrowed wax, hoping I wouldn’t have to double pole the whole course. On the plus side I opted to wear my rainbow fur gaiters and unicorn rainbow leggings, which at least made the suffering more entertaining. I definitely had a lot more conversations out on the course as a result, and received a lot of cheering on from random by-passers.

But in short – it was warm, waxing was terrible, I survived. I finished the 42km and came second in my category through virtue of the fact there were only two in my category. I did however win the most awesome outfit category, so there is that (note for accuracy – there was no such category). The cookies were great though!

Adventure number three was a ride of the High Rockies Trail. We started at Driftwood, rather than riding the section from Goat Creek which I’ve done a few times now. Starting at Driftwood and heading south provides some glorious well packed single track, and it was in great condition.

Pictured above is me concentrating furiously on not falling off the bridge and down into the precipice of imminent peril. Certain doom awaited.

Incredibly fun trail, highly recommended winter fat bike ride, and much more moderate than some of the epic climbs that are required on the trails around Canmore.

And so that was February!

canada general moosling snow trip reports

Elk Lakes Cabin

It’s been such a long time since we’ve been out for a winter hut adventure. Nearly five years! So we (I) decided that to avoid having another winter drift away, it would be a good idea to start getting organised, and so the Elk Lakes Cabin idea was born.

I’d cycled past there last year, as I headed south to Fernie, but hadn’t actually checked out the hut. But I knew it was there somewhere, four or five kilometres beyond the groomed Peter Lougheed Provincial Park ski trails that take you to Elk Pass.

The three of us had a disorganised morning, sleeping in, then slowly getting everything packed and loaded into the car. Somehow this all took much longer than expected, and by the time we arrived at the Elk Pass trailhead it was after 1pm.

“Plenty of time” we said to ourselves… then “well, we have headlamps”.

As we set off we realised it was much colder than we’d been expecting. It’s sometimes hard to keep warm while skiing at small child pace too. After a couple of kilometres the small child was inserted into a sleeping bag and loaded into the pulk we had borrowed, and we set off at a more determined pace.

We’d headed along the Hydroline trail to Elk Pass, thinking we had a better chance of being warm up there – maybe we’d even find sunlight! And we managed to get a few minutes of sunlight before it disappeared behind the mountains for the day, but then the temperature just kept dropping.

Beyond Elk Pass it’s just backcountry skiing. There was a bit of a skier set track for the first kilometre or two, but it was much harder work to tow a heavily laden pulk through. Or so Alex tells me.

Theoretically this section is downhill. In reality, it didn’t feel very downhill, except for the final section just before you drop down onto the meadow before the hut. And by the time we reached that point, it was properly dark, headlamps-on skiing. Which was thoroughly exhilarating given the strength of our headlamps.

As we reached the meadow, we descended into a lovely cold pool of air. Alex’s thermometer was reading -25oC or so. My hair and jacket had gathered a thorough coating of white frost, and we kept moving, hoping that the hut was magically warm.

The hut was not magically warm. The combination lock on the door was frozen shut, and took some convincing to unlock, and then we were on a mission to build some fire and raise everything to a more reasonable temperature. Dinner was cooked, port was drank, and we sat down to play a family game of Settlers of Catan before bed. Finn had convinced us to bring it along – I’d taught him how to play the week before, and he’d developed an immediate obsession.

An early night to bed, we had more hut-guests arrive around midnight. They eventually settled down, and when we awoke the next morning (at 8.45am, a perfectly reasonable time) we discovered that 3 of the 4 of them were Australian, and very friendly hut-mates.

Our mission for that day involved nothing more than skiing back out again, but what with another game of Catan to play, and a slow breakfast, and then slowly packing, it was after 11am by the time we were on our way. Thankfully it was a bit warmer now, and the sun was shining!

We convinced Finn to ski across the meadow, then threw him into the pulk for the rough climb up to Elk Pass. We spent most of the climb singing loudly.

On reaching Elk Pass we snacked, booted Finn out of the pulk, removed skins, and started the ski down. Which was a lot of fun! Some sections were slightly ridiculous with no grip, but still possible.

As we pulled into the carpark, having just flown down the last hill, Finn’s conclusion was, after yelling “YAHOOOOO!” most of the way down the hill: “Mama, that was the best adventure ever, that was such a fun adventure!”

Distance: 10km (from Elk Pass trailhead to Elk Lakes Cabin)
Elevation gain: 240m (each way)
Time: 4.5 hours to the hut, 4 hours back to the car

canada general moosling snow trip reports

Invasion of PLPP

More new trails! Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is down in K-Country, and has an absolute nest of cross-country ski trails set for classic skiing. And that’s probably why we’ve avoided it for so long. Because up until this winter, we’ve only ever had one pair of classic skis between us, and we’re both much more competent when it comes to skate skiing. Our classic skiing is slow and a little bit painful.

PLPP is a lovely spot though, and as we went to explore the trails it snowed and snowed and snowed all day. Not much in the way of spectacular views as a result, but lovely snow, and picturesque snow covered trees (that the Moosling wanted me to keep hitting the snow off).

The Moosling skied for the first 1.5km – which took close to an hour – but he managed to get up and down a lot of hills in that time, before he got too tired and distracted to ski, and was thrown in the Chariot.

We’d parked at the Boulton Creek parking lot, and ended up skiing a loop that consisted of Moraine, Fox Creek, Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt and Whiskey Jack trails – about 19km, with 438m of climbing. People kept asking us if we were going to the cabin, and telling us we would love the cabin, and then telling us we’d missed the turn-off to the cabin. Maybe we should go and ski out to stay in the Elk Lakes ACC cabin one of these days!

Then the day ended with a photo session in the backseat of the car: “I cheese a Mama!”

Oh, and in other exciting news, I finally got a pair of Julbo goggles – because whenever I try and ski with normal sunglass-type things on, they just fog up immediately. Then I end up trying to ski without anything, which is bad in terms of sun glare, and when it’s snowing it’s terrible in terms of snow pelting my eyeballs. I love them! And am kind of wondering if I can either use them for biking, or work out some similar kind of visor arrangement for biking with. Great field of vision, and very minimal fogging compared to sunglasses.