Brewster Creek was trackset today

by Bob Truman on January 19, 2018

in Banff

Brewster Creek after tracksetting

When I started up Brewster Creek I had a snowmobile packed trail with the usual ridges and ruts. It didn’t bother me, however, because I was wearing my “Sherman Tanks,” wider, metal-edged skis which would take me through anything safely, albeit slowly. 

Teresa and Mark on Healy Creek

Skinny skis are not suitable for Brewster Creek if you want to enjoy the return trip and come out alive. The skis I was using are wider, but not real wide. The dimensions are 59-49-55 compared to my skinny skis which are 41-44-44. The bindings are the same as on my other skis, so I could use my usual boots.

I had a snowmobile packed trail for the trip up

Starting out on Healy Creek at 12:30 pm, the air temperature was zero and I guessed that VR50(0/-4) would give grip. These skis are also quite soft, so it’s easy to get grip when climbing that first hill on Brewster Creek. 

I did a lot of trail maintenance while ascending the hill

For the first time in my life, I was able to ski the beginning of Healy Creek where it parallels the Sunshine road. The snowplows hadn’t yet deposited any crud on the trail, and there was about 2 cm of fresh, clean snow from yesterdays snowfall. Unfortunately, the snowplow came by later, so tomorrow it will be best to remove your skis and walk this section. 

Healy Creek is in reasonably good shape with a bit of tree debris and one or two rocks. I had the pleasure of meeting blog readers Mark and Teresa on Healy Creek. They had skied from the Cave and Basin in Banff. 

Brewster Creek at 8.7K(previous to tracksetting)

After 2.6K on Healy Creek, I arrived at the Brewster Creek junction. Let the climbing begin! The first 2.6K on Brewster Creek has a net elevation gain of 170 metres. This section had a lot of rocks and thin spots. I spent about an hour simply removing rocks and pushing snow from the side of the trail with my skis over thin spots and immovable rocks.

The groomed trail ends at Sundance Lodge at 11.3K

Mitch, who was hauling supplies to Sundance lodge, came up behind me on the snowmobile and informed me that he would be tracksetting the trail as soon as he got up to the lodge and hooked onto the tracksetter. I later saw him as he was coming back down, grooming the one side of the trail. 

On my return, I had good tracks for part of the way…

After the viewpoint at 8.7K, I encountered four areas which had a concentration of rocks for the final 2.6K to the lodge. There’s one bad spot in particular under a tree canopy where the trail is narrow and it’s hard to avoid them, so I removed my skis and walked for about 20 metres. 

…and shallow, crumbly tracks for part of the way

The trail could really use another 15 cm of snow. In the gallery below, I’m adding a couple photos from the summer when I biked the trail to show you why there are so many rocks. 

While I was having a snack break on the veranda of the lodge, Mitch returned, having trackset the entire trail, including the Healy Creek portion. 

Air temperature at the lodge was -3°C (+26F for those who are living in the past), and the snow temp was -2. 

With the new tracksetting and my wider, easy-to-control skis, I had a lovely ski back down, even when I had to snowplow in the snowmobile ridges. There are still a few of the immovable rocks poking up through the snow, so you have to use caution when descending. 

It snowed a bit while I was skiing, and it looked like it was trying to snow by the time I got back to the trailhead. I heard three loud avalanches while on the trail. 

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