X-Country Ski: Kananaskis Whiskey Jack and Bolton Creek

Trail Summary

Summary: Two out of Many trail in the area. One a Moderate trail up a bit of a hill, the second an easy trip along both sides of ____ creek
Distance of trip: Wiskey Jack 9km, Bolton Creek 4km
Date: March 12, 2005
Time taken: 2 1/4hr
How to get to the set in point: West from Calgary on Hwy 1, South on Hwy 40, West on the Smith Dorrian(sp?) trail, and a quick left onto the roads to the Kananaskis lakes. The trail head is at the Bolton camp site entrance.
Skiing partners: Richard B.
Weather Conditions: Temp 0 DegC to -3 DegC, overcast with flurrys, finished with clearing skys.
Trail type: Typically Groomed, today it had not been groomed since the snow fall over night.
Location description: Set in the Mountains, paths running through the lodge pole pine.
Trail Conditions 2 inches of fresh snow, over a shallow base of packed snow.
Trip rating: Good.
Author's Experince: Novice.

No Map provided.

Trip Report

There was fresh snow the night before, good thing, or I'm not sure we would be doing much. The drive up is completely devoid of snow driving down the Hwy from Calgary. Only the last several km in the drive is the hope that we may actually do some skiing seem reasonable. As it is the tracks we are following cut through about 2 inches of fresh snow. There is a base underneath, likely thanks to the races that were held here the week before.

This was a fairly early start today, as such by the time we figured out where to park in the maze of lots and roads around the campsite, we were the second car in the lot. I guess the temperature to be just below zero, rich thinks it is just above. We choose the 0 to -7 Degree wax, then gear up and follow the tracks out, hoping they lead to the trail head we want.

There are several trails out of the lot, and it turns out the tracks we started following go exactly up the trail we wanted. So today we have a semi-groomed trail. (The grooming underneath is questionable due to the shallow base). At the trail head is a sign, the path leading up has a dotted line along portions of it, about 2/3rds of the way along. I ask Rich what they mean, he says it marks the steep part of the hill.

I was some what dismayed as the trial immediately started up a hill, which was not marked on the map. I'm very out of shape, and wondering what the marked hill means. The initial part of the trail is hard for me, I've been on skies once since high school (almost 20 yrs), and never really on hills. My technique and poor conditioning, and a minor bout of asthma at the start take some of the pleasure out of the trip. However that still leaves us well into the + side on the nice day scale.

The air is very clean, there is no sounds of anyone but us. The trees obscure most of the mountains views, but the fresh snow on all the branches and the white blanket between them make it for, a very serine experince. If only I could keep my skies going strait. When the mountains do show, the are hiding behind the mist of the clouds.

Rich (the machine) B. is obviously taking it easy with me, taking his time up the hill and it helps. However soon we are both hot and sweating. The fleese and jacket combination is way to much and the shell comes off. The air flow through is a huge relief. The asthsma (as minor as it was) is gone. The trail runs up several small hills which I'm having less trouble with them, when we come to the hill marked on the posted maps. After an initial bout of dread, the actual hill itself is pretty easy.

After the trudge up the hill, maybe a few hundred meters, the path levels out. After a short while, we come to a bench and take a bit of a break, This markes the end of the Wiskey jack trail. It comes to a 'T' intersection, and we can go one of two ways, with several loops back to the parking lot. Rich has been here before, and is talking about which way to go.

As we stand there, we see out first fellow skiier out for the day, as he comes bombing down from up the hill, and continues on past going from South to North (I think). A wave as he goes by is all we get for conversation.

But first, the snow seems really sticky, It help on the climb up, but the sliding left something to be desired. We stop and Scrape the clumped on snow, and most of the wax off. It was at this point that I had discovered my toque and a glove were missing. During the over heat period earlier, I'd stuffed them into my pockets, and they had fallen out on the way up. The Debate, which was mostly between Rich and himself on which way to go is answered, and we head back to collect my belongings.

Going Down Wiskey Jack

Well if it was a bit of effort going up, going down was somthing else. Now I'm sure my ego had visions of swooshing down the hill as if I were on down hill skies. Unfortuantly my ability, and feel for being at anything other than a flat glyde or trudge up the just skieed hill were some what lacking.

This quickly became evident, on a little down slope just prior to the (now rather onimous steep hill). I tried to just slow down, first a snow plow that seemed to have no effect, then in a "hockey" stop. Well of course these long boards are nothing like skates, and the skies crossed and down I went. Hmph. At least Rich was ahead of me and around a corner and did not see. However he was waiting, and I was forced to admit to the event.

Although my ego is advising against it, I must admit this whole down hill thing on cross country skies had me a bit wigged out. By the time we got to the actual steep portion of the hill I'd whiped out a couple more times. I ended up walking down a bit of it. During the trudge down, we passed our second skiier, this guy just plowed up the hill not even acknoledging ether Rich or me.

Having figured out that I have no Idea about going down hill on cross country skies, Rich tells me the only recomended way to slow down and stop is the snow plow. (he sometimes does the telemark thing).

Now past the steepest part of the hill, but still on it, Rich leads the way, wipeing out the track comming up. I follow, The hill has a turn in it, basically a traverse where it more or less levels out before continuing on down. Rich is waiting for me... kind of a mistake. He is soon scrambeling to get out of my way as I come at him in a bizare slow motion, yet barely incontrol desent. Ending when I do a face plant just as I make it past him. Also just in time, to be infront of another couple coming up the hill.

We stop and chat a bit as the (I assume) husband, waits for his wife to catch up. They, borrow Riches Wax scraper, and clean 2 inches of snow, and wax off their skies, and put on some less sticky wax. During out chit chat, I'm told that just down this last slope it evens out. This time I finally, make it down the hill with out falling... although I did manage to destroy the tracks going up.

Near the bottome of the step section we pass another couple with skies off, scraping wax off the bottom.

Now that I'm kind of getting the hang of hills, mostly, just moving at anything faster than a jogging pass, skiing is picking up. As we work our way over the last few small rises and drops, we come up to yet another couple, and you guessed it, scraping wax off thier skies. This time we know one of them, a lady from work. Again we stop and chat.

We are more or less at the 'fork' in the paths, Rich is still keen to go further. We've gone only 9km so far. So we head out for a short loop around part of Bolton Creek. A 4 km run.

Bolton Creek

Bolton Creek is graded as an easy trail. This run (at least the way we went), starts off down what looks to be the campsite road. or at least a road. The snow is still good but for some reason not as nice as wiskey jack was. However this soon changes, a turn to the right, and the trail becomes a proper ski trail again, only this time narrower. We are mostly running down a gental slope, again through the pine trees.

Suddenly there is an open space, and a signficant drop of 50 ft or so. The trail takes an abrup turn to the left, or I'd not have stoped until crashing into a tree for sure. A nice little view from here. I'm sure it would be really nice, except the mountains are still hiding in the clouds quite a bit. Below is what I assume is Bolton creek. A park bench sits here, it would be a fantastic place to sit and just breath and look around for a while.

The trail continues on the edge of the ridge. The snow is exposed to the indirect sun, and you can tell, as the base is very low, we skid over roots and the like that are comming up through the tracks. But not to bad. Pretty cool portion of trail, with the drop to the right, weaving in and out of the trees from time to time.

The trail turn to the left again, it is not a narrow single track trail, very nice. right in tight with the trees. Riches skies are obviously faster than mine, I'm in the lead now, and every hill I go down, Rich is right on my heals as I try to keep the speed up on the flats just after. Rich is glide puts him right beside me a couple of times.

Soon I'm wondering if we are on the wrong trail, and actually ask rich to check the GPS to make sure we have not over shot the turn around point, or have just gone more than the 2km. He responds that we have gone almost exactly 2k. And sure enough the trail bears hard to the left. and we are soon at a fork in the trail. I assume we keep going left, and head off that way, good think Rich was there, as he points out that would be wrong, and add several km to the trip.

We go right, Cross a man made bridge over the creek. It is patchy in being snow covered, and having open running water. It is only a couple of inches deep and very picturesque. The trail then follows the creek bank. At one point coming down a hill and taking a corner, after which two trees fairly close together (3 ft). I have visions of not making the corner, and catching my ski on a tree and plunging into the creek. Well, I make the corner, make it past the trees, and then fall just for good measure. That's my first and last fall since the hill.

I enjoy the Bolton Creek path much more than the first, one. I'm not sure if it is the fact I was just used to the skies at that point. The more intimit nature of the run or what. But I really enjoyed. it.

We end up coming out at the hyway, about 200m from the parking log, then wynd our way back up, around some buildings. Can't quite find the car at first. What a maze that parking lot is. By the time we have our skies off and are heading out it has been around 2 or 2.5 hrs.

Copyright Myrl Tanton 2005

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