Thursday, February 25, 2021

Chester Lake

 The fog was so thick I am pretty sure there should have been additional mountains in view.  The hike was a bit of a slog - the "snowshoe" path had significantly more elevation gain than the "cross country ski" track (which is also the summertime normal path). Terry didn't even bother to take photos with the nice camera.

The good news was the day was icky enough to keep folks at home, so even though we didn't arrive until around 11am there was plenty of parking.  It's a really popular snowshoe trail but the snowshoes were not needed as long as we stayed on the trail. It might have been icy but we had our ice cleats on from the beginning so we wouldn't know. There was one steep part that we "sledded" down on our behinds.

Guess we'll have to go back with better weather!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Lake Louise, negative 30 degrees

The kids have a 5 day weekend (one has a 6 day weekend but I put in a dentist appointment, bwa-ha-ha). So, Terry and I took off Thursday - the first day of this holiday - and we booked a ski day. Due to COVID and being working adults who have to ask for time off and coordinate with others in our respective offices to do so, we were loath to try to reschedule when the weather report threatened below-negative-thirty for the day.

I am definitely the chilly-Chelsea of the group. To be sure to stave off frostbite I wore: (top) wool base layer, fitted merino wool sweater, flannel shirt to divert the itchiness and a very heavy wool sweater, of course topped with a warm ski jacket; (bottom) wool base layer, Polartec fleece ski pants from 20 years ago when I last skied, and insulated ski pants. And alpaca wool socks. A balaclava with COVID-y mask underneath and my helmet and goggles, plus new Columbia mittens with their reflective technology (and hand warmers in the tip of each mitten) finished off the look. One important lesson we learned last week skiing - cotton masks soak and freeze. Go with synthetics when you are looking at severe weather.

We were trying out the farthest slope from home - Lake Louise, clocking in at exactly 2 hours away. Between being mid-week and the forecast, the place was empty. We got a sweet parking spot we'll never see again, just 2 rows over from the reserved section. When we arrived the lifts hadn't opened yet even though we got there an hour after the slope normally would have opened. We also got coupons for free hot cocoa for the kids as a reward for braving the weather.

By 10:30 the first lift opened, and by the time we re-geared and got out there it was a bit later. We knew there was a whole back mountain area and the resort was huge, so we weren't sure about things like where to leave water and lunches and such that we had been doing, if we were to bring any. So we took a tiny backpack with a Contigo of cocoa and a couple of snacks, and the various items of gear that got shed at different times. We planned to eat a hot meal at one of the cafes. And away we went.

This was our first ski outside Nakiska and ... wow. The runs were longer, there was no ice anywhere, and what felt like a million more options although that could be misleading because half the runs are black diamond, which nobody is ready for. The views are stunning. We were super bundled up although we had a few setbacks with fogging goggles, chilly toes that required hand warmers (and thus the ordeal of removing and then replacing ski boots). We actually managed a pretty normal day of skiing. On one run, the powder was so thick I worried not about slipping on ice - the normal east coast issue - but about a ski getting stuck in a thick mound of snow.  I estimate that all the time we spent going inside to warm up or drink a hot beverage would probably translate to lift lines in a future visit;  so the general experience of how many runs we could get in is relatively accurate, minus the slow start. there was literally no line at any time.

The downside, and this was huge:  to get from the back mountain to the front you can ski various runs or you can traverse a run called "ski-out" that appears to go sort of around the mountain and return to the base area. It is 2.5 miles. Nowhere is it explained that you will be walking on level or even uphill ground for about 1/3 of that trip - until you are already about 100 feet into the journey. It was hot and miserable and really ended the day on the wrong foot :-(

Sunday, February 7, 2021


 We've been skiing the last 6 Saturdays, and have learned quite a bit. We learned that when Nakiska is packed with people and we leave when it closes, it can take longer to get home than if we had gone to Lake Louise. We learned that when it is -25 outside, there are no lines for any lifts and no traffic getting home.  Those who did not ski before December learned how to get down a Blue slope in reasonably good shape.

 Now that the 6 weeks of lessons we signed the kids up for are over, we have plans to try each of the other three major slopes in the area (thanks Costco for the discount lift tickets to exactly these three mountains!)  We also won't go quite so often. We'll have Saturdays we sleep in, and Saturdays we go  hiking - as well as Saturdays to ski. Now that the Superbowl is going on right this very minute, football crowds out no more Sundays - we'll have whole weekends we can decide what to do on a whim!