Elk Pass Cross-country Skiing

8:30 AM — Snowing heavily. Wind steady at 30km/h from the NW.

8:35 AM — Traffic heading towards downtown Calgary is a parking lot. Traffic heading towards the mountains is non-existent.

9:03 AM — Scott Lake Hill. No more blizzard. And in the mountains, blue sky!

10:28 AM — Elk Pass parking lot. -20°C and windy. I change my boots and numb my hands. The wind chill coming up from the outhouse seat is significant.

10:47 AM — Starting to warm up as I climbing the steep hill towards Fox Creek, one ski in front of the other. Warming hands tingle with pain as the blood begins to flow again.

11:06 AM — Survey the alterations to Fox Creek caused by the hundred-year floods. Signs say “Flood Damage,” but I don’t think that nature damages itself. Renewal.

11:40 AM — Detour through the pillowy soft drifts of Fox Creek meadow. Breaking trail through powder is so much more aesthetically pleasing than slipping along on the arctic, styrofoam, track-set, ski trail.

12:01 PM — At Blueberry Hill junction. Too out of shape and too cold to go up the hill today. Will head to the low Elk Pass instead. No lunch break. Just a quick piece of chocolate and a swig of water.

12:40 PM — Elk Pass and the Alberta/BC border. I want to take a picture of the sign at the border but my camera is frozen. “If you want to see scenes like this again,” I think to myself, “then just get out skiing more often.” Less is more.

12:48 PM — Eyelashes starting to freeze closed.

12:55 PM — Good skating along the groomed Powerline trail. But nature, ceaseless, and moving, is reclaiming the path. Drifts every three to five meters. The unsintered drift snow grabs at my skis, throwing me off balance. I learn to unweight as I glide over the drifts. On the steepest part of the Powerline trail the drifts are bigger. The biggest offer an 8 to 12 inch jump every 10 or so meters. Yahoo! This is why I still use my old Nordic-Norm leather boots, cable bindings, and circa 1988 skinny Fischer telemark backcountry skis instead of upgrading to more modern cross-country ski gear. Anachronistic? Maybe. Versatile? Yes. Fun? Hell yeah!

1:02 PM — Alpine-style parallel turns carve me down the steep hard slope back to Fox Creek. One steep ascent and then one more flowing, windchill downhill take me to the parking lot.

1:20 PM — Start truck. Change clothes. Put damp gloves and jackets in front of the heat vents to dry out. Scarf down my paté sandwhich and some hot tea. Hit the road. As my body warms my mind starts to make plans to do it all again in a day or so.