Happy New Year from the trails! We have had a wonderful gift of 18-24” of white fun on the ground upon which to glide to our hearts content. A cold front brought us up through mid-December to the Solstice with crystal-preserving lows and highs that only dallied occasionally with the melting point. While we complained about how bitterly cold it was, we are now adjusted to the deep freeze, and temps in the 20’s can seem balmy by comparison.

The winter groomers are catching up to the snow, and just in time for our holiday guests. Grand Park and Leland Creek, off from King’s Crossing have joined the list, and we may be able to look forward to skiing some corduroy on Givelo and Northwest Passage. The Fraser to Granby Trail, Fraser River Trail, at least as far south as Rendezvous, as well as from Beavers to Old Town Winter Park and up through the old Idlewild ski area behind Hideaway Park have all been prepared for our busiest weeks. While the Roam development is underway and working out an access for future years, we can take the opportunity to take a short walk from Beavers through South Winter Park, grab a cup of coffee or a light lunch before getting back on our skis at Hideaway Park to be on our way… as is the custom in many European resort towns.

With deep snow, cold temperatures and relatively few groomer-passes to pack the snow, there is a bit more impact from foot traffic, and occasional post-holes or fat-tire ruts. For newcomers to winter trails, post-holes are the deep holes left in a trail when a walker’s or snowshoer’s foot breaks through the surface deeply. The more often a trail gets packed, especially if it gets groomed when the snow is warmer, the denser and resistant to footprints, post holes and tire ruts it gets. 

The fresh wild snowpack of new-fallen snow is generally light, fluffy and full of air. Whenever it gets disturbed, whether by a grooming machine, human or animal feet, sun or wind, crystals are broken down into smaller pieces and the energy from being pressured or disturbed causes the crystals to bond together. A snowcat with a tiller on back can accelerate the aging process of trail-hardening that allows us to stay on the surface without breaking through. This is what makes the various snowmobile trails much better for fat-tire biking than the summer bike trails, which may be open to winter bikes, but rarely see enough traffic to support fat bikes. 

The loggers have pulled their equipment out from the Vasquez Creek project, but may have some more trees to remove, as there is currently a stack on the upper end of D4. Be aware that the Waterboard road from the Vasquez Creek winter closure gate to the top of D4 and Leapfrog on the Water Board Road is snow-covered, but still plowed with gravel mixing with the snow, so you don’t want to take your good skis there.

Off-trail, the snowpack allows for some decent over-the-snow ski-travel in areas that have seen wind, but protected snow is less supportive, without the middle dense layer that the wind created. With so many folks in town, and no huge accumulations anticipated any time soon we can expect to see the narrow snowshoe and ski trails start to widen and extend further over the course of the Holiday weeks.

Happy Trails in the New Year!!