Winter feels like it is in full swing in the Fraser Valley, as December has brought us temperatures that are reminders to keep a scarf and gloves at hand and regular light dustings of snow that can be brushed easily off the windshield without the scraping of ice. A brief wave of warmth a week ago made slush in parking lots and on roads, while adding a bit of consolidation to the snow in the forest. Over this past weekend, light settling of the snowpack underfoot could be heard occasionally. Pole baskets fell easily through a top layer of 6” or so of fluff, to be met by a denser middle layer of snow. Firmer pushes on the poles however, revealed a treacherous hollow layer beneath, with tips sinking through the depths to the ground. Breaking trail with wider skis has been reasonable, allowing for moderately lengthy excursions beyond previously tracked trails.  The dense middle layer was in many places likely not firm enough to support much weight on narrow skis. Snowpack depths are allowing for rhythmic descents in places where no obstacles are expected, but logs and rocks are still not deeply buried. Some creeks and rivulets are still in the process of freezing over enough for smooth passage over them.

The Fraser river trail that links Fraser to Winter Park Resort has seen its first grooming of the season. There is still too little snow for snowcat use, so lighter machinery has done a good job making initial passes without stirring up too much dirt or detritus.The soft surface is not yet resistant to footprints, so pocking of the trail surface can be expected until the base has had more of a chance to become packed by subsequent passes of the grooming equipment. The Fraser to Granby trail has also seen the first packings of the year. The trails behind the Rec Center at Grand Park, however, have not yet seen evidence of grooming.

Overall, the consistency of the soft snow, kept fresh by the cold, has been a pleasant invitation to return to the trails for more.

Thanks to the trail groomers and those behind the scenes who make it happen.