Syncline Trails waiting for snow to stay 0
Curt Derbyshire photo Alanna Butler demonstrates at the introductory cross-country ski course at Allison-Chinook Cross Country Ski Trails. Join her on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. for another opportunity to learn the fundamentals. Cost will be $10 per person.
Much as snow has been a rare commodity in Pincher Creek and surrounding areas, members in charge of the Syncline Trails are thanking Mother Nature for the recent flurries.
Though the trail system-nearly 20 kilometers worth of pristine wilderness between Beaver Mines and Castle Mountain-attracts both cross country ski enthusiasts and other winter athletes from across southern Alberta, this season's lack of snow has been difficult.
"For our trails, it's been atrocious," said David McNeill, with Syncline Castle Trails Association (SCaT). "We've had a couple of skis in before Christmas. If you were quick, you (could take) advantage of the snow before the Chinooks melted the snow away."
Having been out to the region, McNeill said before this recent snowfall, the trails were very much unsuitable for skiing.
"This snowfall that we got today has probably got (the trails) back up and running," he said, noting there was probably 10-15 centimeters of snow on the ground from the Jan 10 storm.
Though there hasn't been opportune cross-country skiing opportunities, McNeill said he has seen people out enjoying walking and using the trails for other activities.
When snow finally arrives in the region to stay, McNeill said he loves to get out into the wilderness and enjoys the opportunity to spend time outdoors.
"It feels like you're moving along effortlessly and you're going through terrain that's very attractive and not very crowded," he said, stating cross-country skiing is a sport popular in both the Crowsnest Pass and Pincher Creek regions.
Just as the trail system attracts skiers from Calgary, Lethbridge and even enthusiasts from Medicine Hat, many come out to snowshoe or be pulled along on skis by their dogs.
"If you're sort of an athletic type, it gives you an awfully good work out and if you're the type that just likes to look at nice scenery, it can get you into nice terrain," he said.
In order to provide excellent skiing opportunities, members of SCaT maintain the trails throughout the fall and into the winter season.
"There's a bit of work in the fall when we go out to clear brush away and ensure the signage is up, accurate and useful," he said. "In the wintertime, when the snow is on the ground we have professional packers with snow machines who pack the trails five to six times a year."
Going into what looks like the start of a much shorter ski season, McNeill thanked the association's members, both the MD and Town of Pincher Creek for funding and the Alberta government for their grants throughout the years.
However, one thing remains to stay for long-snow. Although crucial for cross-country skiing, McNeill said they hope the next snowfall is here to stay.
"I heard one person say that we got so much snow last year, that we were supposed to spread it out over two seasons," he said. "Let's just cross our fingers that the snow keeps coming for a while so we can get some good skiing in before the seasons done."