Admiring the Tracks on the Trail

I had the opportunity recently to get out on one of the cold January days, actually it was freezing cold. Having decided that ripping down the ski hill would not be overly comfortable in these temperatures (I am getting old), and looking for an alternative outdoor pursuit, I headed out onto the new Elk Valley Trail. There is a newly constructed, and partially winter groomed trail that starts out from the Aquatic Centre trail hub, following the Coal Creek Heritage Trail, swooping around the old landfill, crossing the Coal Creek bridge, and joining onto the Montane trails to Forevyr, then establishing itself in its new entirety just above the Montane Hut.

The equipment choice of the day was cross-country gear, although snowshoes, and maybe later fat bikes could make this excursion. From here the trail follows an abandoned road, connecting to a 1.5km sweet section that crosses Cokato Creek, before rising up from the shaded Cedar grove to meet Branch H near where the Southern Comfort trail crosses. The Branch H section is a further 2 km of upgraded road, where a newly constructed trail section “Smooth Salamander” veers off to the left. This section of trail is approximately 5km in length, and is a real treat when navigated on cross-country skis. The views of the Lizard Range from these vantage points are even more breathtaking than the surrounding cold air.

It is always interesting when out in the winter forest to observe the many tracks that leave an impression in the snow. We all must remember that we share the trails with others. Whether it is the deep post holing of the lanky moose, or the subtle footprints of the snowshoe hare, it is important to make thoughtful decisions on how to proceed through what is their habitat. This particular outing revealed many tracks from a varied herd. Fat bikes, snowmobiles, snowshoes (human impressions), running shoes, hiking boots, felt-pack boots, cross-country skis, a presumably lost snowboard track, the winter groomer, and even a studded skinny tire mountain bike. It is cool that there is such a variety of trail users co-existing in this fabricated environment.

As with the respect that the hunter and the hunted share with let’s say the cougar and the snowshoe hare, or the wolf and the moose, the same can be applied to our human counterparts when deciding where to play safe and not interfere with the needs of others.

Some examples of these trail use conditions can be practiced on our trails. When out on the Montane Trails, one must pay attention to the signs that help to guide us to our appropriate, and timestakingly prepared path. For instance, the track set Nordic trail is for Nordic skiing only, whereas the multi-use trails support walkers, snowshoers and mountain bikers, and even our canine friends.

On the Elk Valley Nordic Trails by Mt Fernie Provincial Park, leave your dog at home, and if you want to ride your bike, snowshoe, or just go for a walk, find your way to Ben Emmitt trail by going across the Park’s Lizard Creek bridge. This newly prepared multi use trail is now connected to Fernie Alpine Resort’s Boom Trail, and provides the alternative to messing up the beautifully groomed Nordic trails.

If heading up onto the Island Lake Nordic Trails, your dog is welcome, but please clean up the doodoo. Fat bikes can some days cruise the Lazy Lizard trail, after the snowshoes have pounded it down, but again be aware of all of the trail users, and respect their space.

Fernie Ski Hill groomed trails welcome all users, and dogs, and even kids, so get out their with your gear of choice, and enjoy the plentitude of winter trails Fernie has to offer.

Most of Fernie’s trails are supported in some way or other by the Fernie Trails Alliance, so show some admiration. Donations are always welcome, and can be deposited on the PayPal link on our website. Have a great time in our Fernie wilderness.