November 18th, 2015

Best Start To Winter… Ever?

Is this the best start to winter, ever?

Of all time, probably not. The earth has been around for a really long time. And there was that whole Ice Age thing that would have probably made for wicked sledding.

But it’s the best start to winter that I can remember.

Now, I’m sure if you were to take an hour out of your day and really nerd it up on the Google machine, you could find some obscure weather data somewhere that proves that we had more snow by such-and-such a date, in year so-and-so. You know what? Suck it, hater! Best start ever!

I went for my first ride of the season this past Saturday, and it was so good that I had to book Monday off work to go back and do it again.

On Saturday we were mid-storm, but that didn’t stop quite a few keeners like myself from braving the low-visibility and unsettled snowpack to get out and get on the iron. The parking lot at Quartz Creek near Golden, BC was busier than I expected, but fair enough given that we’ve all been waiting a looooong 6 months to go for a ride.



A fairly busy parking lot for mid-November. The trailer lot also had quite a few rigs lined-up.


Although it was thought the groomer wouldn’t be able to push in the road just yet, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the road in had been groomed as far as the mine, and track-packed all the way to the cabin beyond that.



Lookin’ good November!


We played around in the trees for a bit, and wore ourselves out pretty quickly. The snow there was super deep but with not a lot of supportive base underneath. Even turbo, supercharged and 174″ tracked sleds were getting bogged down in the deep fluffy stuff. If you got to trenching your way uphill on a stocker, you were done pretty quickly. Little air pockets around buried punji trees could catch you off guard and cause a ski to dip unexpectedly, or your track to collapse deeper into the snow and get stuck. Mega fun!


It was deeeeep in the trees.

It was deeeeep in the trees.


Needless to say, there weren’t any of the big climbs getting punched that day. It was sooo much fun that I only shot about 5 photos all day.


Fast-forward to Monday.

The morning sky dawned blue, with not a cloud to be seen. It had snowed all the way through Sunday as well, and there was a fresh blanket covering the tracks of the previous day’s riders.

By this time, after plenty of traffic and some dense snow lower down on the trail, the bumps on the way into the Quartz cabin were pretty big. But the view of the sun shining bright on snow covered trees and mountains after a weekend of stormy weather was a pleasant distraction from the ups and downs of the trek in.


The view that you've been waiting since April to see.

The view that you’ve been waiting since April to see.


Most of the climbs up to the alpine playgrounds had been punched by now, although the rocky upper bowls had been largely untouched. The pillow-y snow up there looked so good in the sun that we couldn’t help ourselves but get a little carried away.



Oh man, it looks soooo good! And it allllmmmmooost is too!


Although it looked like mid-January, we eventually were reminded that it is still mid-November. One of our group smacked a large, hidden boulder pretty hard, flattening a bogey wheel but otherwise escaping without further damage. At least temporarily. The same unfortunate soul discovered later than an a-arm bolt had sheared, leaving him to simmer at the cabin for the day while the rest of the group emptied our tanks back in the “good-to-go” safety of the trees and meadows.



Turbo. Check. Fresh snow. Check. Punji trees. Check. Saw??? Sh**!


The end of a long-overdue, soul cleansing day of sun and snow was made even better when just as we were about to head out the 15km of whooped trail down to the parking lot, the groomer pulled up to the cabin with the drag in tow. Fresh trail on the way out!




Bluebird pow AND freshly groomed trail in November? Gold star for you, 2015!



The new covered deck at the Quartz cabin, and the master builder himself.

The new covered deck at the Quartz cabin, and the master builder himself.


While we can’t predict precisely what this winter has in store for us, we can say with certainty that it is shaping up nicely in Southeastern BC. Better in fact than I can remember this early on. And following on the heels of the dismal season that was winter 2014/2015, it is definitely a refreshing change of pace!


On Tuesday, it snowed up to 40cm at valley bottom, and much more on top.  This winter is officially on.
Happy Shredding!
– PG