Markus and Elaine Robbins were keen to ski today despite the frigid temperatures and strong gusty winds. I had originally hoped to go further north and do a longer day, however I was still hobbling around with a back issue. A short ski yesterday confirmed that it didn’t get worse. I assume it was probably caused by the lack of activity over the last number of days … ya sure!
We decided to ski a route starting at Hardy Lake, and finishing at the Torrance Barrens. This would allow us to ski most of the day with the wind at our backs. As with yesterday, I was skiing with my new Scarpa T4 boots, on an old pair of downhill skis, and cable bindings. They seemed good after a 2 hour ski yesterday, so I felt it a safe bet to try them again today.
We shuffled the vehicles and started off south of the highway at Hardy Lake. Snow conditions were great, again a solid base with a few cm of fresh, wind blown snow on top. We skied the ponds and ridges down past the 2 small lakes, dodging the numerous areas of bare rock on the south-facing slopes. My ski equipment was great on the hills, but a bit slow on the flats.
We found a sheltered pond with some bare rock for our lunch spot. A light snow was now falling as some of the squalls to the west of us were spitting out some light flurries everywhere. It was not a day for a long relaxing lunch and we were soon packing up. Fortunately the snow fluuries did not intensify and the skies gradually cleared during the afternoon.
Our afternoon route took us across the Devils Gap Trail and into some rugged terrain to the west. We were now crossing the grain of the topography. Our climbs were on northeast facing slopes, and well snow covered, while our descents were on the opposite side in full sun. This created a challenge to find routes down with skiable snow. I was glad I had my modified downhill skis on today as I hit rocks on numerous occasions. Our route eventually took us onto Pine Lake and the steep climb up into the Torrance Barrens. This very steep, but smooth climb still had snow, but was quite icy in places. This presented a challenge to both Markus and Elaine, whose skis had no metal edges. Fortunately no one took a slide back down to the lake.
With everyone safely up we continued our route, skiing over more ridges and crossing the two small lakes in the Torrance Barrens arriving at the car in good time. Another great ski day in the Canadian Shield, although the skiable base is gradually shrinking away. The frigid nights in the forecast will ensure good pond ice for the next number of days.
A link to some pictures, videos, and a map of the route