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March 22 & 23 update: financial goals; spring conditions; skate lane grooming; last day looming

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Sunday is slated to be the last day of winter recreation at Shaganappi (including fat biking); get out while you can!!!

Cross country ski trails:

In general snow coverage on the ski trails is awesome even along Condo Alley, thanks to the March snowfalls that we received. (With the exception of the usual few suspect areas along the Bow Trail corridor and a small bare patch here and there...hopefully more snow farming elves will help us out!)

Skate lanes: All skate lanes were groomed at least two passes Tuesday night by a volunteer.

Edit: Wednesday morning, more snowfarming and grooming passes were done when time allowed on the wider trails and driving range loop, as well as some track setting. Thanks, volunteer Pete!!!

Spring conditions:

We have typical spring conditions at Shaganappi:

  • Skiing will be fantastic until warm temps soften the trails followed by freezing temperatures overnight; then if the refrozen trails are not groomed, it is crack of 'noon ski club time!

  • Expect challenging skiing until trails soften (which is typically after noon on sunny days with plus temperatures) or are groomed once again.

  • Grooming is done when we have below zero temperatures and volunteer capacity to do so.

Classic track setting:

Edit: Track setting was done Wednesday morning by one volunteer at least in one direction on the trail system, there was not time or enough snow to put in double track setting aka track setting on both sides of the ski trails everywhere.

  • The spring melt/freeze cycles have not been kind to the the track setting. Track setting is fair and icy when frozen to poor/non-existent due to snow melt/sublimation and sun exposure along the ski trail system. Expect challenging conditions if you relish track setting.

Fat bike/snowshoe trail system (FB/SS):

The shared brown and pink pin-flagged fat bike and snowshoe trail systems will have typical spring conditions with this relentless sun.

Snowshoeing will be good but possibly hard work running along/beside the FB/SS trail systems, as the snow will generally be soft and isothermic on warm sunny days. Easier snowshoeing will be found directly on the FB/SS trails.

Fat biking:

  • Morning only bike riding when sun and warm temperatures are forecasted, as by noon and sometimes before noon, the snow is softening up and tires will be sinking leaving ruts, and losing grip/washing out.

  • One volunteer has been out daily filling in fat bike tire ruts to keep trails safe and rideable for the next users. - Thanks, Brad!!!

  • If the temperature was below zero overnight and it is a cloudy day, trails may remain hard and frozen.

  • A few nasty ice patches exist, studded tires are highly recommended on fat bikes.

  • Late night, after temperatures drop below freezing will be okay to ride as well.

  • The one main volunteer responsible for ~97% of the FB/SS trail system maintenance this winter is doing his best to groom and now snow farm each day to keep the trail system rideable to Sunday. (Thanks again, Brad!!!)

Trail etiquette reminder:

  1. Think before you sink! If your ski tracks, bike tracks, footprints, or snowshoe tracks are sinking into the snow and leaving ruts, please consider turning around and going home, as volunteers maintain the trails and will have to repair that damage. Sunken ruts/tracks on the ski trail system freeze into place and then become a significant danger to skiers travelling at speed, especially when skiing at night.

  2. Walkers and snowshoers, pleeease, stay off the ski trails! If you must, then walk or snowshoe on the very outside edges. See the last sentence in point one above for the reasoning why.

  3. Fat bikers - stay off the ski trails please. Fat bike tires leave sunken ruts in soft snow which then freeze into place and become a significant hazard to skiers travelling at speed.

Financial support for trail maintenance and free winter recreation at Shaganappi is needed!

  • Winter operations at Shaganappi costs approximately $5K - $7K a year and SNO has no grants nor guaranteed funding coming in. (Think liability insurance, machine & equipment maintenance, fuel costs.) (Edit: We need dedicated grant writing volunteers!)

  • Please help this non-profit become more financially self sustaining by donating what you can, or becoming a paid member to SNO.

  • 200 paid memberships would take SNO to that goal of becoming financially self-sustaining.

  • Thank you to the 61 households that have become paid members to SNO this winter, and the one household that joined since the last grooming update March 15th!

  • Thank you also to the corporate and individual donors who have stepped up to support winter operations at Shaganappi this winter, that financial support is very much needed and appreciated!

....More (and BIGGER!) Financial Goals:

SNO needs to purchase much needed equipment and also to look at upgrading our operations such as:

  • Visitor tracking:

    • To date, other stakeholders have been unable to support SNO in securing both human and vehicle traffic counters at Shaganappi in order to track visitor numbers, which is arguably a critical component of missing knowledge.

  • Grooming consistency:

    • Hiring one ideally f/t paid groomer for more consistent grooming and track setting .

      • As Foothills Nordic at Confederation Golf Course can attest, relying on volunteers for grooming their ski trail system is not sustainable. Confed has had at least one paid groomer on staff for years, and are considering hiring a second paid groomer for next winter.

  • Drag-grooming equipment:

    • Purchasing a wider automated drag-groomer with dual tracksetters (approx. $16K)

    • Building a second improved bespoke roller/compactor with renovator and articulated track setter to roll, compact, groom, and track set fresh snow all in one go, or purchasing from Europe. (Building in YYC is cheaper!)

    • Modifying our current bespoke built in YYC roller, adding a renovator and (ideally articulated) track setter

    • Modifying our one automated drag-groomer to widen it slightly adding a comb/renovator to both sides, as the current one is only five feet wide, which is narrower than the width of the tracks on the enclosed-cab drag grooming machine.

  • Drag-grooming machinery:

    • Purchasing one to three electric snowmobiles for a better volunteer experience (no snowmobile exhaust to inhale!), and so we can groom beyond the noise bylaw restrictions. ($~18K (USD) each plus electrical hook up run to sheds (~$30K))

  • Rental shop:

    • Fund the start-up and ongoing operation of a ski/snowshoe (and possible fat bike) rental shop. (Approx. cost for POS and start-up incidentals is ~$2K-$3K, hiring (and having funding to pay) one f/t staff member on top of that would be ideal.) (Ski equipment inventory sponsorship/agreement has been arranged with The Norseman....we need snowshoe & fat bike inventory sponsorship)

  • Signage and snow fencing:

    • Purchasing ski-industry specific and robust trail junction signage and maps so we can move away from hand-written signage (~$4K-$5K)

    • Construction of more bespoke steel snow stakes is needed for sign and map installation around the FB/SS trail system, and also for much needed snow fencing projects! (approx. $500+)

  • Storage:

    • Increasing storage capacity and/or replacing our sheds that are wearing out from age. The sheds are getting very very, VERY tired, and break-ins are more frequent!

**Corporate and individual donations and sponsorships are most definitely welcome!**

Picture of two passes grooming the skate lane Tuesday night, with downtown as a backdrop.

Especially important when trails are soft:

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