So Nakiska Ski Area is advertising snowshoe trails! Turns out there is just the one trail to Mid-Mountain Lodge and a little loop near the lodge. For $69 a person, Nakiska will run three guided trips a day: Blue moderate if getting a lift up Olympic Chair and snowshoeing down, Black difficult if plodding up and taking the lift down and Green easy if taking the lift both ways and doing a 2 km loop near the lodge. Included in the price is hot chocolate and a cookie, which take it from me is no compensation for the uphill flog of 396 m (1,300 ft).
The original press release had the trail open to everyone, guided or not. So that meant one could flog up the hill for a more substantial beer and burgers before snowshoeing back down..
The original map was extremely vague, showing snowshoe symbols all around the perimeter of the ski area. We took that to mean Skogan Pass trail (just outside the boundary), then the steep Mid-Mountain Road (just inside the boundary) which is a cat track used to deliver supplies to the lodge. So that was our planned route when we checked it out. We found no snowshoe signs at any junction, so for people unfamiliar with the area it would be easy to go wrong and end up at Gold Chair for instance or go around the CAT track the wrong way at the split, or, heaven forbid, end up at Skogan Pass. And so much for burgers and beer; the lodge was closed.
We questioned Nakiska about signage. It was “coming.” Then just before Christmas the problem was solved by Nakiska declaring their snowshoe trail would be for guided parties only. No other snowshoers allowed. A newer map now shows the route taking the Mid-Mountain Road (cat track) all the way, low down crossing under two chairs and up or across several ski runs.
So while this is no big loss for discerning snowshoers, this decision may affect some of us. After Marmot Basin ski trail up Marmot Creek was demolished in the 2013 flood and closed, never to be rebuilt, the upper section of Mid-Mountain Road (the old Marmot Basin Road that was there long before the ski area) was the only way for snowshoers and skiers to access Marmot Basin. Admittedly, not many people make the long trudge up there but a few do and have a blast enjoying the powder among the larches.
So what kind of reception can we expect when caught using the upper 2.4 km of Mid-Mountain Road inside the ski area boundary? As Trump likes to say, “We’ll see what happens.” Hopefully, we’ll be ignored. We might even pop incognito into Mid-Mountain Lodge for burgers and beer. But best to check it’s open beforehand.