Mary Lake, Intermediate, James Lake, Vista, Adam Lake and most of Dunseith have been recently groomed. Trails were hard and fast. The classic tracks were shallow but very solid, and sticking to them was the best bet for all manoeuvres because there was almost no bite in the skate deck if you wanted to herringbone, snowplough, or step turn.
Shoofly, John Lake, and the south end of Dunseith are not being groomed. They had been packed at one time, and we followed some old tracks made by skiers. It was pleasant, and climbing was easier here.
There is a new warming hut down at John Lake, where previously there was only a three sided shelter. It features a skylight and the tiniest woodstove ever, although we couldn’t find an axe. The new cabin marks the end of the line: the old trail along the US border is overgrown and no longer maintained. But halfway down from the Vista-James intersection, there is a new “Canntastic” trail connecting over to the south end of Dunseith. The new map at the trailhead reflects this change, but the small maps at trail intersections do not.
The Turtle Mountain trails have recently become mixed use, supposedly with a lane for classic, a lane for skate, and a lane for walkers / snowshoers / fat bikes. In reality walkers range all over the skate trail, but they had respected the classic tracks. Today, at least, the base was so hard that there was no real damage done.
The new adventure huts are pretty cute, if you can get past the brazen privatization of public park land. Sounds like the James Lake cabin is fully booked up til the end of March, with the exception of one single weekday.
Highlight of the day was a fisher sighting!!