Thursday, September 30, 2010

Autumn 2010

Or of course Fall 2010 for all my North American followers. Just like last year it has been suggested to me that I post an entry following my autumn visit to Fernie to check on the house by way of a curtain raiser to this winter's season.

Well, the visit was fine although the weather was much colder and wetter than it usually is at this time of year. As I am in training for the Dublin Marathon a lot of my time was spent running round the town where I worked out a double loop which gave me about a half marathon distance every day.

Because of the very poor summer in Fernie it has been an equally poor berry season and as a result the bears are getting into town looking for food in advance of winter hibernation. Just the week before we arrived a cinnamon black bear had to be shot for making a nuisance of itself in the trailer park/aquatic centre area. On my first run which was on my first day while jet lagged I had only gone about 200 metres when a small black bear emerged from the bushes by the Cokato Road and stood about 4 metres away from me. After a quick chat I backed slowly away and we both went about our business but it added an interesting dimension the marathon training.

In the first week we hiked the front side of the ski hill to see what had been happening and the answer was not much. With the ski industry firmly on the back foot across the whole of Canada all talk was about things that would be done (new lifts, new runs etc) over the next few years but with very little actually happening now. I was told that a bit of brush clearing had been done on the old side particularly around Boomerang and some glading in Cedar bowl but to be honest I didn't see much ( any) sign of it - saw a couple of mule deer and that was about it.

After a trip down to Montana for a couple of days in Glacier National Park it was back up the Waterton in Canada where were the last rental boat out and back on the very last day of the season. We were in a Canadian canoe and went looking for a bull moose that was supposed to be at the far end of the lake but didn't see anything. Interestingly the snow line was almost down to the lake and generally there looked to be more snow around than usual.

In our second week we had snow on the ski hill to below the Bear's Den although it did melt and I see that since we have been back temps have risen to above season norms so it will all have gone. Quite a lot of the second week was spent in various drinking holes with locals discussing the prospects for the winter ski season.

So what are the long term prospects ? Of course at this time of year you have a number of long range forecasts to choose from and generally you choose the one that tells you what you want to hear - a bit like weather forecasts in the ski season. The consensus view is that with El Nino subsiding during the summer months weather patterns should revert to those of a few years ago and we will have a colder and wetter winter than usual. December into January is looking particularly good (or bad depending on how you look at it) with heavier than usual snow falls.

After a couple of average seasons the Griz owes us agood one so I will stick my neck out and say vintage powder at least in the early part of the season. Watch this space to see if I am right when I get back to Fernie at the ends of November.

As a matter of interest driving back to Calgary Highway 22 had snow piled up either side which is more snow than I have seen in some Januarys so the signs are good.

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