I don't really know if its just me, or if other outdoor enthusiasts suffer from groomed trail addiction. The ability to cruise through a winter wonderland on a perfectly cut ribbon of snow is an experience that I cannot get enough of. My problem is I have a hard time waiting for someone else to do the work, my impatience typically results in a trail idea that I fixate on until its done.
I've always had the idea to make Elk Chase trail rideable in the winter. Not to make a big deal but just to prove that its possible. This year seemed like the year to do it, the biggest catalyst was the grooming on Skyline Dr, that leads to the Elk Chase trail head. In years past I had pulled a single-track groomer to Elkhart park but because of the width it was had to maintain against blow in. Now that the trail is full width access to Elk Chase is easy!
Access initially was the only easy part, attempting to groom up the traditional trailhead behind the A frame was not going happen. Taking 2 hours to go maybe 70 yards I needed a new game plan. The alternate entrance coming off of the Elkhart parking, even in the summer is an easier access point. The problem with this access is that the trail is younger and very hard to find with snow cover, I knew I would have to ski it first to find the best path to connect to the trail proper. So I strapped up the splitboard and scabbed in the access. After putting in a track that I could follow I grabbed the sled and carefully guided the snowmobile through the trees following my skin tracks, Eureka! a spectacular Elk Chase access. This was definitely the most difficult part of making the trail useable, nothing in grooming is easy, its a challenge and many times an adventure filled with digging, pulling and sweating buckets. The end result is the reward.
The opportunity to silently pedal through the snow covered, unrecognizable terrain. Its just hard to explain...