That's an Excellent Question: Why they groom the backcountry trails in Gatineau Park
By: Craig Storey (2009/03/04)
In the recent article Comments on Demsis Grooming of the Gatineau Park XC Ski Trails, by G. Foerstel he asked the question..
Why are some of the traditional "backcountry" trails all of a sudden being groomed? (i.e Skyline and many others...) We love these special trails and they don't need a machine to get them into shape. They exist unto themselves and have a special quality. This is destroyed when they're groomed. If skiers want a groomer there are the other trails. Who made the decision to groom back country anyway? Lafleur never touched these trails.
The NCC grooming contract for the Gatineau Park specifies that the grooming contractor, be it Demsis, Lafleur, Profac or whoever, must maintain the backcountry trails so that snow machines may easily access injured skiers.
If there is deep unpacked snow on these trails a quick rescue would be slow if not impossible by snow machine. In order to make quick access to the backcountry possible the grooming contractor must occasionally "pack" the trails by driving a small snow machine around them. They don't usually set tracks, that's done by skiers.
Yes, this does ruin the single track feel for a few days, but it does make them safer for all. It would be nice if the NCC grooming reports showed when the backcountry trails are scheduled for packing.
It should also be pointed out that this is not a new requirement, or something recent, it's been going on for years but must occur more often in heavy snow years.
As for #6 - Skyline, I liked it as a groomed trail. It brings more packed skiing on "trails" to skiers in the core of the park but I understand the protests of backcountry skiers.