Skoki Lodge is another of those wonderful places that I still hadn’t gotten around to visiting, either in summer or winter. It’s mostly a place to stay overnight (Kate and William stayed there on their royal honeymoon), but they do serve up afternoon tea.
We planned to leave Canmore at a fairly civilised time, after making some calculations based on other ski in times we’d seen, and the fact we wanted to catch afternoon tea at the lodge if possible. But we were skiing up there from the lower parking lot, which magically added another 4km or so, and suddenly our calculations weren’t looking so good.
Also – it was kind of cold! Which was actually fine, as it kept us moving.
On Ptarmigan Lake we started to run into other groups of skiers. A couple of guys had their kit for kite skiing – we didn’t realise how windy it was until we started the return journey.
And then we ran into this unicorn who was also out ski touring. Those guys get around, don’t believe the hype.
Heading up Deception Pass, it had settled into a glorious blue sky kind of day.
But at the top of the pass we had some decision making to do. Thanks to the extra distance, we didn’t have a lot of time ahead of us before sunset. But it was still conceivable we could get back down to the Lake Louise ski area by sunset, and maybe have to only do the last little bit of skiing in the dark. And we did have headlamps.
I was definitely struggling to keep up with the others. Being semi-injured for the last 7 months or so hadn’t been great for my fitness, and then having 3 weeks or so of couch time thanks to a cold hadn’t really helped either. Plus I’d decided to wear new boots, and they were definitely rubbing. So at this point I was feeling a little humbled, rather than strong and fit. But we were so close! And I’d never been to Skoki before!
So of course we decided to go for it.
In the end we made it to the lodge only 15 minutes or so after the quoted time for afternoon tea started anyway. Perfect timing!
We had afternoon tea, dealt with blisters, relaxed, drank tea from thermoses, and then re-skinned our skis for an assault of Deception Pass from the other side.
And by the time we got there – well, the sun was still up in the sky at least. Lots of time!
The scuttle back across Ptarmigan Lake was slow and windy. With my telemark skis I managed ok with no skins, but was counting down the marker posts until I’d closed the final gap. And then we were at the final pass, skins off, nothing but descending ahead of us.
And such ridiculously beautiful dusk light that I very nearly skied into a tree on several occasions.
From this point on though, it was fairly fast going. There was some double poling as we drew closer to Lake Louise ski hill, but there was a lot of cruising through snow singletrack through the trees, and for a while there I felt like I was on my mountain bike.
And then the sky started to turn pink, and then pink didn’t even come close to describing it any more.
And we skied down the ski out back to the car, staring at the fading light of the sunset, and made it just before the dusk became too dark for comfortably hurtling downhill at high speed. A very excellent ski day.
Elevation gain: 1082m