Did you hear the one about the backcountry skier who stowed a case of 24 beer(in bottles, no less) in his backpack? I heard all about it this weekend while warming up in the sauna with a few other skiers at Shadow Lake Lodge.
Redearth creek was trackset before the weekend and was in nice shape for the 13K ski up to the lodge. As usual, there are a few pine needles on the first 2K, but thereafter the tracks were excellent.
Snow was in the forecast, but nothing much materialized, just a few squalls as we reached the lodge. The air temperature was -1°C, and VR50(0/-4) was the wax of choice. The snow seemed to get a lot colder as we gained elevation.
Wherever there’s gourmet food, I can usually be found nearby. Shadow Lake Lodge opened for the winter this past weekend and featured a mouth-watering five-course dinner on Saturday night.
If you go to Shadow lake, there’s lots of exploring to do from the lodge. If you are on real skinny skis, like me, you can still follow a 1K skier-set track to Shadow Lake itself which was resplendent in the sunshine today, backdropped by Mt Ball. It offers splendid scenery and is perfect for a little after-breakfast ski tour. I ventured a lttle further, across the bridge and a short distance around the lake.
You can snowshoe on gear provided by the lodge to Gibbon pass, or, if you’ve got the appropriate skis, head to other destinations such as Ball pass. There’s a good snowshoe trail down to Shadow Lake as well.
The original cabin at Shadow Lake was built by the CPR in 1928 and is still available as a lounge for guests. The present-day cabins were constructed in the early 1990’s. Nice and cozy, they are lit by solar-powered lights, and heated with propane. Best of all, each cabin has a convenient drying rack on which you can hang your ski clothes. There’s a few decadent luxuries such as the aforementioned sauna(and yes, I did roll in the snow), showers, and warm bathrooms.
Redearth creek in Banff national Park gains a net elevation of 430 metres to Shadow lake Lodge. It has lots of variety: a few segments where the climbing will get your heart rate up, with corresponding thrilling downhills on the return.
On the trail, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of Copper and Pilot mountains. There’s a campground at 7K where a lot of people stop for a break, but I’ve always found it to be very cold at that particular spot. There’s a few creek crossings on neat old bridges and a warden’s cabin. The trail is narrow and twisty-turny in places, and is only snowmobile packed for the final 2.9K as it meanders through the trees to the lodge.
As for the skier with the 24-pack, if Mark is reading, he might divulge what eventually happened on that trip.
I’d be interested in a report from any readers who participated in the ski races this weekend, namely the Birkie and the Huckleberry loppet. How were the conditions?