-The Pipestone loop at Lake Louise-
The scenery and ambience at the north end of the Pipestone trail system at Lake Louise is stunning.
I’ve only written a trip report on the Pipestone trails once since I started this blog in 2008, Pipestone trails March 11, 2011., so I’ve been missing out.
I watched the NorAm Western Canadian Championships which were happening near the Chateau in the morning, had lunch, drove across the highway to the Pipestone trailhead and started skiing at 1 pm. The air temperature was -8°C and the snow was -5.
These are not easy trails. They’re narrow, there’s lots of elevation, many ups and downs, blazing fast downhills with sharp turns; all the features which make for a fun day when snow conditions are good, as they were today.
I skied the entire Pipestone loop counter-clockwise which is 13.1K. The first 3K involves a lot of climbing, with a net elevation gain of 120 metres. The trail then undulates, but still climbs gradually as you ski high along the west bank of the Pipestone river through forest for the next 3.5K. Occasionally you can catch a glimpse across the valley.
At 6.5K, the trail turns away from the river, the forest thins out, and you enter a different world of meadows, mountains and numerous animal tracks.
There’s a side trail leading to the Pipestone river which I took, and I could see that some skiers had continued on in the deep snow on the river(possibly Chuck!).
The Pipestone loop from 6.5K to 10K offers some of the most beautiful skiing known to humankind. It feels very remote and secluded, and there’s a certain charm to the narrow single-track trails.
Somewhere around 7K Karel and Luna appeared and woke me from my trance. A very enthusiastic dog, Luna hated to stop for a photo. I imagine she was making life quite easy for Karel by pulling him along.
At 7.9K you’ve reached the high point with a net elevation gain of 170 metres. The total ascent to here was 250 metres. At the end of the day, my total ascent was 270 metres, so you know the final 5K was a lot of downhill fun.
Doug Connery said, “Overall, another day in paradise, we really have it great here with these trails, conditions and scenery,” and he didn’t even ski on the Pipestone side. I’d say we’re fortunate indeed!