Skoki…before the crowds – Boulder Pass and Ptarmigan Lake
December 10 2016
Distance: 20 KM
Elevation Gain: 650 M
Let your memory drift back to the first time you entered the back country in winter. The air, the light shining on snow while skiing back to the car, quiet snow drifts at the pass, cold, warmth with movement, pika and snowhoe hare tracks. This trip to Ptarmigan Lake over boulder pass holds magic qualities that one doesn’t experience in summer. And is a route over a mountain pass with low avalanche terrain rating! As long as you stay on the route. If your looking for something more than the West Bragg Creek trails try this one. Check the forecast and get your AST training.
We parked at the Skoki trailhead at the Lake Louise Ski area. Our first leg was up theSki Out. Then under the Larch Chair, past temple lodge into a beautiful valley leading to the Half Way Hut in the valley bottom west of Redoubt Mountain. Then up over the aptly named Boulder Pass and down to the east shore of Ptarmigan lake. With sunlight waning we chose not to continue to ski over deception pass to Skoki Lodge.
At the Halfway Hut, close your eyes and rest while your imagination falls back to the days before the ski hill. When travelers departed train station at the bottom of the Bow Valley enroute to the mystical Skoki Lodge, deep in the Canadian wilderness for a ski trip. The Halfway Hut was then halfway to their destination where they would stay the night, no stove.
We followed a lone skier’s tracks on this trip, a couple days old. The Lodge must not have opened yet as they usually caravan of skiers was absent along with the wooden stakes along Ptarmigan lake, we had the place to ourselves. A rare privilege. It was also -23 C at the trail head in the middle of the first deep freeze of the year.
At the east end of Ptarmigan lake we enjoyed the light shifting and glowing along theshores, peaks and snow covered meadows. Avalanche cracks on south faces and snowdrifts from the north wind. Silence, snow, sun. Then we skied back, past the tracks of wolverine, marten and pika, back to the car.
And watch out for the snow covered stream at the trailhead.