Exploring the backcountry – Skoki Valley
Brachiopod Mtn

Exploring the backcountry – Skoki Valley

115

After the success of our short backcountry trip to Jacques Lake, Diego and I thought it would be good to go with Juliana and Janu to visit the Skoki area in a 3-day trip. This would be Juliana’s first backcountry experience, and only my second (my first backcountry trip was to Jacques Lake, click here to read about it). We spent one night at Whistlers so we could start early on Saturday, and the moon was beautiful, I couldn’t resist taking this shot:

Full moon at Whistlers
Full moon at Whistlers

 

Skoki is the name of the region located just northeast from the Whitehorn Mountain, at the bottom of which we can find the Lake Louise Ski Resort, near the village of Lake Louise and the famous lake by the same name. Many people visit this area throughout the year, and it is well known for the great views. The trek to Baker Lake Campground, which was our destination, is rated as easy and the 13 Km hike it represented seemed very doable for all involved, striking a good balance between great scenarios and a good challenge for these four relatively inexperienced campers.

By doing some research, we learned that sometimes hikers are lucky enough to get a ride on a van service offered by the Skoki Lodge to their guests. This service helps them get through the initial third of the hike, the steep ascent from the Ski Resort towards Boulder Pass. We were talking about this possibility and getting ready to start our trip when the actual van pulled right beside our car. The driver was very nice and offered us a ride up towards the pass, even though we were not going to be guests of the lodge. This saved us from the first 4 or 5 Km, the toughest part of the trail.

Mount Temple
Mount Temple

 

After this auspicious start, we found ourselves about 4 Km away from the actual Boulder pass, which represents the second third of the trek. We wasted no time to start walking. Each of us carried about 20-25 Kg of food and camping gear on our backs, and Diego and I were also carrying some photography gear. We still had to go up, and after a while we crested Boulder pass and could finally see Ptarmigan Peak and Ptarmigan Lake at its feet.

Upon arriving at Ptarmigan Lake, we decided to take a little break. The first 8 Km of the hike were behind us, and the path ahead was more or less level. We took a few pictures of Ptarmigan Peak by the lake and then took off. We walked eastward, following the north shore of the lake, on the part of the valley between Heather Ridge and Deception pass.

 

Skoki Valley and Fossil Mountain
Skoki Valley and Fossil Mountain

 

A little further up the trail and we could see Fossil Mountain, the most famous of the region, as well as the whole valley and also Brachiopod Mountain, which would soon become my favorite. The last part of our path was much easier and the valley was particularly beautiful, despite the annoying deer flies that tried to rip the flesh off our bodies despite our effort and all the bug spray we could use.

After arriving at Baker Lake and setting up the camping, we went on a little exploring around the area. Because of the time saved with that initial ride on the van, we still had a few more hours of sun to enjoy. We walked south to Tilted Lake and enjoyed the wonderful views.

We started our second day with a walk to Redoubt Lake. I went to the waterfall to get water and noticed the light was good, so I took this shot. I shared it on Instagram last week and it received over 28,000 combined likes (and was reposted by 16 other Instagram accounts).

Redoubt Lake lies between Redoubt Mountain and the Heather Ridge, just south of Ptarmigan Lake we’d visited the day before. This time around we took the long way by following Brachiopod Mountain and the contour of Heather Ridge, until we reached the lake. It was a very nice place to rest and take in the sights.

Redoubt Mountain
Redoubt Mountain

 

After spending some time at the feet of Redoubt Mountain, we had the idea to go around Fossil Mountain. We crossed Deception Pass northward and then headed back to the campsite by flanking Oyster Peak. Because we were afraid of being too late to get the sunset on the way back, we didn’t stop much to take pictures on the second part of our day, except for a few.

We got back to Baker Lake Campground just in time to create this image of Brachiopod Mountain, in my opinion the best of the whole trip.

We spent our second night at the Baker Lake Campground thinking how we are fortunate to live in a country with such natural beauty. Now that we are able to enjoy the backcountry, even more of the wonderful National and Provincial Parks is available to us. We definitely look forward to more of these trips, as both Alberta and British Columbia have many wonderful areas just waiting to be visited. And I hope you will join us for the trips to come.