Recently I experienced one of the best adventures of my life. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you might have noticed me in a silly looking beanie with a grin on my face set against a background of feathery whiteness.
I’d flown to Calgary (you can read my post on this here) to do a cross-country ski trip to Skoki Lodge, a rustic hut in the middle of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
I promised many times over to share the details in a bit of a post explaining why it was such a bucket list filler. Let’s break it down.
And just so you know, half of my stay was hosted by Tourism Alberta, but as always views are all my own and I communicate this clearly to anyone wishing to host me. You’ll find my position on sponsored posts and advertising here.
1. It’s a trip with a hard-to-reach, on-foot destination.
This is my favourite kind of trip and I spend a lot of time scouring the interwebs for hiking and biking (and skiing) routes that take you village-to-village. Skoki can only be reached by foot (unless you’re Prince William and Princess Kate who famously were flown in by helicopter). In winter you ski (carrying your gear) in summer you can hike or ride a horse.
At the same time, it starts and/or ends with a bit of luxury. We (my mate Kersti joined me) stayed at The Post Hotel in Lake Louise before the trip. And snuck in half a day of downhill at Lake Louise resort (which is all in the same area).
2. It’s physically challenging.
Like very much so, but not undoable. We skied 11km in, then did an 11km ski the next day around Skoki Mountain, then 11km back the next day…about five hours of skiing every day, climbing to 2485 metres, stopping for 5 minutes for lunch. I loved this. I don’t cope well with spoon-fed meanders.
To put things in perspective…I have skied three times in my life, the last time about ten years ago…but I’m fit and used to hiking and mountain activities…nonetheless I was physically and psychically challenged by the trip and arrived exhausted every night… in the best possible way.
3. It’s remote.
Adding to the sense of adventure.
I love it when I read this on the FAQs page of their site:
“Am I able to travel by horse to Skoki Lodge and can my horse spend the night?” – Timberline Tours Ltd in Lake Louise can provide horse rentals for riding in the National Parks. Please note that horses cannot stay overnight at Skoki Lodge.
4. It’s a foodie trip.
Eating and outdoor adventures are my two greatest joys. When they’re combined in one tidy trip, the pleasure is exponential. Again, I spend a lot of time researching areas and providers with a whole food or slow food focus. Again, Skoki ticked boxes. All food is carted in, so mindfulness and waste-free-ness is key. The lovely chef Katie Mitzel who’s been behind the wood-fired stove for 13 years, makes everything from scratch (including the most amazing gluten-free cheese scones). She also prioritises locally grown foods – apples from B.C, Alberta beef, Canmore’s coffee, Alaskan halibut and P.E.I. rock crab. When you arrive in the late afternoon, there’s a pot of soup (seafood chowder or meat stew) on the fire ready for you, along with cheese and wine. That’s just the beginning. Here’s a few other examples of the fare on offer:
5. It pushes a few personal boundaries. Well it did mine.
I should add, there’s no electricity. Which means no showers and nighttime activity is done by candlelight. And the loo is outside, in the snow. By candlelight. Magical. But I’m a little neurotic around my sleep routines and bathing and so the no shower thing (note: there is plenty of hot water and buckets) extended my comfort zone. And me with it. Which is a good thing. I love when I’m “rendered choiceless” and have to get over myself and do stuff in an extended comfort zone! I think it’s good for us all…we can all get a little too comfortable at times.
PS. I slept better at Skoki than I have in years.
Some extra details (the fineprint at the end)
- We hired our skiis and boots… from my-new-friend Dan at Skoki Lodge. Dan ain’t just the ski hire dude. He knows the area and lodge back to front and is the go-to-guy for any further information on the trip. He can also set you up for a bit of day on the downhill at the end, too.
- Of if you want to know more… feel free to contact Travel Alberta.
- For any info on opening times, what to bring, whether you can park your horse etc… check out the website.
- For more images from my trip, go here.
Finally, feel free to ask more below and check out my other trips here.
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