Lake Louise to Banff: a multiday skiventure

Trip date: Wednesday Apr 19, 2023

Submitted by Sara M



With my university degree wrapped up, it was time for some much-needed skiing! Last year I planned a multiday adventure from Lake Louise to Banff, but the weather and my time off didn't line up. This time, I was ready. On Wednesday, I started from Pipestone and skied up the valley. Pretty early on, I saw a wolverine and a deer playing! I assume they were playing, both of them were hopping around like excited dogs and neither seemed stressed or afraid. Very neat! There were still plenty of snow bridges in the meadows, only small amound of backtracking required to find crossings. The snow was fast and supportive. I followed a snowed-in trail up towards Skoki and camped at the Red Deer Lakes campground.
Day 2 was spent following a grizzly bear. It joined the trail pretty early on, and mostly stuck to the trail all day. In the trees, the snow up high was still cold and deep. Fast crust in the sun, though. I skied down the Red Deer River valley, which I'd never seen before! The mountain views were incredible on this sunnier-than-forecasted day. As the day progressed, the snow softened and got quite slow. In the last 5km to Scotch Camp, the trail was melted out in many places! Lots of taking skis off and putting them on again.
Day 3 started with the long climb out of Scotch Camp on the Cascade fire road. The bear tracks rejoined the trail and kept me company over Snow Creek Summit to the Panther valley, where Mr Bear must have remained. The final descent to the Panther was fun and fast! Luckily there were still a few snow bridges over the river. It was grey and snowy until this point, then cleared up although it snow periodically for the rest of the day. I continued up and over Wigmore Summit and down along Cuthead Creek. I didn't have an exact destination in mind. The crust wasn't strong enough to support me off skis, so I stopped when I found a dry patch of ground big enough to perch my tent on. I was about 4km upstream of the Flint's junction.
Day 4 was a struggle. The first 4km to the junction was new and interesting, but then I just had the long and somewhat familiar slog back to Lake Minnewanka. The crust was fast to begin with but around 11am, it became slow and slushy. It was sticky enough to ski without skins, which helped a bit, but my god was it ever slow. The "fast hill" down to the road was so slow that I had to stride in some places! It's always a bit jarring to emeege from the wilderness at a place as busy as Minnewanka. My feet are sore and my body and mind are tired, but I'm glad I squeezed in this spring skiventure!