X-C SKiing Yoho 2/06

We spent a few lovely days in the Banff / Lake Louise / Yoho National Park area of Canada in late February with the Knapp Parents this year. Weather earlier in the week was pretty sloppy, and it was still snowing a bit when we landed in the Calgary airport, minus our baggage (plane was overweight, so apparently they decided our baggage could wait a flight). We were supposed to head up to the B&B my folks had found in Field, BC that night, but instead only got as far as Banff to make sure United would deliver our luggage to the hotel. Sure nuff, skis and such showed up around 03:00 or something. before we woke up in any case. Nice breakfast at the Coyote Cafe in Banff, which makes some mean huevos rancheros, and has a wine on the shelf called "Wit's End" which I almost bought for the label, and then it was off to Lake Louise area to meet my folks and day of skiing #1. We parked a bit outside of the massive Lake Louise Lodge and then skied up that way to gawk at the tourists and admire the ice sculptures.

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Day 2: Lake Ohara

The Lake Ohara Lodge is this very swanky, overpriced resort up in the middle of absurdly spectacular terrain located on, yes, Lake Ohara. It's a pretty good ski in - at least 12km, and at least the resort makes you ski in, with full gear, before the pampering begins. They generally can't be bothered with day trippers, although, on Satudays, if not too busy, they'll serve you a nice lunch for something like $24/person. But this wasn't a Saturday, so we had lunch on their porch and then skied around the lake once. After the first lap, the clouds cleared, the sun came out, and it was so phenomenally beautiful we had to take a second lap around the lake.

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Day 3

On the third day we drove back towards Banff and then skied in to Shadow Lake, which is also decorated with a lodge. This place was much less imposing than the Lake Ohara lodge; a more typical set of cabins and such, although the bathroom was well heated (heated!!), and there was a sauna out of which people occasionally popped for the traditional roll in the snow before jumping back into the steam again. It would have been most tempting to stay the night, but the folks were heading out early in the morning, so we again took a lap around the lake, and a few group photos, but the weather failed to clear this time, and it's a longer ski out, so that was it for the day.

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I wanna live in Canmore

Because of the scenery, that's why. And a the Sunfood Cafe, a darn good vegetarian restaurant with a Swiss Chef (Bork! oh wait, that's Swedish), and all international staff (Chinese, Romainian, Dutch, and more). But it's mostly the mountains. Given the choice of living in Denver or Canmore, Denver wouldn't have time to see the souls of our shoes... These fantastic peaks surround the town with spectacular vertical walls on one side, and more hikable terrain on the other. We met a few locals in the parking lot, who were heading up Rundle and were all geared up with ice axes and crampons. They said we might do ok without, maybe not, but hey, give it a go eh? And there's two of us, so bears wouldn't be a problem, but maybe couger -listen for the whistle, eh? that's the cougers hunting in pairs. (yeah. right.) Another Canadian chimed in at this point with
"Rundle's trail is on the left, Ha Ling across the street, but the most important path is that one (pointing back along the road)"
Uh, what?
"Because that one leads back to the bar. You see the cliffs up on Rundle? (points to sheer walls in the 500-800m high range) We'll be tumbling off of those in a few hours, quickest route to the bar! Do you know what's the sound of Canadian yodelling?? Oh shiiiiiiiiiiiit!"

Chipper group, almost joined them, but we were short on time. Ha Ling was steep, sustained, but great fun, and snowy, but not treacherous. And fantastic views of course.

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