A Backcountry Escape at Shadow Lake Lodge
By Jane Marshall
If you’re looking to get beyond the reach of wifi and cell service and deep into nature, there’s a little-known spot near Banff that has what you need.
Shadow Lake Lodge is a 14 kilometre ski or hike in. It was built on the edge of a lovely alpine meadow by the Brewster family in the early 1990s and is run by Alison Brewster and her husband Bryan Niehaus.
My husband Mike and I skied in this winter to check it out. When we arrived we were treated to afternoon tea which included baked goodies and gourmet cheeses in the main lodge. All meals are included. Our nearby cabin had a porch that looked onto the meadow and it was so peaceful we just had to take a nap. We tucked under the warm duvet and marvelled at the difference between this experience and our usual one of setting up a tent, firing up the stove and crawling instead into our sleeping bags.
The lodge provides snowshoes for those who want to do day hikes from the lodge. We’d brought our backcountry skis so we headed up to Gibbon Pass at Alison’s suggestion. We used our climbing skins to access the pass, then hiked up the flank of Storm Mountain. At tree line we peeled off our skins, tested the snowpack for safety, then got the exhilarating feeling of speed and snow as we floated down the mountain on a blanket of powder.
After a day of major cardio we returned to the comfort of the lodge. It felt almost too good to be true—showers, running water, a wood-fired sauna and a feast of a meal. After dinner and sharing stories of the day’s adventures with other skiers we walked to the nearby Redearth Creek to take in the explosion of stars in the inky black sky.
-In winter bring hut booties. These are like down slippers, but with a soft sole. We could walk from our hut to the main lodge in them, even on snow, and had no need for shoes.
-Head lamp. A must have to access your cabin at night or to do a night ski or walk. Once you’re away from the lodge turn it off and be dazzled by the night sky.
-Bring lunch for the hike/ski in.
-The lodge is open for a six week winter window in February and March, and again all summer.
-In summer, try biking the path to make better time. You can bike most of the way up, then lock up your bike and hike the last leg.
The lodge provides a good area map for hiking once you’re up, and Alison can give you sage hiking advice.