At Shadow Lake Lodge in Canada, getting there is the only hard part
We left for our day hike optimistic about the restocked pantry. Our route took us to a towering alpine valley called the Amphitheatre, where we peered into an ice cave, splashed in a tarn and lunched on a glacier, all to a soundtrack of tinkling waterfalls plunging steep cliffs that surround us. And of course dinner that night, served al fresco on picnic tables in the meadow, included generous slices of roast beef with braised cabbage, chocolate cake for dessert and chocolate covered strawberries. for all to mark someone’s wedding anniversary. The freshly baked bread at dinner now came with butter.
Each night we shared a table with other customers. For a couple in their 50s, this was their very first backcountry trip. Another couple looked like they were in their 70s or maybe (the rest of us speculated wildly), even early 80s. They were true backcountry veterans, brimming with anecdotes and advice: which berries to eat, which side trails to explore, where in the sky to watch for the Perseid meteor shower when I tiptoed out of my cabin to lie down in the meadow at 2 am.
May all of us – neophytes, retirees, parents – be here, reveling in this remote and beautiful place, during a summer when the road-accessible mountain trails were regularly filled beyond capacity at 8 a.m. morning seemed to me to be a pretty good justification for the Alpine Club’s decision to take over the lodge.
We bet that Ella and Natalie, too, would consider the win worth the effort it took to get there – and they did. Even on our longest day, coming back from Ball Peak, there was always something to keep them going: more bays around the corner, the sight and sound of an avalanche rolling down a mountain face, or even a dip in the icy waters of Shadow Lake. It was the swimming, in the end, that made us miss afternoon tea, but we all agreed it was worth it.
If you are going to
The easiest of several trails to Shadow Lake Lodge begins at the Redearth Creek parking lot in Banff National Park, a 90-minute drive west of Calgary International Airport. The eight-mile, steadily uphill hike takes four to five hours one way. Rates start at 730 Canadian dollars (about $570) a night for two people, including food and bedding, with a minimum stay of two nights. This summer’s season runs from June 20 to September 25.