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Scouting Skoki - The Loop
Timestamp Free: 2019.04.24 - 17:10:02
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Front Ranges / Slate Range
  (1 days)     Elevation Gain: 430m
Participants: David Wasserman, Greg Schoepp, Jo Eustace, Will Skaley, Nigel Tuffrey
Difficulty: 1: On-trail hiking
Five GMMC members loop counterclockwise around the Skoki area from Baker Lake Campground
The Skoki area of Banff National Park, north of Lake Louise, is one of the most well-known backcountry destinations in the park. It has a great deal to offer: a plethora of lakes, many non-technical peaks, flowered meadows, and a historic backcountry lodge. Despite hiking the Canadian Rockies off and on for a half-century, I had never visited the area. The closest I had come was about 40 years ago when I backpacked alone as far as the Halfway Hut. It was on that occasion that I first realized that I'm not temperamentally suited to backpacking solo. I spent the night at the hut, and then hiked back out.

This year, I offered to co-ordinate a Grant MacEwan Mountain Club backpack into the area. We would drive out from Edmonton on a Thursday morning, hit the Fish Creek Trailhead at around lunch time, and pack in as far as the Baker Lake Campground (some 14 km), which would be our base for hiking and scrambling for the next two or three days. By the time the participant list was finalized, it became two days for everyone.

My goal was to see as much of the area as possible, and the other four in the group wanted the same. So on the third day, we set off to make a counterclockwise loop of the entire area.

We set off northward from Baker Lake Backcountry Campground at about 8:20 a.m., taking the trail over Cotton Grass Pass to the Red Deer Lakes. This section of trail passes from the headwaters of Baker Creek to the beginnings of the Red Deer River, a significant watershed. Baker Creek drains into the Bow River. The waters of the Red Deer and the Bow do not join until the Red Deer flows into the South Saskatchewan near Estuary, Saskatchewan, more than 450 km away. Despite its hydrographic importance, the pass is a long meadow.

As we crossed the pass, we heard a wolf...

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