Let’s just say that the mountain/wedding anniversary celebrations have passed and the era of the stretchy pants has begun.
Seriously, that’s all I’ve been wearing since being away for a week in the Canadian Rockies. Things with elastic waists. It was a daily struggle between “I want to look good naked” and “C’mon, treat yourself.”
I did have quite a bit of control over food the majority of the holiday which was spent at Baker Creek, with a kitchen to prep our own food. Baker Creek consisted of delightful log cabins in the woods with absolute peace and quiet. So much P&Q that I was getting FAR TOO MUCH SLEEP and a little edgy by the time I finished two novels in four days (The Girl on the Train and A Man Called Ove), and played all the solitaire I could handle, and was wrinkly from hot-tubbing in the wonderful Jacuzzi in our cabin.
No TVs, no telephones and the WiFi on our various gadgets was very limited. Funny how my modern-day decompression habits include scrolling FB or IG.
I lacked the ability to fully chill, and I bugged my husband daily about going out for snowshoe treks. Yep, I was a complete pest. Our first snowshoe day out was across frozen Lake Louise to the ice waterfall, back again to the Chateau, then up to Mirror Lake, just below Lake Agnes. He thought he was going to die. He thought I was trying to kill him. Not exactly romantic anniversary stuff. The trail WAS steep, but we’d done that route a gazillion times before. I guess on snowshoes was a little more challenging. Or it was the altitude. Or maybe because we are not in fab shape. Or the last time we did that was 20 years ago. Or something.
So, by the next day, he was committing to only short snowshoe excursions (which caused me to pout, stomp and act like a child) because he knew at the end of the week I’d booked us into Skoki Lodge and the only way in to the backcountry was to snowshoe for 11K and he’d have no choice at that point. I need to rest, he said. It drove me batty. He was calm and cool as a cucumber. (How does he do it??)
Returning to Skoki Lodge (read about my last foray into the snowbound backcountry with Miz J.) was an exciting prospect, as I wanted to introduce my husband to these kinds of adventures that are near and dear to my heart. He was wary. Very wary. No running water. No electricity. His biggest fear was sleeping quarters.
Do I have to sleep next to a stranger, he asked. He was recalling the summer I took him and the boys to several of the Alpine Club of Canada backcountry huts, where everyone bunks down on padded sleeping platforms right next to one another, and God forbid you’re next to the dude who farts sausage stink all night or snores like a freight train. (He experienced both).
I assured him that no, he didn’t have to share a room, and in fact I’d booked the Honeymoon Cabin – a little log cabin completely separate from the main lodge. He was quite thrilled about that. And then when I told him all of our food was provided by stellar backcountry chefs, he perked up even more. No noisy people, no cooking and no cleaning… all good.
Blessed with a bluebird day and crazy warm temperatures for January, our Skoki day couldn’t have been more perfect. We checked out of our little cabin at Baker Creek and prepared to go every more rustic. I was SUPER PROUD of him for making the trek out to the lodge. Not only was he chipper, but he booked it along and we snowshoed up and over two mountain passes and down into Skoki Valley to the lodge in 3.5 hrs arriving mid-afternoon in time for tea. Not bad!! Well deserving of a night in our very own wee cabin.
Skoki’s honeymoon cabin is – by all means – the way to go. The lodge, built in the 1920s, is charming but squeaky, with the ability to hear all of your neighbours in the adjoining rooms. The cabin’s resounding silence conjured up the epic depth and aloneness of the being the only two people in the world on a fluffy king bed with a softer than soft duvet. Totally amorous if you had any energy left after snowshoeing in, scarfing down multiple bowls of soul-defying tomato orzo soup with homemade biscuits, guzzling lemonade, snacking on cheddar and brie and pecans and blackberries, and polishing off every last crumb of both the gingerbread AND the lemon tea cakes because you couldn’t quite make up your mind which would go better with your third steaming cup of apple raspberry tea.
We completely passed out in that cozy bed until the sun set, and we found ourselves hurriedly throwing on hut booties and sweaters a few minutes before the dinner bell at 7:00 pm. Like we could fit more food in.
The lodge’s great room transformed into a candlelit haven, with staff moving quietly to and fro, preparing for the evening meal. The menu board promised halibut, spanakopita, Skoki salad, roasted vegetables and chocolate cake. We selected seats at the long, polished table and were soon joined by our fellow inmates. My dear extroverted husband took over our social obligations and I sweetly faded into the background, observing. We met folks from Calgary (tell me a time at Skoki where you don’t meet someone from Calgary…) and a couple from the States. There was the obligatory teen, and a few groups of friends, along with some Aussies for good measure. Most everyone was lovely, and only a few you’d like to short-sheet their beds. Which could actually be done because there are no locks on the doors at Skoki.
A delightful affair, is dinner at Skoki Lodge. Not only because of the stellar menus created and prepared by Katie Mitzel and her staff, but because it is communal, taking us all back to the art of conversation.
I’d like to say after a leisurely dinner that we fell into a fitful sleep from all that mountain air and good food, but alas we did not. Bedtime at Skoki tends to take place between 9:00 – 10:00 pm, but we were wide awake following our afternoon nap and dinner. We warmed up the cabin and did a bit of an electronic cheat, listening to the CBC’s Vinyl Cafe on my iPod, watching the battery operated twinkle lights we’d hung in the cabin windows. It was after 1:00 am and several chilly excursions to the outhouse that we finally fell asleep….just in time to get up for our 8:00 am breakfast. Yes, breakfast.
All about the food. The Skoki kitchen serves up both a cold and hot breakfast (second breakfast!) followed quickly by the make-your-own-lunch accouterments for either your day trips around the lodge or your trip back to reality. We only stayed the one night, so we made off with cookies and pockets of trail mix, not bothering with the sandwiches this go around.
Our journey back was a slog up Deception Pass and then the long-haul to Skiing Louise and an endless trudge down the ski-out. Last time, lifties put us over the mountain but this year, snowshoers had to use the ski-out…which added a ridiculous amount of time and effort. Any shine from the lodge might have worn off DH at this point. In fact, yes, yes it was most certainly gone. There was a lot of cursing about snowshoes and walking and inconsiderate people making other people snowshoe so far just to reach cars where there are heated seats and mobile chargers.
Despite all the tromping around in the wilderness, I still managed to eat my weight in food, and upon arriving back in Banff (and massaging my legs back to life) we had a celebratory (as in, we’re alive!) steak dinner. Mmmm steak.
Hence the stretchy pants.
It might take some time to recover. I might need another week.