Hidden Lake
Opting for a relatively easy and non-committing day, Zosia Zgolak and I skied to Hidden Lake behind Lake Louise Ski Resort in Alberta's Banff National Park on 30 January 2021.  Normally only used by backcountry hikers/skiers or guests of Skoki Lodge, the Fish Creek trailhead was strangely overflowing with resort skiers on this day perhaps because many of them wanted to avoid the traffic gridlock at the resort's main parking lots.  In any case, Zosia and I soon left the circus of people behind us and found some quiet solitude as we climbed the groomed ski-out to the Skoki trailhead near Temple Lodge.  As usual, the trail to Skoki Lodge was well-packed, and we had no problems reaching the turnoff to Halfway Hut and Hidden Lake.  We subsequently followed a convenient broken trail all the way to Hidden Lake.  Initially, we were planning to explore the south end of Richardson Ridge to the west, but upon arriving at the lake, we were more attracted to the gentle lower slopes of nearby Ptarmigan Peak.  From near the lake, we spotted some conspicuous rocks--Zosia calls these "Sea Lion Rocks"--sticking up on the skyline above the lower slopes, and we aimed directly for them.  The climb to Sea Lion Rocks was pretty easy, and because the steeper slopes above were wind-scoured and rocky, it was just as easy to stop here and turn around.

Zosia and I removed our climbing skins at Sea Lion Rocks and proceeded to ski back down the same slopes we came up.  Unfortunately, the bases of my skis were tarnished by residual skin glue, and I had a lot of difficulty getting any glide.  Of course, the shallowness of the slopes did not help, and it was very frustrating having to make an effort to propel myself downhill.  Somehow, I managed to follow Zosia back down to Hidden Lake, and I fared a little better once we regained our up-track.  On the way out of the valley, I stopped once to scrape some of the residual glue off my skis, and that was enough to at least get me back to the main trail at the Halfway Hut turnoff.  From there, the undulating ski back to the Skoki trailhead went a bit more smoothly since I was better able to maintain momentum on the slicker track, and my glide problems were all but forgotten on the final fast downhill run of the ski-out.
WTF? Hopefully, this isn't the new norm...

The Fish Creek trailhead is normally only used by backcountry enthusiasts or Skoki Lodge guests, but on this day, it is crowded with resort skiers for some undetermined reason.

Yikes! Maybe we shouldn't go further!

Zosia passes a couple of warning signs for people venturing beyond the ski resort boundary.

Why didn't they just drive their snowmobile all the way up to Hidden Lake? Zosia meets a trio of ski patrollers as she takes the turnoff to Hidden Lake.  The patrollers would also be venturing there to check on some wildlife cameras.  In the background are Pika Peak, unnamed, and Ptarmigan Peak.
Great to have full sunshine! Mount Richardson dominates the background as Zosia enters the valley leading to Hidden Lake.
The lower slopes are more mellow than they look!

From near the edge of Hidden Lake, Zosia begins climbing open slopes below Ptarmigan Peak.

Zosia has a healthy imagination!

Zosia calls these conspicuous boulders "Sea Lion Rocks".

I love this place!

This is the view across the valley from Sea Lion Rocks.  At right is the high point of Richardson Ridge.


I'd like to come back in the future and try skiing up Ptarmigan Peak.

Sonny and Zosia pose together below the south face of Ptarmigan Peak.

This should have been a more enjoyable ski than it turned out for me!

Zosia skis down open slopes back into the valley.

I need to come back here with better ski equipment... Hidden Lake is completely frozen and snow-covered on this day.

It sucks when I still have to work hard to go downhill!

Redoubt Mountain fills the background as Zosia skis out of the valley.


A pleasant and non-committing outing. Total Distance:  18.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  5 hours 59 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  729 metres

GPX Data