First opened in 1931, Skoki Lodge is a National Historic Site that has a long history of offering a prime landing pad for passionate hikers and skiers. As I learned, the lodge is chock-full of quirky, entertaining stories from both the past and present.
1. When the first real stove was brought in by Ike Mills on dogsled, he actually mounted the stove upright on his sled and lit a fire in it so that hed arrive in style at Skoki. Unfortunately, no one was there to greet him. They were all off skiing.
2. Ever admired the trail building in the Lake OHara area? Well, Lawrence Grassi, the trail building master who constructed those paths, also did a lot of the work around Skoki, including the upper trail across the scree en route to Merlin Lake.
3. Almost everything from food to laundry is brought into Skoki each summer by packers, often as many times as two to three days a week. In winter, they are allowed to use snowmobiles.
4. The first guests to Skoki Lodge had to take the train from Banff to Lake Louise, then ski or hike from the Lake Louise train station. Nowadays, you can park your car at Fish Creek and, if youre lucky, ride a shuttle up the Temple Road.
5. Sometimes up to once a week in summer, a crew of ultra runners known as the Banff Trail Trash run into Skoki Lodge and out again in the same day. Crazy.
6. *Gossip Alert* On their visit to Skoki this past summer, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, otherwise known as Will and Kate, played backgammon at one of the lodges picnic tables for two hours. Scandalous, we know.
7. Sir Norman Watson once envisioned that the Skoki area could be developed as a Swiss-style village, and even wanted to bring over a few Swiss families to inhabit the area and develop alpine agriculture. Thank goodness that didnt happen.
8. In the winter of 1936, packers Ken Jones and Sam Evans set a Skoki record when they packed in supplies for 65 consecutive days.
9. The word Skoki actually comes from a native tribe in Illinois, the Potawatomi, and means marsh or swamp. James Porter named it in 1911, and he originally spelled it Skokie.
10. This is not a hoity-toity lodge to be reserved for the rich and famous (or royal). If you want a truly authentic mountain experience, head up there and enjoy their friendly staff, the best backcountry eats you could ever imagine and the awesome hiking or skiing terrain. Keep your eyes peeled for their wicked locals specials!