Friday, October 12, 2018

Mount Baldy Double Summit Traverse from Baldy Pass

There are a few ways to reach the main summit of Mount Baldy in the Kananaskis Valley. Logic would say that you should take the shortest, most direct route from the trailhead to the summit. We however parked at a trailhead 2 km away so that we could visit both the main summit and the south summit of Mount Baldy, and enjoy a beautiful ridge walk connecting the two peaks.

Enjoying the views from the main summit of Mount Baldy looking down over Barrier Lake

Introduction to the Mount Baldy Traverse

Mount Baldy is the big peak you see across from Barrier Lake as you drive into Kananaskis down Highway 40. The photo below was taken from the Prairie View hiking trail above Barrier Lake looking across to Mount Baldy.

Mount Baldy as seen from the ridge above Barrier Lake

While you can definitely hike straight up to the main summit in roughly 4 km return, we wanted a bigger adventure. We started at the Baldy Pass Trailhead, 2 km further down the road. This allowed us to summit not only the main peak of Mount Baldy, but to also reach the south peak via a 3 km long ridge walk.

While I call this the "Baldy Traverse," many people have their own definition of the traverse which does "not" start from Baldy Pass. The more "popular traverse" these days involves hiking up the Mount Baldy trail and descending a different route from South Baldy (starting and ending at the same trailhead.) The vast majority of hikers do not access the south peak from Baldy Pass (wanting to avoid the long ridge walk.)

We love off the beaten path adventures though, and I'm a big fan of ridge walks.

Looking ahead at the beginning of our ridge walk towards the South Peak of Mount Baldy from Baldy Pass

Stats for the Baldy Traverse

Height gain: 875 metres gain to the summit of the main peak of Mount Baldy

We first gained 487 metres height hiking up to Baldy Pass. From here we gained another 344 metres to the summit of South Baldy. From there it was another 50 metres or so to the main summit (more if you take into account that we had to drop down off South Baldy and climb back up to the main peak.)

Distance: Approximately 9 km total

We hiked 4 km to reach Baldy Pass. From here we hiked another 2 km to reach the summit of South Baldy. There was 1 final kilometre to the main summit of Mount Baldy, and then we estimate we hiked another 2 km on descent back to the highway. (My husband then had to walk an additional 2 km back to the car at the Baldy Pass Trailhead.)

Total Trip Time: It took us 7.5 hours to complete the traverse hiking with a 9 year old boy.

Looking back towards Baldy Pass (the low point between our ridge and Midnight Peak in the background)

Step One: Hiking to Baldy Pass 

We parked in the official parking lot for the Baldy Pass Trailhead and then enjoyed an easy 4 km hike on a good trail to reach Baldy Pass. 

Hiking up the Baldy Pass Trail

The trail climbed 487 metres of height but never really felt steep. It took us just over an hour to reach the pass at a good pace.

Read about the Baldy Pass Trail on the Alberta Parks website here. 

And honestly, as a destination, Baldy Pass is not terribly exciting. You definitely want to hike a short ways along the ridge at the very least to get some views.

The "exciting" Baldy Pass 

Baldy Pass to South Baldy Peak Ridge Traverse

Once we left Baldy Pass, we were leaving the hiking trail behind. We also knew we'd say goodbye to the rest of the hikers on our trail. We met one other small group along the ridge, but they turned around after maybe a half hour (too scared to scramble up the first cliff band section.)

The traverse to the South Peak of Mount Baldy is a 2 km long hike with a few "hands on" scrambly bits. Route finding skills would be beneficial here or I'd recommend bringing an actual guide book.

The guide book we used for this section was the  Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Volume 1, by Gillean Daffern Amazon affiliate link 

Hiking up the ridge from Baldy Pass (faint trail through the scree visible in front of my boys)

I won't go into a detailed description on how to reach the summit of South Baldy (please invest in the guide book above) but here is a brief overview of what to expect:

1. you'll head north (to your right if standing at the pass facing the trail you hiked up) and will be able to follow a rough, but easily identified, trail up the ridge in front of you. The trail stays right at the first rocky step.

Go right at this point on the visible trail

you will reach the crux on your ridge walk within the first 30 minutes where you'll have to scramble up a short gully in order to stay on the ridge (aiming diagonally left.) This is where the group in front of us got scared and turned around. This is where we pulled out a rope to protect our son. In reality though, it was super easy scrambling and we really did not need a rope. By the time I'd gone ahead though to test it out, and reached the top with ease, my husband already had the rope out and just decided to use it.

Scrambling up the crux en route to the South Peak

The only challenging section as you hike the ridge to South Baldy

3.  Continue to follow the rough trail along the ridge until you reach a great viewpoint referred to as the "South end of Baldy" in the guidebook referenced above. You will have hiked 0.9 km from the pass at this point.

Final scrambling to reach the south end of Baldy viewpoint  (before hiking further to the actual south summit)
Way in the distance is the actual peak of South Baldy (with the main peak poking out from behind)

4. This is the point where you must contemplate continuing Vs. turning around. You've reached an awesome viewpoint by now, it feels like you've reached a small summit, and the real South Peak of Baldy is still another 1.2 km away (and it honestly looks like it's going to take hours to get there!)

In the photo below you can see the south summit ahead of us (not close) and beyond that, the main summit of Mount Baldy poking out from behind. (And remember, we were aiming for both of these summits!)

Ridge walking towards the South Summit of Mount Baldy 

We decided to keep going, following a trail that constantly climbed up and over endless false summits and smaller bumps (that each looked like the real summit.) Noah lost it more than once when he realized that the next bump was "not" the summit and that we had many more to go. - and I'll be honest that we nearly turned around more than once because that south summit just never seemed to get any closer!!

Rest break as we contemplated whether we could continue or not towards South Baldy in the distance

And again, I could provide greater detail in terms of where to go left off the ridge, where to stay high, where to drop right... - but we never had any problems following the unofficial trail and I still recommend bringing the guide book with you if you're new to route finding.

Rock, more rock, and even more rock as we approached South Baldy 

5. We finally got to the last scree slope that would lead us up to the South Summit of Mount Baldy. It took over 2 hours to reach the summit from the time we left Baldy Pass - which is our slowest pace ever for a 2 km hike!! (That's like 1 km per hour!)

Endless scree towards the end of our ridge traverse
Final climb to the south summit
We got to the summit and then we had a BIG decision to make. So far it had taken us approximately 4 hours since we first pulled into the parking lot (including time to pack up, rest breaks, and a very short lunch break at the pass.) 

A very determined hiker looks lover the ridge he just hiked

We really didn't want to go back along the ridge (it was a very rough and rocky hike and we'd be looking at another 3 hours before we'd reach the parking lot again) but none of us really wanted to take the escape route either (dropping down scree slopes below the south peak to reach the highway.)

In the end, Noah made the decision and chose to keep going. He summoned every last bit of energy inside of him, and told us that he still wanted to complete the traverse so that we could reach the main peak of Mount Baldy.

Now we just had the exposed technical climbing section ahead of us!

South Summit of Baldy

South Baldy to Main Baldy Technical Scramble 

So far, our hike had been a cake walk compared to what we still had ahead of us. Gillean Daffern's hiking guide book says: "For hikers, going for the main summit is easily resisted when you know it's a difficult scramble from this side." - and she is 100% true on that.

Alan Kane's scrambling guide book lists the section below Mount Baldy as difficult as well with the following definition of "difficult"
"Much use of handholds required, sections may be steep, loose and exposed... fall distance may be significant enough to be FATAL." - Alan Kane, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies 
And this is where we were taking our 9 year old son.

The main summit of Mount Baldy behind us (our route, straight UP the right hand side)

The photo above shows the ascent route straight up the right side of the cliff bands to the top of Mount Baldy. And note, this is "not" the normal route that hikers use to reach the top of Mount Baldy. There's a decent trail that goes to the summit on the other side, avoiding this entire exposed section. Most hikers will go up and down the same trail to reach the summit rather than approaching Mount Baldy from the south. ("most hikers" we are not though.)

On rope and making his way up the exposed cliffs below Mount Baldy

I can NOT recommend this section with children unless your family has significant rock climbing experience, you bring a rope and the other necessary climbing equipment to ascend the cliffs safely, and you know how to guide your children up a route that is not bolted or a traditional sport climb. 

This section for us fell under the category of mountaineering, and my husband protected both my son and I as we climbed up. A fall could definitely have proven fatal and I would not have been comfortable without a rope for even my own safety. (We actually did this scramble before having a child and I had to use a rope then too.)

Technical climbing below the summit of Mount Baldy

What we experienced on this section of our hike:

Exposed scrambling below the Mount Baldy Summit
  • Extreme route finding. It took my husband a while to figure out the best way to get up through the cliff bands below the main summit. It was not "obvious," there was no chain like you'd find on Yamnuska, there were no markers, no painted blue squares as are appearing on many routes across the Rockies, and the trail was not very well defined. - and we've even done this scramble before!

  • Very loose scrambling on the first pitch. I would never have done this section without a rope for my own personal safety let alone my son's safety. This was not a place you wanted to fall, and the terrain was very sketchy.

  • Blocky scrambling on the second pitch. This part didn't scare me (as much) and I would have been fine without a rope (for myself anyway.) Falling was not an option though, and one careless step could have proven fatal.

According to my notes, it took us TWO HOURS to complete this section from South Baldy to the main summit of Mount Baldy. Two hours to climb up 50 metres!!!

Just a "little bit" of exposure here below the summit

Reaching the Main Summit of Mount Baldy

The scrambles guide book says it should take 3-5 hours round trip to hike to the summit of Mount Baldy.

Well, it took us 6 hours just to get UP. Needless to say, if you have dinner plans, start early or don't do the crazy traverse we did!

Looking back on the ridge towards South Baldy 

From the top of the cliff bands it was a short 10 minute walk to the main summit where we took a very short break before starting our hike back down. We were already looking at a healthy dinner of power bars at this point (knowing we'd never be home in time for actual dinner,) and needed to make a rather speedy descent.

Summit shot on top of Mount Baldy (6 hours in)

Descending from Mount Baldy on the Main Trail (the route most people take up and down) 

We had roughly 2 km of distance left at this point and it took us another 1.5 hours for our total time of 7.5 hours.

All smiles on the final ridge walk off the summit

The descent can be broken down into the following sections:

1. A short ridge walk off the summit. Here is where you get the best views of the day. 

You'll get these views on your way down 

2. A steep loose scree bash down to a plateau. There was nothing fun about this part at all, but we got down to a flat plateau and were able to relax for a minute at the rock couch.

Relaxing at the plateau below the summit 

3. Decision Time! Worst scree descent ever or another pitch of exposed climbing. You'll reach a point where you can either tackle a short exposed section of climbing (where we would have needed to pull the rope out again,) or you can just bash your way down scree slopes. 

We chose the ugly nasty scree descent (loose as heck) because we didn't have time to do another section of roped climbing. 

Lots and lots of scree on descent!

4. Back to tree line. I was never so happy to see trees and a trail!!! Unfortunately, the trail is still incredibly steep and does have the occasional loose section (so careful attention must be paid to the trail the entire way down.) The angle finally lets up when you reach the highway and not really any sooner.

5. Highway jogging back to the car. My son and I waited at the trailhead while my husband ran back for the car. He actually left us as soon as we reached tree line so that he could run down faster, and go get the vehicle. 

And then we finished off our hike with a power dinner of champions at McDonalds. Nothing like McDonalds poutine and chicken nuggets to refuel, lol.

Final shot from the summit ridge

Recommended Reading 

The best guide book for the scrambling route up Mount Baldy is this one by Alan Kane: Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. (Amazon affiliate link.)

Recommended Reading: First Summits for Families in the Canadian Rockies 

Resting along the ridge traverse between Baldy Pass and the peaks of south and north Baldy

Disclaimer: Please don't take my son's age as a "reference age" for this trip. My son has been climbing mountains since he was 4 years old and is now able to do hikes that many adults would be terrified to do.

We also went into this trip with significant mountaineering and rock climbing experience and my husband is a competent leader in these areas. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Osprey Hikelite 18 Litre Backpack Review

One of the biggest (and yet smallest) things on my Christmas list this year was a new daypack for my shorter adventure days. Lucky for me, I got my new backpack well before December (and I've already been able to use it for hiking + biking.)

Osprey Hikelite 18 Litre Backpack Review

Why a New Backpack 

I have a couple of larger backpacks that I absolutely love, but I was missing a small lightweight daypack I could use for solo adventures with my girlfriends (when I'm not carrying family gear and a thousand pounds of candy and motivational treats!) - and while I exaggerate on the candy, still, I take family hiking seriously, and I bring a lot of stuff to ensure we stay safe, happy, and warm.

I see my new Osprey Hikelite 18 Litre daypack carrying my water, a few extra layers of clothing, my lunch, and snacks when I head out with my friends for a short evening hike, a cross-country ski day, or even a trail riding day with my bike.

I'm also excited that I now have a nice little pack for urban adventures (geocaching, city walks and rambles, short bike rides, or even a trip to the zoo.)

The perfect pack for any light adventure day

The Top Features I love about the Osprey Hikelite 18 Litre Backpack

1. The Hikelite 18 is Small but Mighty

The pack stretches to carry more than I would ever have believed possible for something of its size. We went biking as a family and I was carrying more layers of clothing for my son and I than I've ever packed in my life. When we started our ride, it was in the low single digits (with rain in the forecast.) We were prepared for four seasons of weather (and I fit everything in this small pack.)

The Hikelite 18 is very stretchy and so it just keeps expanding with each new item you squish into it. Just make sure you put your lunch on top (sandwiches not really liking to be squished after all.)

Fall biking means carrying a LOT of clothing options

2. It is a Fabulous Hydration Daypack! 

I have a true "hydration pack" but I can barely carry enough in it to go for a short walk around the city. With the Hikelite 18 pack, I can carry two water bottles in the stretchy mesh side pockets (and they do not fall out even if you bend over or throw your pack down on the ground.)

For a longer outing (or if I wanted to carry more water,) the pack has a dedicated hydration sleeve inside for your water bladder (it will hold a 3L reservoir.) There's also a hole at the top of the pack for the water hose to come out, and there are small loops on the pack straps where you can secure the hose while hiking. 

Dual water bottle pockets for short hikes

3. The Pack is Great for Wet Conditions 

The Hikelite 18 has a built in rain cover (that I haven't had to use yet.) I love this feature though because I dislike having to bring a separate pack cover (that you can never find when you suddenly need it.) 

The pack cover is also the same cool color as the backpack (important for photos you know.)

The hikelite 18 pack is great for rainy or snowy adventures

4. The Pack is Very Comfortable! 

The pack has a comfortable waist strap and a good chest strap. I actually found that I didn't even have to use the chest strap though because the pack cinched so well to my body just by tightening the shoulder straps. 

I wouldn't say that the waist strap is as robust (or padded) as the one on my overnight pack, but I don't need it to be for a light daypack. For what this is (a lightweight pack for short adventures) the straps are perfect.

I spent 5 hours wearing this pack on a recent hike and my shoulders were never sore. I consider that a good sign of comfort.

The Hikelite pack is comfortable with or without the chest and waist straps on

5. The Hikelite 18 is an "Unassuming" Technical Pack in a Small Package 

Don't let the 18L size fool you. You'll get the following features with the Hikelite pack:

  • Ventilated AirSpeed™ backpanel to take care of the "sweaty pack" problem. I know personally, I can't stand putting a wet pack on my back.

  • Trekking pole attachments (perfect for hikes where you need your hands free for scrambling)

  • There is a scratch resistant organization pocket for sunglasses and electronics at the top of the pack.

  • Upper compression straps to cinch the sides of the pack in

An 18 Litre pack for all your day trips

And Bonus number 6 : Osprey packs come with the "almighty  guarantee."

"Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If we are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, we will happily replace it. We proudly stand behind this guarantee, so much so that it bears the signature of company founder and head designer, Mike Pfotenhauer." - Website 

My Overall Opinion and Recommendation for the Hikelite 18 Pack 

I would definitely recommend this pack to anybody looking for a light daypack for short adventures, solo outings without the kids, or urban rambles around the city. The pack meets every need I had in a lightweight daypack.

The only thing I'd change to future designs of this pack would be to add more pockets. I normally like having a front pocket where I can store granola bars, band-aids, and other small items I want to find quickly. I'm finding with this Osprey pack that I have to put smaller items together in a big ziplock bag so I can find them in the main compartment.

The Small but Mighty Hikelite 18 Litre Daypack

Read More about Osprey Gear and Equipment

I received  my Hikelite pack from Altitude Sports, Canadian online outdoor store.

Read more about Osprey's best selling backpacks and travel luggage here.

See Altitude Sport's full collection of Osprey gear and equipment here.

And as always with Altitude Sports, there is free shipping on orders over $49 in Canada, along with a fast and simple return policy should you need it.

Disclaimer: I received my Hikelite day pack in exchange for this review. As always, all opinions and words are my own and I wasn't compensated in any other way.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Road Trip to Bike the Route of the Hiawatha in Northern Idaho

Not exactly the "Canadian Rockies," but we are a family who LOVES biking, so we travelled to Northern Idaho this past summer to ride one of the best family trails in North America. The Route of the Hiawatha is also one of the most popular rail trails in the United States which further intrigued us.

Biking on the Route of the Hiawatha, Idaho

The Nuts and Bolts for the Route of the Hiawatha Trail 

Distance to the trailhead from Calgary, Alberta 

Roughly 7.5 hours (~ 700 km)

Nearest City to the trailhead 

Coeur D'Alene, Idaho

Riding out of a tunnel that was almost 3 kilometres long!

Why you want to bike this trail 

The Route of the Hiawatha Trail is a 14 mile long rail trail (22.5 km) that you ride one-way with a shuttle back to your vehicle at the end. The trail is relatively flat or downhill the entire time and you get to bike through 9 tunnels! There are also 7 trestle bridges that you'll ride over.

Also, the longest tunnel is 1.7 miles long (2.7 km!) And you get to ride it both ways on the way out, and back.

And cool fact: The trail actually starts in Montana, crossing into Idaho as you ride through the first tunnel.

It should be noted too that you don't have to set up your own return shuttle! (Always a struggle when on vacation with just one vehicle.) Most people pay to ride one of the shuttle busses that leaves every 15 minutes or so from the final parking lot.

Recommended Camping near the trail 

We camped at Farragut State Park (just over an hour and a half away and conveniently located near Silverwood Amusement Park.

- and a tip for those planning to visit Silverwood, buy tickets in advance. I bought tickets months early at early bird pricing.

West Portal Trailhead of the Hiawatha Trail

Cost to ride the trail 

The trail is operated by the Lookout Pass Ski Area

One of the many tunnels on the Hiawatha Trail
There is a trail fee required to ride this trail. This does not include the shuttle fee, and you must pay it even if you have your own bike. 

Adult Trail Passes - $11

Children's Trail Passes - $7 (ages 6-13)

Adult Shuttle Tickets - $9

Children's Shuttle Tickets - $6 (ages 6-13)

You can also rent bikes and lights for the tunnels if you need. 

All information on fees and rentals can be found here. 

We stopped in at the ski area first to purchase our trail fees and return shuttle tickets. Then we drove to the nearby trailhead, 7 miles away (11 km.) 

One of the many steel trestle bridges on the Hiawatha Trail

Our Experience on the Route of the Hiawatha 

After purchasing our tickets at the Lookout Pass Ski Area, we drove the 7 miles to the trailhead which was already packed! We discovered quickly that you want to arrive early for this one if you want to find parking. 

Fortunately, once we started, the other bikers all spread out and the trail never felt crowded. It was very hot though (30+ degrees) so an early start is good for that reason alone. (though the tunnels do cool you off quite quickly.)

The trail never felt busy as the crowds spread out along the route

Riding from the East Portal to the West Portal through the Taft Tunnel 

You immediately start your journey by biking through the 1.7 mile long St. Paul Pass (Taft) Tunnel which was the highlight of the trip for us. It never felt crowded in the tunnel and once inside, our world turned pitch black! There are no lights in the tunnels and the only thing keeping you on the path through the middle is whatever light shines down from your headlamp or bike light.

We only had headlamps and they felt a bit dim at times. I'd recommend going with the strongest/brightest headlamps you have (or renting lights from the ski area.) It was a tad scary riding through the tunnel without good visibility, but it was also a LOT of fun! My husband and son had a blast making zombie sounds the entire time (yes, for over 2 straight kilometres!!)

Starting off through the Taft Tunnel 

West Portal to the official Route of the Hiawatha 

When you get out of the tunnel, you'll be on a shared road with shuttle bus traffic for the next 2.3 miles (3.7 km.)

Fortunately the road is wide and the busses drive very slowly. You're also riding downhill. 

On the way back, the bus will drop you off at the end of this road, right at the entrance to the Taft Tunnel for one final ride through and back to the parking lot. (adding an extra 2 miles to your total bike distance.)

There is also one tunnel on this stretch of road (that again is shared with bus traffic) but the busses will honk their horns before driving through the tunnel so you have time to get over to the side, or to get out quickly.

The tunnels were a big highlight of this bike ride!

Riding the Route of the Hiawatha

Now that we were on the actual trail, we got to enjoy wide easy riding, mostly downhill or flat at a nice gentle rail grade, as we passed through numerous tunnels and rode over beautiful steel trestle bridges.

The longest tunnel on this stretch was 1516 feet long (0.4 km) and it was the first one (so keep your headlamps handy.) Most of the others were short enough that we didn't really need our lights.

From the first tunnel to tunnel #28 we rode 5.8 miles (9.3 km.) And this was definitely the "fun" part. In this stretch, we rode through 6 tunnels and across 7 bridges.

Endless tunnels on the Hiawatha Trail

The Final Part of the Hiawatha Trail to the Parking Lot 

After tunnel #28 we still had 4.5 miles (7 km) to ride before we reached the final parking lot (and there was only one tunnel on this stretch, right at the very end.) 

This section was quite boring to be honest and my son was far from a happy camper here. The trail was very bumpy with a washboard surface and lacked views or anything of real interest.

Bring candy and snacks for this part and try to think of fun ways to help the kilometres go by quickly.

We would have turned around at tunnel 28, but then we would have been riding back uphill to the West Portal and that didn't seem terribly appealing at the time.

We really enjoyed all of the tunnels and bridges on the Route of the Hiawatha

The Shuttle Ride Back

Make sure you get your bikes in the lineup as soon as you arrive in the parking lot as you may have to wait for a few busses before you can get on one. 

When you do get on a bus, they will load all of the bikes in the back, and then the passengers up front for the ride back to the West Portal (And Taft Tunnel entrance.) 

And yes, they will take Chariots or bike trailers on the bus.

The shuttle ride back to the start of the Hiawatha

Additional Tips for Riding the Route of the Hiawatha

I've included suggestions throughout this guide, but here are a few extra that come to mind.

  • A light pair of mittens or gloves would be beneficial for the Taft Tunnel. My hands were frozen by the time we got out.

  • Bring a light sweater or long sleeve shirt for the Taft Tunnel. It's very chilly inside.

  • As already mentioned, you want bright lights for the Taft Tunnel! Rent lights from the ski hill if your headlamps aren't very powerful (or if you don't have good headlamps.)

  • Keep your lights handy throughout the ride. We needed them several times for the various tunnels

  • As already mentioned, you'll want motivation of some sort for the final push back to the parking lot.

  • Start early in the day to get parking, to have a more peaceful experience on the trail, and to reduce wait times for the shuttle bus at the end.

  • Dogs are NOT allowed on the trail (even in a Chariot or bike trailer.) Sorry, not my rule.

  • Bicycle helmets must be worn at all times on the trail.

  • Adult supervision is required for all children under the age of 14.

  • You can buy trail passes at the trailhead if you don't want to stop in at the ski area. You must have cash though if buying trail passes on the trail. Credit cards are only accepted for payment at the ski area.

  • Do not stop in the middle of the tunnels (common sense, right?)

  • Use restrooms at the trailheads! (They are fairly strict about not turning the trail into a giant toilet.) - and there are a few trailheads along the way.

  • Pack out your garbage! There are no garbage cans on the trail.

  • Bring cash to buy cold beverages at the end if you want something while waiting for the next bus.
And another tunnel on the Route of the Hiawatha

Season for the Route of the Hiawatha 

The trail opens late May (May 25th for 2019) for weekend use with shuttles.

Shuttles start to run weekdays starting the second weekend in June (June 8th for 2019.)

Hours are reduced in September with the trail closing after the third weekend of September (the 22nd would be the last day for 2019.)

For full information on schedules, visit the Route of the Hiawatha website. 

Classic Rail Trail through Northern Idaho and Montana

Disclaimer: This story was not sponsored and we did not partner with the Lookout Ski Area. We visited Idaho like normal tourists and I am simply writing about our adventures to inspire other families to enjoy this trail.