Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Just a Boy and his Sled (Finding the "One Thing" to make Hiking Fun)

I'm always amazed by how the mood on a winter hike improves with four simple words: "Let's bring the sled!"

Just a boy and his sled 

We were recently blessed with a large dump of snow in the city and I got the idea to go for a walk in our local ravine after school one afternoon. Surprisingly though, my "great" idea was not met with the enthusiasm I'd been looking for. I might as well have suggested we go shopping for the excitement my suggestion received! (And to clarify, my kid doesn't love shopping, in case yours does and you don't see the problem here.)

So, back to the sled, I suggested we bring my son's sled on our walk in the ravine and the mood suddenly changed! I suddenly had enthusiasm, I had excitement, and I had a very eager boy who wanted to go tromping through knee-deep snow with me for an hour. (Even though it was well below -15C, possibly colder!)

This boy loves his sled.


Why does a simple sled change everything? 


It's all about the promise, the hope, and the expectation that the child is going to get to ride the sled. It's about looking forward to the fun parts of the hike, thinking ahead to the hills you'll find, and of the enjoyment there will be riding the sled down an epic steep hill the child hopes you'll find.

On this particular hike we actually didn't really find any hills. There was one large hill at the beginning as we descended down into the ravine, but that was it. We hiked along the bottom of the ravine, and then we climbed out, and walked back home.

Shockingly though, my son was happy to simply pull his sled along for the entire hour-long hike. He was happy because I'd allowed him to bring a friend along. His friend "boggan."

My son and his friend "Boggan"

A sled gives a child a friend 


I recently read the book "The Wish Tree" to my son and can not recommend this book enough. It's all about a boy and his sled, "Boggan," and the adventures they have traveling through the snowy forest together one day, meeting and helping animals along the way. The boy and sled are best friends, and they have a beautiful day playing together in the woods. 

I couldn't help smiling on our recent walk when my son actually started calling his sled "Boggan," and started talking to it as if it were a friend. And note my son is 9, so it really was a special moment for a child who's long outgrown imaginary friends and a lot of the childhood play young kids experience.



Sometimes it's just that "One Thing"



For my son, that "one thing" was a sled. He was blissfully happy because he had his sled with him on our walk. It gave him a fun companion and he had fun running madly down the trail, pulling the sled, and watching it get covered in snow.

When he was younger, we'd bring his balance bike along on every walk and we experienced similar bliss.

It can be as simple as that "one thing" that will set the mood and make the kids happy.

For us on this trip, it was a sled.

The challenge going forward is making sure we always find "that one thing" before heading out on our adventures.

We found the "one thing" that turned our hike into a magical adventure


For more inspiration and tips on how to motivate kids on the trail, check out my recent story here: Adventures in Motivation on the Ski Trail. 

Other Recommended Reading 





Disclaimer: This story is not a book review or advertisement. I was not asked to review the "Wish Tree," and honestly, we just borrowed it from our local library. The link to the book in this story is an affiliate link for Amazon.ca. If you want to purchase the book, consider using the link and I might make a few cents to put towards my next cup of coffee. 


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Adventures in Motivation on the Ski Trail

We went cross-country skiing in Kananaskis a couple weeks ago, and my goal was to tackle a 10km loop as a family in preparation for a big backcountry trip we have coming up. And while I knew my 9-year old was strong enough, I still worried that motivation would be a challenge. After all, let's just admit that cross-country skiing might not be the most "exciting" of winter sports (especially when you've been spoiling your child with downhill skiing every weekend.)

Figure out the motivation that works for your child, and enjoy smiles like this

I love cross-country skiing but it has to be worked for, and the rewards are a little bit less obvious than with other winter sports. You have to climb the hills before you get to fly down them, and endless trudging or shuffling along flat (or slightly uphill) terrain is just not terribly exciting for most kids.

Fortunately, we had a fabulous time in West Bragg Creek on our last outing, and we skied the 10km loop I wanted to ski (making it around the Moose Loop, accessed from West Crystal Line and the Moose Connector, and finishing with a ski back along the Mountain Road.) We also nailed the motivation and there was very little complaining or whining.

Good ski days are magic! 


Below are the motivational tools that we used on this particular outing: 



1. We chose which battles we wanted to fight (and which ones were just not worth it) 


Noah did not want to wear long underwear and really wasn't enthusiastic about getting dressed in ski gear at all. Fortunately he has a very warm onesie snowsuit and so we let him skip the long underwear. He wore fleece pants, a warm long sleeve polyester shirt, and the smart wool socks that we did convince him to wear. He was happy, and it really wasn't the end of the world that he didn't want to wear long underwear. 

It's just not worth fighting the small stuff.


2. We got creative with the "lunch battle" 


Noah did not want to go skiing at first, and I couldn't figure out why he was so reluctant to go. I finally figured out that he just didn't want to have a cold sandwich for lunch. Well, fortunately there are plenty of alternatives for that once we figured out the problem!!

We made a pot of Kraft Dinner, put some of it in a thermos with extra melted cheese to make it extra yummy, and then we ate in the trailhead warming hut before starting our ski. My husband and I still ate our cold sandwiches, but Noah had the hot lunch he wanted. The rest of the time we snacked on granola bars and lots of candy. We finished off our ski with a stop at our favourite bakery in town and refueled again with more treats.

Again, we did not fight the small stuff but worked around the very small problem that threatened to ruin the whole day. 


3. Yes, CANDY


I know that candy isn't every family's choice motivational tool, but it works for us. And the biggest thing I will tell ALL families with motivation is to do what works for YOU. If it works for your family, own it and enjoy!

My son only gets candy when we are skiing, hiking, or biking as a reward for good effort (and a positive attitude.) We save the Halloween candy all year and pull it out for our weekend adventures.

Without our "candy junctions" there's no way my son would have skied 10km. I carry a small bag of candy in my pocket and pull it out at every sign, junction, or intersection. He then gets one or two small candies (that's it.)

And while it's not much, it's something that kids look forward to at the next junction, and it keeps them moving. And if you can't give your children candy for whatever reasons, find something else that will work. A girlfriend of mine carried Pokemon cards with her on one backpacking trip and gave them out at key points along the trail - which worked just as well as candy for the kids.


4. My son skied for his weekly tablet time 


Here's another one that could potentially start a comment war with this post, but again, do what works for YOUR family. If your kids don't get to use tablets or IPads, then find something else that they can earn with their skiing or hiking. If you disapprove of screen time, reward the kids with a new book or a new board game.

For us, we told Noah that he would earn 20 minutes of tablet time for the week per kilometre skied. He skied 10km and so earned 200 minutes to play Minecraft for the week. (which is roughly 40 minutes per day, not counting the weekend when we had a long 7 hour drive to Jasper and made special exceptions.) Divided into two segments, Noah got to play his beloved game twice a day for 20 minutes (which is really not that much screen time for a 9-year old.)

While we won't be doing this every weekend, it worked for this trip and was initiated because we'd been having challenges around how much tablet time Noah should have (and how addicted he was to his Minecraft game.)


5. We set a BIG reward for the 10km goal


We promised Noah that we'd take him out for dinner that night if we actually made the full 10 km distance. We knew it would be great motivation for him, and we all wanted to go out for pizza. It was a really nice treat for our hard work on the trail and made for an extra fun day.


Will ski for pizza! 

Other Motivational Tips for the Trail 




  • Pack extra special snacks or treats for the hard kilometres. On our way into Lake O'Hara one winter, I packed 11 individually packaged treats, one for each kilometre. It was great and really helped us to knock off the distance.

  • Have different options in mind for your ski loop or hike. My goal for our recent outing in West Bragg Creek was to ski 10km, but it didn't have to be on a certain trail. I had various options in my mind before starting (some trails with more hills than others) and I knew I could always customize our loop as we went (and as I saw what energy was looking like.)

  • We LOVE ending our day at a local coffee shop for cupcakes, cookies, treats, and for coffee of course! It's my ultimate reward and I'll ski 20km if you promise me a good cup of coffee at the end.

  • Choose your trail wisely with your child's personality in mind. My son hates gradually climbing for endless kilometres. He prefers short punchy hills that he has to quickly power up, with alternating downhill sections. We kept this in mind on the recent ski trip and skied our loop in the best direction for our son's preferences. He also hates flat trails so we really try to make sure our ski trips are interesting with lots of variety.

  • Get good at storytelling on the trail. My girlfriend memorizes legends and stories to tell on the trail. Her rule is that "if you keep walking, I'll keep talking." And it works very well. My son likes to also make up his own stories and will tell them to us as we ski. (They always have a good adventure theme to them with potential for disaster, accidents, or wildlife attacks - but it keeps him going as long as he's talking.) We also like to tell our son true adventure stories from previous trips before he was born. (the mountaineering story where Mommy fell off a large boulder on her face is a favourite!)

  • Bring a trail runner (or very fast skier.) I know several friends who like to hike,run, or ski ahead to leave treats for the kids along the side of the trail. And while this personally makes me nervous because I don't want somebody's dog to get into the chocolate I've stashed beside the trail, I do like it when an adult goes ahead, waits for the kids to catch up, hands out candies or treats, and then continues on ahead to wait again for the kids to pass by. We've jokingly named this benevolent adult "Trail Jesus."

  • Plan a fun scavenger hunt for the trail. The effort required in pulling this one off means I likely won't ever do it myself, but I have friends who plan great scavenger hunts and games on our big outings, and I love them for it!

  • Play fun alphabet games. We've come up with a few fun ones over the years but a new favourite is this: "I forgot to bring..." - and continues with items you forgot to bring with you on today's ski trip (in alphabetical order.) Bonus points if you can string several words together all starting with the same letter. For example, "I forgot to bring my amazing, awesome, apple cider." And extra bonus points if you can actually make it funny (which my husband rocks at.)

  • Hot chocolate in a thermos for the trail. (or in our case, it would have to be apple cider since I have the only child alive who doesn't like hot chocolate.)

  • Bring friends. This one sometimes works for us (and sometimes doesn't) depending on the dynamics of the kids involved. When you get that right match though, it's perfection! Give your child a friend on the trail, and you're giving him or her a superhero cape at the same time. Kids will generally ski (or hike) faster, longer, and with more happiness if they have friends along.

Candy Junction! 


I'm always eager to hear what works for other families so please leave a comment with your favourite motivational tips for the trail. 




Friday, February 09, 2018

Family Guide to Panorama Mountain Ski Resort

We recently had the fabulous opportunity to spend a weekend skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort outside Invermere, BC, and it was an incredible experience. My son is already begging to go back, and I wish every day could start with a rollercoaster ride (our favourite run on the hill.)

Family Guide to Panorama Mountain Resort, British Columbia


Introduction to Panorama Mountain Resort


The Village of Panorama is located 20 minutes southwest of the Town of Invermere in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia. From Calgary, it's a 3.5 hour drive and definitely doable for a normal 2-day weekend. Extend your trip to a 3-day weekend though and you'll find the trip a bit more relaxing.

What really sets the Panorama Mountain Resort apart from other ski resorts that we've visited is its isolation from other nearby towns. With Invermere 20 minutes away, Panorama has to be its own village, complete with accommodations, restaurants, après ski activities and nightlife.

Panorama Base area complete with restaurants and lodging

While you "could" drive to Panorama for a day of skiing, and many do, the true "Panorama experience" comes from staying on the hill, soaking in the ski culture and vibe, and relaxing in the slopeside Panorama Springs hot pools at the end of the day.

Sunrise over the BC Purcell Mountains at Panorama Mountain Resort


The Panorama Village Experience


"The advantage of staying in a mountain village is that once you've parked, you've arrived. No endless trips or shuttling around. It's all here." (Quote: Panorama Mountain Resort)

We found the above quote to be true with our stay. We drove out to Panorama from Calgary Friday night, stopped in at Central Check-in (which is a convenient way of doing things rather than having individual check-in desks inside each property,) and then drove over to our condo, The Panorama Springs Lodge.

We parked in our underground parkade, hauled our bags up to our room, and that was it. The rest of the weekend involved walking out of our room onto the ski hill, walking down to restaurants in the village, or heading down the elevator to the village hot pools (conveniently located in our building.)

Slopeside Panorama Springs Hot Pools 


Lodging in the Panorama Mountain Village 


There are various lodging options in the village from ski-in/ski-out condos to larger townhomes for families needing more space than the average condo. There is also an economic choice in the Pine Inn, located right at the base of the ski hill and with restaurants conveniently located on the ground floor.

All overnight resort lodging guests have access to the Panorama Springs Pools (located inside the Panorama Springs Lodge, where we stayed.)

We loved our condo in the Panorama Springs Lodge and I'm pretty certain I could have moved in permanently. Our suite had a comfortable living area with electric fireplace, a small kitchen and dining room, a large master bedroom with ensuite bathroom (with king sized bed,) and then a smaller bedroom with two twin beds that could be pushed together into one larger bed. 

Kitchen and dining room in our condo 
Living area in our condo at the Panorama Springs Lodge

The best part of staying in the Panorama Springs Lodge was the easy access we got to the Panorama Springs Pools. Located inside our building, we didn't have to put on our winter coats to walk to another building. 

We also loved that we were right on the hill. We walked outside and skied down beside the magic carpet to get to the village base area. Once at the base, we could go out for breakfast and be first in line for the 9am chairlift. (Which means we got the best snow, sunrise views, and all the fresh corduroy!) 

Saturday morning and first in line for the 9am lifts

Skiing at Panorama Mountain


It didn't take us long to figure out a routine that worked well for us at Panorama. If there would have been fresh snow overnight, things would have changed I'm sure, but we were looking at a "corduroy" weekend with no fresh powder.

Mornings on Fresh Corduroy (Rollercoaster)
Awesome to be skiing with this kid!

Mornings on Fresh Corduroy 


We got in line for the lifts first thing each morning at 9am. Then we headed up the Mile 1 Express Quad, and straight up the Champagne Express Quad. This put us at the top of "Rollercoaster," a groomed blue cruiser and wicked fast! After an hour or so, this run would start to get icy, so it was best enjoyed (and safest) on fresh corduroy.

First run of the day down Rollercoaster
By the time we skied down Rollercoaster, and rode the Champagne Express back up, the Summit Quad would be opening at 9:30am. We skied straight over to it and enjoyed fresh corduroy down the steep but groomed "View of 1000 Peaks," a black run with some steep pitches, and also best with fresh grooming.

Fresh corduroy and great views!

View of 1000 Peaks either took us over to Founde'rs Ridge (where you'll have the entire area to yourself at 9:30am,) or back to the bottom of Champagne Express. If heading up Champagne again, we'd choose to traverse over towards the Summit Chair, skiing down "Schober's Dream," another black/blue run that's groomed with fresh corduroy first thing in the day.

Fresh corduroy on View of 1000 Peaks 


Getting Playful in the Afternoon


It didn't take long each day before the fresh corduroy would be skied out, and groomed runs would start to get icy. This was the sign that it was time to move on to the Sun Bowl.

The Sun Bowl runs were less groomed and better with the soft afternoon snow. We also liked that we could all take our own line down through the large bowl, choosing mogul runs, easy traverses, or fun gladed runs. Most of the terrain in the Sun Bowl is intermediate, making it a dream for families not wanting anything too "intense."

Gateway to the Sun Bowl

The only challenge with the Sun Bowl was getting to the area! The only easy way we found to get into the bowl was by skiing down from the bottom of the Summit Quad on Schober's Dream (quite steep at the top and icy by afternoon.) And then unfortunately, there was no chair to take you back up into the Sun Bowl so you were pretty much looking at riding up to the top of the mountain again, and skiing all the way back down. For these reasons, we only did one run down through the Sun Bowl each day.

Getting playful in the afternoon

Another afternoon favourite was "Fritz's" on the lower mountain, a groomed black run that never seemed to get overly icy. It was also the only way we found to access the "Secret Forest" with awesome tree house for the kids. (The other easier way to the tree house was down "Old Timer" but it was closed for training and racing.

The Secret Forest at Panorama

Finally, we spent a lot of time skiing the short runs off the Sunbird Chair at the bottom of the mountain. My son loved skiing down under the chair on the main "Sunbird" run, a black mogul run, and I discovered a nice easy groomer in "Out Rider," a mellow green run that takes you down beside the landing pad for the Panorama paragliding operation.

Skiing down Sunbird 

Discovering the Terrain Park off the Toby Double Chair 


There is a large terrain park off the Mile 1 Express Quad but my 9-year old won't be ready for that one for quite some time yet! Fortunately, we discovered a more "Secret terrain park" off the small Toby Double Chair near the bottom of the hill.

The cute little Toby Double Chair

This terrain park had the typical boxes and rails, but also had several jumps my son loved! We finally called it quits and decided to start the drive home after a few rather epic large falls left me worried that my kid would actually break something! Apparently he has no fear of speed or jumping off large mounds of snow! (and sadly I have no videos of the best jumps that actually made me cringe to watch.)

Having a blast in the terrain park off the Toby Double Chair

Panorama for Beginners 


I know that I've been talking mostly about intermediate terrain with a few groomed black runs but Panorama is also a great hill for young kids or beginner skiers.


Highlights for beginners:


  • There are two magic carpets for progression of skills when first introducing the kids to the basic ski techniques.

  • From the Little Ripper Carpet, and then the Red Carpet, skiers can move up to the Silver Platter and the beautiful beginner run off of it. It's the perfect intermediate step from bunny hill to actual green runs down the ski hill. And secret Pano. tip: There's a day use parking lot at the base of the platter run (and it doesn't show up on maps, so it's a local secret.)

  • From the Silver Platter, move on to the Discovery Quad with its short green runs and the awesome "Discovery Zone," with a special tree course for the kids - that is a guaranteed crowd pleaser for all children, no matter how experienced at skiing.

  • From the Discovery Quad, I recommend trying out the Toby Double Chair where there are a couple of short green and blue runs. Alternately, move up to the Mile 1 Express Quad and follow the easiest way down. And another secret Pano. tip: There's a great day use parking lot at the bottom of the Toby Chair. When we've visited in the past, we always thought we had to park down below in the Lower Village (riding the village gondola up to the base area.)

  • After getting comfortable on the beginner terrain off the Mile 1 Express Quad, skiers can try "Out Rider" off of the Sunbird Chair (but know, it is a bit steeper than your average green run, and more of an intro-blue run.) Higher up the mountain, I can't recommend anything for true beginners.

And also to note, Panorama offers a great Wee Wascals child care program for families of little ones who might not want to ski the whole day. They accept babies as well as young as 18 months! - which is a great option for families wanting to spend time skiing with older kids, and not sure what to do with the youngest family member.

The Kids' Discovery Zone off the Discovery Quad 

Panorama for experts


My husband might not call himself an "expert" but he had a lot of fun skiing in the Taynton Bowl one afternoon, and found lots of fresh powder in the new terrain, just opened for the 2017/18 winter season. He traversed over as far as he could to drop down "The Monster" and said it was definitely a backcountry type ski experience (with the safety that comes from skiing at a resort with avalanche control.)

Gateway to the Taynton Bowl
Expert terrain in the Taynton Bowl at Panorama

On Hill Dining (Up the Mountain)


Panorama has a European Ski Village feeling to it with cute little huts spread out around the hill serving fondue, raclette, and other popular menu items for the ultimate lunch or après ski experience.

At the top of the mountain, you'll find the Summit Hut, a cozy place to warm up with great views. You'll find gourmet smokies, homemade treats, and hot drinks.  And for something extra special, book an evening heli-fondue with RK HELISKI. Fly up to the hut after the lifts close for the evening and enjoy both cheese and chocolate fondues.

The Summit Hut at the top of Panorama 

You can also participate in the fondue experience at the summit hut without the helicopter ride by loading the last chair of the day to the summit, and then enjoying a guided ski back down to the base.

Visit the Panorama website for more information on Après-fondue experiences at the Summit Hut.

Afternoon at the Summit Hut 

Further down the mountain off the top of the Champagne Express, you'll find the Elkhorn Cabin with the best homemade apple cider on the hill! Guests can also enjoy fresh homemade soups and Swiss Raclette (a cheese and meat grill popular with European skiers) in this small cabin.

Beautiful views from the Elkhorn Cabin

Raclette is served all day long in the cabin but you can also make a reservation for after the hill has closed and enjoy a guided ski down after your après ski party. Visit the Panorama website for more information on the  après ski raclette experience at the Elkhorn Cabin.

Enjoying an apple cider on the deck of the Elkhorn Cabin

Finally, at the top of the Mile 1 Express Quad, you'll find the small Mile 1 Hut, a great spot to warm up and grab a coffee. It's the only hut accessible to beginner skiers and is popular! (We tried to get in but couldn't find a seat anywhere in the small cabin.)

This is where you'll find grilled burgers (bison, salmon and veggie,) local Kicking Horse Coffee and a variety of baked goods and treats.

Looking down on the Mile 1 Hut at the top of the Mile 1 Express Quad

Village Dining (off the slopes)


There are several options for dining in the village (for all meals,) so I'll just tell you about the two restaurants we enjoyed. - and you can read about all of the village options here

Saturday night we had dinner at the T-Bar & Grill, a family-friendly pub style restaurant. The food was amazing for a casual grill restaurant and I'd eat here again on future trips to Panorama.

Evening at Panorama Mountain Village

And what's awesome about this restaurant is that it's aimed at the après ski experience, so you can come straight from the slopes in your ski gear without having to get changed or dressed up! This is good news because Panorama offers night skiing off the Mile 1 Express Quad, and also has tubing on Friday and Saturday nights. Take the kids for a few runs down the tubing hill, and then go straight for dinner. Or, grab a quick bite and then return to the hill for a few final runs before bed.

Night skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort 

For breakfast on Sunday, we tried out the Picnic Cafe, and let me just say - I'm a huge fan of this place!! They have great breakfast wraps, local Kicking Horse coffee, fresh baking, and then a large assortment of breakfast menu items to order.

Every ski hill should have a separate coffee shop apart from the busy day lodge

I liked Picnic so much, I returned later for coffee and felt like I could spend hours here curled up with a book by the fireplace. It was very refreshing to find a ski hill offering more than the crowded "day lodge experience."

Isn't this a cozy spot to enjoy a cup of coffee while taking a break at the ski hill?


More than Downhill Skiing at Panorama 


This was our first downhill ski trip to Panorama, but we've visited the Village many times over the years for cross country skiing (and even to go fat biking last winter.)

While many ski resorts offer cross country skiing or snowshoeing as "options" for the non-skier, Panorama actually excels at their Nordic offerings. And as I said, we've actually visited Panorama many times just to cross country ski (without ever feeling like we were missing out on anything.)

Cross Country Skiing to the Hale Hut is a beautiful outing while at Panorama

We haven't tried snowshoeing at Panorama yet, but you can read more about our adventures cross country skiing and fat biking here in the story I wrote last winter: Panorama Mountain Resort  (much more than downhill skiing.)

And find more information on Nordic Skiing at Panorama (along with trail maps and rentals) on their website. 

Fat tire biking at Panorama Mountain Resort

Other activities to enjoy while at Panorama Mountain Resort:


  • Tubing (new for the 2017-2018 winter season on Friday and Saturday nights) - and what sets this tube park apart from the others is that you can go down on your stomach if you want! You can even take a running start. There are very few rules for this tube park compared to others. (which works here because the tube run is very short and you'll feel as if you're at a sledding hill rather than at a large mountain tube park.)

  • Check out the daily activity program (Pick up a "this week at Panorama" guide) which could include fun programming for the kids from movie nights to campfires and various arts and crafts projects. This is a great compliment to a day spent skiing on the hill (especially for kids who tire out mid-afternoon.)

  • Take an improvement session or register the kids in a ski lesson for a day. All information on the Panorama Ski and Ride School can be found on their website.

  • Try Tandem Paragliding (even in winter, on skis!! - starting from the upper mountain and ending near the base area of the resort)

  • Relax in the Panorama Springs Pools at the end of the day. (included with lodging on the hill)

  • Try a Snowmobile Adventure with Toby Creek Adventures Ltd. (great if you're staying at the hill for a week over Family Day or another school holiday.)


Weekend Tubing at Panorama Mountain Resort


Top Highlights from our recent trip to Panorama 



Below are a few things that stand out to me from our weekend at Panorama:


  1. Starting off our days with a fast cruisy "rollercoaster ride"

  2. First corduroy off View of 1000 Peaks on Sunday morning (we were seriously the first people to ski down the run and it was groomed to perfection!)

  3. Watching my son Noah getting "sendy" in the terrain park. I actually screamed watching one of his jumps, that he managed to actually land!

  4. Noah killing it in the wild terrain under the Sunbird Chair Sunday

  5. My cross country tour of the mountain on Madison's Mile in the Founder's Ridge area. And while it might not be the most exciting ski run (basically a long switch backed road,) I was all alone in this part of the resort Sunday morning without another pair of skis in sight. And I like cross country skiing so it was a good run for me

  6. Finding the treehouse in the Secret Forest

First run down rollercoaster in the morning 

It's always exciting too when you make it to the top of the mountain, and every run off the sign post indicates you are in "advanced terrain" - and you know you can actually go for it with your family.

Making it to the top of the mountain and ready to ski down View of 1000 Peaks 
Skiing down the ridge from the summit on View of 1000 Peaks

NEW for 2017/18


Have you skied at Panorama before? If so, there have been a few improvements and changes for this season.


  • Monsterous new terrain in the Taynton Bowl with four new black lines, 128 acres of nasty "brutish" terrain, and a total of 4264 feet of vertical now - placing Panorama in the top 3 resorts in Canada. The longest run is now 6.5 km long!

  • New RFID technology at the lifts - carry your day pass in your pocket and watch as the gates open up to let you on the lifts using radio-frequency identification technology (without worrying about losing a pass that's hanging from your coat!)

  • New 8-week All Mountain Program (AMP) for kids that takes lessons and ski clubs to a whole new level!

  • 2 new dining options in the Village with restaurant ElevenFIFTY, located beside the Picnic coffee shop, and Cabin Family Restaurant

  • Lunch and après ski service at the Cliffhanger Restaurant at the Greywolf Golf course - fabulous news for Nordic skiers because the trail to the Hail Hut starts from the golf course, and there's a large parking lot here!

  • New Après Kids program from 3:30-5 daily. Activities could include tubing, ice skating on the village rink, heading back up for a few more ski runs, or snowshoeing. The program includes hot chocolate and snacks, and has a cost associated with it. 


On hill dining at the Cliffhanger Restaurant at the Greywolf Golf Course

And, while perhaps not "new," two other things to draw your attention to are the free shuttle service from various locations in Invermere every day up to Panorama (for families staying down in the Town,) and the Panorama Day Trip option from Banff ($99 per person, including round trip Banff transfer and full-day lift ticket.)

Parting Shot 



Special thanks to Panorama Mountain Resort for sponsoring our adventure for the weekend, Note that all opinions are my own and I was not paid to provide a favorable review.


Monday, February 05, 2018

Women's KEEN Durand Polar Shell Boots - Review

One of the most frequently asked questions I see posted in online forums is about winter footwear, with women asking for recommendations for good winter boots. We all want warm feet but we're also looking for something "stylish" enough that we can wear to the grocery store or around the city without feeling like we're heading out on an arctic expedition.

Women's KEEN Durand Polar Shell Boots

I'm in my second year now with the same boots, my beloved KEEN Durand Polar Shells, boots that I honestly wear everywhere. They're my go-to boots for snowshoeing, winter hiking, and walking my son to school every day.

Top Five Reasons I Love my KEEN Durand Polar Shell Boots


1. They are WARM


This is probably the most important thing with winter boots, right? Fashion aside, we need warm feet if we're going to survive a Canadian winter. The Durand Polar Shell boots are rated to -32 C and I'd say that's about right, as long as you're moving and wearing warm socks. Like all winter boots, stand around on a sledding hill without doing anything, and yes, your feet will be cold. Go for a hike, and actually move your feet, and you'll have no problems with warmth in these boots.

I definitely tested them down to -30 while hiking and while walking my son to school, and had no problems.

And while you can't tell in the photo below, it was really cold, and I was hiking through deep untracked snow in my Durand Polar Shell boots. My feet stayed warm, dry, and comfortable the whole time.

My KEEN Durand Polar Shell Boots are great for snowshoeing


2. My feet stay DRY


I have the cutest pair of "fashion winter boots" in my closet that I just can't wear. (and no, they are not Keen boots because I can wear my Keen fashion boots - and stay warm!)

I don't know what it is with these other boots (or what possessed me to buy them other than they were cute,) but my socks are always damp when I pull them out of the boots. I suspect they just don't have good wicking properties to prevent against moisture when feet start to get warm.

Fortunately this is not a problem with my Keen Durand Polar Shells. I've never had damp socks, and never a problem with feet getting too warm, sweating, and then getting cold.

Boots that stay dry and warm inside (even when playing in deep snow like this!) 


3. They are Super Comfortable


I think boots should fit snug around the ankles so that you don't twist or roll an ankle while hiking (or even walking the kids to school.) The toe box however should be wide enough that your toes can wiggle around and feel warm air circulating around the foot.

I have success on both accounts with my Durand Polar Shells. The boots cinch really tight at the ankles so that I don't have the traditional "sloppy winter boot" fit. I can wear them hiking, can take long walks in them, and can climb steep hills - all with the same support I'd find in a normal hiking boot. The bonus is that they are much warmer than your average hiking boot.

My toes have plenty of room to move around without being squished, and my feet are comfy cozy with the soft fleece lining at the top of the boots.

It should also be noted that I rarely get blisters with them either. And this is a big thing for me because I have crazy feet and always get blisters! The average person should not expect to get blisters from these boots because they are very soft inside and fit well without your foot slipping around.

They are awesome for winter biking!


4. They are stylish enough that I can wear them around the city


These boots have a low profile and don't make you look like you just returned from an Arctic adventure. They look like cute little hiking boots and don't scream "traditional department store winter boot."

While maybe I wouldn't wear them to church (I have better Keen boots for that,) I do wear them all over the city and they look fine paired with jeans or even leggings and a tall pair of socks.

My go-to walking boots around the city (on their way to Zumba here)


5. They are great on ice and slippery walks


These are my go-to "walk the boy to school" boots, and I haven't slipped or fallen on ice yet (knock on wood.) They have great  grip and I wouldn't wear anything else on my neighborhood walks.

In especially icy conditions, I add a pair of ice spikes or cleats and they fit well over these boots without ever falling off.

Boots with great grip on the bottom for icy conditions

Questions you may have:



Q. Are they tall enough to keep snow out? 

A. Yes. I wear them for snowshoeing and I've never had a problem with snow in my boots. They cinch up tightly to keep snow out, and they go up just high enough for most conditions.



Q. Are they easy to put on and take off?

A. Truthfully, no, they are a bit of work to put on (and take off.) But that's a good thing. You don't just slip hiking boots on, and you won't do that with these either. You have to loosen the laces to get them off, and then you'll have to tighten those laces again next time you put them on. And if I'm wearing extra thick socks, I'll have to loosen them quite a bit to get them off.

I find the extra time it takes me getting dressed to be worth it though for the support I get in these winter hikers. And I have other Keen winter shoes for easy slip on/slip off outings to the grocery store.


Q. Do they fit true to size? 

A. That's a great question because the Keen website says to order a full size larger than your usual size, saying that they fit quite small. Personally though, I bought my true size and love them.

I do have narrow feet though so perhaps that's why I love them so much.

My recommendation would be to try them on before deciding which size to buy (rather than buying online.)


Q. Can you wear them for snowshoeing? 

A. Yes, I do all the time. They are snowshoe compatible with a back heel support. They fit well with snowshoes and they keep snow out while hiking.

The KEEN Durand Polar Shell boots are great for snowshoeing


Other Important Things to Know about these Boots 



  • They have a KEEN.Dry® waterproof breathable membrane (I've never had wet feet)

  • They have a reinforced synthetic shell for extra protection

  • They have a thermal heat shield footbed ("On the outside, wooly softness; in the middle, support cushioning; and inside, a thermal foil barrier to harness radiant heat. Keeps the cold out and the heat in.")

  • Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control (and I've never had stinky feet from wearing these boots, nor have I ever noticed the boots to be smelly inside.)

  • They have a ring hook for gaiters

  • They are lightweight (567.0 g)

Soft fleece lining at the top of the boots, rated to -32C 



My Other Go-to Winter Footwear 


I mentioned other shoes and boots I wear during the winter a couple of times in this story and the ones I love (and recommend buying) are below.



I LOVE these insulated slip-on winter shoes. They are what I wear when I'm running errands around the city, going to the skating rink (for easy on, easy off comfort,) going to the ski hill (for comfortable car rides,) and for general city use. 

In these shoes, I've never had wet or cold feet. They are amazingly warm for low cut slip-on shoes and I can stomp through puddles (and still have dry feet!)

Honestly, these are the shoes you buy multiple pairs of (just in case they get discontinued and you can't find them anymore in the future.)

And straight from the KEEN website: 
"This versatile slip-on has all-season features, like water-repellent leather and a cozy microfleece lining. Elasticized panels give it a comfortably snug fit, and the lugged sole stands up to slick sidewalks."

Note, the website says they fit true to size, but I do find them to run a bit large. I'd personally order a half size smaller than your normal size. I make do with my "slightly large" shoes by wearing thick socks.

KEEN Kaci Winter Shoes 



Women's Baby Bern II Tall, Wide Calf Boots


These are my "going to church, going out for dinner, or attempting to look fancy" boots. And that probably doesn't say much about how much I dress up because they don't even have a heel.

Still, these boots look great over a pair of skinny jeans (why you need the wide calf version,) and are easy to put on with a full zipper down the side.

KEEN Baby Bern Boots
They are warm, waterproof, and durable. My feet are always happy, warm, and dry in these boots. They're also exceptionally comfortable for "fashion boots" if you can call them that. I could easily walk around the zoo in them for hours and not have sore feet thanks to the cushioned footbed.

Note the link goes to the American KEEN website because they are currently discontinued on the Canadian site. Hopefully they come back again next winter, or you can find them at another store around the city if you'd like to order a pair now. Otherwise, they are on sale on the US site now if you have friends down south.

And as far as sizing goes, I find them to run a little large so perhaps try buying a half size smaller, or just wear thicker socks in them as I do.


Disclaimer: I am a KEEN Ambassador and received these winter boots in exchange for promoting Keen footwear. As always, all words and opinions are my own and I was not paid to provide a positive review. 


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