Monday, July 06, 2015

DIY Summer Camp on a Budget

Summer camp is full of new experiences, outings and activities that will leave a lasting impression on your children well into next year’s school calendar. What do you do, though, if you can’t quite cough up the money for a week at camp? Or, if you’re like me, you’re a stay-at-home parent and think just maybe you could create your own ‘week at camp’ with other families and friends. Read on for my top five suggestions for things to do with the kids this summer as you seek to entertain the troops until school starts back up again.

DIY Summer Camp - Take a Hike at Big Hill Springs

DIY Summer Camp - Try Geocaching
Suggestion number one:   Introduce your children to geocaching in Calgary’s parks and natural areas.  There are several geocaching apps for the iPhone and android phones. I personally like the Groundspeak Inc. app, which syncs with your geocaching account created through geocaching.com.

Getting started is very easy once you create an account and each cache you find is stored on your mobile app to help you keep track of your history. Once you have an account and a mobile app, head out to the nearest natural area or park and, guaranteed, there will be a handful of geocaches to find nearby.

Start with the easy ones that are larger and work your way down in size as you get more experienced. And don’t forget to bring along small treasures or toys to leave in each cache if you want to trade for something that you’ll find inside.


My next four suggestions are all covered in my newest story for Calgary's Child Magazine including my top five favourite parks and natural areas to explore in Calgary.



To read the full story, follow this link to DIY ‘Summer Camp’ on a Budget - Try a Walk on the Wild Side in Calgary this Summer!

DIY Summer Camp - Find a new favourite park or natural area to explore

Friday, June 26, 2015

Family Bike Adventures in the Spray Valley

Want to get off the beaten path in the Canadian Rockies?  The Spray Valley beyond the popular mountain town of Canmore beckons families to come explore - without the crowds. Love biking?  Even better because chances are high you'll have many trails all to yourself.  (and no, you don't have to be terrified of bears out there alone as long as you make a lot of noise and bike in a group.)

Backcountry Mountain Biking in the Spray Valley

Introduction to the Spray Valley


Spray Valley Provincial Park is located along the Spray River and near the Spray Lakes Reservoir off of Highway 742 out of Canmore.  The provincial park also stretches to Highway 40 near the Wedge Pond day use area but I am going to focus purely on the area off of the Smith Dorrien Trail (Highway 742) in this story.

Scenery off the Smith Dorrien Trail

Bike Trails in the Spray Valley


There are only a handful of bike trails in this valley but that just means you don't have to debate over which trail to do.  Plan a long weekend to the valley and conquer all of the bike trails in one shot.  They are all family-friendly and doable by children on 16-20" bikes.  We've even had our son out here biking to Watridge Lake on his balance bike back when he was just 4 years old.

Biking to Watridge Lake in the Spray Valley

What I love most about the bike trails in this valley is the remoteness and the feeling of solitude you'll get as you ride way into the backcountry on well maintained trails and old roads perfect for young riders not up for the challenges of single track riding. 

Backcountry riding in the Spray Valley to Watridge Lake


Biking Mount Shark to Watridge Lake


The Watridge Lake trail is an 8km bike ride (round trip distance) that we try to do once a year.  The trail starts from the Mount Shark Day Use area and follows an old logging road that is very family-friendly.  Our son has been doing the ride since he was 4 years old and we've just walked the occasional steep hill we come across.  Most of the trip is pretty gradual though without huge amounts of height gain or loss.

Biking the Watridge Lake Trail from Mount Shark

At the 3.9km mark, you'll reach a sign for Watridge Lake.  Here is where we leave our bikes and walk down a steep hill to reach the lake.  From the lake, you can hike an additional 0.8km (one way) up to Karst Spring which is highly recommended during run off season when water is high.

Watridge Lake, Spray Valley

There are no technical challenges on this outing and it is Chariot-friendly for the entire distance. Children on balance bikes will also have few problems on this gradual trail. 

My son  made it all the way to Watridge Lake and back on his balance bike at the age of 4

Biking The Goat Creek Trail from the Spray Valley to Banff


The Goat Creek Trail starts from the Goat Creek Day Use Area just outside of Canmore and is a 19 km one way ride from the Spray Valley to the Banff townsite.  Strong riders can bike the full return distance in 3-4 hours but it will take families the same amount of time to ride one way to Banff.

Canmore to Banff on the Goat Creek Trail

While many people set up a car shuttle, leaving a second vehicle at Bow Falls in Banff, we chose to make things simple on ourselves since we were staying in the Spray Valley overnight.  My son and I biked one-way into Banff while Dad turned around at the final bridge and headed back for the truck.  Yay Dad! He then came into Banff to pick us up and we tried to keep it a secret that we'd been eating ice-cream while he was biking back uphill to fetch the vehicle.

The Goat Creek Bridge en route to Banff

What to expect on this trail:

  •  Double track riding on gravel and dirt
  •  Some loose rocks and a few hills that are quite challenging with big rocks you must dodge. The hill down to the first big bridge is the worst and should probably be walked by young children.  We rode it but it was a bit scary. (it has a sign at the top of it warning people to take caution.)
  • Downhill riding with 435m of height loss spread out over 19km in the Canmore to Banff direction
  • A few significant hills in the up direction with 176m of height gain (something we weren't prepared for - and why kids really should have gears for this ride)
  • Remote backcountry riding (make sure you have spare tubes and a bike repair kit)
Lots of cool bridges to cross on the Goat Creek Trail

Exploring the Trails near the Spray Lakes West Campground


If you're looking for a sense of  remoteness, this is the place for you to go biking!  You likely won't see a single other person on your ride and you might even come across a moose if you're lucky.

There are two main trails that start from the Spray Lakes West Campground (which is great if you're camping here.) First, you can follow the West Side Lake Trail which is a gravel road connecting the campground with the Mt. Shark trail system near Watridge Lake.  The West Side Lake Trail follows the Spray Lakes Reservoir all the way to the far end at Canyon dam.  The trail is 10.8km one way and is typically done as an out and back trip. It is relatively flat and easy for family-riding.

This will be your backdrop as you bike around the Spray Lakes Reservoir on the West Side Lake Trail

For information on how to connect the West Side Lake Trail with the Mount Shark trails, pick up a copy of Doug Eastcott's book, Backcountry Biking in the Canadian Rockies. Families will likely just want to ride the West Side Lake Trail out for about 5km, and then return the same way for a shorter day.

Remote riding near the Spray Lakes West Campground

We haven't tried the West Side Lake Trail yet, but the trail we did bike (and thoroughly enjoyed) was the Goat Pond Canal trail which connects the Spray Lakes Reservoir with Goat Pond further up the Smith Dorrien Trail towards Canmore.  This was a lovely family ride, relatively flat and easy going on a gravel maintenance road.

This trail won't show up on maps and I challenge you to find any information on the trail in a Google search.  However, if you go to the Spray Lakes West Campground, you can't miss the trail. The trail starts right below the dam at the campground and follows the gravel road beside the canal on the other side of the Smith Dorrien Trail. You'll be paralleling the highway (hidden by a forest of trees) the whole time and you'll end up within sight of Goat Pond.  (we hiked a bit further to explore the pond and marsh area once our trail had ended.)

Easy riding on the Goat Pond Canal from the Spray Lakes West Campground

Where to Stay in the Spray Valley


If you're looking for budget accommodations, you'll probably want to stay at the Spray Lakes West Campground mentioned in the previous paragraphs.  However, if you have the means to splurge for a weekend, you definitely want to upgrade your digs and stay at Mount Engadine Lodge near Mount Shark.  Not only will you be within a short bike ride's distance from the Watridge Lake trailhead but you'll also get an unparalleled stay in one of the finest lodges of the Canadian Rockies.

Mount Engadine Lodge

What you can expect from a stay at Mount Engadine Lodge:

  • Gourmet breakfasts and dinners served family style while dining with other guests from countries around the world
  •  Packed lunches for your day's adventures (and you won't have to lift a finger to pack your own lunch.)
  • Afternoon tea served daily in the sunny dining room as you scan the meadow for wildlife sightings (look carefully and you might see moose, bears, deer, or elk while you sip on your cup of tea.)
Afternoon tea at Mount Engadine Lodge

  • Individual bedrooms with private bathrooms and showers that rival anything you'd find at a luxury hotel in Canmore (This is no hostel or backcountry cabin.)
  • Cabins and suites for those traveling with children or pets
  • Opportunities to mingle with local and international guests as you swap travel stories and make notes for future trips you're going to want to take next year
  • A perfect blend of comfort and luxury.  Come here for a romantic weekend getaway or bring the kids and they'll feel right at home too.
The meadow outside the lodge is a natural playground for the kids

We've stayed here a few times now and every visit is a special treat leaving us begging to come back for more. Winter or Summer, Mount Engadine Lodge never disappoints and it gets my vote for "best place to go glamping with the kids in Kananaskis."  - pretty sure I might have actually said I never wanted to camp again after staying at Mount Engadine a few weeks ago.

Private Cabin in Paradise Anybody??

 

Other Recommended Reading


For more on Mount Engadine Lodge in summer, read Just Another Day in Paradise at Mount Engadine Lodge or   We went for the Snowshoeing and Returned for the Mountain Biking which was published for Snowshoe Magazine.

For a look at winter at Mount Engadine Lodge, please take a look at my story, Escape to Snow Paradise, for Snowshoe Magazine along with the story on my blog here:  Paradise at Mount Engadine Lodge.

Also, check out my newest story, also written for Snowshoe Magazine,  Mount Engadine Lodge:  Alberta's Front Country Lodge with Backcountry Charm.

The fact  that I've written 6 different stories now featuring Mount Engadine Lodge says something about how much we absolutely LOVE this place.  

Mount Engadine Lodge in Winter - Paradise Baby!!

To book your own stay at Mount Engadine Lodge, visit their website and ask about one of the lodge suites.

Big thanks to the amazing staff at Mount Engadine Lodge for making our stay possible.

Home sweet home at Mount Engadine Lodge


Disclaimer:  Our stay at Mount Engadine Lodge was provided for us but as always, all words in this story are my own and I wasn't paid for this review.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Easy Overnight Paddling Trips for the Whole Family

A few years ago we did our first overnight paddling trip as a family and I learned a couple of valuable lessons:  One, you don’t have to actually carry your gear to get into the backcountry if you use a boat, and Two, you don’t have to carry small children either! 

Canoeing or kayaking into a backcountry campground is by far one of the easiest ways to access beautiful wilderness locations as a family.  No backpacks, no child carriers, no strollers – and you can do the trip in sandals! 

Overnight paddling trips give you access to great campsites like this at the Point on Upper Kananaskis Lake

What kind of boat should you take?


Canoes and kayaks both work very well for overnight paddling trips and I’ve even used my stand up paddle board to get to camp while our kayak carried the family gear.   Tandem recreational kayaks work especially well and you can even fit a couple of lawn chairs in the middle of them.  We’ve also seen friends pull a second boat with their gear so that they could bring everything they’d normally bring for car camping. (Just make sure you don’t try this technique on a river and that it’s an easy short paddle to camp!) 

Backpacking with our tandem kayak


If choosing to canoe (and you won’t be doing any long portages), try to rent a large tripping canoe, 16-18 feet long, and you’ll have plenty of room for a couple of children and your gear in the middle. Otherwise, rent two tandem kayaks for a family of four and you’ll have plenty of space for gear.  This is the kind of tandem kayak that we have and love from Mountain Equipment COOP.


Most people canoe to camp.  I use a stand up paddleboard.


How to pack for an overnight paddling trip


If you’re going to be doing a lot of overnight paddling trips, you can invest in gear barrels and dry bags but for the occasional trip, heavy-duty garbage bags will work just fine to keep your sleeping bags, tent, and other gear dry and safe.  One dry bag is recommended though at least for your keys, wallet, phone, and other vital accessories that absolutely cannot get wet.

If you expect to be walking any distance at all from the shore to your campsite, it is recommended that you pack in the same way as you would for a backpacking trip.  Put all of your gear in packs wrapped with a couple of heavy-duty garbage bags.  That way, you can easily shuttle your gear to your campsite. 

And if you’re going to be on a river, don’t forget to tie down your gear into a canoe in case you should tip!

This method of shuttling gear will work on a calm lake for short distances

Where to camp


The Point Backcountry Campground in Kananaskis is an ideal spot for a first overnight paddling trip with the kids. In good conditions without a strong wind, you can make it across Upper Kananaskis Lake in under an hour.  Start early in the day when the lake is always calmest and plan to do day tours on the lake once you’ve set up camp. 

If you are nervous about taking small children in a boat, you can also hike to camp with the kids while a couple of adults paddle the gear in. It’s a short 3.4 km hike via the Upper Kananaskis Lake Circuit from the North Interlakes day use area. 





Paddling on Upper Kananaskis Lake to the Point



Other Water-accessible Campgrounds near Calgary:


Jewell Bay Campground on Barrier Lake, Kananaskis – A short 20 minute paddle or an easy 4km hike takes you to a  small backcountry campground on Barrier Lake.


Scenic campsites on Barrier Lake at Jewell Bay



LM8 on Lake Minnewanka, Banff – This backcountry campground is accessed by an easy 8km hiking trail or a paddle along the shores of beautiful Lake Minnewanka.  Note that winds can pick up on this large lake so early starts are of importance when water is calmer.  There are also wildlife restrictions in place at certain times of the year so visit the Banff National Park website for more information.

Paddling on Lake Minnewanka


Steveville Campground on the Red Deer River, Southern Alberta – An easy two day paddle spread out over 30km will take you from Emerson Bridge to Dinosaur Provincial Park with a night at the Steveville Campground.  You’ll paddle through the Dinosaur Park badlands and you can extend your trip with a night or two at the Dinosaur Provincial Park Campground to enjoy hiking in the area. The Steveville Campground is road accessible as well if you need an early escape off the river.

Easy paddling on the Red Deer River with inflatable and recreational kayaks

Reservations are required at most campgrounds so check in advance before planning your trip.  Also, it is advised to talk with staff in local parks when choosing the best time of year to paddle with your family.  Rivers can range from easy class I float trips to class II trips with big rapids depending on the time of year.



More Reading


Touring the Canadian Rockies on a Stand Up Paddleboard

5 Reasons to Introduce Stand Up Paddleboarding to the Family

Stand up paddleboarding in Banff


Family Canoeing and Kayaking in the Canadian Rockies

The Annual Family Backpacking Trip - worth fighting for

The Red Deer River is great for family overnight trips


How to Fit 7 People in a Canoe  - Backcountry Adventures in Kananaskis

5 Years of Family Backpacking Trips

You can fit a lot of gear + two kids and a dog in a canoe for a weekend



Thursday, June 18, 2015

First Summits - The Mighty YAMNUSKA (with a 6 year old)

Mount Yamnuska is often the first scramble for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers in the Canadian Rockies.  Hike to the summit on a warm summer day and you will likely pass hundreds of other hikers on the trail.  Look for children though and you won't see very many on this hike. Most adults find Yamnuska to be a challenging scramble at the best of times and few are crazy enough to try and take a child up the mountain.  Except for us of course.  We "tried."

Trying to Summit Mount Yamnuska with a 6 year old


First, what is a "scramble"


I referred to Yamnuska being a "scramble" in the first paragraph for that is the unofficial name given to a difficult hike where you need to use your hands to ascend cliff bands, traverse narrow rock ledges, and pick your way through loose scree to reach the summit.
This is Scrambling

Yamnuska is classified as an easy scramble according to Alan Kane, author of Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies.  In his words this means:
"the scramble is mostly hiking, much hands in pockets stuff, little exposure, no maintained trail.  It is mostly off-trail hiking."
However, before you go rushing out with your kids in tow, Kane does forewarn that there is one section of difficult down-climbing (and he is very clear that it is only an "easy scramble" if you ascend to the summit from the west side.  Few parties ascend via the west side though which is the hikers descent route and would involve much scree bashing in the uphill direction with hours spent slogging up treadmill type loose rock (think two steps forward, and one step back.)

So, when you attempt to hike up Yamnuska, you are really embarking on a moderate to difficult scramble.  And here is what Kane has to say about difficult scrambling:
"much use of handholds, sections may be steep, loose and exposed.  Fall distance may be significant enough to be fatal."
Still want to try Yamnuska with kids??  (the photo below shows where we had to turn around with Noah.)

This is the "difficult" section on Yamnuska.  (see the cable at the front of the photo and the drop below!)



Why is the hike or scramble up Yamnuska so popular?


This scramble is popular for various reasons but below are a few of the more common ones:

The cliffs of Yam as seen from the highway
  • This mountain is very recognizable from the TransCanada Highway en route to Banff (making it desirable for hikers to summit.)
  • It is commonly referred to as a "hike" and therefore attracts a lot of beginners who have never done a scramble or anything difficult before.  You'll see all kinds of people on the trail from tennis shoe clad tourists to visiting friends who have no idea what they're in for!  (fortunately they usually get turned around by the first chimney they encounter.)
  • There are many turn-around points which makes this a good hike for varying abilities.  You can hike to the bottom of the ridge (referred to as Raven's End) on a good solid hiking trail, you can scramble up on top of the ridge, you can traverse ledges towards the summit and stop when you reach the chains (shown in the photo above,) or you can go all the way to the summit and loop back around on the front side.  Many options. 

The first part of the trail is a great family hike with views out over the Bow Valley

 

How to "Hike" Yamnuska with Kids

Hiking to Raven's End

Start by turning off the TransCanada Hwy onto Hwy 1X towards Exshaw.  Turn right onto Hwy 1A and go 2km down the road.  Turn left into the signed Yamnuska day use area

From the parking lot, follow the trail from the main trailhead across the quarry road and up a well defined trail into the forest.  Proceed up it, along a steep section to a junction.  The junction will say "climber trail" and "hiker trail."  You want the hiker trail!! Even if you hope to summit, you still want the hiker trail.  The climber trail is only for rock climbers heading straight towards the cliff face on the front side of the mountain.

Follow the excellent hiking trail till its end at the base of the cliff at the far right hand side of the mountain.  This is called Raven's End.  (and you should see a lot of ravens circling the mountain here.)

This is the end of hike for all young children or inexperienced hikers. Up to this point you will have hiked up 520m over 3.5km.

To read more on this hike and for a full collection of photos describing the entire route, read this trail report from Hiking with Barry.  I'm also partial to Gillian Daffern's description in her book "Popular Day Hikes in Kananaskis Country."

Yamnuska Hiking Trail for Families to Raven's End


How we chose to "summit" Yamnuska with a 6 year old


First off, when I say "summit" I do not mean the official summit.  We tagged a peak on the ridge and we called it "Noah's Summit."  He was happy, we were happy, and everybody came back alive (the most important thing on all trips!)

Noah's Summit (the unofficial summit for all 6 year olds)

I'm not going to go into a big route description of how we hiked up to the top of the ridge because I'm a big fan of guide books, experience, and training.  If you can't find a safe way to the ridge top, you should either:

A.  Buy Kane's Scrambling guide book (available at all book stores)
B.  Go with somebody who has scrambled Yam. before
C.  Wait until you've scouted this out without kids first!!! I can not recommend coming up here for a "first ascent" with kids.  We've been up here several times and knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into.

Reaching this ridge top vantage point took us about 45 min. from Raven's End

We hiked about 90% of the way to the official summit following Kane's route up the east side of the ridge until we came to the chains at the down-climb and exposed traverse. Up to this point we probably climbed approximately 800m of the total 900m for this trip.  We weren't prepared to do the exposed traverse or sketchy section that followed with a 6 year old and so we turned around.  We'll return in a year or two with more climbing equipment and perhaps a month later in the year to ensure there is no snow remaining on the final traverse towards the summit.

Traversing scree slopes towards the summit of Yamnuska

Gear that we brought:
  • Helmets (something most adults wouldn't bring, but absolutely vital if doing this with kids.  And we chose to wear them too as a good example of safety.)
  • A short amount of rope to "short rope" Noah up difficult sections.  I also see this as imperative if climbing Yam with children under the age of 8-10.  (and it's probably safe to say that if you don't have the experience or training to "short-rope" a child, this hike is too difficult for you to guide young children up.)
  • Bike gloves to prevent against scraping skin on loose rock. Kids fall down a LOT so you want as little skin visible as possible.
Short-roping Noah up steep sections


Other useful tips:
  • Children should be wearing long pants.  Again, if your child slips on loose rock, you'll be happy for the layer of fabric between their skin and the ground. 
  • Get an early start if the day is hot.  The front slopes of Yam are very dry and get sun baked in the afternoon.  It's not a fun place to be slogging up in the heat of the day.
  • Bring lots of water.  We each had a water bladder with 2L of water and we still ran out by the end.
  • Candy, candy, and more candy!
  • Bring many layers of clothing, emergency gear in case you get stuck and have to spend the night,  hats and mittens in case the summit is cold, a whistle to call for help, and a full first aid kit.  It's recommended to bring extra food as well - more than you could possibly eat.  Yes, your packs will be huge.  That's just the reality of doing BIG stuff with kids.  You should be prepared for every possible scenario.


Our Summit on Yamnuska


BIG disclaimer if you want to summit this mountain with kids


Are you prepared for this?
I think I've been pretty clear about the risks involved with this hike or scramble.  Should you decide to attempt this summit with your family, please know that I am not an experienced guide and that I am merely sharing our adventure with you. 

Please buy a guide book or take an experienced person with you if you have not done this trip before.  Please do not attempt it with kids if you yourself have not been on the summit first without them.  Many people take this scramble "lightly" and head out ill-prepared.   That's not an option with kids however. 

 

More First Summits


Go Climb a Mountain - Family-friendly First Summits

Ha Ling!  My Baby Climbed His First Real Summit

More First Summits:  Prairie Mountain, Kananaskis

My Rad Climber
Family-friendly Summits in Jasper National Park

Moving on to Big Adventures - and the kids get to come along too

Magical Autumn Hiking on the Bow Valley Highline Trail (Copper Mountain, Banff)





Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Mountain Bike Partner is 6 Years Old - and he's better than me

You laugh, but it's true.  Almost everything I've learned about mountain biking has occurred while biking with my 6 year old son.  Friends have offered helpful pieces of advice and have certainly given this newbie biker mom some valuable instruction, but nothing has taught me how to just "commit" like biking with a fearless child has!

Below are a few highlights from our biking season thus far for 2015.  I can only imagine what I'll be sharing come September!!

A new year and a new bike!

Noah gets a new bike (and gears rock!)

Rockin' The new 20" Spawn bike

Friends keep asking me what Noah is riding these days.  Well, let me tell you, he's got the sweetest bike out there!  He's riding the Spawn Savage 1.0 20" bike, complete with disc brakes and gears.  Tell me, does your bike have disc brakes?  Mine certainly doesn't!  It's no shock that Noah makes it down hills that I am skidding out on.  His brakes are awesome - and now I want disc brakes on my next bike. 

The 1.0 version of the Spawn Savage does not have shocks but we figured shocks would just add extra weight and be overkill for the kind of riding Noah does.  (I could be wrong soon.)  However, Noah doesn't seem to miss or need them yet and he rides over plenty of roots and rocks without complaining.

And having gears on this bike has made a huge difference in our family rides!  Noah makes it up hills he would have walked before, and has a lot more endurance for the longer rides. 

How much does a bike like this cost?  Well, I admit it's a bit.  But, before you choke at the cost of the bike, $749.00 in Canadian dollars, let me break it down for you:
We hope Noah will be riding it for at least two years (maybe three since a 20" bike is what kids ages 6-9 should typically be riding.)  So that's $374.50 per year (less if used for three years.)
He will be riding it hard for at least 6 months a year (hopefully 8 months.)  At 7 months, it comes out to $53.50 per month.

Now, how much do you pay for your kids to go to gymnastics?  Dance?   Hockey?... - and you will be able to sell the Spawn bike when you are done with it (for at least $350.00 if it's in good condition.) 

Finally, you should be able to pass it down to a younger sibling (or sell it for a good price if you have one child) which means at least two kids get to ride it and the cost goes down to $26.75 per month when it's split between two children!! Really, too expensive??

His confidence is soaring on his new Spawn bike

How much does the bike weigh?  20lbs.  That's it.  And trust me it makes a big difference when it comes to hill climbing or helping your child push his/her bike up a steep hill.  A couple of weeks ago I had to carry it down some big stairs on a hike-a-bike section of trail and I was certainly glad it was light then!!

To order a Spawn bike for your child, order it directly from the Spawn Cycles website.  It's the easiest and fastest method.  (Most stores are sold out if you wanted to purchase it locally.)

 

Our new favourite spot to go biking:  Calgary's Paskapoo Slopes


Last year we did a lot of easier mountain bike riding and I believe I can be quoted as saying that I really didn't like single track, had no interest in downhill riding, and that I liked old gravel roads.  Things have changed a bit and Noah and I now spend a lot of time biking the Paskapoo Slopes east of Canada Olympic Park.

A typical "after school" bike ride for us

We've been taking friends with us and we're trying to master all of the intermediate trails on the slopes.  We started with the easy trails and realized we were ready to tackle harder hills after a few rides.  And I'm slowly starting to build the confidence required to ride the same trails as my 6 year old bike partner (who crushed me one day and rode at least 5 hills that I had to walk out of total and complete fear.)

A month ago I would have walked down this hill.

If you want to help us save these slopes from development, please sign the petition at the Save the Slopes website.  I'm not normally a big political activist but I get pretty angry and upset every time I think about developers paving over my playground!!

Spawn Biker Gang on the Paskapoo Slopes

New Trails:  Banff Tunnel Bench Loop - Check


We started tackling this intermediate mountain biking loop in Banff last summer and I remember very clearly my husband telling me that Noah would not be able to bike the narrow "exposed" part above the Cascade River until he was older.  I took his word for it (especially since he told me it would be too tricky for me too) but I couldn't let it rest.  I really wanted to finish the loop!

Biking the narrow section of the Tunnel Bench Loop in Banff

Fortunately, while camping in Banff a couple weeks ago, I found a friend willing to go "test" the trail with me and I decided that not only would it be doable for Noah, it would be EASY for Noah.  And what exposure??? (at least till I watched the GoPro videos after.)

To see what kinds of trails Noah is riding these days, watch the video below and I will not be offended if you just watch the first minute or two.  I know it's looooong.

And for more information on this bike trail (and others in Banff like it) read my story on the Best Family Bike Trails in Banff National Park.


 

 

New Trails:  Goat Creek (Canmore to Banff) - Check


This is the other big trail that we have biked as a family so far this season and it's kind of a big deal.  We rode 19km from Canmore to Banff and the trail was not paved for a single minute.  This was backcountry mountain biking and was not as easy as I had been lead to believe.  At least not for a 6 year old.

There's more photos and information in my story on the Best Family Bike Trails in Kananaskis.

Crossing the bridge over goat Creek

Skills:  Not your Grandma's Teeter Totter


This is the kind of stuff we do in the evening before bed.


 

 

Skills:  Mastering the Bike Park Features at Canada Olympic Park


We went to the bike park near our house last week and Noah found the ramps, boardwalks, and jumps.  He got a smile on his face and immediately tried to ride one of the biggest features .  Below is a short video of one of the harder features he totally nailed while there.  And never fell once I might add.

I suspect we'll be spending at lot of time at Canada Olympic Park this summer.  Thank God we got an annual family pass!



 

 

And Noah's taking mountain biking lessons this summer


It should come as no shock that we've figured perhaps Noah should take some mountain bike lessons this summer.  After all, God forbid I'd catch up and become as good as him.  Gotta keep him a level or two beyond me!  He's signed up for mountain bike camp at Canada Olympic Park and we're pretty excited to see him learn a new trick or two.

More information on the great camps offered by WinSport at Canada Olympic Park can be found in my recent story:  Where to Find the Most "Fun and Unique" Summer Camps in Calgary.

Biking on the Slopes East of Canada Olympic Park

Final Photos of my Rad Bike Kids


We do a lot of biking with #radkids - follow that hashtag on Instagram to see all of my photos. 
Here are just a few of my favourite shots from this spring.

Biking the Bow Falls - Hoodoos Trail in Banff
My Biker Gang on the Paskapoo Slopes in Calgary
Look who discovered the Banff Bike Park
#OutdoorKidsRock - yes look for that hashtag too

Big Thanks to:


Spawn Cycles - for giving us the best bike a 6 year old could ever have.

WinSport and Canada Olympic Park - We are going to have a blast playing at the bike park this summer and riding the trails at the park.  We also can't wait for summer bike camp!

The awesome folks fighting to save the Paskapoo Slopes in Calgary from development.  Find out more and join us in supporting a great cause by visiting the website at Save the Slopes. Kids don't need more shopping malls.  They need green space, trails, wild areas to play in, and free land.



ShareThis