Monday, November 21, 2011

X-country skiing with toddlers - November at Lake Louise

It was -23 C in Lake Louise with the wind chill on Sunday but the sky was clear and it was a lovely day for our first x-country ski trip of the season.  I have to confess we did ask Grandma if she wanted to babysit but alas, she was working.  We love skiing with our son but the temperature was a little cool for his first trip out this year.  We wanted his re-introduction to skiing to be a fun one.  Unfortunately, I think Noah's favorite part of the day was running around the Chateau Lake Louise before heading home.

Stats for the day
Temperature:  -23 C with wind chill
Ski trail:  Moraine Lake Road, Lake Louise
Distance skied:  10km return
Conditions:  Awesome.  Lots of coverage, poles didn't touch pavement, trail groomed and track set
Toddler Equipment used:  Kindershuttle ski pulk by Wilderness Engineering
Toddler happiness:  2/10
Parent happiness:  5/10

Starting the trip off right
One of the biggest challenges of skiing with a toddler is finding a warm place to take care of the pre-ski snack, diaper change, and clothing change.  We headed to Laggan's Bakery and Deli in the Lake Louise Village to buy a muffin and feed Noah some of the snacks we had brought.  They don't have change tables in their little customer bathroom but there are public bathrooms right next door we could use and Laggan's was deserted which if you've been there is a very rare treat.  Their fresh baking is so good that many people start every trip to Louise with a requisite stop at this bakery.

Downhill from there
You know it's going to be a bad ski trip if your child won't eat before you start out, is already grumpy, and doesn't want to put his clothing on.  Speaking from past experience I'd also add that if your toddler is a morning regular, you want to make sure he/she has already filled their diaper and been changed or gone to the toilet before starting out on the trail.  It's also an indication that the day might be bad if your child is coming down with something or already sick.  Apparently Noah has the Flu according to Grandma who just phoned me.  That explains a LOT about yesterday; the crying and over-all lack of enthusiasm.

I also suggest doing a dry run with new equipment.  We took the pulk out for its maiden voyage without trying Noah in it at home first.  We easily figured out the safety restraint system but couldn't figure out how to tighten it correctly so that he was sitting up and not lying down the entire time.  I really hope there is a way because Noah wasn't comfortable at all!  We kept trying to prop jackets behind him and he was still lying back in this awkward position.  If his head would have been leaning against something it might have been relaxing and conducive to sleep but his head just hung back in the air with his poor little neck unsupported.  When we tried to really get him upright the plastic windshield was right on his face and I know he did not like that!

To top off a less than ideal trip, the plastic windshield cracked on the sled.  It might have been -15 C but unless I'm mistaken on a sled's purpose, they are designed for cold weather.  Am I wrong?  -40 C is one thing, but it was only -15 C and that's pretty average for winter temperatures in the Canadian Rockies.  I tried contacting the company that makes Kindershuttles and their response was to fix the windshield with clear packing tape so I guess we'll try that for the season.  We bought the sled used off Kijiji and it's always hard to know the quality of something you buy.  I was assured that the latest sleds use a plastic that will never crack but it's possible ours is older and not as durable against the elements.

We finally got Noah sitting up more or less and almost straight though still leaning slightly to the side.  He told us he was cold but he also told us he was happy so I'm not sure his "yes" could be trusted when we asked him questions and I'm not sure how he could have been cold with his multiple layers on and down jacket he was wrapped in.  We turned around at the 5km mark instead of continuing to the end of the road and wouldn't you know, but Noah finally fell asleep about ten minutes before reaching the parking lot.  Grrr...

All's well that ends well
We needed a warm place to head to after skiing to have second lunch so we went to the Chateau Lake Louise Resort.  We found a quiet couch and pulled out all our snacks.  We let Noah climb up and down all the stairs in the hotel and we explored the property.  I learned a few very interesting things while there I thought I'd share with you.

First, the Lakeview Lounge takes kids of all ages and you can go in if it's not busy to just order coffee and hot chocolate.  In summer they like you to order food but when it's quiet you can treat the beautiful lounge as a coffee shop.  There's picture windows looking out over the lake and Mt. Victoria all along the side of the lounge so it's an amazing place to go post skiing. 

Second, the Glacier Saloon in the basement takes kids!!!  We didn't stop to eat there but I did go in and ask if they took kids for our next visit.  They have children's menus and everything.

I did inquire while there if the resort had child care services but sadly, they don't.  They offer paid babysitting for guests of the resort but there is no day care.  If somebody from the resort is reading this, I know a lot of people that would pay to use a day care there.

Overall review of the day
Skiing on the Moraine Lake road isn't very exciting as you are just following a road that goes slowly up, up, up, and then back down to the parking lot.  You don't actually get to Moraine Lake itself and views are limited.  However, it is always the first trail to be track-set and groomed each season and you can usually ski there by Remembrance Day.  As soon as I see snow starting to fall I start itching to get on my skis so being out in November is always a treat, no matter what trail you are on. 

We had one bad day with Noah last winter that made us reconsider the notion of skiing with a toddler so I'm hoping this was the day for this season.  Hopefully he'll enjoy our future trips and we'll even get him on his own little skis that we hope to buy for Christmas. 

I also remembered that I love the cold!  I really do like feeling the burning on my face when I'm going downhill, I like the bite in the air and I like how wonderful it feels to get a chinook come in the next day and to actually appreciate that it's 3C instead of -15 C.  My faith in our winter clothing was renewed as well and I know that even if it hits -30 C, we'll be warm enough and still be able to enjoy our winter sports and recreation.

Mark pulling Noah up the Moraine Lake Road

Finally asleep in the parking lot

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