Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking back on a year of adventure (2011)

2011 was an adventurous year for our family filled with cross country skiing, hiking, scrambling, mountaineering, camping, backpacking and traveling. We made many new friends throughout the year and tried to spend lots of time on the trails with existing friends as well.  September was a big month where I not only formed my Calgary Family Adventure Community on Face Book but created this blog. I hope you'll enjoy looking back on 2011 with me.


The year started off with a bang when I got the opportunity to ski into Skoki Lodge with my husband for a night.  I love Skoki and I really didn't know if I'd ever get to visit the lodge again, having had my right hip replaced in 2009 due to a complication when my son was born.   It is on my top five list of favorite places in Banff National Park and in winter is accessible only by a fairly difficult ski tour.  I'm pretty sure that ski touring isn't on my list of approved activities I am allowed to pursue with my new hip but the smile on my face in this photo below says, I really don't care.

Skiing to Skoki Lodge, Banff National Park


My cross-country ski goal for the winter was to get out 20 times.  It was a very ambitious goal, this being my first year back on skis since before my son was born.  Fortunately for us, it was an above average snow year and Noah loved to ride in his Chariot while we skied.  He often fell asleep for hours.  We were also blessed to have Grandma handy to babysit on days where we wanted to do ski trips of a more difficult nature.

Skogan Pass, Kananaskis

Noah sleeping in his Chariot


In many places, March welcomes in Spring but that wasn't the case this year in the Rockies.  We were still out every weekend skiing and we did some of our more challenging ski  tours this month.  We skied into Lake O'Hara for a day, I did the Goat Creek traverse from Canmore to Banff and we tried to pull Noah into Chester Lake in Kananaskis.  

Skiing into Chester Lake was perhaps a little too difficult this year with the amount of snow the area received.  We met another family on the trail pulling children in pulks but it didn't seem to make a difference whether you had a pulk or a Chariot. They were both tipping over in the deep snow.  I never got a photo of the Chariot on its side because I was too busy trying to get it turned over again.  We also never got a photo of us at the actual lake because we couldn't get that far.  I did push on another 20 min. to reach the viewpoint in the second photo below.

Pulling the Chariot up to Chester Lake, Kananaskis
Chester Lake, Kananaskis


I finished my 20th ski at the Canmore Nordic Centre in April and I felt very triumphant!  Spring was also slowly making its way to the Rockies and we transitioned to snowshoeing.  We did a few enjoyable winter hikes and snowshoe trips as a family and basked in the warm sun on our faces.

Ski day number 20 at the Canmore Nordic Centre

Noah sleeps anywhere!
Snowshoeing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis

We took our annual trip to Jasper on the May long weekend and though many of  the trails were still under snow, we did find a few places to explore.  We took a day trip from Jasper up North to visit family and then drove back to Calgary via Banff.  We stopped in Banff several times both on the way up and back to do some new toddler hikes.  We discovered several new trails this year that we had always overlooked in the past but that are perfect for little kids learning to hike.

Noah and I hiking in Jasper at the Old Fort Point

First hike on the Fenland Trail, Banff


The highlight in June was our multi-family camping trip we took to Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan.  We camped with four other families and there were six children for Noah to play with; all similar in age.  The kids had fun chasing each other around the campsite, picking flowers, swimming in a very cold pool, playing with a friendly Chocolate Lab. named Java, and hiking through the hills.

Noah and Makenna chasing each other
Playing in the flower meadows


I could write a whole story on July itself.  I set a lot of crazy goals for the month:
  • One Chariot or toddler hike per week

  • Complete my first mountaineering trip since 2007

  • A couple scrambles or difficult hikes

  • A backpacking trip

  • At least one car camping trip

  • Stay in a backcountry hut

  • Do a girl's trip

  • Hike lots with Noah

  • Two-three Zumba classes per week

  • Lots of summer fun in the city (wading pools, parks, city hikes, playgrounds...)
We hit these goals out of the ball park!  It was an epic month!
Noah sound asleep on top of Mt. Piran, Lake Louise
Toddler hike on the Fullerton Loop, Bragg Creek
Toddler hike in Bow Valley Provincial Park
Noah hiked close to 4km through Heart Creek - his favorite trail ever!
Scrambling Nihahi Ridge
Mark and I on the summit ridge of North Rhondda, Wapta Icefield


We started out the month by backpacking into Laughing Falls in Yoho National Park with two other families.  It was a highlight of my summer because I've always wanted to be "that" group on the trail with three Chariots and a gaggle of toddlers all over the place.  Nobody fell in the river beside the campsite and we completed a huge day hike from the campsite so it was a successful trip.

The following weekend we left for a two week vacation South of the border through Idaho into Washington.  We camped in Mount Rainier National Park, did lots of hiking, and made our way to Seattle.  After a couple nights in Seattle we headed to Olympic National Park to look for vampires, explore beaches and do more camping.  We came home through the Okanagan and decided we really need to move someplace warmer.  We loved the beaches and playing in the sand for hours.

On our way into our campsite at Laughing Falls
Our family beside the river at our campground
Noah and I beside one of the many waterfalls in Yoho National Park
Hiking in Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park
Rest stop and last moment of easy hiking.  We got horribly lost after this in all the snow and our hike turned into a back-country adventure to reach our vehicle again.  (it wasn't summer yet in Rainier)
Hiking in Sunrise, Mt. Rainier before the mountaineering began (again, too much winter snow still lingering)
La Push Beach, Olympic Peninsula
Noah at La Push
Kalaloch Beach, Olympic Peninsula - Noah loved the Star fish!
Hiking across Kalaloch Beach
Noah loved Kalaloch!
Water-logged in the Okanagan, British Columbia
One of the many awesome beaches in the Okanagan
This little truck was the best toy we could have brought on our vacation


The highlight of September was our fall weekend at Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park.  We stayed at the Elizabeth Parker Hut with our friends.  The larch trees were spectacular and it was an awesome back-country destination for a family trip. 

Lake O'Hara in September
Hiking in the Opabin Basin at Lake O'Hara
Noah in the Opabin Basin
Daddy and Noah hiking through the golden larch trees
Sometimes it's warm at the end of September in the Rockies but it was cool this weekend
Hiking in Larch Valley, Lake Louise on our way home from Lake O'Hara


Summer was officially over by October and we started our shoulder-season hiking season.  Our favorite hikes this month were to Sunshine Meadows and Sundance Canyon, both in Banff National Park.  

Noah at Sunshine Meadows, Banff
Hiking in Sundance Canyon, Banff
Noah on one of the many bridges of Sundance Canyon


Our shoulder season adventures continued with a lot of fabulous adventures in Banff.  We truly rocked the "relaxed start" by leaving around noon for many of our day trips.  We put on skates, skis and snowshoes for the first time this winter as we skated around Johnston Lake in Banff, skied the Moraine Lake road at Lake Louise and did a snow shoe trip at Highwood Pass in Kananaskis.  It was a multi-sport month and we loved every moment of it!

Skating on Johnston Lake, Banff
On top of Tunnel Mountain, Banff
Skiing the Moraine Lake Road with our new ski pulk
Snowshoeing at Highwood Pass, Kananaskis


This month was all about Christmas; lights, horse drawn wagon rides, visits with Santa, parties and celebrating Advent.  We still managed to fit in some outdoor fun too of course.  We went cross country skiing a number of times and just finished our sixth ski trip of the season.  That is definitely a record for the end of December.  We also worked hard to turn our child into a Polar Bear Cub.  We went sledding, skating, and played in the snow with great diligence to show Noah that winter is fun, fun, fun!

Skiing on the Cascade Fire Road, Banff
Noah was actually happy outdoors after a shaky start where we thought maybe he wanted to move to California.
Mommy Noah love
The makings of a Polar Bear Baby

Learning to ski
Learning to skate on Christmas Day

What was the highlight of your year in 2011?  I'd love to hear about your family's adventures.


  1. Tanya, I love this round up of the year post. You have had an amazing year & wow what memories you have created for Noah. Looking forward to following your adventures in 2012

  2. You all had such a fun year! Congratulations, and we're excited to see what all you do in 2012!

  3. It's my first time to your blog, and I just loved reading the highlights of your family's adventures this year. I am going to live vicariously through your beautiful snowy adventures, mountain peaks, and beautiful trees. We love the outdoors too, but our scenery isn't as grand. I am your newest follower and look forward to finding out what awesome goals you reach next year!

  4. You had an inspiring year! Some of the photos were not showing up for me though

  5. Hey Tanya, what a wonderful way to spend family time together. You have such a natural beauty over there, no wonder Mark did so well on the summit day on island peak.

  6. Thanks for your kind comments everybody.