Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in Review with Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies

As 2012 comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to everybody for your support, for following our adventures, telling your friends about us, and for being a part of such a fabulous year.  Looking back, I'm proud of what we achieved this past year, proud of where we've traveled, and extremely proud of the new outdoor pursuits we added to the giant list of things we LOVE to do outside!

New and Big This Year




Noah and I both took up bike riding this past spring.  We got Noah started on a bright orange Strider Bike and I started riding again for the first time since high school.  We both discovered that we LOVED our bikes and started taking them with us on all of our adventures.

Noah Learning to Ride His Strider Bike - March, 2012
Perfecting the Art of Group Camping in Cypress Hills - June, 2012


Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas in Kananaskis

Earlier in the fall as we sat down to make plans for the coming winter, we came up with the idea to celebrate Christmas twice this year.  We'd celebrate in a traditional manner with a candlelight Christmas Eve church service and then spend Christmas Day at home with our family exchanging gifts and feasting on turkey, but we wanted to add an outdoor element to the holiday.  We wanted to celebrate Christmas out in the mountains in a little log cabin.  We wanted to go skiing, snowshoeing, skate on an outdoor pond and play in the snow.  Most of all, we wanted to spend Christmas with friends that we knew would be busy with their own families on Christmas Day.

Our Winter Retreat

Our Little Cabin in the Woods

It wasn't hard to find the perfect log cabin with three private rooms, an indoor bathroom with flush toilet (not necessary but certainly convenient for those 4am potty runs), a cozy living room area with wood burning fire place, and a fully stocked kitchen (including a microwave - for added convenience). 

Friday, December 21, 2012

This Year's Winter Bucket List 2013

I had a lot of fun creating my winter bucket list for 2012 and looking back on it, we were pretty successful in reaching many of our goals as a family.  I even managed to get out skiing more than I had listed as the magic number I wanted to reach, with 21 days on skis.  (I had figured that 15 days out skiing would be a realistic goal.)  Now I know I am definitely aiming for at least 20 days skiing again this winter!  Looking back,  Winter 2012 was a great blend of family ski and snowshoe trips, solo weekends or days away to pursue more difficult ski tours, and overnight adventures with friends.  We even managed to pull off our first winter backcountry trip with our three year old son, something we fully intend to do again this year!

Skiing Brewster Creek last winter

So, without further introduction - the Bucket List for 2013:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Teaching Toddlers and Preschoolers to X-Country Ski

I really wanted to put my son in cross country ski lessons this winter until I did a bit of research and realized that children typically have to be four years old before anybody is willing to call them a bunny rabbit and teach them to ski.  My son will be turning four in the new year, but apparently he's still too young for lessons since he was only three at the beginning of the ski season.  I finally did discover a parented course for children ages 3+ at a local ski hill but had to wonder if they would be able to teach my child to ski in 5 short lessons.  The jury is still out on it but in the meantime, I've realized that I'm probably going to have to do this D.I.Y style.  Lessons or not, I'm going to have to be very involved in my son's early ski progress until he is old enough to join a local ski club.

We've been out a few times now this season and I'm starting to get a feel for the requirements involved in teaching a young child how to cross country ski.  What I've learned so far, I gladly pass on to you - in hopes you'll leave comments at the end of this post with tricks you've also learned.

Learning to ski at the Canmore Nordic Centre

Bring Friends

I've said this before and it will be a recurrent theme on this website; Bringing a friend is the equivalent of giving your child a super hero cape.  They will ski, hike, walk, skate... further, faster, and with more enthusiasm if you bring a friend.  We took 6 other families with us on our first trip out to the mountains this year and each family had children ranging in ages from one-three.  The children skied anywhere from 0.2 km to 12km.  (more to come on the amazing three-year old capable of skiing 12km.)  It was so much fun watching the children chase each other on skis, try to keep up to their friends, and actually put on their skis - just because all the other kids were doing it.  (Yay for positive peer pressure!)

Three year olds learning to ski
First Time on Skis

Ski With Your Child

I know this isn't always easy if you are also pulling a second younger child in a Chariot or sled, but children do best when they can see you participating in a sport with them.  If you can't pull a sled and help the new skier at the same time, make sure you recruit the help of another family member or friend.  We tried skiing for the first time this year in a local park and it was an utter and total disaster!!  Crying, complaining, and general lamentation all around!  The only reason I can come up with for the miserable experience is that we made our son ski alone while we walked beside him, coaxing him on with games and treats.  The second time out, I wised up and skied with him.  I didn't play games, I didn't bribe him to reach the next tree with treats, and I didn't watch as he did all the work.  We skied together side by side - and it was fun.  I even enjoyed the slow and relaxing pace because we were in harmony sharing my favourite winter sport together.

Skiing together on a local golf course
Father and Son on the trails together

Get in the Right Mind Set Before You Go

When we did the big group ski a couple weeks ago, our son only skied about 0.2km.  (at most!)  And we didn't push it.  We had the ski pulk with us and were on a mission to reach the bridge 6km away so that we could get photos for our Christmas cards.  A few of the other families also pushed on to reach the bridge and the kids spent most of the time in their Chariots.  Meanwhile, a couple of the families decided they were out for the kids and were only going as far as the kids could happily ski.  They skied slowly for a half hour or so, turned around, and kept it simple.  We are still happy we made it to the scenic bridge at the campground but we knew going out that this was an adult ski trip for us and that our child would be along for the ride.  On the days we want our son to ski we leave the sled at home.  Even a toboggan is too much temptation to ride as we discovered today.  Decide before you go - who's skiing today and how far are you going?  What pace will you set and are you ok if you only ski for half an hour before heading home again.

Relaxing day in the country - Toddler Pace
First Time on Skis for this Two-Year old.

Take Diversion Breaks

On our most successful outing so far this winter, we headed out on a local golf course with another family.  We told the kids we were skiing to a bridge we could clearly see down the fairway.  (yep, that's as far as we skied - the length of one hole)  When we got to the bridge, we made snowmen, had a snowball fight, and gave the kids snacks.  It was a great reward for their efforts and gave them a break before heading back to the cars.  Look for places to ski that have an objective and plan something fun to do when you get there.  Later this season we plan to stay at a wilderness hostel that will require a 500m ski to reach the cabin.  We plan to have the kids ski in rather than pulling them in sleds.  What an awesome reward it will be when they reach the cabin and know they made it there on their own!

Nothing like a good snowball fight!

Stopping to build a snowman

Be Creative

We have friends who've taken to towing their three-year old with a stretchy bungee cord while they ski.  At Three years old, their daughter is capable of skiing 12km as she does a combination of skiing on her own and gliding behind Daddy.  I can't imagine the balance and core strength required to do this at such a young age but I saw it for myself so know it's possible.  We've now bought our own stretchy rope and attached it to a handle from an exercise band.  I tried pulling my son with it today across a flat pond.  I think it's going to be a looooong time before he's ready to ski 12km and he wasn't quite able to figure out yet that he doesn't need to keep shuffling his feet when he's being towed, but he will and it's going to be fun trying this method of skiing with him.

Getting set for her big 12km ski with Dad
Teaching my son how to use a tow rope

We've tried other games too from picking up alphabet letters scattered along the trail to chasing after a football we throw across the field.  Ski Football was by far the most successful game. 

Ski Football

Next on our list is teaching our son to stand up when he's fallen down.  Please leave comments if you have great games for this one!  I've got the idea in my head that Ring around The Rosie would be fun to play around a big tree.  I'll let you know how it goes next time we're out.

Standing up is always a challenge!

I'll leave you with a few more cute photos of our son and his friends learning to ski.  I'd love any suggestions you have for teaching young tykes how to ski.  We are figuring it out one day at a time for now.

Skiing on the Cascade Fire Road
Another first day on skis

Such awesome two-year olds skiing!
My son's first time on skis last winter when he was 2.5 years old

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Toddler Bootcamp - Operation Learn to LOVE snow!

Do you have a toddler or preschooler that doesn't exactly love snow, cold weather, or winter in general?  You aren't alone!  Say it with me - I.Am.Not.Alone.  As the leader of the Calgary Outdoor Playgroups, a year-round group dedicated to getting young'uns outside, I've seen my share of tantrums and tears this winter as our kids have had to reboot so to speak and remember what to do with all this white fluffy stuff.  We have snow here for a good 8 months of the year, but all it takes is 4 nice months without snow for a young child to completely forget how to deal with it, how to walk in it, and apparently how to stand up when you've fallen down and god forbid - touched it!!  That was my son's first experience this winter.  He fell down and wouldn't get up.  He wouldn't touch the snow to push himself to standing.  He would have stayed on his face in the snow all day had I not picked him up.  Then I tried to encourage him to climb up a slide - something  fun, right?  Oh no!  His hands were broken.  His legs didn't work.  He couldn't possibly climb up a simple set of stairs in snow pants, his feet touching the snowy steps, using his hands covered in mittens to hold on to the railing.  There was snow on the ground and he was NOT impressed.

Why is there SNOW on my swing?!!
Can I just sit here and pout until spring??

Most of the other children in our playgroups have adapted to winter slightly better than this, but we still had battles with cold hands and feet, and I wouldn't say the kids were exactly rolling around in the snow, laughing, and declaring - yay, winter!!  What to do?  Enter:  Bootcamp - Operation Learn to LOVE snow!  I knew I had to go big, go bold, and do something amazingly fun if I was  going to remind or teach a bunch of small children that winter could actually be FUN.  What followed next was a long research project on my part, reading every website I could find on outdoor winter games.  I also put my own creativity to use and created several new games that I'm pretty sure are original ideas unless somebody else out there is making their kids do burpies in the snow while reading story books to them.

Story Book Burpies (Original Game from Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies)

Below are some of the most successful games we played in our two toddler bootcamps this winter.  I'd love to hear your favourites after so leave a comment if you've tried any of these or plan to try some of the new ones.

Having Fun in the Snow

Story book Burpies

A classic bootcamp "favourite!"  Children sit on the ground as you read them a story from a picture book about winter.  The book needs to feature the word snow a LOT.  Every time you read the word snow, the kids jump up in the air yelling SNOW!  They then fall down on the ground on their stomachs, and return to sitting as you continue the story. 

Objective:  Kids will be on the ground, in the snow, touching it, faces inches from it, and embracing  it.  They will also have to get up off the ground to play the game - good practice for times when they slip and fall down in the snow.  This game teaches them to get up when they fall down.  It teaches them that they can touch the snow and that yes, their hands are not broken!

Reading a book on SNOW to the kids as they prepare to jump up in the air.

Classic Children's Games

  •  Red Light Green Light - normal rules apply. For an extra challenge, play it on hands and knees
  • Simon Says - Simon says:  Make a snow angel.  Simon Says:  Jump up and down like a frog.  Simon Says:  Slither in the snow like a snake.  (lots of opportunities to get them intimate with the snowy ground)
  • What Time is it Mr. Wolf - I alter this game so instead of saying it's One O'clock, I say it's one giant bunny hop, two slithering snake moves, three frog hops, four baby crawls, etc.
Objective:  Get the kids having fun with games they already know and love.  My son had learned these games in preschool and was excited to play them outside, snow and all.  Thanks to Simon Says,  we now have a whole group of kids unafraid to get down in the snow, to crawl, slither, jump, roll, and play around in the snow!!  My son willingly makes snow angels now - even when not playing the game.  Then he gets up!  Hands most definitely not broken anymore.  And definitely not scared to touch the snow.

Simon Says:  Make a Snow Angel
Snow Babes

Snow Soccer

Everybody loves soccer so why not play it outside in the snow.  The twist?  I brought a big exercise ball out and that was our soccer ball.  The kids were falling down all over the place in the snow as they tried to kick and push it around the field.  It was awesome watching them fall down, get up, and laugh!  Actually laughing instead of crying.  We did discover though that with preschoolers, it's best to set up a giant circle and just take turns kicking or pushing the ball across the circle to the other children.  There were too many fights over the ball when we tried to make an actual game of it.

Objective:  Another fun game that will get the kids running through the snow and give them opportunities to practice falling and getting up again.

Snow Soccer with a Giant Fitness Ball

Sled Races

This was a fun one and gave the parents a bit of a bootcamp workout of their own!  We all brought sleds and had races pulling our kids up a small hill, around a tree, and then back down to the finish line.  The kids loved the game, had a blast racing down the hill against their friends, and the moms were all laughing!  Everybody had fun with this one.  My son even let another girl ride on his sled with him - major victory!  (this is where I'd hash tag #HatesToShareSled.)

Objective:  Fun.  Pure and simple fun.  Who doesn't love a good sled ride?  To modify the game for older kids, you could also have them pull each other or try to pull the adults.  I think that would be a riot to watch!

Sled Racing

Run, Run, Run
Learning to share his sled

Snowball fights

While not a part of our bootcamp, we did try this one day on another outdoor play date as a diversion from cross country skiing.  I thought preschoolers would get upset at getting hit by snowballs but the kids had a lot of fun trying to make snowballs and trying to aim them at their friends (or parents.)  We built little snow forts and it was a great way to get the kids down in the snow on their knees, crawling around, playing, and having fun.  As prep for this one, read books about snowball fights.  We did this a few times before we took it outside.

Objective:  Learning to play with snow, build with snow, and have fun with it.

Snowball Fights

Who doesn't love a good snowball fight?

We had a lot of fun learning to love snow with our children and I hope these games will be a hit with your children too, whether they already love snow or need a bit of encouragement as my child did.  I still have another 20+ games on my list that we hope to try out over the winter so watch for sequels to this post.  I've also been working on another list of ski, snowshoe, and skating games.  Watch for those games to find their way to my website soon too.   I've got a great story coming in the next couple weeks on DIY - Teach Your Child to Skate. 

Winter is Fun - Embrace It!

Happy Winter Everybody!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

How to Celebrate an Outdoor Christmas

Today you can find my guide to celebrating an outdoor Christmas on the home page of our friends at the Active Kid's Club

Hiking on Christmas Day

Is it crazy to think that you can celebrate Christmas outdoors?  In the snow?  In the Canadian Rockies where temperatures drop well below zero around Christmas time?  We don't think so and if you follow this link, you'll see my recommendations to:
  • Find a way to incorporate your favourite outdoor sports into the holiday season
  • Celebrate Christmas twice!  Once in the traditional method you’re used to, and once in a new way – outdoors!
Christmas Day Skating

Want some other ideas for celebrating an Outdoor Christmas?  

  • Go to a Santa Claus Parade
  • Go to a live Nativity Pageant our outdoor Christmas Eve church service
  •  Go to local light festivals and bring your sled or skates if possible
  • Go on a  winter sleigh ride in the country
  • Get a permit and cut down your own Christmas tree.   Bring snowshoes and make a fun day of it tromping through the woods
  • See if your community or one near you has fireworks on Christmas Day.  Many communities also have fireworks for New Year’s Eve as well
  • Attend an outdoor New Year’s Eve Celebration or family festival.  
Banff Santa Claus Parade

In the Calgary area, here are just a few suggestions:

  • Celebrate Christmas in the Country at Kayben Farms.  Go skating, cut down your own Christmas Tree,  and visit with Santa.
  • Visit the Airdrie Festival of Lights.  Take a ride on their train around Nose Creek Park and go skating on the pond. 
  • Take a walk through Confederation Park at night to visit the Lion's Festival of Lights.  You can even ski from the golf course over to the light or bring your sled for some added excitement on the surrounding hills.
  • Spend the day in Bragg Creek for their Spirit of Christmas Event.  Take a wagon ride, visit with Santa and his reindeer and then head out to West Bragg Creek for some family skiing or snowshoeing.
  • Go skating on Christmas Day in Bowness Park.  The Lagoon is a community gathering place every year with Christmas Music, Fires, and families wishing each other a Merry Christmas. Skate Rentals on site.
  • Celebrate New Year's Eve in Canmore with their Party on the Pond.  Skating, Family Fun, Music, and Fireworks at Midnight in Millennium Park. 

Airdrie Festival of Lights

How to do you celebrate the Holiday Season Outdoors?


Friday, November 30, 2012

How to Love Winter in the Rockies - On Skates!

While one of the classic winter sports, skating is often overlooked by families choosing a winter hobby or sport.  There are whole magazines devoted to skiing and snowshoeing but I don't know of one that focuses on simple ice skating.   And I'm not talking about competitive figure skating, hockey or speed skating - just pure and sweet skating on a frozen pond, lake, or river.

Skating on Cascade Ponds in Banff this November
I'm always surprised when people tell me that they don't own skates, haven't tried skating since they were a child, or that their children have never tried it.  How can you live in Canada and not own skates?  And what's not to like about ice skating?  It's relatively cheap once you buy a pair of skates and there's no additional cost if you skate outdoors.

Learning to skate is not nearly as difficult as learning to ski,  (sign the family up for a lesson if you need and you'll be gliding around the ice in no time), and the whole family can skate together;  You don't have to put junior in daycare while you go ski for the day or take turns on the bunny hill while one parent skis solo.  Our family is all about leisure activities we can do together!  We also like sports with low learning curves and that don't leave our bank account weeping.  Skating is therefore the perfect answer on all accounts.

Skating - A Classic Family Activity

Getting Started

  1. Go to a second hand store and find yourself a comfortable pair of skates.  Unless you excel at triple axel jumps or plan to enter an ice dance competition, you don't need to spend the money on a brand new pair of  skates for recreational use. There are many used sport stores in Calgary and you can get a decent pair of skates for under $50.  I recently went to one sport store to get myself a more comfortable pair and was surprised to see an entire wall, over 10 rows high, of used skates.  It wasn't hard to find something I liked with that selection.

  2. Choose a pair of skates that are both comfortable and easy to put on.  There's nothing worse than spending 10 minutes trying to cram your foot into a tight skate and another 5 minutes trying to lace it up.  By then your hands are frozen and you still have your children's skates to do up. 

  3. Most men will choose hockey skates but for women, consider the newest skate on the market called a "comfort skate."  It's what I recently upgraded to because while they are still figure skates with the traditional picks on the front for jumps and spins,  they are wider, more comfortable, have extra padding for warmth, and are lightning quick to lace up.  I can have both of my skates on in the time it takes my husband to put on one hockey skate!  That is what I need if I'm going to be doing up a child's skates too!  I do find my new comfort skates provide less support than my old figure skates, but the extra warmth and ease of putting them on is worth it to me.  You can buy these skates new from Canadian Tire (Christmas present)  or try to find them used.  I was lucky and found a second-hand pair in my size.

  4. Get toddlers and preschoolers started early with a pair of "Bob skates".  Another Canadian Tire store classic, they come in both black and pink and feature double blades for the beginner skater.  I know people who look down on these skates because the kids can walk around on the ice at most, marching around in their little blades that barely slide.  And while that is true, what 2-year old is going to put on a pair of hockey skates and tear up the ice with fancy power moves?  Toddlers just need to get comfortable being on the ice, having fun without the fear of constantly falling, and feeling like they are participating in a sport with the rest of the family instead of riding in their sled the whole time.  Bob Skates are perfect for the first winter skating.  My son started on them last year and now he has moved up to regular skates with confidence and enthusiasm for skating.  As a bonus, you won't have to try to find a used pair of Bob skates because they only cost $10 new.

  5. Consider expandable skates for preschoolers with ever-growing feet.  There's nothing worse than buying a pair of skates, shoes, boots, etc. and then having to buy a new pair a month later when the child goes through a growth spurt.  We bought new skates for our son and they were horribly expensive so I go back to number 1 - try to find used skates first!!  If however, you can't find a second-hand pair, I would still recommend a pair of  these skates - even at full price.  They are molded for extra warmth, adjust to at least 4 different sizes, have removable liners which makes it super easy to put them on (put the child's foot in the liner first, and then insert into the skate), and best of all - no laces!!! They have bindings like a ski boot instead of laces which is awesome in my opinion!  (Yes, I hate laces on skates.)

  6. Enroll your children in a basic skating lesson with a trained teacher who will have tons of fun games up his or her sleeve to make skating fun!  My son's preschool teacher had the kids carry teddy bears back and forth across the ice and it was a brilliant idea!  The kids loved the game and they got practice walking or gliding on their skates, turning around, and bending over to pick up the stuffed animals. In as short as one or two lessons, your children will have enough confidence to leave the chairs and skate aids aside.  We bought a skate aid for our son and I doubt we'll ever have to use it.

  7. Though you won't see one present in every one of my photos, I can't recommend enough that you get your children a proper multi-sport helmet, designed for skating.  My son wore a bicycle helmet his first year but they are not generally designed for absorbing multiple impacts.  As for mom and dad, it's still not a bad idea to have a helmet.  :)
Toddlers skating on Bob Skates
Always bring sleds for young kids.  When they get tired you can keep skating and they LOVE the ride!


Where to skate

I consider indoor skating rinks and arenas to be places where you take lessons, practice, and get your confidence on skates.  But it's not the real deal!  No rock climber for example aspires to climb indoors his whole life.  Indoor walls are great for practicing (and keep you climbing year-round) but something's missing. Skating is the same in my mind as climbing - you gotta get outside for the true classic experience.  And you don't have to go far to find a neighborhood pond or outdoor rink.

In Calgary, go to the City's website to find a list of outdoor skating rinks.  We love Bowness Park with it's lagoon, fire pits, and meandering creek you can skate down.  It's the classic experience and if you go mid-week you'll have the pond to yourself.  Bring hotdogs and marshmallows to further enjoy the experience.

Bowness Park on Christmas Day last year

In the Kananaskis and Banff area, check out the following ponds and rinks that see official maintenance and snow removal:
  • The Pond at Kananaskis Village (cleared by Delta Resort staff and open to all visitors. Skate rentals on-site, open by December)

  • The Pond in Canmore (located on 7 Avenue at Mallard Alley two blocks from Main Street, cleared by the Town of Canmore. Note: No hockey sticks allowed on this pond.  Open by December and home to the annual Canmore New Year's Eve Party on the Pond)

  • The pond behind the Banff Springs Hotel (open December to March)

  • Lake Louise (cleared area on the lake in front of the Chateau Lake Louise, open from November to April.  Skate rentals available on site)
Skating on the Pond at Kananaskis Village
The Pond in Canmore

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Family Snowshoeing Adventures - Elbow Lake

Elbow Lake is a very popular place for backcountry camping, hiking, and even mountain biking but very few people visit this magical place in winter.

The main reason?  The highway leading to the Elbow Pass Day Use Area closes on December 1st each year.  Meanwhile, in November when Hwy 40 is still open over Highwood Pass, most people aren't thinking about snowshoeing yet; It just seems too early for some reason. 

Approaching Elbow Lake

Last year, we had an early winter with lots of snow in the mountains and thought we'd try snowshoeing up to Elbow Lake at the end of November - just to see what it was like at this time of year.  We were blown away by how beautiful it was, how much snow the area had in November, and how perfect the trail was for snowshoeing! 

At only 1.4km one way and with only 150m of height gain, the trail is very accessible for most families.  Yes, it's steep, but you can make it to the lake in an hour at a reasonable pace and then spend as much time as you want walking around the lake or exploring further up towards the Rae Glacier.

Winter Paradise (Photo:  Cam Schaus)

We headed up to Elbow Lake again last weekend for what will certainly become an annual tradition in late November. 

We were relieved to see that there was less snow this year and that the trail had been packed down already.  I love powder and don't mind breaking trail through knee deep snow for an hour but when you are pulling sleds it's a lot harder!  Last year we carried our son but this year he was going to be pulled in his ski pulk. 

Using a Chariot with skis is an excellent way to transport kids in winter

We also had three other families coming with us who planned to transport their kids in Chariots with skis and one family was bringing a toboggan.  We had no problems pulling the sleds on the wide packed trail this year but I'm most certain we wouldn't have made it last year.  It will be interesting to try this trail again next year at the same time to determine what snow level is the norm for this area in November.

Two kids are bundled snug and warm inside the Chariot
Our son has a ski pulk that we love for off-trail adventures.  It too has a cover for cold days or nap time

 We had hoped that the children would try snowshoeing up to the lake and we brought several pairs of junior snowshoes with us, but in reality, the trail is really steep for preschoolers in winter. 

I'm sure they all could have hiked the trail in summer with a bit of motivation (read - Candy!) but winter is a different ball game.  This will be a great family snowshoe adventure in another year or two when our son will definitely be able to hike in on his own without the sled. 

For the moment however, Thank God we all have sleds or Chariots because it opens up the possibilities for how far and where we can go on our adventures.  It also helps with nap time as many of the kids fell asleep on the way back down the trail, our son included.

We at least got a couple of the kids on their snowshoes for a few minutes.  :)

We got to the lake and found a great spot to have lunch in the campground.  Benches and tables make for a great resting spot.  Just make sure you bring insulated bum pads if you want to sit down.  I sadly had forgotten and had to sit on my mittens since I was wearing every extra layer I'd brought while we weren't moving.  We left most of the kids in their sleds to eat - another great reason for having sleds or Chariots with you.

Elbow Lake at the backcountry campground
Lunch break
Trying out my new snowshoes in the deep snow surrounding the lake
Mom and daughter have fun tromping through the deep snow

 Beyond the lake, the snow was less packed down so we didn't go too far with the sleds and Chariots but we did hike to the back of the lake for the spectacular views not seen as well from the campground.

Hiking around the lake
Enjoying the views

So, if you haven't already added this trip to your winter bucket list, I highly recommend the experience!  The bad news though - you have 4 more days left this year to get up there.  So grab those snowshoes or backcountry skis if you prefer and get going.  :)

If you can't make it up to Elbow Lake before Saturday when Hwy 40 closes past the Peter Lougheed junction for the Upper and Lower Lakes, then put a reminder on your calendar for next November. 

For more information on the Elbow Pass Trail or Backcountry Campground, visit the Kananaskis Website.