Friday, February 24, 2012

Spring's coming 2012

It's a little hard to think about spring when I look out my window and see a yard full of snow.  That doesn't mean however that spring isn't around the corner.  March is typically the month that we start to think about hiking again after four months of skiing.  I'm sure we'll try to stretch the ski season out as long as possible this year because I'm still working on my goal of 20 cross country ski days (four days left), but I've already started to make many reservations for campgrounds, huts, and resorts we plan to stay at this spring.  I've even started planning our summer trips and I've got the calendar beside my computer to prove it.

A very warm March in Kananaskis

Every time I start making plans for the future I get a lot of feedback from friends on how organized I am and how it's far too early to start thinking about the next season yet.  I thought it was a little early too this year until I phoned a campground one day to find out when they'd start accepting reservations for spring and found out it was that exact day!  It was a very important booking because I wanted to reserve a very popular group campground and knew I'd have to phone the same day reservations went live.  Thank God for the decision to make the call that day!  Since then I've been on a mission to make sure I don't miss any other key reservation dates, and to make sure I'm organized in advance.

Bow Valley Provincial Park - the campground I almost missed.

Here is the process I use for planning out our trips, adventures, and vacations:

First, I make a list of things we enjoy doing by category. (hiking or backpacking for example) I make sure that all interests are represented from toddler hikes to mountaineering trips.

Second, I write down possible trips and adventures for each category.  This is where my husband enters the process because he helps me decide on which trips we want to focus on.   If we can't both agree on a trip, it either doesn't stay on the list or it becomes a solo adult trip for one of us.

This is what steps one and two looked like after we were done this year's planning session:

Spring Trips
We're focusing on car camping a lot this year because we can't justify driving for an hour + to do a 2km toddler hike.  Each of the campgrounds below were chosen because of the amazing hiking trails in the area for little feet.  The trails in the Elbow Valley and Bow Valley Provincial Park are a spring ritual for us every year.  

    Bow Valley Provincial Park

    Family hike in Cypress hills last summer

    Paddy's Flats Campground

    Hiking near Fairmont Hotsprings, BC

    Family Hikes
    These are all simple hikes we can do as day trips from Calgary or else we can set up base camp from one of the great campgrounds in the area.

    Fullerton Loop, Elbow Valley

    Flowing Water Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park

    Many Springs Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park

    Heart Creek Trail

    Grassi Lakes

    Advanced Hikes and Scrambles 
    We don't knock too many of these off our list each year because they require child care or trading off days while one of us hikes while the other stays home with our son.  Still, I like to do at least a couple challenging hikes each year.  Some of these are fun repeats I haven't done in years and some are new trips recently brought to my attention.
    Scrambling on Nihahi Ridge
    More scrambling on Nihahi Ridge (the part of the ridge I want to revisit this year)
    A classic shot of the crux on the Yamnuska scramble

    Backpacking trips and weekends away
    Our goal is to do one backpacking trip with our son each year.  We started when he was one and this summer we will be doing his third backpacking trip.  We also have lots of other cool overnight adventures lined up that will take us to areas with plenty of short family-friendly hiking trails.
    Last year's backpacking trip in Yoho National Park
      Upper Kananaskis Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

      Okanagan Lake, Kelowna, BC

       Mountaineering Trips
       My personal goal is to do one mountaineering trip per summer and then my husband likes to do a couple of trips of his own in addition to that.  The deal is that he gets to take a couple weekends away for climbing if he plays Sherpa for me and guides me on one trip too.
      • Bow Hut Climbing Trip, Wapta Icefields, Banff National Park
      Last year's mountaineering trip on the Wapta Icefield from the Peyto Hut

      Fall Trips
      Autumn is my favorite time of year and I always have a big list of things I want to do in the limited time that the larch trees are golden yellow.  Some of the trips below are adult trips so we'll be choosing one or two of them most likely at most. 
      • Overnight Trip from Sunshine Village into Egypt Lake, Banff to stay at the backcountry shelter (planned for last year and canceled due to bad weather)
      • Anniversary Trip somewhere
      • Wasatch Pass Loop (Larch Valley, Paradise Valley, and the Eiffel Lakes Valley in a day via Sentinel Pass and Wastach Pass)
      • Sunshine Village Day trip with our son to Sunshine Meadows
      • Ptarmigan Cirque with our son

      Sunshine Meadows last September
      Autumn in the Rockies
      Larch Valley last September

      When we have the above brainstorming done, we pull out a calendar and start plotting trips down, trying to allow for rest weekends in between to do day trips.  Rest for us doesn't mean staying home, but it does mean that we don't have to pack up for a big camping trip.  Looking at the calendar it would also seem I have added a few less rest days than I did last summer.  Let's hope we're up for the challenge.

      Finally, I start looking at websites and making phone calls to find out when I have to make reservations.  I can  make reservations up to a year in advance for the huts and hostels so most of those bookings were made first.  Campgrounds that take reservations are tricky because you often have to be on the phone at exactly 9am, three months to  the date you want to stay, if you want to get into a popular campground.  Seriously, it's that crazy!  I've already had to make all my group campground bookings because that deadline passed a few weeks ago - and it's only February!

      The most challenging part of the process is trying to get commitment from friends to come with us.  It's hard convincing people to start thinking about summer when they've just come inside from shoveling snow.  Most people I know are also a tad more spontaneous than us and don't want to make commitments into August.  Often what I end up doing is booking a random amount of sites (or a whole group campground) and then going by faith that I'll find people to fill the sites.  Usually works.

       So, there you have it - a look into the craziness that dwells inside my mind.  I love planning, live for organizing trips, and find great joy in looking ahead to great adventures on our horizon.

      What's on your calendar for this Spring and Summer?


      1. I'm with ya on: "I love planning, live for organizing trips, and find great joy in looking ahead to great adventures on our horizon."

        Man, we had some great trips planned for this year...2 weeks in Mt. Rainier, 10 days somewhere this spring and 2wks in Jackson, WY. Since we are opening the gallery our adventures this year are going to be minimal. Boo hoo :( So, we only have 2wks planned near the end of the summer and haven't decided where we are going.

        Have a great time on your trips and look forward to your trip reports.

      2. Ben, my 3 year old son loves the name "Mt. Yamnuska", we can see it from our kitchen, and every time we drive to the mountains he has to say "Hi Mt. Yamnuska", now my 19 month old is saying it too (or at least trying to). Last week, Ben asked if this summer we could all climb Mt. Yamnuska together, so that it our first planned goal for the warmer months. Other plans include a few days with the grandparents in Panorama so if anyone has suggestions for great things to do in that area, I'm all ears.

        1. We should try to do a combined Yam Trip Kathy. I want to do the full scramble which I wouldn't take the kids on (see photo above for the reason) but I'd like to get my son to the top of the ridge. There's one easy gully it would be fun to get him up. Your three year old would likely have fun scrambling the gully too. It's protected because it's enclosed.