|Playing in the snow at the cabin (Photo - John Koob)|
The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) maintains a cabin deep in the wilderness of Elk Lakes Provincial Park. In the Summer you can drive within 500 metres of the cabin's front door from back-roads in British Columbia but in the Winter there is only one approach and that's on foot from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis Country. You start at Kananaskis Lakes from the Elk Pass parking lot and travel 5km to the top of Elk Pass. From there it's another 4.2km down the power line into British Columbia. We've always skied to the Elk Lakes Cabin in the past since the first 5km is on Peter Lougheed's perfectly groomed cross-country ski trails. This time though we figured we might have an easier time of it on snowshoes since we were taking two toddlers and a baby in to the cabin. The journey down the power line is best done on backcountry skis and we were worried about making the trek while pulling small kids in sleds.
|The Elk Lakes Cabin|
Our group composition was one of the more interesting assemblies we've managed to put together thus far for a backcountry adventure. First of all we had four single adults from Edmonton who hadn't ever spent much (if any) time in the backcountry. The group of four included our son's favourite Uncle John along with friends and co-workers of his. Second, we had our backcountry friends Patricia and Jorge from Argentina along for the journey. They typically join us on our adult mountaineering, scrambling or ski touring adventures and had never joined us on a family trip before. Third, we had a family of four that we've shared many adventures with. Their toddler is one of our son's best friends and potential girlfriend after this trip.
|The brave explorers who were willing to spend a night in a remote cabin with three small kids|
|Patricia and Jorge - note that we thought it would be warm and sunny, being April after all!|
|Greta and Ian with their Chariot weighing at least 70lbs including kids|
|Think maybe these two kids are spending a little too much time together|
Winter or Summer, you'll follow the Elk Pass Ski Trail for at least three quarters of the way to Elk Pass. It's a wide open trail lacking much in the way of excitement but fortunately it does meander beside a scenic creek for a good kilometre or more. There are also two fabulous picnic tables - one at the junction with the Blueberry Hill Trail and one at Elk Pass. We took full advantage of these rest areas to feed the kids snacks and catch our breath.
|The scenic portion of the trip along the Elk Pass Ski Trail|
|One of our rest stops at Elk Pass|
|My husband and I with our son in his ski pulk (Photo - John Koob)|
|A beautiful sight after 4 hours of traveling|
|Lots of snow at the entrance to Elk Lakes Provincial Park|
The cabin is great for families because everybody sleeps upstairs in a big loft which now has sleeping platforms since the renovations. In the past there were just mattresses upstairs and you threw them on the floor wherever you could find a free space in sleepover fashion. There is ample room for sleeping and we felt that 20 people could have easily fit in the loft. This means you can spread your stuff out and you are not sleeping on top of strangers - as is the case in some of the other huts. The kids had a great time playing in the loft and chasing each other around. They thought it was their own private playground as they took turns jumping off the platforms onto the floor with a loud bang, making those of us downstairs fear that they would soon come through the ceiling.
In typical ACC fashion, the cabin has propane stoves with an oven (which I can't really recommend for much more than maybe a batch of cookies), propane lanterns, and a wood burning stove for heat. If you are sleeping upstairs you'll want to make sure you stop loading that stove with wood a couple hours before bed or nobody will be getting much sleep - heat rises! The outhouse is close by and please use it! I know many men think they don't need to use them for a quick pee in the middle of the night but yellow snow just isn't cool.
|Fetching water from the nearby creek|
|Cooking dinner for the group in the spacious kitchen (Photo - John Koob)|
We love staying in ACC cabins because you don't need the whole collection of camping gear typically required in the backcountry. You can leave the stove, dishes, pots and pans, sleeping mattress and tent all behind. When you are taking children into the wild, it is by far the easiest method of spending the night.
We also love staying in the backcountry because of the opportunities it provides our children to play outside and to experience nature. Previous visitors had obviously been very busy building snow caves and tunnels because the kids spent a lot of time exploring the snowy wonderland outside the cabin. Our son wasn't exactly a fan of snow or Winter at the beginning of the season but after many months now of riding in his sled, heading out on the ski trails with us, and having opportunities like this to see how cool snow can be, I think he's become a little more comfortable with the whole idea of embracing each season and its uniqueness.
Winter is for sledding, snow angels, skating, skiing, playing in the snow and even hiking. It's a great season and we were grateful to have one final weekend to enjoy it.
|Don't you love my son's pink mittens? Yep, actually forgot his mittens! He had to wear the baby's spare mittens.|
|How awesome are snow tunnels!|
|Even the youngest child got out to play in the snow (Photo: Greta Duncan)|
The trip out was uneventful and we retraced our steps back up the power line, down Elk Pass, and out to the waiting cars. It was just as long out - dumb snowshoes again I say! We packed the kids up and headed to Kananaskis Village for lunch and well deserved coffee before heading back to the city.
|Snack at Elk Pass|
|The Whiskey Jacks are always friendly (Photo: John Koob)|
|Our toddlers playing at the pass|
|Kids have a LOT of energy when you let them out of their sleds.|
|Had to get a photo in here of our youngest group member climbing the rocks at Kananaskis Village|