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). 
For less than $60 per night, members of Hostelling International can book a private room at the Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel that comfortably sleeps three to four people.  While the rooms only have one bunk bed per room (double bed on bottom and single on top), there is room for a playpen or additional mattress on the floor for that second child.  The hostel also has shared rooms from $22 per person per night and a couple of the rooms are small enough for a medium to large sized family.  Groups might even want to consider booking the full hostel - something I would have actually considered had I known how much interest I'd have in the trip.  For more information on this wilderness hostel, please show some love to our great friends with HI Canada and visit the following link to Hostelling International Canada's website.

Enjoying a Quiet Moment by the Fireplace

We spent a lot of time in front of this fireplace trying to stay warm

When I planned this trip I thought I'd be lucky to find one other family to come with us given we were going to stay at the hostel on the weekend right before Christmas, merely a day before Christmas Eve in fact.  Little did I know that I could have easily filled all three private rooms and the smaller shared rooms within 24 hours of emailing my friends about the trip.  Apparently we were all on the same page in thinking that a mountain retreat with friends was the perfect way to unwind after a month of shopping, preparing, and planning for Christmas.

Two of the kids exploring the hostel teepee

We stayed at the HI Kananaskis hostel last February, story here, and had a very different experience this time around. No boy scouts, no girl guides, almost nobody in fact - except our rowdy crazy kids.  We shared the hostel with one other lone traveler the first night and welcomed three young ladies the second night.  Other than that, we had the hostel to ourselves and were very relieved!  Three preschoolers and Two toddlers have a way of making their presence known and of filling a cabin in a very loud way.  We may have only been three families but I'm sure the other adults sharing the hostel with us felt like we were ten families.  Games of tag around the living room furniture aren't exactly calm or quiet!

Trying to Steal a Christmas Kiss

A Special Quiet Moment Playing with Lego

We had originally planned to keep the kids outside most of the weekend with grand objectives of skiing, skating, sledding, and snowshoeing.  What we didn't know in advance however is that the temperature would hover below -30C with wind chill for most of the weekend.  We got out for a short ski along the Ribbon Creek Trails with the kids bundled in their sleds, and then got up to the Village for a short skating session of maybe 30 minutes.  There was no rolling around in the snow and we considered ourselves pretty brave for lighting a fire outside to roast marshmallows on before heading home.

Skiing with the kids
Skating at Kananaskis  Village
Roasting Marshmallows Outside the Hostel

Practicing Winter Camping

My favourite part of the weekend was actually the time spent inside the hostel watching the kids play together, building towers out of Lego Duplo, making Play Dough creations, driving cars around the living room floor, and chasing each other around the cabin.  It was easy to tell that they had taken numerous trips together in the past because they played fabulously together and were all very excited to be together for the weekend.  I didn't actually think we'd ever get my son to sleep the first night once his first two friends showed up.  You could feel the energy in the hostel increase with each added child that showed up.

Creativity Hard at Work

The weekend felt a lot like the Christmases I remember as a child with cousins all gathered together.  We had big meals together, we played together, and we even opened some gifts on Saturday morning.  The new Max and Ruby Christmas DVD came in very handy too for quiet time breaks!

Communal Breakfast

Opening Gifts Together

Max and Ruby!

Quiet Time with Max and Ruby

I'm hoping this will become an annual tradition with friends much like our New Year's getaway has become.  And maybe next year we'll have a heat wave and be able to actually get outside and play for more than half an hour.  If not, I learned a few survival tips from this trip that will be practiced going forward and I now know to bring more crafts, colouring books and board games for those cold weather trips.  The Lego was absolutely indispensable as were the toy cars and trains.  Next time I'd bring a bunch of train tracks to put together as well.

Well Bundled to Play in the Snow

Enjoying some Winter Fun Despite The Cold Weather

Do you celebrate holidays with friends?   I'd love to hear about your traditions.

My Pook and I

1 comment:

  1. How lovely! Christmas is the best time of the year. There's something magical about it that makes family closer. We moved to California 3 years ago and if there's one thing I miss during this season is snow. Especially my kids who loves to skate during winter. Though there are lots of skating rinks, nothing beats sledding and skating on the real thing.