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:

One - Get 20 days of Cross Country Skiing in again this winter

This shouldn't be hard because we hope to finish our 6th or 7th day by the end of December.  Then we still have three solid months to get out at least 2-3 times per month.  We'll add overnight trips into the mix where we ski multiple times in a two-three day weekend, and tack on a day or two in April if the snow is still good.  I confess that I got wax-less skis just so I could get those last ski trips in each year; It's near impossible to wax for soft warm spring snow.

First Ski Trip this Winter in Paradise Valley, Lake Louise

Specific Trails I really really want to do this winter:
  • Goat Creek Traverse from Canmore to Banff (had to miss this one last winter when snow conditions wouldn't cooperate)
  • Paradise Valley, Lake Louise (actually checked off already because it's been on my list for three winters now so I did it first this year!!)
  • Boom Lake, Banff (an annual favourite trail that does not ever get missed!!)
  • The Pipestone Loop, Lake Louise (simply for the fact that I've never actually skied in this area before.  Ever.  In 12 years of living here.)
  • Skogan Pass, Kananaskis (600m of descent from the top of the Pass!  Enough said other than Weeee!)

Boom Lake, Banff National Park

We also plan to spend a ton of time skiing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, our favourite place to ski in Kananaskis hands down.  The trails are groomed and track set making it easy to ski with our son.  He still appears to enjoy riding in his ski pulk so we should be able to take him with us on many of our trips this winter.  This allows us to enjoy family time together while spending a day in the mountains doing a sport we all love. 
Which brings me to number two below...

Early Season Skiing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Scenery in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park along the Elk Pass Ski Trail

Two - Teach our preschooler to Love skiing

We're still focusing on cross country skiing this winter believing it to be the best choice for our family as far as affordability and a sport we can do together.  And while I'm sure our son will spend a lot of time riding in his sled, we hope to get him out on his own skis too.  He got them last Christmas and managed to shuffle a few feet the handful of times we got him out.  7+ months later, I've seen a big improvement already and we will definitely be able to head out as a family on flat easy trails for a few kilometres.  The local golf courses are  going to see a lot of use this winter by our family as they are the perfect place to find wide open flat terrain perfect for the junior skier. 

We aren't focusing on great technique this winter or enrolling our son in lessons but are simply aiming to make skiing something fun and enjoyable.  We hope to keep it stress free and without big pressures to out-ski other friends or people on the trail.

If we can create an environment where the choice to go skiing Vs. sledding or skating is met favorably and with enthusiasm we will know we've succeeded with our goal this winter.  If we say, "let's go skiing today" and our son responds with a "Yay!!"  - that will be a successful result in my book.

To read the story from our first family trip out this winter, follow the link to our Cascade Fire Road Ski Day.

I've also started chronicling our adventures in teaching our son to ski with the first story here, Teaching Toddlers and Preschoolers to X-Country Ski.

Skiing on the Cascade Fire Road, Banff

Tearing up the Local Golf Course

Three -Balance skiing with several snowshoeing trips

We will always be a family that loves skiing first and foremost but that doesn't mean we don't like trying new things.  This year I'd like to focus a bit more on snowshoeing.  I finally got my dream pair of snowshoes, the Women's Atlas Electra snowshoes, in pink no less (my favourite colour) and I'm stoked to get out and use them!  We got our son a pair of snowshoes as well as an early Christmas present and we're excited to see him learn to use them on some nice groomed trails around Kananaskis and Banff. 

Trying out my new snowshoes at Elbow Lake, Kananaskis
Getting the kids on snowshoes for the first time this winter

We've discovered this winter that we really like sled-hiking (so much so that our sled is showing serious signs of being loved to death and will likely need replacing in the next month) and that it lends itself well to snowshoeing.  As much as our son and his friends will enjoy tromping around in the snowy wilderness this winter, I know they will still enjoy riding on sleds a good portion of any outing.

Pulling the kids into Elbow Lake in sleds and Chariots
Chariots are great for getting kids into the backcountry on snowshoes

Specific Trails we hope to do this winter:
  • Elbow Lake, Kananaskis (already checked off the list since there's a very short window on this one before the road closes in December each year)
  • Chester Lake, Kananaskis (We've never made it all the way to the lake with our son yet owing to the amount of snow that hits this area each year - it was not a fun ski when we tried to pull the sled in a couple years ago)
  • Rawson Lake, Kananaskis (A summer trail that we've never actually done in winter, despite it being quite easy on snowshoes and wide enough to pull sleds or Chariots up)
  • Troll Falls, Kananaskis (We're hoping that this easy trail will be a great preschool-paced snowshoe outing over the Christmas holidays)
  • Bow Lake, Banff (We hope to snowshoe around this beautiful lake while staying at the Mosquito Creek Hostel in January)
I could actually go on for a good page with first snowshoe trails I want to do with my son this winter but in trying to be realistic, I tried to limit it to the most important ones above.  

Chester Lake, Kananaskis

Troll Falls, Kananaskis

Four - Take the mountains, trails, wilderness hostels, and backcountry huts by storm - with KIDS

Yep, if you don't have kids, be afraid.  Be very afraid.  We intend to be everywhere!  En masse!  Chariots, Ski Pulks, Toddlers all over the trails, and our presence big and bold across the Canadian Rockies.  I've been planning a ton of super cool trips this winter and we've got a small army of friends lined up to join us on our adventures.

To date, we've planned overnight trips to:

The winter is shaping up to be awesome beyond belief and we are super excited to embrace winter in the Rockies with skiing, snowshoeing, skating, sledding, and other simple outdoor fun in the snow.  My son is waiting until the snow is perfect so he can finally make a snowman and jumps at every opportunity he can get to make a snow angel.

Winter Camping at the HI Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel

Winter at HI Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel
The ACC Elk Lakes Cabin
Nipika Mountain Resort (Photo courtesy of Nipika Resort)

Five - Know when to leave the kids at home and head to the hills with my wild mountain girlfriends

I am beyond thrilled that I will be going on a backcountry ski trip in February with 11 other girls to Holiday on Horseback's Sundance Lodge in Banff.  We'll ski an easy 10km in to the lodge for a night, enjoy great food and fellowship, and carry little else with us but our pajamas and toothbrushes.

I'm also hoping to plan my annual spring girl's trip to Radium Hotsprings, BC and definitely want to get some day trips on the calendar for ski touring or snowshoeing.   (follow the link above to last year's girl's trip to Radium.)

Holiday on Horseback's Sundance Lodge

Girl's Trip to Lake O'Hara last winter, Yoho National Park (follow the link to read the story from last winter)
Skiing and Snowshoeing at Panorama Mountain Resort last March with my girlfriends

The final big trip I'm dreaming of right now is a snowshoeing trip to the world famous Sunshine Meadows, Banff.  I've hiked here in summer and autumn, have backpacked through the area, and have skied at the Sunshine Village Ski Hill.  I've never actually seen the meadows in winter though and I've decided this is the year!  I'll keep you posted if I manage to pull it off.  Or maybe you'll hear me screaming.  :)

My husband is also looking forward to his own ski trips away with the guys, his annual backcountry ski trip to Roger's Pass in Glacier National Park and his second annual backcountry ski weekend at the HI Hilda Creek Hostel where we'll be going as a family a month later.  He will  be making his writing debut on my blog this winter so watch for his first story in February sometime.

Skiing at Roger's Pass, Glacier National Park

My calendar still shows a lot of blank weekends so I'm looking forward to seeing what other trips materialize over the next few months.  My blog is sadly lacking in winter content for both Jasper and Waterton National Parks so it's a good possibility that we may look into a trip to one of these amazing places. 

I'm also realizing that there's no solo weekend away for my husband and I - together- yet.  Last year we actually went to Sundance Lodge together as a couple and the year before we skied into Skoki Backcountry Lodge at Lake Louise.  I guess this is where I throw out my plea for folks in the tourism industry to please send us somewhere this winter.  Please.  :)

I hope you will continue following our winter adventures over the next several months.  I love sharing them with you. And I'd love to hear what you have planned for your winter adventures.

On our way out from Skoki Lodge, 2011