Thursday, October 10, 2013

Welcome Back to our Old Friend Winter!

When I went shopping for new children's ski pants in early September I thought I was getting a jump on the winter season, being prepared, and just trying to get one shopping purchase out of the way.  Little did I know we'd actually need them by the end of the month!  And, not only the ski pants but the new winter jacket we had just bought our son!  Along with gloves, hats, winter boots, and long underwear for all.  I even got to pull out my beloved down skirt - in September!

Winter came early to Kananaskis this year

It all began with plans to do a family fall hike at Highwood Pass on the last Saturday of September so that we could see all the golden larch trees before their needles fell off for the season.  We knew it was a possibility there would be a dusting of snow and a thin layer of snow on the trees.  Little did we know though that there'd be enough snow to justify wearing full-on winter boots and cleats for traction on the slippery snow.  We had thrown our yak trax in with a bit of a laugh thinking there was no way we'd need ice cleats in September.  And I had only packed my winter boots because I was nursing blisters from another pair of boots and was low on options.  (Can't wear Keen sandals when it's hovering around 0 degrees Celsius.)  I never dreamed the big boots would actually be necessary.

September at Pocaterra Cirque
Pocaterra Cirque, Highwood Pass

It's always a bit scary heading out on that first winter adventure of the season with kids.  Will they be warm enough, will they remember what winter is? (and that it's fun once you embrace it!) Turns out we had nothing to worry about.  The kids were as excited to play in the snow as I am to see a cup of coffee around 3 in the afternoon.  (read - jumping, skipping, and running for joy.)  They wanted to make snow angels, they wanted to build snowmen, and they wanted to have a snowball fight.  There is no doubt in my head now that our kids are all ready for winter! 

Playing in a snow pile at the parking lot
First Snowman of the Year - September 28th

We had chosen a challenging hike at 7km round trip and knew it would push many of the kids in our Outdoor Playgroup Community to their limits.  Slippery snow and lack of obvious trail at times added to the challenge.  The children did awesome though and every one of them made it to Pocaterra Cirque before having to turn around.  Many even made it further to the lovely tarn below Pocaterra Ridge.  I'm relieved because this means there's hope for the first snowshoeing trip to Elbow Lake in November.

Pocaterra Cirque at Highwood Pass Kananaskis
These kids are happy and ready for winter!
Lunch at the tarn in Pocaterra Cirque

Next on the list for winter adventures - Our Second Annual Halloween Costume Hike at the end of October.  If you are in the Calgary area and have children between the ages of 2 and 6 make sure you contact me for details on the hike or check out information on the Calgary Outdoor Playgroups on this website.  (tab at the top of the page)

Playing in the snow in Highwood Meadows
Golden larch trees amidst the early season snow

For more information on the hike to Pocaterra Cirque, check out the trail description on the Trail Peak website.  I don't even want to attempt to provide a detailed route guide because this hike is for experienced hikers only and does not follow an official trail.  There is no sign for it and one can easily get lost en route to the cirque.  That's my disclaimer.  ;) 

For another hike at Highwood Pass that does follow an official trail, check out the last story I wrote on Ptarmigan Cirque.  The hike starts from the same parking lot.  Expect it to be quite the winter wonderland there by now.  Consider bringing snowshoes.

First Snow Angel of the Season in September!


  1. Too much fun!! Winter already!! Bring out the snowshoes, and the skis!! We're ready!!

    1. Us too. I hope you'll enjoy us on our Halloween hike.

  2. Sounds glorious and fun! Seeing snow on the golden leaves really gives kids the idea of the transition from season to season. Just too bad you couldn't wear your sandals!

    1. Thanks Judy. Sadly I think I'll be spending more time in my new Keen micro fleece slipper shoes than in my sandals.

  3. How awesome. Beautiful pictures, I don't know if I could handle snow though! ;)