Saturday, November 09, 2013

First Tracks on Johnson Lake! November Ice Skating in Banff

It's here!!! Skating season is here!  Sort of.  The term "skating season" refers to a very small window in Banff National Park when some of the local lakes have frozen over enough to skate on them - without snow covering the ice yet.  And that's the trick.  No snow covering the ice.

It happens only every few years or so that you'll find that perfect green coke bottle colored ice, smooth, and perfect.  The rest of the time we go out to Banff armed with shovels and prepared to clear off a patch of ice to skate on.  (as was the case today.)

And the reason I said skating season was "sort of" here above, is because the ice on Johnson Lake was only 3 inches deep or so today.  Parks Canada warns to look for ice at a depth of 15cm (approximately 6 inches) for light skating and walking.  Hence, the ice was half as thick as it should have been.  And we were out with a group of toddlers and preschoolers.  I know - some role models we are!

First Tracks on Johnson Lake, Banff

Fortunately, everybody came home safe, nobody fell through the ice, and we had a splendid time.  Best of all, I think the folks in Banff were all still too scared to attempt skating yet because we had the lake to ourselves.  It was our own private pond party for us and our friends in the Calgary Outdoor Playgroup community.  We called up one local family in Banff, begging them to bring shovels, and we saw one other lone gentleman (who kindly measured the ice for us) - but that was it.  Us and the lake.  Our private lake.

Pond Party at Johnson Lake
Learning to play hockey
Calgary Outdoor Playgroups - First Group Skating this year
While I can say that we probably should have waited a few days or so, we tried our best to be careful and stuck pretty close to the shore.  We avoided soft mushy spots and skated tight together in a big group.  We cleared snow off of two patches of ice to form two small hockey/skating areas (you're welcome if you should be heading out there to play hockey tonight or tomorrow) and we didn't venture too far down the lake for exploring.

Staying close to shore
Skating Season!!!

In total I think we had 9 families out today and for many, it was their first time ever skating on a mountain lake.  We all exclaimed that we felt very "Canadian" and spirits were high the whole time we were out.  A small group of us even headed into Banff afterwards for a hike on the Fenland Trail.  It was a great day and we plan to repeat it again on Monday.  Skating in Banff - take two!  So if you want to meet us, we'll be there Monday afternoon on Johnson Lake.  Just look for the gaggle of preschoolers learning to hold a hockey stick.  Mine will be the kid holding it completely backwards (despite our best efforts in showing him how to hold the darned thing.)

Trying to figure out the whole hockey stick thing
Preschool Pond Hockey! Starting Young.
Future Hockey Champs
Do you have a favourite place to skate in the Canadian Rockies?  I'd love to hear about your experiences.  And I hope to see some of you out on Monday!

BLISS!!!

For more information on skating in Banff with safety precautions from Parks Canada, please visit their website by following the previous link.   For directions to Johnson Lake, follow the link to the Town of Banff's website. 

Classic Canadian Experience!

For past stories, photos, and blog posts I've done on ice skating in Banff, please follow the links to these stories:

Skating Season in the Rockies
Blog post from November, 2012

Banff girls - bragging rights at first local kids on the lake this year.

Skating Season in Banff
Published story for Calgary's Child Magazine

Sleds are a great way to pull kids around a lake.


For other skating options, please follow this link to the Banff National Park website.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Tanya, what a beautiful place you live in! I'm a little jealous...And seeing all those ice skaters on the lake reminds me of Sweden. Seems like we can never get a good enough freeze on our lake here in Indiana to go ice skating. Might have to head to the indoor skating rink to let the kids try it.

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