Saturday, December 28, 2013

Looking Back on Another Great Year of Family Outdoor Adventure (2013)

2013 was another busy year and it's amazing how much life can change over the course of a year.  People have told me that life gets easier as children get older and I think there's definitely some truth to that!  Camping was sure a heck of a lot easier this year with a 4 year old.  Less melt downs, less tantrums, and a more even temperament made for much easier travelling over all.  (most of the time anyway - still trying to forget about some of the other moments.)

Noah has become an active member in most of our outdoor pursuits (he's not quite ready for mountaineering or backcountry ski touring yet) and we are very proud of how far he's advanced in just one year.  In a nutshell, here are the biggest accomplishments and changes we celebrate as we welcome in 2014:

Looking Back on Another Great Year of Family Outdoor Adventure

Look everybody, I've got Pedals!

Noah graduated from his balance bike to a Spawn Cycles 16" Banshee  and absolutely rocked at biking!  We were pretty floored actually with his progress.  He went straight from balance bike to pedal bike with no training wheels and spent a week in Pedalheads bike classes learning how to start and stop on his own.  By the end of the summer, Noah was a mean riding machine and we can see he's chosen it as his primary summer sport.  We had to make sure we devoted time to riding on most of our vacation days and it quickly replaced hiking as the sport of choice.

Biking with Mom on the Kettle Valley Railway Trail in Kelowna

Mom Loves Biking Too!

"Hiking is stupid!"  Yep, that was a sentence right out of my own mouth.  I grew to love biking so much this summer (off-pavement cross country biking especially) that I actually asked my husband why we ever used to hike.  "biking is so awesome!"  "You go sooooo fast!"  "Look how far we got on our bikes.  Noah could never have hiked this far!" - all sentences out of my own mouth this year.

Yes, I still like hiking, but all of my top moments this past summer were actually spent on either my bike or my stand up paddle board.  (no blisters either!!)

To read more on our journey to becoming a biking family, check out this story I wrote in June, Kids on Wheels, Choosing a Good Bike.   (lots of good photos of Dad running alongside Noah as he learned to ride his new bike.)

Biking with Noah in the Columbia Valley

The Junior Biker Gang
One of the things that most excited me this past year was the creation of our Junior Biker Gang.  It started out with kids all on balance bikes and gradually, many of them graduated to pedal bikes over the course of the summer months.  Below is a photo from May and then from September.  You'll see a big difference.

The Bow Valley Biker Gang in May

Members of our Biker Gang in September

The Camping Project - 40+ Nights Baby

This might have been the biggest goal we set this past year.  We wanted to camp at least 40 nights this summer.  You can read about the project here.  By the end of September, we had reached 41 nights which was a miracle given all of the campgrounds closed in Kananaskis and Banff as a result of June flooding.

To read the wrap up posts on the camping project, go to my stories:  2013 Camping Project - Lessons on Community and  Great Gear for Happy Campers

Camping in Yoho National Park this Summer
Camping in Writing on Stone Provincial Park this Summer

 We Finally Caved and Bought a Trailer!

The camping project was largely made possible through the purchase of our new camping trailer!  It's nothing fancy, has no bathroom, and isn't particularly large - but, it's ours!  And we can now sleep in comfort, warmth, and off the ground.  I've never been so happy camping.

Camping in Dinosaur Provincial Park last May

SUPing my Way Across the Canadian Rockies

My big goal for the summer was to SUP my way from Waterton Lakes National Park in the South all the way to Jasper National Park in the North.  And while this may sound highly impressive, it just means that I wanted to get my board on all of the classic lakes in each national park this summer. By the end of Summer, I had managed to SUP the following lakes without falling in or sustaining hypothermia (the biggest challenge and risk I faced.)
  • Upper Waterton and Middle Waterton Lakes with a short stretch on the Waterton River
  • First Vermillion Lake and 40 Mile Creek, Banff
  • Johnson Lake, Banff
  • Two Jack Lake, Banff
  • Lake Louise, Banff
  • Moraine Lake, Banff
  • Emerald Lake, Yoho
  • Pyramid Lake, Jasper
  • Lake Annette, Jasper
  • Patricia Lake, Jasper
  • Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis
  • Barrier Lake, Kananaskis
For more on the SUP Project, follow this link to Touring the Canadian Rockies on a Stand Up Paddleboard 

SUPing Lake Louise
Pyramid Lake, Jasper
Vermillion Lakes, Banff

 And We have a Kayak

With my big dream to SUP across the Canadian Rockies, there had to be a way that my family could spend time with me and solo canoeing wasn't something my husband was keen to spend the summer doing.  Enter, our tandem kayak.  Noah enjoyed riding from his comfortable seat up front and Mark was able to take lots of photos of me on my board when he wasn't paddling.  We even used our kayak for an overnight trip to the Point Backcountry Campground in Kananaskis and I rode my board to camp.  We plan to SUP/Kayak our way to camp whenever possible from now on rather than hiking all of our gear in.  

Paddling on Upper Kananaskis Lake

The First Summits Project

Yes, I said above that hiking was replaced by biking, but we did still do some easy hikes with Noah.  The ones I'm most proud of are the first summits we did this summer.  It became a goal this spring that we would start focusing on first summits as a family this year.  Noah's tackled many summits already over the past few years but had always been carried to the summit.  This year he would be walking up and down under his own steam.

The summits we tackled this summer were:
Trip reports and photos for each summit above can be found  by following the above links.

To read more about our First Summits Project and get ideas for your own adventures, follow this link to Go Climb a Mountain - Family Friendly First Summits

Whistler's Summit, Jasper National Park

 Adult Trips

We still made it a priority to get away as adults a few times this year and I succeeded with my annual mountaineering trip in July. Mark got away on some backcountry ski trips and attempted a couple of climbs himself including reaching the Neil Cogan Hut for the first time.

Climbing in Yoho National Park
Summit of Mt. McArthur, Yoho National Park
September Backpacking Trip to Shadow Lake

Girl's trips were also a priority for me and I managed to round up  12 girlfriends to ski into Banff's Sundance Lodge with me in February.  To read the story I wrote for Women's Adventure Magazine, follow this link to The Power of a Girl's Getaway.  

Sundance Lodge, Banff National Park

Real Skis for Noah

We are very excited to see Noah on real skis this winter!  In January, 2013 Noah was still using strap-on skis that were more suited to a two-three year old.  Now he has real cross country skis with bindings and ski boots.  We've only made it a couple of kilometres at a time on them so far but Noah's going to spend a lot of time on skis over New Year's so we'll see if we can get him up to 3-4 kilometres soon.  He also starts classes through the Foothills Nordic Ski Club in January so we are confident that will help a lot!

Skiing in Calgary

Downhill Skiing Makes a Return

I gave up downhill skiing when I got pregnant and haven't done any resort skiing since.  The last time I was on downhill skis was in spring, 2008.  While I could have returned to skiing after Noah was born, it wasn't exactly on the recommended list of sports I continue to pursue after getting a total hip replacement after Noah's birth.  (long story!)

Skiing Nakiska last weekend

Last weekend I decided to get back out there on some gentle green runs to see if I could still ski.  The verdict - it's not exactly the most comfortable sport anymore and my hip isn't entirely thrilled with it.  (Zumba is actually less painful by a long shot.) And it won't be something I do on a regular basis.  It is something I will pursue at a family level though, skiing easy runs with Noah (until he passes me and takes off with Daddy to find the black runs.)

Noah and Daddy at Nakiska

As for Noah, he's been on skis three times now and is doing amazingly well!  I expected him to be nervous and timid at first but he's surprisingly confident in this new sport.  He absolutely LOVES it!  He has definitely chosen it as his favourite winter sport and I can see us doing a lot more downhill skiing in the future.  For now, Noah skis free everywhere (Thank God) but over the next couple of years I foresee us getting ski cards again and possibly getting season's passes to Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.

To see a short video of Noah skiing at Nakiska, watch this video below:

Skiing at Nakiska, second time out

We look forward to many new adventures in 2014 and I hope you'll keep following our trips and outings.

Most Popular Posts of 2013

1. Summer Planning:  The Best Provincial Park Campgrounds in Southern Alberta

2. Banff to Jasper - Camping in the National Parks

3. Kids on Wheels - An Introduction to Bike Hiking (with Strider Bike giveaway from Alberta Balance Bikes)

4. Kids on Wheels - 10 Tips to Make Bike Riding FUN (with giveaway from Specialized Bicycle Components)

5. Family Camping Made Easy - Winning the Bedtime Battle

6. Camping Your Way Across North America

7. Touring the Canadian Rockies on a Stand Up Paddle Board

8. The Camping Project - 40+ Nights Baby

9. The Best Camping Hammock (with giveaway from ENO Hammocks)

10. Camping in Red Lodge Provincial Park (Guest Post)

11. Spring Hiking With Your Family in Kananaskis

12. The Bow Valley Biker Gang


  1. Thanks Tanya for sharing such great blogging of your family adventures. I loved hearing and seeing what you and the family have been up to.

  2. Great posting and i'm looking back on another great in this family.