Saturday, December 27, 2014

Top Ten Highlights of 2014

2014 was a big year for us as a family as we watched our son grow to become a very active member in our adventures.  Slowly I'm realizing that I'm needing less and less "adult days" as Noah gets stronger and more capable of joining us for the big stuff.

Already, Noah is biking the same trails I'd choose for my own rides, he accompanies us on all of our paddling trips, and he's keeping pace with me as we run down mountains.  On one trip, he beat me to the parking lot by a full half hour!  (And he's not even 6 years old.)  He also out-biked me on one ride this summer where I chose to walk a hill, and he did not!  I can not wait to see what next year brings.  (though I am a bit scared of being left behind.)

2014 was a BIG year for our Junior Adventurer

Top Ten Highlights of 2014

One - Dog Sledding in Kananaskis

We got the chance to go dog sledding as a family last January with Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours and by the end of the tour I wanted to buy a team of dogs and become a professional musher.  It was that fun!  Learning to drive a team of dogs while flying across a frozen lake should go on every winter bucket list.

Dog Sledding with Snowy Owl Tours

You can read the full story here.

Two - Trying SUP surfing in Mexico

I was bruised, battered, and sore the next day, but it was worth it!  I love stand up paddleboarding and could not resist trying SUP surfing while in Nuevo Vallarta last February.  Would I try it again?  Probably not.  But I do definitely want to do more SUP paddling on the ocean.  This body is too old for surfing though.  :)

Trying to SUP surf in Mexico

And on the topic of Mexico, our entire vacation to Nuevo Vallarta was definitely a highlight of 2014!  To see more photos, follow my links to see photos from the Kid's Adventure Park at Las Caletas where Noah got to try zip lining for the first time (he still says it's one of his favourite sports,) or photos from our fun at the Grand Marival Resort.  I highly recommend this resort for adventurous families.  The resort had stand up paddleboards to rent, sail boats, kayaks, and bikes that we could take out for tours around Nuevo Vallarta. They even had 20" kids' bikes.

Can not wait to go back to Mexico!

Three - Every moment spent on our bikes

It should come as no surprise that many of our happiest moments this past year were spent on our bikes.  It felt like every camping trip served as a base camp for the best bike trails from the Okanagan in British Columbia to the trails around Banff.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in Penticton, BC

Out of all the biking we did, the biggest highlights for me were the three days we spent riding the Kettle Valley Railway trails in the Okanagan, BC.  We biked from Penticton to Okanagan Falls for ice cream, we biked from Naramata to Penticton (stopping off at a winery en route,)  and we biked the Myra Canyon section which included biking over 18 trestle bridges and through two tunnels.

Mountain biking in the Okanagan

Noah would also add that he LOVES pump tracks!! (read more here)

The Canmore Pump Track was a fav. place to spend time this summer

Four - Discovering that Noah loves outdoor rock climbing

We'd tried indoor climbing and Noah was underwhelmed.  He was also scared and showed little interest for the sport.  Still, we thought we'd introduce him to outdoor climbing once, and see what happened.  The result, he LOVES it!  Go figure!  We were certainly shocked.  And pleased.

Learning to Climb (guess who gets a climbing helmet for his birthday this year?!)

Five - First overnight SUP river trip

It is extremely challenging to get kids into the backcountry or to do backpacking trips with little ones because they can't carry anything.  Meanwhile, they still need a sleeping bag, mattress, and other comfort items - that somebody has to carry for them!  Fortunately, we discovered that we love paddling, and that it's super easy to get everything to camp in a boat.  (unless your boat is a stand up paddleboard.)

Paddling down the Red Deer River to camp

Lucky for my girlfriend and I, our husbands supported us on our first overnight SUP river trip and carried all of our gear for us.  They also carried the kids when they weren't riding on our boards.  Yes, life is sweet sometimes.

To read more about our backcountry and paddle trips over the past five years as a family, read this story:  Five Years of Family Backpacking Trips. 

Our support boats and pack horses on the river

Six - Mount Norquay Via Ferrata (with a thousand exclamation marks!!!)

What to say, other than that it was freakin' awesome!! Would I do it again? Heck to the Yes!! Every day if I could!

Standing on top of Mount Norquay (after climbing it)

To read the full adventure and see the coolest photos, go to My First Via Ferrata Tour - and it was Awesome!! (and incidentally, this was my top #1 day of the entire year!!!)

Just hanging off the side of Mt. Norquay - no big deal.

Seven - BIG Summits with Noah

Earlier this year I started doing evening summit hikes with a great group of girls.  By the end of the summer I was doing the same hikes with my son!  How cool is it when your children get to the point where they can start doing the things you'd choose to do as a solo adult adventure?!  Pretty Cool!

First Big Summit:  Ha Ling Peak, Canmore

We tackled Ha Ling Peak in Canmore this past August as a family and discovered something about Noah.  He likes scrambling, and the steeper the better!  Yay!!! This bodes well for our family's future.  Later in the fall, we hiked into Shadow Lake Lodge for a weekend and managed to summit a peak on Copper Mountain.  Noah hiked and biked 28 km in the three day weekend and climbed 1500 metres.  To say we were proud was an understatement.  The best part, he liked it!  He actually likes climbing mountains!  Just like his Daddy.

To read the stories of our summits, follow the links in the previous paragraph for Ha Ling Peak and Copper Mountain.

Copper Mountain, Banff

We rounded off the season with one final hike up Prairie Mountain to give Noah three big summits this year.

Mighty Kids on Prairie Mountain


Eight - Teaching Noah to Kayak

It's surprising that Noah was not born in a tub of water because the kid is a total water baby!  He loves water!! Loves swimming, jumping off docks into lakes, playing in creeks, and riding in boats.  (and the more rapids the better)

First Kayak

We got Noah his own kayak for camping this summer and he's taken to it pretty well.  We're wondering if we can send him down an easy river in it next summer.  Maybe...

My paddling buddy

Nine -  Watching Noah learn to downhill ski

I gave up downhill skiing after Noah was born and as a family we decided to pursue x-country skiing instead.  Still, there was this "what if" question in my head.  What if Noah would really like downhill skiing?  What if we tried it...

We got Noah a cheap pair of skis, got him a pass to the local hill, and discovered pretty quickly that Noah did in fact, LOVE downhill skiing.  More than x-country skiing or snowshoeing - the kid definitely thinks this is the most fun!  So now Dad has a little ski buddy and I join occasionally on the easy runs.

Ski Buddy

Ten - Skating Season TWICE

Every November we head out to the mountains to go skating on lakes that have frozen over without becoming snow covered yet.  We call this "skating season" and there is often a one-week window (if that.)  This year, it happened twice!  It got very cold in November, snowed a bit, and hasn't snowed much since.  This has allowed some of the bigger lakes to freeze over in December without becoming snow covered.

Skating on the Ghost Reservoir

We enjoyed a beautiful winter solstice sunset skate on the Ghost Reservoir and I was thrilled to skate on this big wide open lake for the first time.  Sections were like glass and we saw lots of cool bubbles.

Skating over bubbles on the Ghost Reservoir

More to come on the Ghost skate in the new year.  :)

I hope you will keep following our adventures in 2015.  We have 10 wilderness trips planned this winter season alone and are very excited for big things over the next year.

Happy Holidays!


  1. oh wow, what awesome adventures! I must say as I sit here with a 2 year old and another due in june that it seems a few years of rough nights and difficult outings do sound like they become easier - and fun! So I'll just hang in there for that...but boy you guys really know how to adventure across all disciplines, love it, it's inspiring to see what kids are capable of :)

    1. It definitely gets easy so hang in there! Best of luck and have a great year.

    2. I should say easier! Never easy.

  2. I love how your family lives life! You are all an inspiration! I look forward to reading all about your 2015 adventures. I am sensing that soon you will be hollering out "Noah wait up for us!" Best wishes for a year full of wonderful times.

    1. Thanks Alexandra. I already scream at Noah to wait for me, lol.