Thursday, January 22, 2015

5 Days in the Mountains - with no kids (WOW)

Over the past week and a half I've spent 5 days skiing and snowshoeing in Banff National Park - with no children!  I hiked over two mountain passes and crossed a backcountry lake to stay at Lake Louise's historic Skoki Lodge for two nights, and I spent two days ski touring with a great group of girlfriends (in fact, there were 28 of us together for one crazy weekend!)

The face of happiness and freedom
I still want children to play a vital role in my adventures and believe strongly that my son should get to come on any trip that he has the skill and endurance for.  In fact, I'm still slightly bitter that I was dissuaded from bringing him to Skoki Lodge with me because I know he's a trooper and he would have made it! 

Family adventures aside, sometimes it's really nice to get away without the kids, to take a bit of a break, and to ski or hike at an adult pace without having to dole out candy every 10 minutes to motivate the herd.


28 moms, a wilderness hostel, and two days of glorious skiing

I try to plan an annual girls' ski trip each winter and so far numbers have gone like this:

And now I'm really curious about next year because honestly, where do you go after a ski trip with 28 girls?? I can't imagine finding a place big enough to fit 30+ girls for a weekend.  (if you know of one, let me know.)

28 Girls at the Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel, Banff  (photo: Jen Sollid)

Also, in case you're wondering just how popular I am that I could find 27 other moms to go away with me for the weekend, remember that the first year started with just 6 girls.  And it's kind of exploded! 

Skiing at Lake Louise on our girls' ski weekend  (photo: Jen Sollid)

It's actually not that hard to find moms desperate to get away for a weekend.  I started with my Calgary Outdoor Playgroup Community (600 members strong) and a few friends I knew from Banff.  Friends invited their friends, who invited their friends, and so it went.  Until there were 28 of us!!

Banff and Calgary Moms Unite in Banff for a weekend

So, what did we do for two days away from the kids?  Well, of course there was a lot of wine consumed, great conversations, way too much food, and it got a tad noisy in the hostel.  Other than that, we skied.  We split into groups each day and went out for tours ranging from easy nordic skiing to advanced backcountry ski touring, easier ski touring (more my speed,) skate skiing, and even downhill skiing.  In the evenings between glasses of wine there was more skiing and even some night hiking at nearby Johnston Canyon.

Skiing across Boom Lake, Banff
Exploring frozen waterfalls at the far end of Boom Lake
Beautiful Paradise Valley, Lake Louise (awesome for light ski touring)

To see more photos from the trip (because there is no way I could post them all here), visit my Google+ album:  Castle Girls' Trip Photos.  I'd love to hear your comments as well so please let me know if it looked like we were having fun.

3 Days in the Backcountry at Skoki Lodge

This adventure deserves a story all of its own!  Fortunately it's coming and you'll be able to read it soon in Snowshoe Magazine.  I'm a true multi-sport kind of gal and so after 2 days of ski touring with my girlfriends, I spent 3 days snowshoeing beyond Lake Louise with a base camp at Skoki Lodge.

Skoki Lodge, Lake Louise, Banff

And in case you're wondering about the photo above, yes, we finally got a Go-Pro!  And isn't the camera awesome!  I'll be posting lots of photos this winter with the new camera on my Instagram account so make sure you're following me there if you aren't already.

The pathway to Skoki Lodge (and why you should go summed up in one photo)

While Skoki Lodge is definitely family-friendly, my son is at that challenging age where he's too big to pull in a chariot or pulk, but not old enough to ski 11 km into a backcountry lodge while climbing over two mountain passes.  Hopefully soon though. 

This girl has spent a LOT of time with me in the last couple of weeks.  (thanks Alannah)

I hiked into Skoki Lodge with my girlfriend Alannah, one of the new owners of the Campsite Blog.  She graciously accepted to hike into the lodge with me for my snowshoe story and now I think I probably owe her another ski trip because former ski racers don't generally choose to "hike" into a backcountry ski lodge!

Snowshoeing to Skoki Lodge with Deception Pass in the background (the crux of the trip)

I will let you all know when my story is live for Snowshoe Magazine so that you can hear about the whole trip.  In the meantime, more photos!!! Go to my Google+ Account to see all the photos from the trip to SkokiAnd again, comments make me happy.

Beyond Lake Louise en route to Skoki Lodge

That was just a short summary of 5 amazing days spent playing in the backcountry of Banff National Park on skis and snowshoes with fabulous girlfriends. The rest of the winter will be spent playing with my Pook (now 6 years old!!) and he gets his own backcountry ski trip at the end of February when we ski as a family into Shadow Lake Lodge.  Much more on that one to come.

Parting shot of the happy Mama in the backcountry of Banff


  1. oh wow, (drooling)...awesome! I think I need to start something similar out here on the west coast!

    1. Thanks Cherelli. Yes, start something with your friends on the coast. If it involves SUP paddling, I'm in! :)

  2. Looks like so much fun!! How many days did it take to recover from the girls' trip though? ; )

    1. Lost sleep, perhaps a day or two. Sore muscles - didn't have time to recover. I had one rest day and then I was off to Skoki. :)