Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 in Review and Top Ten Highlights

2015 was an amazing year filled with more adventures than I would have ever dreamed possible. It has been a year of discovery as well as we watched our son (soon to be 7 years old) rise to become a very competent member on our adventures. Long gone are the days where he had to stay home while we went out to do the "big stuff." He now out-bikes me, rips down hills I'd never ride, and is close to matching my pace at both hiking and skiing. I give it another month before he's ski touring with us as a family in the backcountry and I know that I will be relegated to shuttle driver next summer when my boys go mountain biking. Life is crazy but it is good and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Another Crazy Awesome Year of Adventures in the Canadian Rockies

2015 in Review

Backcountry and Wilderness Trips: We completed 13 wilderness and backcountry trips in cabins, huts, and hostels. We visited 2 new hostels we'd never been to before and we got to stay at a couple of very beautiful backcountry lodges as well.

We have two more trips planned to the Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel this coming year

Camping: We spent 33 nights camping between May and September across Alberta and British Columbia. Our longest trip took us across BC for two weeks in August and we hope to repeat it again this coming year.

Camping in Radium Hot Springs, BC

Scrambling and Climbing Mountains: We did 8 family scrambles and difficult hikes where we climbed to the top of a summit, tackled narrow ridge walks, and even played around with some fun exposure and easy roped scrambling. Noah is able to hike for 7 to 8 hours and can go at a pretty mean pace when the trail gets steep enough to be interesting for him. (Just don't take him on a gentle walk through the forest.)

Now this is a child who LOVES climbing mountains!!

Biking: Noah got a 20" Spawn Savage bike with gears and disc brakes, and we biked close to 30 new trails as a family. Noah has definitely discovered that he prefers downhill mountain biking to cross country biking and has no desire to climb hills. (at all!) He likes riding down the trails at Winsport's Canada Olympic Park in Calgary and likes kicking my butt on the trails next door on the Paskapoo Slopes (where he routinely has to wait at the bottom of hills for me to summon the courage to ride down.) Noah's longest bike ride this summer was 30 km in length and I can't wait to see how far he'll be able to ride next year!

My boys and my little downhill rider about to do his first run down Moose Mountain in Kananaskis

Paddling and other Adventures: We spent many days paddling, rock climbing, hiking, and all-out exploring around Alberta and British Columbia. Noah did his first solo river paddle in his own kayak down several sets of class I rapids on the Elk River in British Columbia, and we did an overnight trip down the Columbia River which was a lot of fun.

Noah and I paddling the Elk River in Fernie, BC

Swimming and Water: We did lots of swimming and jumping off of everything we could find from diving boards to docks and bridges. We all made our first bridge jump this year and I jumped off of a pirate ship because it seemed like a good idea until I got up on the plank and realized how freakin' high up I was! Noah has become quite the little fish and would happily spend every day swimming for at least an hour.

Bridge Jumping in the Okanagan

Snowshoeing and Skiing: We did many snowshoe adventures in the winter months between January and April and this was definitely Noah's preferred way to explore rather than venturing out on x-country skis. He loves downhill skiing and did well at it last winter, but preferred hiking to skiing the rest of the time.

Fortunately this season, I've gotten Noah out a ton to work on his cross country skiing over the past couple of months and he now loves the sport. This is good news for me since I love cross country skiing! Noah has already logged 60 km on his skis this winter and has improved more than I ever thought possible in two months! I expect it to be a fun winter for us as we get out do lots of snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and downhill skiing. (We might need a few more months to fit it all in!)

2015 took us to some EPIC places for snowshoeing!

Adult-only Trips: I got away for a couple of girls-only weekends, one last winter for skiing and one this past fall for mountain biking. Meanwhile, Mark (yes, my husband has a name) got away for a couple of backcountry ski weekends last winter and did a couple of climbing trips in the summer.

28 Girls in a Wilderness Hostel for a super fun ski weekend

Top Ten Highlights of 2015

One - Skiing across Boom Lake in Banff National Park with my girlfriends last January

A great day, beautiful scenery, and a fabulous time with three girls who showed me what it means to be "happy and carefree."  I owe the girls for this day because it was truly my number one day of the entire year.

Read more: 5 Days in the Mountains - With No Kids (WOW)

Skiing across beautiful Boom Lake in Banff National Park
The face of happiness!

Two - Snowshoeing across Shadow Lake in Banff National Park

Another beautiful lake and a lovely day spent as a family playing in a winter wonderland. And staying at the decadent Shadow Lake Lodge wasn't bad either!

Read more: Our Favourite Family-Friendly Backcountry Ski Lodge

Paradise in Banff National Park
Snowshoeing across majestic Shadow Lake

Three - A Week in Nuevo Vallarta Mexico

We went zip-lining, played in a river and launched ourselves off of natural rock waterslides, went on bike rides around Nuevo Vallarta, and went on a pirate ship tour. Noah tried boogie boarding, took his first banana boat ride, and got to go horseback riding on a beautiful beach. It was a week full of awesome adventures!

Read more: Our Favourite Family Adventure Destination: Mexico

We love zip-lining and adventure tours! Mexico, we'll be back!!

Four - Mother's Day Weekend at Nipika Mountain Resort

We got a fabulous opportunity to launch our summer of biking adventures at Nipika Mountain Resort just outside of Radium Hot Springs in British Columbia. We stayed in a quaint little cabin with good friends and spent two days mountain biking on the resort trails. This could become an annual tradition.

Read more: Kids on Wheels - Nipika Mountain Resort

Mountain Bike Weekend at Nipika Mountain Resort

Five - Yamnuska! Noah's First Big Scramble

We did so many great hikes and scrambles this summer that it was hard to pick a favourite. I chose Yamnuska though because it was Noah's first BIG climb that involved a rope and climbing helmet. He didn't make it all the way to the summit but we'll be back next year with more climbing gear. In the meantime, Noah did tag a bunch of other big summits including our 4 summit day in Canmore climbing Miner's Peak and the Three Humps.

Read more: First Summits - The Mighty Yamnuska (with a 6 year old) 

The Four Summit Day - Ha Ling Peak to Miner's Peak (and beyond)

First Summits: Polar Peak, Fernie Alpine Resort

First Summits: Nihahi Ridge, Kananaskis 

First Summits: Barrier Lake Lookout, Kananaskis

First Summits: Forget Me Not Ridge, Kananaskis

Scrambling up Yamnuska last spring

Six - Camping and Biking in the  Okanagan

We go to the Okanagan in British Columbia every summer and our big goal is to bike the restored Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) from Kelowna to Osoyoos. We tackled 3 new sections this summer and have one left! The final section will involve an overnight stay at Chute Lake but we'll be back for it soon.

Read more: Biking the Kettle Valley Railway from Kelowna to Osoyoos 

Biking on the KVR from Chute Lake to Naramata

Seven - Columbia River Overnight Paddling Trip

We paddled the Columbia River from Radium Hot Springs to Brisco over two days and camped overnight on the most incredible island. It was paradise and I can't wait to go back!

Read more: Paddling and Camping on the Columbia River with Kids

Our island on the Columbia River
SUPing my way down the Columbia River

Eight - Girls Mountain Bike Weekend in Invermere, British Columbia

I spent two days mountain biking with a supportive group of girls I am proud to call my friends. And there were hot springs! What else could you need for a perfect September weekend?

Read More: September on Bikes

Mountain Biking outside of Fairmont Hot Springs, BC
Natural Hot Springs in the Columbia Valley

Nine - Egypt Lake Backpacking Trip

We hiked 13 km into a backcountry shelter in Banff National Park this past September with another family and the kids hiked further than they'd ever hiked. We spent two nights camped at Egypt Lake and the larch trees were glorious. We all felt proud of our accomplishment at the end of the weekend and have gone on to plan some more big trips next summer.

Read more: Backcountry Banff with Kids - Egypt Lake

Our Cabin at Egypt Lake, Banff National Park
Healy Pass in all her splendor
My strong mighty hiker!

Ten - December Castle Mountain Hostel Trip in Banff National Park

I had to wrap up the top ten with this recent trip to a great hostel that is quickly becoming one of my favourites. We discovered a beautiful new ski trail in the Castle Mountain area that was a lot of fun and we hiked Johnston Canyon to see frozen waterfalls and crawl inside ice caves.  It was a great weekend and it launched another great winter of adventures to come in 2016.

Read more: Ice Caves and Frozen Waterfalls in Banff National Park

Skiing at Castle Mountain, Banff National Park
Exploring Ice Caves at Johnston Canyon, Banff
Hiking Johnston Canyon, Banff

2016 is going to be another great year and I hope you'll keep following our adventures. It's a new year and it's time to move onward and upward to bigger and even more awesome trips ahead!


  1. wow nice blog picture.That's great information. Thanks for sharing this blog. I did a search and found your blog and glowing review. It's been a big help! Thanx!

  2. What a year you had! It's always a pleasure checking into your website and seeing what activities you and your family have just completed. Your son has become quite the adventurer. Best wishes for many more wonderful experiences in 2016! Happy New Year!

    1. Happy new year to you too! We should do something together in the new year. Email me. :)

  3. I certainly can't top that number of adventures but thanks to this blog, friends and I went to Hilda Creek last March and had a great time. Next month I will be skiing into the ACC Elk Lakes cabin and the information on this site is a big reason I am going.

    Have a good 2016 and looking forward to reading about more of your family's adventures!

    1. Thanks so much for your support and kind words. Glad you had fun at Hilda and glad to hear you are going into the Elk Lakes cabin.