Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is Coming - and I have tickets to win!!

The BMO Centre in Calgary is going to be the place to be for outdoor adventure and travel lovers this March on the weekend of the 21 & 22nd.  The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is back and it promises to be better than ever.

Why should you go?  

  • To chat with amazing vendors representing local and international adventure and travel companies 
  • There will be over 200 exhibitors showcasing the latest camping gear, paddle sports, outdoor clothing, and adventure travel destinations
  • To attend educational classes, photography workshops and skills seminars.  You might come away from the weekend with a new found love for scuba diving, kayaking or even stand up paddleboarding
  • To connect with thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and even meet a local author or travel expert
Plan out your next big vacation at the Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show

Adventure Features:


Canoe, Kayak, and SUP demonstrations in the Canoe & Kayak Zone.  From there, you can head over to the SUP Pavilion and find all the gear you'll need to get started.

A White Water Demo Pool where you can watch kayak, paddle, and underwater demonstrations, learn how to paddle, snorkel or scuba, and test out the latest equipment on the market.

A Camping Showcase where you can learn all about the newest camping gear from tents to sleeping bags, backpacks and camp furniture.

A Running and Triathlon Zone where you can attend seminars on techniques for training and learn how to keep your body healthy.  You'll get the chance to meet with health and diet professionals and even talk to experts about how to train for a marathon.

Learn all about Stand up Paddleboarding in the SUP Pavilion

 

Travel Features:  


An Adventure Travel Pavilion filled with representatives from around the world to help you plan out your next big adventure trip.  After that, head over to the International Travel Pavilion or visit the folks at the "G Adventures" booth where you can even enter to win a trip somewhere!

Photography workshops from the staff at the Camera Store.  After this you'll be prepared to take that winning photo on your next international vacation.

Interactive Seminars at The "Best of Alberta" Adventure Theatre so that you'll be set to plan your next local adventure (maybe even the next weekend.)  After that, head to the Adventure Theatre where you can hear about international trips from seasoned travelers as they share their incredible stories and photos.

Where do you want to travel??

And for the Kids...


Check out the Junior Outdoor Adventures Program and inspire your children to "Get Out and Get Moving."   The Junior program is a scavenger hunt that promises "A family and kid-friendly fun-filled journey to explore the world of outdoor activities including camping, hiking, paddle safety, obstacle courses, ziplining, tobogganing, kids crafts, sailing, bird watching, and cycling."

With that description alone I want to take my son to the Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show to complete the scavenger hunt.  He's 6 and already talking about his next trip to Mexico so that he can go ziplining again.

Get the kids inspired with the Junior Outdoor Adventures Program


How to buy and WIN tickets


Tickets can be purchased on line for $6 or you can buy tickets at the door for $8 (cash or debit only.)  Children 11 and under are free.  If you order online and use the promo code:  rockies , you'll also save $3 off the regular ticket price.

All other information (hours, schedule, and location) can be found on the Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show website.


Enter to Win one of two Family Passes of 4 FREE admission tickets


That's right - two lucky families will be going to the Outdoor Adventure & Travel show for free.  Please enter below using the Rafflecopter entry form.

The contest is open to all Alberta residents interested in attending the show.  I will contact the winners to get mailing information so that you receive your tickets in time.

The contest will close on February 16th at midnight.





a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Winter Biking with the Stiga Kick Combo Scooter

I know I say "best" a lot when I write (the best campground, best hike, best bike ride...) but I've definitely never written a story about a toy before or found one that I would say is the best outdoor product on the market for kids.  Until now...

I am in love with my son's new Stiga Kick Combo Scooter!  ("Combo" means it comes with wheels and skis.)  And Noah's pretty thrilled about the new toy too.  It has the potential to change the way we get outside and is actually working wonders at making me feel more calm and happy.

First Ride on the new Stiga Kick Scooter

Reasons to love scooters:

 

Kids can go crazy fast on scooters


While this might sound slightly scary (especially if the child isn't very good at braking yet,) consider this:
  • You get an adult-paced walk in!
  • Adult-paced walking means good exercise for Mama!! (and less guilt over not using that gym membership.)
  • You can choose to bike alongside if you prefer or you can get a jog in.  If I were a runner, I'd be running a good 5km per day chasing my son on his scooter with the current spring like weather we are having.
  • Younger kids will keep up on balance bikes so there's options for everybody!
  • You can push a chariot with your babe or toddler in it while your older child rides his scooter.  It's win win for everybody.

Matching Stiga Kick Scooters

 

The learning curve is very small


My son is awesome at riding a bike so maybe that's why we experienced such a small learning curve.  However, I'm still impressed that in maybe 4 trips out with the scooter, my son has taught himself to kick, to glide, and to brake.  I taught him none of that.

I hear parents complain all the time about how they can't teach their child to ride a bike because they have two children and can't focus on both at the same time when one needs constant help with his or her bike.  Or, mom wants dad to be home to help with the biking (and it currently gets dark here by 5:00pm.)  Enter the scooter where you don't have to do anything!  I did not run alongside holding my son up, I didn't have to put a hand on his back or around his neck, and I could have very easily been pushing a stroller or helping another child on a balance bike.

Year round riding in Calgary


Scooters are awesome as "winter bikes"


We love our Spawn pedal bike and  a scooter will never replace it.  However, in winter we have icy sidewalks, leftover snow on our pathways, and sketchy conditions for riding.  I'm just not comfortable having my son ride his bike to school right now.  The scooter however, is easy to hop on and off of whenever we encounter ice.  My son is getting very good at jumping off when he sees a slippery patch.  He walks over and starts riding again.  It's ideal for winter riding and commuting to school!!!

Commuting to school on the Stiga Kick Scooter


Scooters are easy to transport!


Again, we love our bikes but I have to admit, they are a pain in the butt to transport!  I have to take the truck and put on the bike rack the night before.  This means planning a bike ride in advance.  With the scooter though, I can just throw it in the back of my car and off we go.  My son's teacher has even been letting me store it in the hallway outside his class at school right now.  (with a warning that come spring it can't stay there - fair enough.)

Coffee dates and walks with Mom

 

Scooters are just plain EASY


I love my bike but sometimes I just want to go for a simple walk.  I want to bring my coffee mug and sip away at my beautiful hot drink while walking alongside my son on his scooter.  It's easy and there's so much less equipment to pack on our outings.  And best of all, when we get to our coffee shop or destination, it's pretty easy to just bring the scooter inside with us rather than looking for bike racks.

The city clears these river pathways year round for cyclists and riders

 

Finally, Mama needs quiet time!


I love my son but I also require daily periods of quiet time and I get this when we do our scooter walks.  My son is always a good block ahead of me so I basically get to go for a peaceful quiet walk by myself.  I've taught Noah to wait for me at corners, intersections, road crossings, etc. and he knows to stay on the ride side of a pathway or sidewalk.  He's also 6 years old so I fully trust him to be riding ahead of me (while still in sight.)

I am starting to fall in love with our scooter walks which have the perfect blend of quiet time for me, and together time with my son.  I might even cry when the snow comes back and we have to hang up the scooter for another few months till spring.

Scooting around downtown Calgary



Why buy a Combo Scooter


We got our scooter from Mastermind Toys and it's a combo model which means it comes with wheels and skis.  We've tried the skis on the scooter and found it to be challenging if you've never used a scooter before.  Now that Noah's figured it out with wheels though, I fully expect him to enjoy the scooter with both wheels and skis.  In a city like Calgary where you can have bare sidewalks one day and then a full blizzard the next day (even in May) it's a good option to have both wheels and skis.  It means you will get to use the scooter 12 months out of the year if you want and practice makes perfect when using it year-round.





Special thanks to Mastermind Toys for the Stiga Kick Combo Scooter that was given to us.  I'd recommend it for any child 5+ with the understanding that the skis will have a higher learning curve and might not get used until the child is a bit older. Fortunately, your child will have plenty of time to get good at the skis because the scooter maxes out at 50kg or 110 pounds!! Safe to say my son won't reach that point for several years!

Trying the Stiga Kick Scooter with ski attachment

So far we are finding our scooter to be stable, sturdy, and able to handle the abuse a typical 5 or 6 year old will throw at it.  It's also extremely light so I don't mind carrying it to school if I have to for the ride home when it's less icy and a bit warmer than the morning commute.

More information on the Stiga Kick Combo Scooter can be found on the Mastermind Toys website .

Here's a final video of the scooter in use with wheels:



Disclaimer:  The Stiga scooter was provided to my family to try out and review but all words are my own and I now want to buy a scooter for myself.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

In Search of the Ultimate Backcountry Ski Lodge (on Snowshoes)

I’m fortunate to live a short hour outside the park gates of Banff National Park where opportunities for both skiing and snowshoeing are abundant. Backcountry lodges are also plentiful for multi-day trips but tend to cater to skiers who will either ski in to the lodge (and maybe explore the area further on snowshoes once settled in) or else will fly in via helicopter and spend their days seeking out turns in the high alpine. Meanwhile, options are slim for those of us wanting to access backcountry cabins and lodges on snowshoes via an easy to moderate winter hiking trail.

In search of the ultimate backcountry ski lodge - on snowshoes


Most of the lodges I’ve looked at in the Canadian Rockies encourage visitors to either ski or snowshoe in. Further research however would reveal that nobody really chooses to snowshoe unless there’s a limiting factor. For example, friends have told me of trips taken on snowshoes because a party member didn’t know how to ski in the backcountry, and I once took my mother into a lodge on snowshoes because I knew there was no way she’d be skiing up and over a mountain pass without breaking a leg.

Choosing to snowshoe to a backcountry ski lodge in Banff National Park

Devout skiers will still disagree with me, but I have found a backcountry lodge in the Canadian Rockies that I actually find pleasant to reach on snowshoes. Sure, it’s not as fast without skis (that’s a given), but the scenery en route to the lodge is drop-dead beautiful and you’ll be hiking on an honest to goodness trail (the same trail that summer visitors hike in fact.) You will climb over two mountain passes and across the middle of a large alpine lake as you travel to this lodge, and you will work for that afternoon tea waiting for you upon your arrival.

Reaching an awesome backcountry ski lodge -  on snowshoes

To read more, please continue to my newest story for Snowshoe Magazine:  In Search of the Ultimate Backcountry Ski Lodge (on snowshoes)

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


Monday, January 12, 2015

Ice Skating on the Ghost Lake Reservoir

There's a magical window in the Rockies where some lakes freeze solid enough for skating before they become snow covered.  This usually happens in mid to late November.  This year we were fortunate to get out to Johnson Lake in Banff twice during this window and it was incredible, as always!

Natural Ice Skating in the Rockies


"Secret" Lake Skating in the Rockies


There are plenty of beautiful places to skate in the Rockies but I'm always looking for that "secret" spot.  That spot that does not have zillions of other skaters on it.  Perhaps, that spot where I even to have to do my own measurements and determine if it's safe enough to go out on the ice.  I also like beautiful scenery and it doesn't cut it for me to go skating in the middle of the town of Banff.  I like to skate on lakes that get no grooming, no professional care, and are completely wild and natural.


This is Ice Skating at its BEST on the Ghost Reservoir

Is it Safe??


Is it dangerous?  Possibly!  Do we still skate on mountain lakes?  Definitely!  We just make sure that we see evidence that others have gone before us.  Ice boats out on the Ghost Reservoir - good sign that it's safe!  Other skating tracks and figure eights out on the ice - good sign that others have skated here and hopefully not fallen in!  A cleared off hockey rink - very good sign because somebody obviously got out on the ice to clear off their patch of heaven for skating.  And again, hopefully did not fall in!!

Noah loves being blown down lake by wind


Searching for a new place to skate in December


We were out in the mountains skiing in December and I asked if we could come home to Calgary via the Hwy 1A through Morley and Cochrane because I wanted to see if the Ghost Lake Reservoir was frozen or not.  We'd checked back in November and it most definitely was not frozen!  But by mid-December I had hopes that this gigantic lake would be frozen and snow free since it had been many a week since we'd had fresh snow.


Skating on the Ghost Lake off the Hwy 1A

Approaching the Reservoir I knew we were in luck because I saw members of the Ghost Lake Ice Sailing Club out on the lake.  (the link is to the club's Facebook page if you want to follow them and find out when the ice is clear.)  Here's a video of ice sailing too because I think it's super cool to watch!

Ghost Lake Reservoir - Great for Ice Sailing and Skating

Sunset Skating on Ghost Lake


The experience skating on the Ghost Lake was surreal!  It was beautiful and we were the only ones out on the lake skating as sun set fell over the foothills on the night of the Winter Solstice.

Sunset Skating on the Ghost Lake Reservoir
Celebrating the Winter Solstice on Ghost Lake


Round Two of Skating on Ghost Lake


I was so overwhelmed by the experience of skating on the Ghost Reservoir that we dropped everything a couple days later to go back for round two. We managed to convince some brave friends to join us (who showed up wearing life jackets, lol.)  Nobody fell in though and we all had a blast!

Kids skating on Ghost Lake
No  better skating rink than this!
Skating under the bridge was really cool!
Skating under the highway on the Ghost Reservoir

 

Video of Skating on the Ghost Lake Reservoir



 

Additional Resources and Information on Skating in the Rockies

 

Ice Skating in Banff National Park - National Park website

Carrot Creek:  Banff's Secret Skating Spot - By Jody Robins

Embrace Winter - Skating on Lakes - By Run Bikes YYC

8 Memorable Places to Skate in Banff National Park - By Meghan Ward for Real Banff

November is my Favourite Month to Visit Banff - Story on my blog about skating Johnston Lake

Skating Season in the Rockies - Story on my blog about natural skating in Banff





Thursday, January 08, 2015

Winter Wilderness Trips - The Method and the Madness

Want to guess how many winter wilderness trips we have planned over the next 4 months??  TEN!! And our son gets to come on six of the trips - which means we have to be really efficient at packing, preparing, and organizing.

Below is a quick preview of where we'll be exploring this winter with tips on how to prepare for your own winter wilderness adventures.


The First Wilderness Trip - Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel


This trip is already finished now but I'm still counting it towards our ten trips since it happened just before Christmas and involved two nights spent in a small cabin in Banff surrounded by snow.  We love the Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel and try to make an annual trip here every winter.  This year we reserved a full dorm room for 12 people and travelled with two other families.  We spent two days cross country skiing and snowshoeing and thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Icefields Parkway.

This is Mosquito Creek and there's no flying insects here!! Just Pure Beauty and snow!


More information (and photos) can be found here at Five Reasons to Take your Family to Mosquito Creek this Winter.

Playing in the snow outside the Mosquito Creek Hostel

Karen of the Play Outside Guide has also written a couple of stories about our trip:  How to Weather a Wilderness Hostel with Kids in Winter and Get Closer to Nature at Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel.

Mosquito Creek in Winter


The Next Nine Trips - Where We're Going This Winter


Our trips will be divided into front country outings at wilderness hostels, and backcountry trips at cabins or lodges that we'll ski or snowshoe into.  The Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel will be a combination of both front and backcountry since it's set so far off the highway you have to wear snowshoes to reach the cabins. It also has no running water so we'll have to use all of our winter camping skills for this trip!  Otherwise, the hostel trips are pretty easy and we don't expect to suffer too much.


Girls' Trip this weekend in Banff! 28 Girls, one wilderness hostel, and two days of x-country skiing at the Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel.  This trip will be pretty comfortable with indoor plumbing and electricity.  Hardly "wilderness" but still set in the mountains far from the city.

Paradise Valley where we hope to be skiing at least one day this weekend

Girls' Snowshoe Trip to Skoki Lodge!! Skoki Lodge is an historic backcountry ski lodge in Banff dating back to 1930.  I'll be joining my girlfriend Alannah of The Campsite on this incredible two night tripAnd we certainly won't be suffering at this catered lodge!

Skoki Lodge, Banff National Park (I'll be here next week!!!)

Family Trip to Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel in Banff.  We'll spend another weekend on the Icefields Parkway in Banff with two other families.  This time though, we'll stay at the Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel.   We've never stayed here before so we are excited to explore another corner of paradise in Banff National Park.

Gotta Love the Icefields Parkway in winter!

February long weekend in Jasper!  We'll be spending three nights at the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Hostel in Jasper where we plan to spend lots of time exploring the frozen canyon on ice cleats.  We'll be joined by two other families and this is another new wilderness hostel for us.

Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park


Dad's weekend out and backcountry ski trip to Roger's Pass.  This is my husband's weekend away and he's excited to be spending a couple nights at the Wheeler Hut in Glacier National Park, BC with some other friends.  Gotta let Dad out of the house occasionally for a solo trip or two!

We're also letting Dad have a second weekend away for some backcountry skiing at the Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel on the Icefields Parkway. 

Playing around at Hilda Creek

Family weekend in Kananaskis.  We like to spend a weekend at the Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel close to home once a winter.  We'll do that this spring and enjoy some downhill skiing at Nakiska next door.  The Kananaskis hostel is one of the more comfortable wilderness hostels with indoor plumbing and microwaves!  It's much more decadent than the other hostels we'll be staying at.

First trip to the Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel

Family weekend at the Hilda Creek Hostel!  The Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel is much more than just a ski hut!  It's also a fun family base camp where we'll spend Easter this year snowshoeing, building snow forts, and playing in the warm spring snow.  It's also borderline "Backcountry" and we expect to be boiling snow for drinking water and practicing many of our winter camping skills.

Our paradise at Hilda Creek

Lake O'Hara Family Backcountry Ski Trip!  We were supposed to do this one last weekend but it was way too cold!  So April it is and it better be warmer.  We'll be staying at the Elizabeth Parker Hut which is next to impossible to get space in.  Come April though there are a lot more spots available. It is an 11km ski in so it's going to be a big challenge for our six-year old son but we're up for it!  Let's hope he is too.

The Elizabeth Parker Hut, Lake O'Hara

 

Packing and Planning for Backcountry Winter Wilderness Trips


There is a LOT I could say about packing and planning for a winter wilderness trip.  And it very much depends on whether you are going into the backcountry or if you are staying in a front country wilderness hostel (that may even have indoor plumbing.)  90% of our trips this winter will be in the front country and will require a very different kind of packing.  Still, below are some tips that I've picked up over the past couple of years.

One - There is NO guarantee that your winter wilderness trips will happen!!  Be prepared to cancel last minute, to forfeit your booking reservation (up to 50% of your entire booking with the Alpine Club,) and to change plans last minute.  Already this winter, we've rescheduled for Rampart Creek and Lake O'Hara because the weather was too cold for both.  I also got sick right before Lake O'Hara.  Things happen and in winter, you have to expect that some trips just won't happen!  Plan for them but be prepared to stay home and huddle in front of the fireplace instead.

One of my favourite photos of us hauling our gear (and son) into a backcountry cabin


Two - Always go with friends.  Everything is more fun with friends in the backcountry or in the wilderness at any time of year.  In winter it's especially true though.  Cold temperatures make it hard to motivate the kids to get outside.  Add a couple of friends though and most kids can be tempted to get out for a quick hike or to build a snowman.

Kids at Mosquito Creek (they could have spent hours playing outside the hostel together)


Three - Pack a car bag.  This is the bag that will be handy and readily accessible the second you arrive at your hostel or parking lot.  Depending on the time of day this will definitely include head lamps!  I don't know how many times we have arrived at Mosquito Creek in the evening with all the headlamps packed away.  It's front country, but you have to park right off the highway and walk through the trees a couple hundred metres to reach the hostel (which is not fun in the dark while pulling all your gear to the cabin in a sled with no headlamp!)

Hauling gear out of Hilda Creek

The car bag should also include all mittens and hats.  Most wilderness hostels will require a short walk to reach the cabins and you'll be hauling all of your stuff in (often by sled.)  You'll want your outerwear handy rather than packed away.

The hike required to get back to the highway from the Hilda Creek Hostel


Four - Travel with a large hockey bag for Wilderness Hostels.  My husband gets angry with me when I pack everything for our weekend into 10 tiny bags and backpacks.  Many of the hostels we stay at require a short walk and to reach Hilda Creek you'll even need snowshoes to cross the 500 metres from parking lot to cabins.  This is near impossible and a huge pain in the butt if you pack everything in tiny bags requiring a zillion trips from the car.  Pack everything in big hockey bags, throw them on sleds,  and pull them to the front door. 

Our gear outside the Hilda Creek Hostel

Five - Bring toys, games, movies, etc. for the hours spent indoors.  You are not going to be outside skiing, snowshoeing, and making snowmen all day and night long.  The kids will spend hours inside the hostel or cabin (especially if it's cold outside.) We love books and take turns reading stories to the kids.  Card games like Uno are also popular along with movies on a tablet or portable DVD player. 

Coloring at the Mosquito Creek Hostel after skiing all day

Additional Resources and Reading


Winter Camping With Kids (No Tent!!)  - This story covers many of the wilderness hostels in the Rockies that you can stay at in winter as a family along with backcountry cabins that you can snowshoe or ski into. In the story are dozens of links to other stories I've written on the topic.



Good luck and see you in the wilderness this winter! 


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