Sunday, 27 July 2014

Castle Mountain + Bow Lake

Last weekend, we  headed up to Banff to do some camping and meet some friends for lunch on Sunday.  We had been beyond spoiled in Calgary with crazy hot weather lasting days and days on end so it was a bit of a shock when we got to Banff and it was so cold and wet and rainy!
We set up our campsite at Castle Mountain Campground which is Banff National Park close to Lake Louise and Jasper National Park which is why it was no problem to make the drive into JNP to go canoeing at Bow Lake.  We also made the drive down the road to Bow Glacier.  Finley loved this as she has been obsessed with the Bow + Elbow Rivers and how water works and where it comes from ever since the AB Floods.
It was so yucky that we didn’t think a canoe ride was in our future but it cleared up for a bit and we took advantage of this.
Getting ready to go for a quick canoe ride.
The scenery was stunning and it was a great canoe ride until it was time to turn around and head back to shore.
Crowfoot Glacier
Somebody was clearly tired out.  I would have LOVED to trade spots with Finley.  I was so tired.  It was so windy and almost impossible to get back to shore.  It took us 15 minutes to get to where we decided to turn around and 45 minutes to get back.  My arms felt like jello when we finally did get back.
The little river area behind the mini mall area in Lake Louise.  We stopped at the bakery to get treats and walked along down here.  It is really nice!
So cute when she sleeps!
Biking around the campsite.  They couldn’t go far in either direction but they had a great time
At the top of Tunnel Mountain!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Pedalheads Bike Camp

Last week Finley went to Pedalheads Bike Camp to learn how to ride a bike.  It was HIGHLY recommended by pretty much anybody who has ever used it.  I wish I would have heard of it and put Finley in it last summer!!  They are so AWESOME!!
Finley on her way to bike camp.  It was just in shawnessy at the community skating rink so it was literally 5 minutes from our house – so convenient.  Although you can’t see, she has her training wheels on.  When I picked her up, her instructor asked me to take them off tonight because she was ready to go without.  I was SHOCKED.  Finley hated her bike only a few weeks prior.  And it was because in the spring she fell of it and landed in a huge puddle of mud and was not happy.  She freaked out and not because she was hurt.  
This was Day 3 – no training wheels, no help to get going from her instructor.  She was just so proud of herself.  In fact, when we got in the car after I picked her up, she was like “I just can’t believe it Mom, I really can’t”.  It was so cute.  She couldn’t wait to show her daddy when he got home from work.  Although Greg was excited that she could ride without training wheels, he felt a little guilty that we contracted out teaching our child how to ride a bike.  
Her last day of bike camp! Her instructor was worried she would be bored because she was so far ahead of the other kids in her group but she still loved riding around and they got her working on her hand signals, turning directions on her bike and trying to use her brakes.  She did really well at using her breaks which is great because she was consistently using the tips of her toes.
Doing her turns.  She passed camp with flying colours and can go onto Level 2, which we will probably do next summer.  
We now go for bike rides nearly every day.  I have been walking with them but as soon as my knee is better, I will have to take my bike or run.  They are so far ahead of me!  Finley also really improved with her steering and now has no problems riding on the sidewalk.  Although if you ask her, she still prefers the wide sidewalks in the above photo then below.
Although I had reservations on whether or not Finley would be successful at Pedalheads, I was quickly proven wrong.  It is a fantastic program that has great instructors who are clearly good at what they do. Each day was a themed day and they got t-shirts, had face painting, got to go on bike ramps and had western day.  Finley really enjoyed it.  So as you can probably guess, I highly recommend Pedalheads and the great thing is that they have locations all over Calgary and Edmonton and I think also in BC so you have lots of options!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Lake Bourgeau

A couple weekends ago, Greg convinced me to hike Lake Bourgeau.  He figured it would take about 8 hours give or take and be anywhere from 24K and up depending on if we made it up to the top.
He said it would be good training for our upcoming half marathon so I agreed to do it.  So we woke early one Sunday morning, dropped the girls off at my Aunty’s for the day and headed out to Banff. 
It was raining and gloomy the whole way there and it was raining pretty heavily when we started the hike.  The forecast showed mostly sunny skies so I wore shorts.  At least I had a couple layers on under neath.
It wasn’t too far in before I shed all layers (within reason of course) because I was so hot even when walking through snow like this.  Little did I know that this was JUST the beginning of all the snow I would encounter.
The views were spectacular.  There weren’t many in the beginning but once you got higher, it was amazing.
Greg crossing the bridge made out of rock and steel mesh.  It was underneath a waterfall.  It was pretty cool.  I will have more photos on Facebook if you want to see more.
A marmot.  There were tons of them in the area.  I actually had no idea that they even lived in Banff.  We had seen them before but it was in Yellowstone.
This was Lake Bourgeau from a higher peak.  The top mountain peak was our destination.  We only ended making it to the closest snowy peak to the left but more on that later.  The “easy” trail ended at the Lake and so the rest of the distance was all crazy and hard.  So hard.  So many steep hills, lots of snow, creeks, loose rocks, dirt, mud.  It was so hard.  
Lots of snow.  It wasn’t too bad on the way up because it was pretty hardened but it had melted and softened on our way down so it got pretty tricky.  At one point I just sat on my bum and slid down because there was less risk of falling down the side.
These creeks resulted in lots of wet, cold feet.  Especially on the way back because I was so tired that you kinda to think it out very well.
This was pretty cool to see.  Such a pretty view.  
More mountain scenery.  It was truly incredible.
Greg near the top.  He hates heights and even though I have known that forever it was the first time where I actually saw the fear and saw his behaviours change.   Unfortunately for him I have no fear of heights and this stressed him out a lot.  At some points I just hiked behind me to save him some stress.  
I was as high as the mountains in front of me.  We decided it turn around at this point because it was cold, windy, snowy, rainy and we had already been hiking for 5 hours or so and it was still a very tough 40 mins to the peak plus that amount back.  We were both glad we made this decision.
This was a pretty view and unfortunately Greg didn’t see it because you had to stand on the edge of the mountain to get it the photo.
Another view of the mountain valley.  I took a video of my view from the highest point of our journey.  I will share it on Instagram if you are interested in seeing it.  It was impossible to capture it with a single photography.  It was amazing.
Greg insisted we stop at the Lake on our way back for a rest.  It was another 2.5 hours down and at some points I seriously thought it was never gonna end and I was gonna be stuck there forever.
There it is.  Although we didn’t make it to the very top of the peak, I am still so proud of myself.  24K of hiking in just under 8 hours with 1000m of elevation or something like that is quite impressive.  I have done some tough hikes in my life but nothing like this.  I still can’t believe I did it.  And so many times I told myself I was done and needed to turn back but I toughed it out and survived.  I am more confident that I will be ready for my half marathon in 5 weeks.  I look forward to conquering another mountain although I can safely say that I will never ever do this one again!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Forget Me Not Pond

Forget Me Not Pond is a cute little picnic area slash boating area slash hiking area just down the highway from us.  I think it’s past highway 22 onto highway 66 but i don’t really know highway numbers.  I am sure Google could help you out.  It is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  So peaceful, so serene.  All of the benches have dedications to lost loved ones.  It’s so sweet and sad at the same time. I was especially saddened to see one couple who died 19 days apart – so similar to my own grandparents who themselves only 17 days without one another.
The parking is great and their are TONS of picnic spots if you are willing to walk around the pond otherwise the ones close to the parking tend to fill up fast and early – especially on gorgeous weekends like this one was.
The water was crisp clean and waiting for people to enjoy it.  We made a mental note to bring the canoe next time we visited because what a beautiful ride it would be.
The hike is pretty much all flat and not too long so it’s great for people of all hiking abilities.
It’s a  hop skip and a drive away from our house, a perfect trek for a day outside the city 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Elbow Valley Campground

Last weekend, Greg got off work early and decided that we should go camping.  The girls were so excited so I agreed.  We didn’t want to go too far as there was a good chance we wouldn’t get a site and since we had to come back on Saturday it didn’t make sense to drive too far.
So we headed down highway 22 and then onto highway 66 and after seeing signs at EVERY campground that all sites were booked – even walk in ones, we were getting worried.
But at the very last campground, we found a walk in site at Elbow Valley Campground.  It was cute and horse friendly if you ever find yourself camping with one haha.  This is where that pretty pink bridge is located
The girls LOVE to help which is great, since I do not.  Although I am sure you all know that by now. I do as little as i can get away with while we are camping.
This was Finley using her jump rope thing as a lasso which was fitting seeing as how it was opening weekend of the greatest outdoor show on earth!
And of course, there were marshmallows.
Lots and lots of marshmallows
Well that is not entirely true.  I only pack 16 marshmallows – 4 for each of us.  I only had one smore so they had 5 each.  I was too busy finishing The Fault In Our Stars to care about anything.  What an absolute heart wrencher.
Nice fire we had going
Penelope forgot her blankie at home which could have been a disaster because she isn’t too fond of sleeping bags or the sleeping quilts we got them instead.  But she did really well without it.  So proud of her.