canada general moosling snow trip reports

Elizabeth Parker hut trip (Day 3)

Day Three of the hut trip was mostly about the toboggan run. Ok, some of it was about eating, and there was the small matter of skiing out somehow, but other than that, it was a toboggan run day.

Small children – they really do come in handy for hauling even smaller children around.

By this stage, the run was well worn in, and so aside from a few small adjustments, it was mostly just about trekking up the hill, and then sliding back down it.

And so we slid down…

And down…

And down…

And sometimes the whole family went at once…

And other times the kids just paired up…

But then, sadly, it was time to start thinking about heading home.

Thankfully a few responsible adults had been back at the hut doing most of the cleaning and tidying while the rest of us were off playing, and so it didn’t take long to do the final pack up and hit the road.

The Moosling was very motivated by a desire to catch up with his friends who had already left to start walking and sliding out down to the road. It didn’t take long though, and then he lost all interest in skiing, and was busy running and jumping onto a toboggan most of the rest of the way down.

Until it got too flat for that to really work, and I ended up tying one of the toboggans to my pack and towing him along on that. Whatever works.

We all met up together one last time at the lunch spot for a group photo. Thanks Team Awesome! It was a great weekend. Booking out the whole hut and filling it with families you know really is pretty fun, and a great way to spend a few days – and the kids have an absolute blast.

We definitely didn’t make record time on the way out, but I got to experience the thrill of having a 6-year old sliding down a hill beside me on a toboggan, screaming with joy (as I tried to not ski into him). Great fun.

canada general moosling snow trip reports

Elizabeth Parker hut trip (Day 2)

And so the second day dawned beautifully.

After breakfast, and the requisite sitting about, we decided to get out and build the Epic Toboggan Run. (The Moosling thinks everything is epic these days)

After a fair bit of digging and compaction, we started sending down some sleds. And then a whale, in a short-lived return of alpine whaling.

It turns out whales don’t handle cold temperatures very well, they’re better suited for spring conditions. The toboggan run was a hit otherwise, with constant laps up and down the hill.

Back in the hut, it was time for snacks, lunch, and hanging out with cute babies.

The kids spent some time playing games and reading.

And then a few of us set out for a wee ski tour.

Up behind the hut, and out across the meadows to McArthur Pass.

Hurrah, it’s fluffy snow!

Conditions weren’t actually all that enticing, but the guys found a rock to climb on top of.

And to ski off again.

And the run back down to the hut was actually quite fun. Lovely snow!

A few of us went out to offer a hand to some of the crew who were skiing in. Then the kids were back at the games, playing Settlers of Catan like fiends.

And the grown ups? We sat around and ate even more food. Of course.

And then, after dinner, it was time for the devouring of the birthday cake! Rainbow style.

canada general moosling snow trip reports

Elizabeth Parker hut family trip again! (Day 1)

The family hut trips last winter were so fun, we decided then to book out Elizabeth Parker hut and do it all over again this winter. And my resulting blog posts are apparently so photo-laden that I’m going to split up the trip day by day.

Filling up an entire hut with friends is wonderful fun, but definitely a little involved – especially thanks to the National Parks need to buy wilderness passes on top of paying the hut fee… and then depending where you get the wilderness pass, you need to pay an additional booking fee, and argh! But once that’s all done, you just get to enjoy the trip, hurrah! Although the actual logistics of getting yourself plus kid/s up to the hut for a couple of nights can sometimes feel overwhelming too…

But then, finally, you’ve locked the car one last time (“Did I definitely press the beeper?” “I think so.” “I’m sure you did.” “I didn’t see the lights flash though.” “Maybe I’ll just go back and check it one more time.”) and you’re skiing.

We had pretty nice conditions for our ski in. A bit cloudy, but not too cold, and lovely snow. Definitely not too cold compared to all this -25oC and -30oC weather that’s been kicking around this winter. We’d already cancelled one hut trip thanks to unpleasant cold levels.

Our ski-in group consisted of two 3-year olds, a 5-year old, a 6-year old, and eight adults. Some of the crew had motored on ahead of us, and some were going to be making it in later that day.

And so we skied in slowly, and practised the art of patience and coaxing small children to cover long distances.

Lunch breaks that involve stopping and playing in the snow definitely help! The picnic table at the 5km marker of the Lake O’Hara road makes for a great lunch stop, and has a couple of hills for keeping tobogganing kids happy.

And then we continued, and the Moosling sometimes skied under his own steam, although mostly I was towing him. Not pictured, as I’m the photographer, and so was mostly taking photos when I wasn’t towing a slightly grumpy 6-year old (some ski trips just involve higher grumpiness levels than others, it’s just a thing, 6-year olds are people too).

But then finally, on to the final twisty narrow trail through the trees. And disaster, as the Chariot overturned and Kat’s coffee cup fell down a snowy cliff, and she had to climb down and retrieve it. Successfully, I might add.

The final stretch, where you can see the smoke wisping up from the huts, and then finally, through the trees, the huts appear in view.

And then a few of us headed back out to help the others after dumping bags at the hut. Hurrah, light-weight skiing!

And then, hut life. The two really small kids hang out in the main cabin, discussing the sweet lines they’ll be skiing tomorrow. Well, maybe give them another decade at least.

Group meals tend to lead to a hedonistic smorgasbord of deliciousness. There was as much eating on this trip as there was anything else. The cheese! The dips! The bready goodness! And that was only the appetisers.

And so friends, and friends of friends, and new friends, all create an enormous racket, as everyone chats and socialises, eats delicious food, and drinks delicious port.

And outside? The night is brilliant, calm and quiet, filled with stars and the beautiful Milky Way.

canada general moosling snow trip reports

Easter at Elizabeth Parker hut

This was a trip that came about in a more unusual way than most. I met Tanya through Instagram, where she posts as @mountainmomyyc. And we started chatting, in an online kind of way, and she said “Hey, we should go on an adventure together some time” – and I agreed. So when one of the families had to drop out of the Elizabeth Parker hut trip she had planned for Easter, I was among the families she shouted out the invitation to. And as we’d just had a fantastic fun trip up there, we jumped at the chance.

And so, in one of those moments where the internet shines and demonstrates that it’s not just a cesspit of the awfulness of humanity, we set off for a trip to a hut with a bunch of other families we’d never met before. And hoped none of them were axe murderers (spoilers: they weren’t).

At the trailhead we parked next to Andrea and David and their three kids – introducing ourselves and starting the process of getting to know folks.

As we skied up the 11 kilometres to the hut we skied with different people, and chatted, and got to know each other, and I ended up losing my own family entirely and skied along having interesting conversations with other peoples kids.

One of the interesting things was the variety of towing mechanisms everyone was using. We were just working with an old inner tube with a couple of slings attached, based on the system I’d used a few times up at Jackrabbits. But there was one very nice carabiner/bungee/rope/tow bar setup that I think we’ll try and copy for next time.

One family was just hiking in with a sled, and towards the end of the trip quite a few of the kids had switched from skis to snowshoes or boots. It’s a long uphill slog when you’re only five years old.

And then we settled into the huts. There were nine adults, eight kids (aged five to nine), and another two people who’d booked into the hut before Tanya had been able to book it out entirely. We were a little worried they’d be horrified, but they were lovely, and played Settlers of Catan with the kids (and one of them played guitar! and the other was Australian! Lovely I tell you!)

The benefit of having older kids along, is that they can sit and read to the other kids. And so the bunks were covered first with wrestling kids, then with kids playing lego and reading to each other, and then it was time for dinner.

Bedtime went about as smoothly as could be expected with all that excitement, but I managed to sleep fairly well that night, and didn’t have to get out of my sleeping bag until 7.30am, so I shall declare it a success.

After breakfast and some inside play, we decided to play near the hut for the first part of the morning. Which meant it was snow maze time!

Alex and I started digging out the snow maze we’d created last time we were up here, and soon recruited lots of helpers, and expanded the maze even further. David began digging out a quinzee in the middle of the maze, and it turned into an amazing nest of amazingness.

The kids had a ball running about, climbing up and down and jumping from wall to wall.

But then it was time to leave the maze, and go for a wander out towards Mary Lake. There was a delightful mix of snowshoes and skis, and we all wandered along together.

Including the unicorn, who had great difficulty keeping on track for some reason.

After skiing out halfway across the lake, we turned about and had lunch/snacks on the lake shore. Well, nearly the lake shore. I was wandering around at one point and punched straight through into slush. I don’t recommend that, although it definitely woke me up.

Meanwhile the unicorn got smaller, more fluorescent and significantly more dejected.

From there we wandered around to Lake O’Hara proper. Some of the crew headed back to the hut, some kept going to the far side of the lake to check out the waterfall, and some of us just opted to laze about in the sun.

You can see below which of those three camps we fell into.

The kids built a kicker to ski off, and dug a hole; the dads napped in the sun; the mums chatted, and were there to witness brave and fearless launches off the not very big or structurally sound kicker.

The afternoon brought the completion of the quinzee, and more snow maze time. And then tobogganing – which I have so many photos of that it’s going to get its own post.

Cupcakes were baked, and the kids got to decorate them, Easter style. And thanks to an eyeliner pencil that someone had thoughtfully (?) left behind in the hut, a lot of the kids developed rabbit whiskers.

And so the day started to draw to a close, and we retreated to the hut for dinner. Meanwhile the Easter Bunnies laid plans about an Easter Egg hunt.

The kids were exhausted, and so were supposed to fall asleep easily. However, mine was so overexcited that I had to crawl into my sleeping bag next to him in an attempt to get him to lie down and actually fall asleep. I assume it must have been successful, because the next thing I remember is waking up close to a midnight to a hut that was dark and quiet.

The next morning was Easter Sunday, and the Easter Bunny had been! He had conveniently left eggs around in groups of eight, so each of the kids could find one at each location – in and out of the huts, in the trees, in the snow maze, and all about.

The kids retreated to the bunks to assess their stashes. Some opened everything, eating the ones they liked as they went, and then handing all the ones they didn’t like back to their parents (that would be Finn). Others opened everything and then categorised their spoils according to size, type and colour. Needless to say, there was much excitement.

But then it was time to start packing up, and a few of our party left and started the journey back down to the trailhead.

Those of us who were left…. went tobogganing again!

Our luge track had set up firm and icy overnight, and we decided that a half-way launch point was probably the best option if we wanted to escape the weekend without major injuries. There were many more laps, but then it was time to go…

A toboggan train was dragged back to the huts, final checks were made, and the crew set off along the long road home.

The initial twisty turny section proved as interesting as ever, but we made it through unscathed and grouped together to begin the assault on the epic ‘downhill’ back to the cars.

With the warm weather, the trail had set fast… maybe tooo fast. We were flying down the hills, and some of us were terrified on occasions. We regrouped and re-jellybeaned at every kilometre marker, then stopped for lunch at the half-way picnic table. There we ran into a huge crew from Banff who were skiing in to the hut – our kids intermingled, and there was snowy mayhem in the sun, and the whisky jacks swarmed around us with delight.

Then the final stretch – with less downhill, and small legs getting tired, this took a little longer. But we made it! (Thanks to a combination of food-based bribery, conversation and songs)

Two of the coolest five year olds around, posing with victory at the bottom of the trail… then we packed up our cars, said our goodbyes, and drove home. New friends, fun weekend, more family trips must happen soon!

Note – Tanya’s write up of the trip can be found here.

Distance: 11.5km one way
Elevation gain: About 470m on the way in
Time to ski in: 6 hours in (we’ve done this in less time previously, and I took longer than my menfolk)
Time to ski out: 3.5 hours

canada general moosling snow trip reports

Amazing Elizabeth Parker hut expedition

Expedition may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but everything tends to turn into a bit of an expedition when you’re doing it with small children – at least when it comes to logistics.

We last spent a winter night up at Elizabeth Parker hut when the Moosling was just seven months old – it was his first hut trip.

This time it was three families, each with one child, who set off from the trailhead. Only having one child each does certainly make it easier. The two wee ones travelled in Chariots, while the Moosling was supposed to be skiing.

He was definitely travelling on skis, but worked out early on that he could grab onto the back of a Chariot to hitch a ride. So when he wasn’t being towed uphill, he was often finding other ways to be assisted up.

We broke for lunch at the half-way picnic table. The offspring all roared and pretended to be lions, while the adults ate and rehydrated. Then all the kids were inserted into their ski cages (with some kicking and wailing and gnashing of teeth), and the towing continued.

The Lake O’Hara road can be a long haul when you’re towing Chariots, and have kids to keep happy. It went fairly smoothly though, all things considered. Occasionally travelling in one big group, then splintering and reforming. Sometimes singing.

The Moosling was released from his pulky prison when we reached the summer bus stop, so he could ski the final kilometre or so to the hut. But first he spent some time being an assistant ski coach.

The final section was a little steeper and twistier than I remembered it being, but still didn’t take very long to coax a 5 year old through (at one point he made the call it was easier to remove his skis than side step up a hill section though).

And then we were at the hut, saving ourselves spots along the bunk, and letting the kids run about while we had the luxury of enjoying whole place to ourselves.

It was great having a pack of us there – this was our first group hut trip, and it’s a fantastic idea. The divide and conquer approach means you can have people making a meal, people chatting and relaxing, and people entertaining the kids – instead of having to ineffectively manage everything between two.

The hut was fully booked, but a big group had already filled out the smaller hut, so we only had a small party to share our sleeping quarters with.

We had a pleasant evening of relaxing by the fire, chopping wood, collecting snow, eating chocolate, drinking port, reading books to kids, trying to convince kids not to pile up all the sleeping bags and jackets into one enormous heap and jump on them, and reading the logbook.

We even slept ok! As far as sleeping in huts goes, I’ve had far worse nights without kids.

And then it was morning, and time for breakfast (French toast – our meal!), hut maintenance, and snow adventures. Getting out to play in the snow with the kids was great, and we probably should have spent time doing it the night before too.

Children were thrown into snow…

It had been snowing overnight, and just kept snowing and snowing throughout the morning.

Holes were dug….

But then it was finally time to get moving. We finished packing up, and started the ski ‘down’. Because it’s not really down is it. It feels like it should be. Maybe it even is if you’re skiing on fast snow without overnight gear. But when you’re towing a pulk through a few inches of fresh snow (Alex), or trying to tow a 5 year old up all of the slight rises (me… and Patrick), it just doesn’t quite feel like it. That road is definitely in my top 10 list of trails that are uphill both ways.

But with all the fresh snow, everything was beautiful. Eventually the snow stopped falling, and the descent really is much quicker than going in the other direction, so it must be at least vaguely downhill.

We arrived back at the cars, got packed up, high-fived each other for such a successful trip, then went to drive out of the parking lot. There was a train. What? It had been there for about half an hour. What?! Phone calls to various bodies of authority ensued. We all ended up piled into the back of the minivan for 45 minutes, until finally, miraculously, the train started to move. We were free!

Ski in: 11.5km, 460m elevation gain, elapsed time 5hr, moving time 3hr15min
Ski out: 11.5km, elapsed time 3hr15min, moving time 2hr15min