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 hiking moosling trip reports

Stanley Mitchell hut trip

Another weekend, another hut trip – it must be summer in the Canadian Rockies.

This time around we were heading out to spend two nights in the Stanley Mitchell hut. In the carpark we decided to hike in via the Iceline – the weather was so nice, and who knows what the next couple of days would bring. Plus there was the added advantage of getting the uphill over and done with first thing. At least that was the theory.

We had three small hikers hiking in with us, and a fourth so small that she was carried the whole way in.

The boys did a pretty great job of hiking in up the enormous hill. Occasionally they argued or complained, but they also did cute things like hiking along holding hands and chatting.

It wasn’t too long before we were up high enough to be getting views of Takakkaw Falls.

And then, stopping for lunch, goofing around taking photos in front of Takakkaw Falls.

I got the boys to work on their jumping – they’ll be experts in no time.

We kept thinking we were nearly out of the trees, and nearly done climbing. But the climbing kept coming and coming. Hmmm. With the way the Iceline trail rolls up and down, you really can’t guarantee you’re done with climbing until you’re back down in the trees again.

More switchbacks brought us higher and higher, until we finally reached the moraine bench (and views of the Scott Duncan hut).

Then we could see glaciers up above us – aha, finally, now it feels like we’re really on the Iceline!

There were some magnificent enormous boulders strewn around. Good for both shady snack stops, and for climbing on top of and ambushing approaching hikers.

There were as many streams to cross as I remembered too. Fresh meltwater, nice and cool on a warm day.

It was a ridiculously gorgeous day too.

We found a patch of snow along the trail at one point, and the boys gleefully took the opportunity to build snowmen, and pelt parents with snowballs.

Then, finally, the descent off the far end. A few switchbacks, and we were back into the trees, hallooing for bears and racing to the hut.

And into the hut! We met up with the others in our group, and had the first of a series of delicious group meals.

Most of the beds were in the loft – and the ladder access was alternately fun and terrifying for the kids.

My contribution to dinner on the first night – chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing. The cake turned into a chocolate loaf and muffins, due to baking tin restrictions at the hut. Who am I to complain though, there were baking tins and an oven at the hut!

The stars came out, eventually. Views from the hut were pretty lovely.

And then, breakfast time!

But after breakfast, the first of many play sessions in the Little Yoho River.

Our home for two nights – Stanley Mitchell Hut. The inscription above the fireplace reads ‘sic itur ad astra’ – the latin, ‘thus one goes to the stars’ or something similar.

The boys spent some time playing two-person guitar.

And then hanging out on the island.

Games of bocce were made even more interesting by all the ground squirrel holes around. Sometimes spotters were deployed, other times the players just chose to live dangerously, which led to a couple of reaches into holes to retrieve balls. None were lost over the course of the night.

Alex, Kat and Gavin went for a run in the rain, up to Kiwetiknok Pass.

Then I played an enemy, and had rocks thrown into the river to splash at me by the hoards on the far side of the river. Rivers and rocks – they have endless entertainment value, you just cannot go astray if you camp near rocks and rivers.

And then, it was Sunday morning, and we all started to hike away. But first! A photo of the whole crew.

On our way out, we stopped for snacks at the bridge (or lunch, maybe it was lunch) and Alex napped, as per usual. The Little Yoho River was getting bigger and bigger.

Then, after a lot of downhill, we made it to Laughing Falls. There was a unicorn there.

The boys played a game of ‘hide the rock, and then make the adults find the rock that you hid’. Rocks and rivers, I’m telling you.

Then comes the unfortunate part of the hike, where it’s kind of flat and in the trees. Some people probably love it, but it’s the part of the whole loop that I find hardest to love.  Fortunately the jelly bean and smarties fairies were both visiting, and so the boys had treasure hunting to keep them entertained.

But then finally, we could see Takakkaw Falls. And we’d made it!

Hiking in (via the Iceline):  12km (800m elevation gain)
Hiking out (via Laughing Falls): 11km (~40m elevation gain)

canada general moosling snow

The luge run

One particularly amazing edition to our Elizabeth Parker hut trip, aside from the maze and quinzee, was the luge run we built up behind the hut. Referring to something so epic as a mere toboggan track would be inadequate.

There was a lot of engineering that went into the design, and some epic berms were built. But it was still difficult to design a track to handle such a variety of sled weights, and so there were parents stationed at a few tree-well points along the way. Which was good, as kids on toboggans went flying over the berms a couple of times before we decided that two kids in a black sled was a bad combination (and banned that particular combination).

And so now I’ll just leave you with some of the photos, which should give you some idea how fun it was!

So fun that we went back again the next morning – but this time round, only launched from half way up, because it had set so fast and icy…

I may have had just as much, if not more fun, than the kids. Apparently growing up without snow meant a very neglected childhood, so I have to make up for it with extra tobogganing now.