Sunday, 31 July 2011

Back-country camping

On Thursday Ken, Steven, and I left for our 25k backpack trip. The first day we hiked from Red Rock Canyon to Twin Lakes.

I immediately sensed a gender gap when early on in the hike Ken and Steven marched right past the most beautiful field of wildflowers. What? Are we in a hurry to set up camp before dark or something?

The pace Ken set turned out to be more bear-friendly than flower-friendly. Look what was coming up the path at us! We would have missed it if we hadn't been hiking so fast! Steven quickly grabbed the camera from my pack while Ken readied the bear spray (just in case). I tried to make noise to chase the bear off the path, but the bikers who came up behind us did a better job of that. The bear moved off into the bushes and we passed by with maybe 20 feet of distance between us and the bear.

It took us about 4 hours, but by 6:30pm we reached the Twin Lakes campsite complete with an outhouse, a little gathering area with log benches, framed tent pads filled in with wood chips, and of course a bar to hoist backpacks/food out of reach of bears during the night.

We actually hit the tiniest bit of snow on the trail right before the campsite - we'd been warned there was still snow on the trail.

It turned out that wasn't the snow the park rangers were talking about. Friday morning after our instant oatmeal (we had dehydrated beef stew the night before - man can we boil water) anyhow, once we set out the second day we found the real snow we'd been warned about. We had to traverse across this slippery slope to find the trail, and then several times after that we lost the trail in the snow, but we found it again every time - I was prepared to double back if necessary, but I'm super glad we didn't have to.

The lake below the snowy slope.

Lower down the terrain eased up, which was a good thing because we were pretty tired, especially our new friend: Tanya. Tanya hiked in to Twin Lakes maybe 15 minutes after us all by herself with rented camping equipment she had no idea how to use - luckily Ken was there to help her set up her tent! Tanya is a university student from Switzerland and a couple of years ago she read about Waterton National Park in National Geographic and wanted to come. So she flew out to British Columbia to visit a friend, then took a Greyhound bus by herself to Calgary, rented a tent and a sleeping bag, took another Greyhound bus to Pincher Creek, and from there took a taxi to Waterton. She bought her back-country camping permit, hitch-hiked up the Redrock Canyon Parkway, and hiked 11k. I was so impressed with her courage and tenacity, but yikes there was some stupidity blended in there. Back-country camping alone is just not safe and what if Ken hadn't been there to help her with her tent? As it was she had a cold miserable night worrying about bears eating her before dawn, poor girl. She needed a warmer sleeping bag for sure.

We were rewarded at the end of our hike with a beautiful view of Blackiston Falls, and clean clothes waiting for me in the back of the van.

It was awesome, and the first backpack trip I've done since I was 10 years old and I'm pretty sure my dad carried everything on that one. Let's do it again!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Last week

We hosted some cousins at our house:

Monte loved our dog, and that made me love our dog.

Girls played cooperatively

It wasn't a water fight - they took turns dumping water on each other. 

Carmen and Avery shared nicely.

Uncles competed for the title of Favourite Uncle - I wish I had pictures of them golfing with Steven.

Emmie and Chloe made a stab at double jumping, 

But settled on another game.

Avery and Carmen took a very short bike ride.


This post is looking like we were very outdoorsy - not so. Most of the girl's time was spent like this:

One of many reasons I wish we all lived closer together!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Backyard Campout

Awhile back Emma and Erica came over for a sleepover. They had concocted a plan in advance that it would be a backyard campout, with a twist I was unaware of.

They decided that they would camp as if they were away from home with no trips back into the house with the exception of bathroom necessities. 

So they packed up the cooler and did without whatever they forgot once they 'left'.

I'm afraid dish soap was one of the things they forgot.

They had prepared tin foil dinners in advance and cooked them in our fire pit, followed by s'mores of course.

They took 27 pictures of they fire, so I should include at least one.

 I took the first group shot, and after that they were on their own so self-portraits became part of the experience as well as cutting some leftover 2x2's when they ran out of firewood. I won't include pictures of them actually cutting the wood - too scary.

Basically Carmen and Emma provided Chloe and Erica with a little taste for YW's camp including setting up the tent by themselves and singing camp songs for the neighbourhood to enjoy - I loved it!

Youth camp leaders.

Pre-YW campers.

It seems they played some kind of sleeping bag blind-mans-bluff type of game, and since they weren't really in the wild the cooler inside the tent was okay, though we did have a bear wander into the neighbourhood once a few years ago . . . 

Pancakes were also made over the fire. My back yard have never been a more fun place to be.

(And for the record the backyard camp was a total testament to the YW's camp program - those 4 girls cleaned everything up totally. It really was like they weren't even home.)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Merry Christmas!

Carmen finally got to cash in on her Christmas present from 6+months ago - we went to Wicked!

We dressed in green,

Painted our toes,
And Carmen's fingers.
Bought a t-shirt . . .

It was an amazing mother-daughter date, thanks for sharing your Christmas present Carmen!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Baby you're a firework


Chloe's birthday began with birthday breakfast. Steven and Carmen came into the kitchen and promptly laid their heads on the counter, having been forced to get up earlier than usual.

Then I noticed Ken doing his version of the same thing! It was 7:30 am. (Jaclyn was just coming down from her shower.)

"Hey, you said you wouldn't get this for me!" (a baby buggie)

Later in the afternoon we had a picnic dinner down in Fish Creek Park.

Chloe tried to blow those candles out but still ended up with 6 boyfriends.

Most of the entertainment was provided by uncles.

Kevin brought his ghillie (sp?) suit, put it on Steven and after getting pictures with nearby picnickers  who thought it was funny, Steven went about sneaking up on us.

He got really close, and was only noticed by Uncle Craig.

Craig taught us lessons about resolving conflict lovingly. My new phrase is 'hug it out'. 

I just like getting pictures of the boy cousins, they're such a rarity - even though these 3 boys are bookended by one cousin on a mission and one baby boy cousin (plus another due any day now!)

For the birthday finale we drove down to just outside the Stampede Grounds for the fireworks display.

The girls pretending to be fireworks. Carmen's idea, clearly.

Happy Birthday!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Young Adulthood

Jaclyn has graduated from high school and seminary. She has her YW Recognition Award as well as The Honor Bee. College textbooks are being couriered to our house. And she's a primary teacher, which came in very handy during sharing time (er, gospel instruction) when the primary counsellor needed siblings to come to the front for a demonstration - Chloe and Jaclyn were the only siblings in the room!

Thursday, 14 July 2011


Steven's been working on the bronze level of the Duke of Edinburgh Award - the last area he has to complete is the outdoors section. Last Friday Steven and Ken hiked the Cascade Amphitheatre in Banff as a day-hike in preparation for the hike-in camping trip they have planned for the end of the month. This week Steven was reviewing the requirements for the camping trip and it turns out that the DofEA requires a minimum of 3 people to make the trip for safety reasons. We are sticklers for rules, so guess who gets to do something cool at the end of July? Me!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Carmen's First Triathlon

(Carmen did something amazing today)

We took Carmen out to Turner Valley today for her first triathlon. She was a little nervous on the way out. (Something about that highway? Same highway as soccer finals.)

In many ways Carmen's first triathlon was my first triathlon. I think I got my job done. Carmen was prepared from head:

To toe:

Even though Carmen has suffered a sore shoulder this week, she totally went for it in the swim and attacked the 300 meters:

Carmen kept this smile on her face the whole race:

She had an awesome transition to the bike:

And returned from her 10K ride before we knew it:

Still smiling:

Carmen gave herself permission to walk after the half-way point of her 3K, but when she reached her goal she still felt good so she kept on going and ran the whole thing!

Her strong finish.

Carmen felt awesome after the race. She couldn't stop talking about it!
(Nor could she stop talking about next year.)