The Best Spring Hikes in Kananaskis

Where to hike now!

Keeping Warm in Spring

The best spring gear plus proper fuel and hydration will keep you warm.

4 Great Spring Hikes in Banff

Try one of these family-friendly spring hikes in Banff!

The Top 5 Spring Things to Do in Kananaskis

Bike, hike, or go fishing in Kananaskis this spring!

5 Tips for Spring Hiking

Gaiters and microspikes for the win! Learn more.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Outdoorsy Mother's Day Gift Guide + Giveaways

Breakfast in bed is always a treat, but if you really wanna knock Mom's socks off, listen to her. What does she really want for Mother's Day? Whether it's a hike and picnic, mountain biking camp, or sweet new gear for her next adventure, if you take hints, you can give your mom the best day ever. Here are my top Mother's Day gifts for outdoorsy moms (could you please send this to my husband?). 

I'm thrilled to announce THREE great prizes for Mother's Day from KEEN CanadaTerramar Sports, and Yukon Charlie's! Scroll down to enter to win 1 pair of KEEN shoes/boots (Canada only), 1 "Reflex" top and bottoms from Terramar Sports (US only), or 1 pair of blue Carbon Lite Trekking Poles from Yukon Charlie's (US only).


Quality Time

Nothing beats quality time with loved ones. While I am quite a foodie, there are times it's nice to keep meals simple, so you can spend more time doing stuff rather than cooking. When my mom turned 60, my sister and I had so many ideas on how to make it epic and in the end, we had an amazing meal in a beautiful park, but never got out on our snowshoes as it took forever to get the fire hot enough to cook (it was mid-December and -20). By the time we were done lunch, it was getting dark and we were frozen from sitting for so long (and had to rush to our dinner reservation). Probably should've stuck to the original plan of picnic, snowshoe, and dinner out! 

How do we manage to hike all day and eat well? We start our day with a hearty breakfast (waffles, fruit, sausages), pack a lunch, and plan for a barbecue dinner. If you marinate the steak the night before, put foil wrapped potatoes in the crockpot before you leave, and purchase a salad pack, a nice dinner is ready just minutes after you get home. It's so simple, the kids can make it!

For the easiest fancy picnic lunch ever, hit the deli section of your local supermarket. Olives, prosciutto, and cheese go perfectly with a baguette and grapes. Pack some San Pellegrino or sparkling apple juice, dark chocolate, toothpicks, and napkins, and you're set for a day outside!

Yum!
Here are some ideas of fun things to do on Mother's Day Weekend (besides slave in the kitchen):
My children have also made me sweet coupons for things we can do together: e.g. bike ride to the ice cream shop, go to the zoo, go geocaching. Most of the activities are free, but the time together is priceless (and it's super cute to see what they think I would like to do).

Adventures

The Banff Gondola is always fun! Try the Mother's Day chocolate tasting (reservations required), then hike to Sanson's Peak (1 km return) and take some family photos. Next, hit the hot springs and have dinner at the Maple Leaf Grill and Lounge.

Looking towards Sanson's Peak
Have a super adventurous mom? She will love riding the Mount Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift to the staging ground of the Via Ferrata where she will (guided and harnessed) climb ladders, cross airy, suspension bridges and enjoy epic views of Banff. After, grab lunch at the Cliffhouse Bistro. I recommend the charcuterie platter!

Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift
If the weather is frightful, go underground! Rat's Nest Cave, Canmore stays about the same temperature year round. Kids 10 & up can join mom on Canmore Cave Tours. Squeeze through the Laundry Chute, rappel into a large cavern, and explore the network of caves below Grotto Mountain. I would go again!

Gear

KEEN Gift Card: You can never have enough shoes, right? Or boots? I really liked my KEEN Durand boots, but the new women's specific KEEN Terradoras fit even better! If Mom needs new light hikers, give the Terradoras a try! They fit narrower across the toe than most KEENs, and are super light, so they are nimble and feel more like a trail runner than boot. The waterproofing on them is rad too - I've crossed streams and hiked in slush and stayed completely dry. Read my review of the Durands here and enter to win a pair of KEENs of your choice below (Canada only).

KEEN Terradora Waterproof Hiking Boots
If mom already has hiking boots, KEEN has lots of great shoes and sandals to choose from. I have these gorgeous Dauntless posted sandals on my wish list.

KEEN Dauntless Posted Sandals
Image Credit: KEEN Canada
Disclosure: I am a KEEN Brand Ambassador and receive free footwear to test and review, but all words and opinions are my own.

Terramar Sports technical base layers and active wear: In our climate, you can literally live in base layers for half the year and I do. I am in love with the Cloud Nine leggings (they come in several different funky patterns) and Thermawool top (wool blend never gets smelly), but as soon as it gets a bit warmer, I'll be back in Terramar's summer wear. The MicroCOOL tops actually feel cool to the touch and kept me from overheating in 30 degree (86 F) weather, so they're a top choice for working out in. I also love the Reflex Tank and Reflex Get Up & Go Pant for working out or hiking. Terramar makes more than base layers, so you can wear their stuff all year! Enter to win this outfit from Terramar below (US only)! More details at http://www.terramarsports.com/catalog/womens (filter: Reflex to see items you can choose from).

Reflex Tank and Get Up & Go Pants - ENTER TO WIN BELOW!
Disclosure: I am a Terramar Sports Brand Ambassador and receive free base layers and active wear to test and review, but all words and opinions are my own.


Aventura Clothing makes eco-friendly fashion that moves with you. Every piece is comfortable and pretty! I first discovered it on a road trip to Moab 10 years ago and am proud to now be a Brand Ambassador for this family-run company. Luxurious organic cotton that resists wrinkling and recycled polyester are just a few of the eco-friendly fabrics Aventura uses. I am in love with the Hartwell Hoodie and Jayla Vest. To see more of the Spring/Summer line, please see this post: Aventura Spring Styles - Cute, Comfortable, and Versatile.

If you'd like a 60% off coupon code to treat mom (or yourself) to a discounted shopping spree, please leave me a comment and I will email you (US only)!

Aventura Hartwell Hoodie and Midori Scarf
Disclosure: I am an Aventura Clothing Brand Ambassador and receive free base layers and active wear to test and review, but all words and opinions are my own.

Yukon Charlie's Carbon Lite Trekking and Snowshoeing Poles are amazingly light and easy to expand or collapse with their flip lock system. I have been testing these since last December and love them! Can't beat the price either! The poles come with removable snow baskets, so you can use these poles year round for hiking or snowshoeing! Get your own at Yukon Charlie's or Amazon.ca (affiliate link). Enter to win a pair of blue Carbon Lite Trekking Poles below (US only)!

Yukon Charlie's Carbon Lite Poles and Elite SPIN Snowshoes
See my snowshoe review here.
Disclosure: I am a Yukon Charlie's Brand Ambassador and receive free gear to test and review, but all words and opinions are my own.

The Bear Bowl is the perfect gift for the outdoorsy mom who has everything. This collapsible cooking pot/bowl fits in your pocket and can be used to boil water! It has a 32 oz capacity, is lighter than the lightest backpacking cook pot, and is simple to assemble. The bottom is metal to conduct heat and the rest if made of food grade plastic. Great to carry on day hikes in case of emergency, as well as on backpacking trips. Learn more and support Cory Santiago's project here.

The Bear Bowl
Image Credit: Bear Bowl
Disclosure: I received a free sample of the Bear Bowl to test and review, but all words and opinions are my own.

How To Lessons

Mom taught you everything you know about fishing, but now she wants to learn something new. Why not treat her to a fly fishing class at Bow River Troutfitters? Or mountain biking class at Winsport? There is terrain for all levels at Winsport and Eastlands, so it's a great place to up your skills!

If Mom needs to relax after a busy week, maybe she would enjoy outdoor yoga in a beautiful mountain setting! Walk With Ronna offers eco-yoga - a combination of hiking, yoga and meditation - in Banff. For a totally unique take on yoga, there is now Goat Yoga (who knew?) in Cochrane through FreeBird Adventures.  My friend at Beyond the Campsite said it was so much fun (and yoga's not her favorite, but she loves goats!).

Giveaway

Ok Moms, enter to win one of these great prizes by completing entries in the Rafflecopter widget below:
  • 1 pair of KEEN Boots/Shoes - Women's (Canada only)
  • 1 Terramar Sports "Reflex" Outfit - 1 Top & 1 Bottom (US only)
  • 1 pair of Yukon Charlie's Carbon Lite Trekking & Snowshoeing Poles - blue (US only)
Terms: Contest closes May 5, 2017 at 12 AM MST. Winners will be notified at the email address provided when they enter the contest. Each winner must claim her prize within 48 hrs of notification or a new winner will be selected.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

More Great Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Check out my friends' Mother's Day Gift Guides for more awesome gift ideas!

Little Family Adventure - Gifts For Women Who Love the Outdoors

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Front vs Rear Mount Child Bike Seats

Child bike seats are an affordable option for biking with your baby once she is 12 months old. Front mount and rear mount child bike seats are available, and each has different pros and cons to consider. Whichever child bike seat you choose, always wear a helmet and follow installation instructions and age/height/weight limits for the child bike seat.

Disclosure: This article contains Amazon Affiliate links. I earn a tiny commission on purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!


Front Mount Child Bike Seats

Front mount child bikes seats have long been used in Europe and are becoming more popular in North America. The main benefit is better passenger experience, and the main drawback of some models is awkward riding stance (riding bow legged to accommodate the seat) and awkward steering (particularly for shorter riders).

Special note re bike compatibility and installation: If the seat mounts on your stem (below the handlebars), you must have enough space for the mount. If the seat sits on your frame (on the cross bar), you need to ensure the frame is large enough frame to accommodate the child seat and allow you to safely get on and off your bike. We were not able to use a front mount seat with my XS bike. Try before you buy!



For the reasons above, I would recommend this type of seat to taller cyclists who want to easily converse with their little ones and keep an eye on them.

Front Mount Pros
  • Your child has an unobstructed view.
  • You can see and talk to your child more easily, and ensure she's not unbuckling herself (not a concern with babies, but could be with older children).
  • Your child has a safety hand/head rest pillow to learn forward on when she wants to sleep.

The WeeRide Kangaroo is a super comfortable, economical front carrier with pretty good reviews.
Works best if you have a bike with a large frame; not advised for small bikes.
Available at Amazon (affiliate link) , but cheaper at Walmart.
Front Mount Seat Cons
  • Most front mount seats can only be used safely until your child is around 2 years old (vs 5-7 yrs old with some rear mounted seats).
  • It is difficult to get on and off your bike with a front child seat on it.
  • Steering can be a challenge with your child in front of you if you are on the short side, or your child is quite tall (because it's hard to reach around the child). 
  • Your child is more exposed to wind.
  • Your child cannot recline to sleep (but may be able to lean forward on a hand/head rest depending on the model you choose).
  • Larger children may grab your handlebars or change gears at inopportune times.
  • Some higher seat backs can hit you in the chest on bumpy terrain or when leaning forward to go up hills.
Pro Tip: If you choose to get a front mounted seat, borrow/rent one first and test it out to ensure a) it can be installed on your bike, b) your legs, chest, arms, and vision are unobstructed, and c) you can turn properly. If buying online, be sure to confirm with the manufacturer that the seat is compatible with your bike.

We were unable to find an affordable front mount seat on Kijiji, so we bought a rear mount seat.

My friend, Coldbike, recommends the bobike Maxi and bobike Mini front mount seats. Available at Urkai.

Bobike Maxi

Rear Mount Child Bike Seats

For rear mounted seats, there are two kinds: rear frame mount and rear rack mount. Not all bike seats work with all bikes, so you will have to confirm whether the seat attaches to your seat post or bike rack.
    • For rear rack mount seats, your bike must have eyelets for a bike rack. You will also need to purchase a bike rack for the seat to attach to if you don't already have one, or if the seat does not come with one. *If you have disc brakes, you will require a different kind of rack.*
    • Rear frame mount seats typically attach to your seat post and need a few inches of clearance. Since my bike seat is as low as it can go, I was not able to attach a child bike seat to my bike. We ended up putting a rear frame mount seat on my husband's bike, while I towed our other child in a Chariot. **With some seats (like Thule RideAlong), you can purchase a low seat adapter to use the seat with minimal clearance.
Rear Mount Pros
  • It is easier to pedal and get on/off your bike with the child seat behind you than in front of you (especially if you're on the petite side). Petite riders will find it easier to steer with the seat behind them too (they don't have to reach around the child and seat).
  • Many rear mount seats recline to allow baby a more comfortable sleep.
  • Your child is less exposed to wind.
  • Most rear mount seats can be used a few years longer than front mount seats.


The Thule Ride Along Child Bike Seat is the Cadillac of Bike Seats
Good from 1 year to 21.8 kg. Available on Amazon (affiliate link)

Rear Mount Cons
  • It's harder to chat with your child when it's windy/noisy.
  • You cannot look at your child without turning around.
  • You child does not have a pillow to lean forward on (but if you get a reclining seat, you can lean her back).
  • Some people find it harder to balance with a rear mount seat (but my husband had no issue with ours). Again, try before you buy! 

The top rated hamax frame mount carrier can be attached to your bike rack or seat post.
Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

A less expensive option to the Thule or hamax is the Dieffe GP Baby Carrier with Rear Rack Mount (available at Walmart). 

We had the ubiquitous, inexpensive Bell Classic Cocoon Bicycle Child Carrier Seat. We bought it second hand and found it ok for short rides, but not for longer rides when our little one wanted to nap as the seat did not recline. 

What to Look For in a Child Bike Seat

Easy installation and compatibility with your bike is important. Other important features include a lock to prevent theft of the seat, and quick-release bracket for those times you're cycling kid free and don't want the additional weight.

While vents are nice to have on a hot day, the trade off is safety. If you fall, a seat with covered vents or fewer vents will provide more protection than an airy seat.

Other safety considerations... A 5-point harness is preferable to a 3-point harness that tiny kids could slide out of. Check reviews to ensure straps stay in place and make sure straps are done up properly every time! Many models also have child-proof buckles.

Height and weight maximums will affect how long you may use your bike seat. Most front or rear mount carriers are good until your child is 40 pounds, but there is variation between manufacturers. Adjustable footbeds that grow as your child grows will keep your child comfortable by preventing her feet from dangling.

Weight of the seat itself is also a consideration. The less the seat weighs, the less you have carry, but a really light seat may be less comfortable or have less impact resistance. Check what materials are used in the seat and ensure the cushions are comfy for your child.

Front Mount Seats Features/Accessories to Consider
  • hand rests on front mount seats will provide something for your child to hold other than your handlebars and shifters. Bonus points for padded hand rests that can double as a pillow when little one wants to sleep!
  • wind screen
  • rain cover
Rear Mount Seats Features/Accessories to Consider
  • A reclining rear mount seat makes for comfy nap time (otherwise little one's head will flop forward when she naps).
  • rain cover

Safety Moment

Child bike seats do not provide as much protection as a bike trailer, and falls from 3 feet can cause severe injury or death. If you choose to use a child bike seat, bike on designated bike paths and stay below the speed limit (20 km/hr in Calgary). And always wear a helmet!

Not comfortable putting your toddler in a bike seat? Consider a bike trailer. They provide protection from the elements, insects, and have a built in roll bar (the frame).

Conclusion

In the end, you have to choose a bike seat you can afford, that meets your needs, and and is compatible with your bike. Although we owned a bike trailer, we liked the child bike seat for short rides around the neighborhood. It made for one less thing to lock up and the seat was a lot lighter than our trailer! If we hadn't bought a bike trailer, we would've spent more on seats that recline since the kids always fell asleep on longer bike rides. Try before you buy to make your the seat fits your bike and that your child is comfortable. Not all seats are equal.

More information on bike trailers and tandem bike attachments coming soon!

What is your preferred way to bring the kids biking?

Related Posts

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Camping at Lundbreck Falls, Alberta

Lundbreck Falls Provincial Recreation Area is known for its picturesque falls and fantastic fishing, but it also makes a good base camp for exploring the Crowsnest Pass area. Situated near the junction of the Cowboy Trail and Highway 3, Lundbreck Falls campground is only 15 minutes from Frank Slide Interpretive Centre and Leitch Collieries. We enjoyed sightseeing and hiking during the day, fishing at dawn and dusk, watching the sunset at the falls, and getting to know our fellow campers. Most were locals who return year after year to fish the Crowsnest River which is teeming with trout.


The Campground

Lundbreck Falls campground has 56 first come first served campsites:
  • Upper Loop: suitable for large trailers and motorhomes; all sites have 15/30 Amp power, no shade
  • Lower Loop: suitable for tents and trailers; sites are of varying size, but many on the smaller size. Half the sites have 15/30 Amp power and there are a few riverside sites. Most sites are well shaded by large trees.
  • Walk-In Tent Sites: There are 8 walk-in sites near the lower loop and 4 near the upper loop. Sites are small with moderate privacy, but most of the walk-in sites near the lower loop are along the river.
See the campground map for more details.

Lundbreck Falls Campground
Lundbreck Falls PRA Upper Loop
Lundbreck Falls Campground
Lundbreck Falls Lower Loop Campsite

Amenities

  • Hand pump for water - water not recommended for drinking
  • Firewood available for sale from campground operator (makes rounds a few times a day)
  • Pit Toilets
  • No showers

Activities at Lundbreck Provincial Recreation Area

Lundbreck Falls: You can walk to beautiful Lundbreck Falls from the campground. Take the footpath along the river past the walk-in tent sites (go to the left if you are facing the river), about 400 metres. Falling 12 metres, Lundbreck Falls is best seen at sunrise or sunset.

Lundbreck Falls Trail
Trail to Lundbreck Falls
Lundbreck Falls
Lundreck Falls
Crowsnest River
Crowsnest River, Lundbreck Falls PRA
Fishing:  The Crowsnest River is a legendary trout stream and I witnessed first hand how amazing it was when I landed a beautiful rainbow trout on my first cast! I fished downstream from the falls, from shore, and caught many more rainbows during our stay. Supposedly there are whitefish and cutthroat trout in this section of the river also, but I didn't catch any. Note that you MUST RELEASE trout that are between 30 and 45 cm long! See Alberta Fishing Regulations for more information. Since dawn and dusk can get a bit congested along the shoreline near camp, walk downstream a couple minutes to get some space.

rainbow trout
Beautiful Crowsnest River trout
Wading / swimming: Once you get past the bridge downstream of the falls, the Crowsnest River is quite calm with a few deeper pools. Right in front of the campground, there is a small gravel beach for wading and swimming. Keep the kids close as the river is deep towards the middle.

Lundbreck Falls PRA beach

Nearby Things to Do

Frank Slide Interpretive Centre & Frank Slide Trail (1.5 km): The interpretive centre showcases Crowsnest Pass history and illustrates - through exhibits and videos - what the town looked like before, during and after Frank Slide, Canada's deadliest rock slide. Learn why the rockslide happened and if it will happen again. After, hike the Frank Slide Trail through rubble that fell from Turtle Mountain. There is an admission fee for the interpretive centre, but there is no charge to hike Frank Slide Trail.

Leitch Collieries is the site of an old coal mine. Take a self-guided tour of the ruins and learn what led to the mine's demise. Admission by donation.

Chinook Lake Provincial Recreation Area is a fun place to play on a hot day. The lake is calm for stand up paddling or canoeing and is stocked with trout for fishing. Not an ideal swimming beach for children as the shore slopes into the lake, but there was a small, flatter area at the east end that kids were playing in. 

Table Mountain Scramble is a popular early season summit as it has beautiful views and is snow free earlier than many other peaks.

Beauvais Lake Provincial Park has hiking and biking trails, great birding, fishing (lake is stocked), and a campground with 77 sites. 

Frank Slide Trail
Frank Slide Trail
Leitch Collieries
Leitch Collieries

Stops Along the Way

The Fort at Fort Macleod: The fort is home to the North West Mounted Police Museum, First Nations Interpretive Centre, and NWMP Musical Ride. We loved watching the musical ride, feeding the goats, and exploring the fort. $

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre: Learn about Blackfoot culture and how buffalo were hunted at this amazing facility. Allow time to walk to the buffalo jumps after checking out the indoor exhibits and videos. $

Fort Macleod NWMP Museum
The Fort at Fort Macleod

Know Before You Go

Sites are first come, first served and payment is by cash only. Firewood sales are also cash only. The nearest ATM is at O'Bies General Mercantile in Lundbreck if you need to withdraw cash.

Trains pass by quite close to the campground, so light sleepers should bring ear plugs.

There is no cell phone service in the park.

O'bies Store Lundbreck
O'bies Store, Lundbreck

Getting There

Lundbreck Falls Provincial Recreation Area is about 2 hrs south of Calgary via Hwy 2, or 2 hrs 20 minutes if you take scenic Hwy 22 (Cowboy Trail).

Conclusion

Lundbreck Falls is the perfect location for a fun fishing getaway. Be sure to check out nearby Frank Slide while you're in the area!

Lundbreck Falls

Disclosure

As Alberta Parks Ambassadors, I received free camping, but all words and opinions are my own.

Related Posts

More areas to explore in southern Alberta!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tips for Safe Hiking and Backpacking

The belief that "nothing bad is gonna happen 'cause I'm not going far" is called dayhiker mentality. It is easy to fall under its spell and can affect the best of us when we least expect it. Have you ever forgotten your rain jacket on a sunny day then been caught in a storm? Or rushed home from the park because your kid skinned her knee and you didn't have a first aid kit? On an urban hike, these situations are minor inconveniences, but in the backcountry, day hiker mentality can kill you. 



Whether you're dayhiking, or trekking to a backcountry hut, you must always carry adequate gear to overnight it in the wilderness in the event you are lost, injured, or otherwise delayed (think flash flood, snowstorm / no visibility, avalanche, landslide). Take a good, hard look in your pack and let me know if you could survive the night with what's in there. Could you signal for help if you're lost or injured? Bandage up owies? Treat water? Keep warm and dry? Some extra food goes a long way to improving morale too. The gear you should carry at all times - for adventures of all sizes - is called The 10 Essential Systems. For more information, please see Wilderness Survival Gear You Must Carry.

Prior to leading group hiking and backpacking trips, I suffered from a mild case of dayhiker mentality. I didn't carry all of the 10 essentials because I didn't think I needed them. In a lifetime of hiking, I'd never been in a survival situation, nor had a serious injury. While I carried most of the essentials (9/10), my kit wasn't the greatest. It wasn't until I was responsible for other people, leading hikes and backpacking trips, and started learning about wilderness survival (as well as wilderness first aid and avalanche training), that I re-evaluated what was in my pack and made some changes. I now carry a compass, better knife (vs just a Swiss Army knife), bigger first aid kit, more than one type of fire starter, and have upgraded my space blanket to a Siltarp or convertible tarp poncho (the former for family trips, the latter when I'm hiking with friends).

The biggest wake-up call was losing people I know (through a hiking club and social media) to accidents in the mountains. The fatalities did not occur in remote locations as would be expected. In one case, snow and low visibility were the likely cause of a fatal fall. In another, the victim was cross country skiing alone and died of exposure after getting lost in the dark. Local search and rescue pages have several more examples of trips gone wrong. How can such accidents be avoided?

Reducing Risk (Avoiding Dayhiker Mentality)

Disclosure: This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. Items purchased through these links help support the website at no additional cost to you! 

While we have no control over the weather, there are several things we can do to reduce the risk of being in a survival situation:
  • Check the forecast, trail reports, and avalanche forecasts for your intended hike/ski before heading out, then bring appropriate gear (rock helmet, ice cleats/microspikes/crampons, ice axe, avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel, etc.). 
    • For detailed weather forecasts including snowfall at different elevations, visit mountainforecast.com.
    • In Canada, check avalanche conditions at avalanche.ca.
    • Park trail reports are helpful, but local Facebook pages are also a good source of detailed, current intel that often includes photos.  


  • Research the route in advance so you are aware of the safest route and any hazards along the way (icy sections, crux, bridge out, etc.).

  • Don't go out alone! The ideal minimum group size is 3. If Person 1 is hurt, Person 2 can stay with him/her, and Person 3 can seek help. 

  • Leave a detailed itinerary with friends/family so they know where to look in the event you get lost/injured or otherwise delayed. Include trail and parking information, destination, and anticipated return time.
    • e.g. Hiking to Three Isle Lake, Kananaskis from Upper Kananaskis Lake parking lot. Expect to be done the hike by 4 pm and home by 5:30 pm.

  • Carry the 10 Essential Systemswilderness survival gear that will keep you alive until help arrives, on EVERY trip. Every item is critical! 

  • Be aware of your surroundings, pay attention to landmarks, and stay on trail/course. 
    • Do not travel in unknown areas after dark to avoid getting lost. If this means turning back before you reach the summit, do it. 
    • STOP if you think you are lost.
    • Stop if visibility is low and you're unsure if you're heading in the right direction (heavy snow, blowing snow, thick fog), especially if you're in dangerous terrain. Good mountaineers know to make an emergency bivouac and wait out a storm rather than carry on blindly and fall off cliffs or into crevasses.
    • For more tips, see this post: How Not To Get Lost.

  • Look for safe creek crossings. Look for areas where the current is weak, water level isn't too high, and use a hiking pole/stick for balance. Use extreme caution as rocks can be slippery. A friend of mine recently slipped while fishing and died from a severe head injury. 

  • Take a Wilderness First Aid course, as there are some backcountry tricks not covered in standard first aid courses like how to MacGyver a gurney, etc. If you're more of an independent learner and have taken basic First Aid, you may wish to read NOLS Wilderness First Aid (Amazon Affiliate link).

  • Carry a First Aid Kit and ensure it is the appropriate size for your group. When leading group hikes, I advise each participant to bring a personal first aid kit and carry a larger first aid kit just in case.


  • Take Avalanche Awareness/Skills Training and avoid high risk avalanche terrain/conditions. If you venture into avalanche terrain in winter, please read: Why You Need Avalanche Skills Training then sign up for a course or educate yourself further. The story includes a link to a powerful video that was the most memorable takeaway from my AST1 course. Even someone getting a PhD in Snow Science can make a fatal mistake.

  • Practice wilderness survival skills regularly, so you will know what to do in an emergency:
    • Topographic map reading
    • Taking a compass bearing
    • Rigging a shelter
    • Starting a fire with a flint and striker
    • Treating water

  • Refresh your knowledge on signalling for help. Make sure every person in your group has a whistle and knows how to use it (3 blasts, then wait for a response before making another 3 blasts), then discuss other ways to signal for help with hand signals, distress fires, and a mirror or headlamp.


  • Carry a cell phone, satellite phone, or personal locator beacon (PLB) such as the InReach to contact emergency services. Many hikes in our mountain parks do not have cell phone service. Have a plan for contacting local emergency services when you're out of range (hint: this is when it's good to have a buddy to go for help). Carry a battery charger or extra batteries so your device works when you need it to.

Conclusion

A little preparation goes a long way to ensuring a safe and fun trip. While I've never been in a survival situation (due to planning, avoiding injury, and not getting too lost), I have used most items in my pack at some point, so I always carry them just in case.

What is the best hiking/backpacking safety tip you've ever heard?

Related Posts

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Aventura Spring Styles: Cute, Comfortable, and Versatile

Whether you're looking for a travel wardrobe, date night ensemble, business casual wear, or a cute outfit to bike to lunch in, Aventura's Spring/Summer collection has got you covered. With clean, flattering lines, it is easy it is to mix and match items in complementary colors. You won't find midriff baring tops here; it's all about classy style and comfort. Not only do Aventura's clothes look as good as they feel, over 75% are made with eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and hemp! I'm so excited to share some of my favorite items with you! 

Disclosure: As an Aventura Ambassador, I receive free outfits to test out and review, but all words and opinions are my own.


Aventura Spring Looks - Blogger Collaboration

Every Day Exploring

Aventura Clothing Spring 2017
Hartwell Hoodie + Verve Long Sleeved Tee + Midori Scarf 
Spring in Alberta can mean snow squalls one day and t-shirt weather the next, so I live in layers. My favorite combo for the brisk morning walk to school is a long sleeved tee and vest, but you can also catch me rocking a tank and hoodie. A hood sure comes in handy when the wind kicks up and you've forgotten your hat!

Aventura Clothing Spring 2017
Hartwell Hoodie
The Hartwell Hoodie is a soft, organic cotton/poly blend and has beautiful embroidery down the front. I was worried the sleeves would be way too long on me (I am 5'3" and wear Aventura XS), but cuff is knuckle-length unrolled - perfect for keeping my hands warm on chilly days - and wrist length rolld up. This hoodie is my go-to as it goes with all my tees and tanks! *Also available in Vintage Indigo, Heathered Charcoal and Spiced Coral.

Aventura Clothing Spring 2017
Verve Long Sleeved Top + Jayla Vest
The Verve Tee is also an organic cotton/polyester blend. Super soft, it's the ideal length to wear with yoga pants (covers most of your bottom), and is forgiving if you have seconds at dinner. *Also available in Cerise and Charcoal.

For a detailed review of the fantastic Jayla Vest, please see this post.

From Trail (or Gym) to Coffee

The Kineta Striped Skort from Aventura's new Athleisure line is perfect for biking to a lunch date. It will keep you covered in the right places while looking cute at the same time. I love the length (just a few inches above the knee), stretch, and striped shorts underneath! Pockets are also a nice feature - there are two pockets in the front and a zippered pocket at the back perfect for a credit card, energy gel, and house key. As soon as it warms up, I'll be wearing this all the time! You can work out in it, then go out; my kind of clothing! *Also available in Cerise melange, solid black, and capri length!

Aventura Clothing Spring 2017
Midori Scarf + Hartwell Hoodie + Kineta Skort

Date Night

To be honest, our dates are usually mountain biking or skiing dates, but if we had the chance to dress up, I'd wear the Easton Dress (on my wish list and coming soon) with strappy sandals!

Easton Dress + Albany Hat
Image Credit: Aventura Clothing
For dinner and drinks at a pub, I'd wear the organic cotton Redford Jacket with a tank top and skinny jeans! This super cute jacket is waist length and fitted thanks to a touch of Lycra. It's the ideal weight to keep off a chill on a summer evening in Calgary. In cooler weather, layer it with a long sleeved shirt (it's a light weight jacket).  I love the cut and buttons, so I don't have to worry about catching delicate tank tops in a zipper, and am thinking about picking it up in more colors! *Available in 8 colors!

Aventura Clothing Spring 2017
Redford Jacket + Midori Scarf + Verve Tee + Kineta Skort

Travel Wardrobe

When I'm packing for a road trip, I look for fabrics that move with me and don't wrinkle to keep me feeling and looking good all day! All of the items I've tested so far seem to hold up well to travel and minimal care (translation: no ironing). Even the Redford Jacket, which is 98% organic cotton, survived a 3-day trip without looking worse for the wear, despite being folded and packed in a suitcase. Reason why? "Long staple organic cotton fibers are less likely to wrinkle than lower quality conventionally grown short cotton fibers" (Source). Cool, huh? 
Aventura Clothing Spring 2017
Redford Jacket + Midori Scarf

Conclusion

I'm loving the Spring/Summer Collection and am so thrilled to introduce Aventura Clothing to you! In addition to making cute, comfortable and versatile clothes with eco-friendly fabrics (>75% of items), Aventura is a company that gives back. By donating new clothes to Uncommon Threads, survivors of domestic violence are given confidence! Aventura's brother company, e-coths, helps feed the hungry through its 3 Campaign (3 meals donated for each garment purchased). To learn more, or purchase Aventura Clothing, please visit www.aventuraclothing.com.

To find Aventura Clothing at a store near you, please enter your city or zip/postal code into the Store Locator.

Aventura Clothing Spring 2017
Hartwell Hoodie + Midori Scarf

Would You Like to Try Aventura? ***ASK ME FOR A DISCOUNT CODE***

Get 60% off your order with one of an exclusive discount code! The first 20 people to email me (karenung77 (at) gmail.com) will receive a coupon code for 60% off their order, up to $250. Discount code is valid in the US only.

You may also join the #AventuraLife loyalty program for future discounts and and free shipping depending on your level of membership. Membership is free!

More Aventura Spring Styles

I have teamed up with some fabulous bloggers who are stoked about getting outside in their new Aventura Spring/Summer wear. Please check them out and let me know what your favorite items are!
Aventura Spring Looks - Blogger Collaboration

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Prairie View Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park

Prairie View Trail is a popular spring/fall conditioner due to its proximity to Calgary and snow-free conditions early/late in hiking season. Hike up the old forestry road to McConnell Ridge for beautiful views of Barrier Lake, Mount Baldy and beyond. From here, you can scramble up a rock outcrop to a higher viewpoint or continue on to Barrier Lake Fire Lookout where you can look out over the Bow Valley.  After, stop at Chief Chiniki Village for a treat!


Trip Report

The wind was howling, as it often does at Barrier Lake, but the girls couldn't resist throwing rocks in the turquoise water. They asked, "Do you remember our beach day?" and made us promise to bring them back on a warmer day to play in the sand. With rosy cheeks and numb fingers, we said farewell to the lake and followed the beaten path up to the lookout.

Barrier Lake
Trembling aspens gave way to conifers as we wound our way ever upwards. We looked for lichens, mosses, and faces on the many trees we met and listened to the wind. At times it sounded like the ocean!

Take either fork - they rejoin a short ways down the trail
Take the left fork here
Right before the ridge, the trail gets quite steep, but the girls were motivated to reach the ridge and have a treat. As the trees cleared, we could see the lake below and all the surrounding peaks! Whiskeyjacks rode the thermals in the golden glow and dive bombed for crumbs (left by hikers); they were really fun to watch.

McConnell Ridge
We were losing daylight, so we decided to clamber up to the viewpoint for a quick look and save the Fire Lookout for another day. The short detour was well worth the extra couple minutes! 

Choose your own adventure: path on the right or scramble up the rocks at centre
Option 3 to get up to the lookout: harder scramble
(NOT the official trail)
View from McConnell Ridge Viewpoint
Looking towards Mount Baldy from McConnell Ridge Viewpoint
After more snacks (chocolate for the win!), the girls fairly flew down the mountain. It was a great half-day outing with gorgeous views from the top! 

Chasing the last light of day

Prairieview Trail at a Glance

Distance: 13.2 km return (Add on 0.7 km one way to the Fire Lookout).
Elevation Gain: 421 m elevation gain to McConnell Ridge (Add 100 m to the Fire Lookout)
Washrooms? Outhouses at parking lot
Stroller Friendly? No
Directions from Calgary: Head west on Highway 1. Take the Highway 40S/Kananaskis Trail exit. At the top of the ramp, turn left at the stop sign. Continue for 12 km. AFTER Barrier Lake Information Centre, turn right at Barrier Dam Day Use.
Parking: Barrier Dam Day Use Area
Trailhead: The trailhead is at the northwest corner of the parking lot.

Barrier Lake Fire Lookout

Know Before You Go

  • Ice cleats or microspikes are recommended from late fall to late spring. 
  • The trail is for hiking and mountain biking. Please share the trail.
  • As this trail is in a provincial park, dogs must be on leash at all times.
  • For a longer hike and chance to see a small waterfall, you can make a loop with Jewell Creek/Falls.
  • There are garbage cans at the trailhead only. Please pack out all trash.

Related Posts