Saturday, January 16, 2016

Winter hiking with a baby and a toddler

The weather in Vancouver was amazing over Christmas break, which meant we were able to enjoy the outdoors a whole lot more than we were expecting, based on the prior few weeks of rain, rain and more rain. I guess Etta's singing of "Rain, rain go away" finally worked, and just in time in our books. Even though I try to get outside at least once a day with the kids no matter the weather, we were getting pretty tired of the mix of wet and cold. A turn for the better in time for the holidays was just what we needed, and lifted our spirits during our first Christmas on the west coast that we didn't travel east to be home with our parents.

Since we both grew up in places where Christmas meant snow we decided we wanted to go somewhere snowy over the Christmas holidays, even if this meant just for a day. And so, on New Year's day we decided to head to  Mount Seymour in North Vancouver.
It's been so long since Cam saw the sun, he can't even open his eyes!

Once we got to Mount Seymour, Etta suddenly started to sniffle, sneeze and just get all around fussy. I guess we didn't notice this during the hustle and bustle of packing up everything for the hike, but it seemed that she was overrun by a cold. As such, we quickly adjusted our expectations for the day. Instead of doing one of the harder mountain hikes we decided to do the short 2 km hike to First Lake. We were really lucky that the snow was nice and packed as we were not wearing any snow shoes or crampons. The trail had only a small incline. It felt like walking on sand and the only real obstacle was the occasional falling snow from the trees, which picked up throughout the day as the beautiful sun was melting the snow away. 

Special Note: If we did this again, we'd bring a small toboggan, magic carpet or saucer to slide down certain parts of the trail. Always good to add a little excitement for the little ones (and us too!).

The girls seemed to enjoy their time in their carriers. Etta was happy to get in and go for a ride while listening to Dad sing Christmas songs and tell Dora the Explorer stories. Her most exciting moments were when other people crossed our path, giving her the opportunity to shout "Happy New Year!" Julia, on the other hand, was quite content to snuggle up and zonk right out on Mom's back. 

It did not take us long to get to First Lake. Since it only took us about 30-45 minutes at a relaxed pace, we started to re-consider our earlier decision to scale back the hike (based on Etta's cold) and pondered the idea of hiking a bit further, then returning to First Lake for lunch. We knew that we could not push Etta up Dog Mountain because she was getting fussy so we decided to head up to a spot known as Dinkey Peak (yes, that's the real  name). 

It only took us about 5 minutes past First Lake (and a slightly unhappy toddler) to realize that the extra hiking just was not in the cards for us on this day. My motherly gut told me that we should head back to First Lake, have lunch and just enjoy the winter wonderland that we had found only 2 km from the parking lot. We enjoyed lunch and hot chocolate in a beautiful snowy clearing at First Lake (especially Etta, whose mood was brightened substantially by our decision to not hike on and instead to eat, drink and play) . Julia had some awake time spent rolling around in the snow, and we borrowed a nearby hiker's toboggan for a few runs down a small hill - more like a little snowy bump on the lake, but fun nonetheless.  

Best part of the day, hands-down, for Etta was drinking this hot chocolate!

We hung out at First Lake for about an hour playing in the snow and having snacks. The girl's made 'snow angels' and other hikers stopped to admire Julia and her gorgeous cheeks :)

Once again it was a great day to spend in the mountains. The hike was not as intense or long as maybe we would have liked but being together outside in the snow as as a family was really all we were going for anyways - mission accomplished!