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Fortitude for altitude

This morning we drove out to Kananaskis to give the kids their first full dose of mountains. We took them to Bragg Creek a few weeks ago, but those were foothills compared to what we saw today. Kaitlyn adamantly told us she wanted to hike up to see the snow, and the snow-capped mountains were glorious, but that snow line looked so high up…

At Kananskis Lodge, we sought the concierge’s advice for a hike where we could see the view, but not too strenuous since we had a five-year-old. He knew just the one and promptly pointed us toward Troll Falls. Great name. Lots of potential. But when the first kilometer looked like the “hiking” we did in Florida – a gravel driveway with little altitude change – the complaining began. The kids even joined me. And Kaitlyn began to complain she was tired. “We want a mountain,” the boys insisted.

So we found a mountain. I couldn’t tell you the name of the mountain or the trailhead. All we had to go on were a handful of cars on the side of the road and a path that wasted no time going up. And up it went. Cotter was in his element at the front, imagining himself blazing the trail for the rest of us. Aidan set his own pace, occasionally slipping away to try a side excursion, as is his style. And Kaitlyn chugged away energetically, her tiredness replaced by a thirst for adventure. At first our goal was to find a clearing with a great view and a sunny rock to eat our lunch. That took far too long, and we were surprised to see a dusting of snow on a few logs before we found the sun. Boy, did snow give our kids energy. They could see the snow line now, and those little legs kept moving after a short break.

Incidentally, we’ve only seen this type of snow once before, 13 years ago in Lake Louise. Clearly the inspiration for dippin’ dots ice cream.

With Kaitlyn finally tiring after over 75 minutes of climbing, her little legs no longer clearing the rocks in our path, the guys went on alone in hopes of summiting. But as the path grew snowy, the footing got treacherous. We gave up the quest a quarter mile short and headed down to find Becky and Kaitlyn. One day we will return. That pass needs taming.

So, what did we learn?

  • Cotter was born for this. Mountains are in his blood.
  • Tiredness is a state of mind more than a state of body.
  • Aidan doesn’t like to give up. It took some persuading to get him to turn around.
  • Our Florida legs are strengthening. We’re rounding into shape.
  • The kids’ thirst for snow is alive and well. We’ll see how long that lasts.
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