I've been meaning to write a blog about our trip to St Lucia last year when Thomas was 6 months old, but I think that one may have to wait a few more weeks weeks.
Right now I'm feeling inspired to talk about skiing. Partly because there is snow in the forecast, and partly because I just got a new pair of ski boots for the first time in 10 years! Having an excuse to use the picture I just took of Thomas wearing my new boots & his Merino wool top didn't hurt either.
Last year we left Victoria on Boxing day and drove to Mount Cain for a few days of skiing. The original plan was go for 2 nights or so, then head back to Nanaimo and over to North Van on the ferry to visit my family. My mom (knowing me all too well) knew when saw our FB post about skiing at Cain that I'd never make it home that week. She was right. Its a long haul to Mount Cain, at least 5 hours from Victoria (driving safely) and once you're there you'll never leave unless you really have to.
Fortunately I have an understanding family!
We have a camper for our truck, as do some of our friends - so we all met at Cain on the 27th. Although by this point we had done tons of summer camping with Thomas, this was our first real winter trip. I wasn't sure how we'd deal with all the stuff (wet clothes) etc, the crib, cooking and what would a baby who can only crawl do in the snow? But, we love to ski and we love mount Cain so we wanted to find out if it would be okay. We had also done a 2 week camping trip the previous winter when I was pregnant so we were already familiar with our camper in cold conditions.
In the end the stuff wasn't a problem. We hung up the wet gear in the tiny bathroom along with keeping our ski boots there. It wasn't cold either, but we do have a winterized camper that is well insulated and it even has a heater! However, we did have to borrow our friends generator a few times to keep the batteries topped up - normally we wouldn't bother but we didn't want Thomas to be cold.
My second concern was how to entertain Thomas when there is almost no room in the camper (especially with the crib setup) and it would be too cold for a baby who can't walk to play in the snow! Mount Cain does have a lodge where everyone is welcome so I was hoping they wouldn't mind if we spent a lot of time there. Once again, there was no need to worry. Thomas loves the outdoors as much as we do and happily chilled in the backpack carrier for a few back-country trips and he even had a nap or two. The locals who ran the lodge were so awesome & helpful - Thomas made lots of friends, as he always does. We ended up buying many meals in the lodge which not only made our lives easier, but it helped us stay for a whole week :)
Here are my 10 quick tips for winter camping with a baby:
1) A good one piece snow suit is a must! If you can, also have a down jacket on hand for quick trips outside.
2) Have good quality warm base layers for your child, save them for use outside so they'll last for several days
3) Camp with friends and go somewhere family friendly.
4) Make all your meals ahead of time and keep them simple (yet filling)
5) Take turns skiing, its a fun way to meet new people!
6) Have snowshoes, or back country skis for hiking trips. It goes without saying to make sure you know where you are going & to be prepared! Stick to marked trails if you need to :)
7) Buy or borrow a hiking pack for your child, ours was a hand me down from MEC - its one of the more affordable ones out there, and we love it.
8) Get a sled, kids love them. Practical doesn't mean expensive, make sure its one they can't easily fall out of.
9) Have a good sleeping setup that works for your family. With Thomas that meant (and still does) - he needs his crib with a solid side to sleep up against, and he needs his Teddy and Blankie.
10) Just go. If you don't want to camp, then rent a condo or even stay in a camper!
I can't wait to winter camp again this year. Fingers crossed for lots of snow this winter, I want to spend another week at Mount Cain! Hopefully I'll write another blog in a few months about winter camping with a toddler.