Guest Authors: Mike, Sara and Emma Crane
Although class may be out and school is still a distant thought from the endless summer on kids’ minds, learning can reach new heights by simply exploring outside.
Since sharing our first non-car-camping experience at Cheakamus Lake last summer, my girls (then 4 and 6) and I have been building upon a passion for backcountry hiking and camping in and around Whistler. With this pursuit of exploration, the adventure of creating memories in these vast mountains has given us a lot to learn along the way. As a team, we set out, open to take on anything along the trail ahead.
Don’t Take Dad’s Word Though, Listen to What Sara and Emma Have to Say
We love learning about nature – from feeling the softness of damp moss, to rubbing the rough bark of giant trees, dipping our feet in freezing alpine lakes and feeling cold snow on a mid-summer’s day. Seeing wildlife, big and small and listening to the sounds of it all. Mountain top sunsets and even tobogganing in August, way up high.
It’s super fun, because we get to stay up really late, like way past bedtime to toast marshmallows, light sparklers then lay down and watch the stars and the mysteries of the night sky. A tip for the toast, no camp fire is required, just have your parents light their stove.
Sometimes it’s really hard work and you have to take on challenges along the way, but it’s always worth it to get to see these places and the views along the way. Always bring lots of your favourite treats and take breaks when you need them. Hey, don’t tell Dad, but we always pick out all of the chocolate from the trail mix too.
And Now, Back to Dad
The mountains offer a lifestyle that few places can match. With a good plan and an open mind, these efforts and chances to connect will not go unrewarded. From planning and packing, to setting out for the day, it’s key to involve everyone in the process. Instilling preparedness and ownership are essential life skills that can be built upon, along with the many other lessons time in the mountains can teach. And always remember to leave no trace. See The Whistler Insider’s Hiking/Biking and Backcountry Etiquette.
If there is one thing that kids take away from it all, I hope these moments and experiences inspire a meaningful and lifelong connection with nature. We are so fortunate to have this setting in Whistler in which to recreate and explore. Only through these experiences can we truly learn the importance of protecting our wild spaces.
As with any backcountry travel, it is important to be prepared and plan accordingly as the weather and conditions can change rapidly. Always notify a responsible party of your travel plans and if travelling out of cell coverage, a GPS and satellite communication device is highly recommended.
Taking a page from our first overnight experience, a great intro to backcountry camping is Cheakamus Lake. Accessible south of Whistler Village, Cheakamus has a short 3-kilometre approach with a minimal elevation gain that rewards you with a walk through one of Whistler’s best forests and a stunning lakeside view. A BC Parks fee applies for overnight visits.
That’s not a bad summer vacation! Follow Sara and Emma’s adventures @where.the.sisters.roam and please don’t mention that summer isn’t endless. Also be sure to check out 9 Whistler Walks and Hikes to Try this Summer for more inspiration on hiking with kids.