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Skipacking with Fiona

Fiona is 6, she is a proven outdoors-capable girl.  I have been promising to take her camping for several months, and this weekend we got the chance to go.

We decided Banff national park needed some visiting and so with some advice from my friend Scott, who used to live in Banff, we set off to camp at the far end of the Spray Loop starting near the Banff Springs Hotel.  On the way up, I asked Fiona if we should snowshoe, hike or ski the loop and she insisted skiing was our mode of transport for this trip.

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The temperature was a balmy -15C when we started and warmed up into the -10 range as we skied, and it made for a great afternoon.  Fiona kept talking about how nice the trail was.

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We set up camp and ate our dinner before it got completely dark, and we had time to read several chapters from the book I am reading to her before 7.  It was cold enough to make holding a book and turning pages difficult, so we turned in relatively early.

I woke up several times during the night and checked on the happily snoring Fiona to make sure she was not suffering.  Each time, I checked the thermometer on my pack and it got as cold as -30C – a potentially catastrophic temperature if we hadn’t been prepared.  We did not need to resort to any of our emergency clothing or run off to start a fire (the fire pit is about 200m from the campsite).

The real test of our mettle was Fiona’s 7:30 call of, “I need to pee.”  It was -30C and still pretty dark, but if you need to pee…

If you haven’t ever had to get out of a warm sleeping bag at -30C to help a little girl pee, I cannot say I recommend it.  It did get my butt out of bed, and once I was up, it wasn’t that much of a stretch to get making breakfast.

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After a tasty breakfast and taking down of the tent, we had our next serious challenge in which we donned our very seriously cold ski boots and had to ski as fast as we could for the first few minutes so as to not inflict frostbite on ourselves.

The day warmed as we skied the second half of the loop, and we had another great day of skiing and drinking of gatorade slush as we made our way back to the car.

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