Stretchy pants, cabin fever & other anniversary adventures

Let’s just say that the mountain/wedding anniversary celebrations have passed and the era of the stretchy pants has begun.

Seriously, that’s all I’ve been wearing since being away for a week in the Canadian Rockies. Things with elastic waists.  It was a daily struggle between “I want to look good naked” and “C’mon, treat yourself.”

BearStrTavernx I did have quite a bit of control over food the majority of the holiday which was spent at Baker Creek, with a kitchen to prep our own food.  Baker Creek consisted of delightful log cabins in the woods with absolute peace and quiet. So much P&Q that I was getting FAR TOO MUCH SLEEP and a little edgy by the time I finished two novels in four days (The Girl on the Train and A Man Called Ove), and played all the solitaire I could handle, and was wrinkly from hot-tubbing in the wonderful Jacuzzi in our cabin.

No TVs, no telephones and the WiFi on our various gadgets was very limited. Funny how my modern-day decompression habits include scrolling FB or IG.

I lacked the ability to fully chill, and I bugged my husband daily about going out for snowshoe treks.  Yep, I was a complete pest. Our first snowshoe day out was across frozen Lake Louise to the ice waterfall, back again to the Chateau, then up to Mirror Lake, just below Lake Agnes. He thought he was going to die.  He thought I was trying to kill him. Not exactly romantic anniversary stuff.  The trail WAS steep, but we’d done that route a gazillion times before. I guess on snowshoes was a little more challenging. Or it was the altitude. Or maybe because we are not in fab shape. Or the last time we did that was 20 years ago. Or something.KickingitonPtarmiganx

So, by the next day, he was committing to only short snowshoe excursions (which caused me to pout, stomp and act like a child) because he knew at the end of the week I’d booked us into Skoki Lodge and the only way in to the backcountry was to snowshoe for 11K and he’d have no choice at that point.  I need to rest, he said.  It drove me batty.  He was calm and cool as a cucumber.  (How does he do it??)

Returning to Skoki Lodge (read about my last foray into the snowbound backcountry with Miz J.) was an exciting prospect, as I wanted to introduce my husband to these kinds of adventures that are near and dear to my heart.  He was wary.  Very wary. No running water. No electricity.  His biggest fear was sleeping quarters.

Do I have to sleep next to a stranger, he asked.  He was recalling the summer I took him and the boys to several of the Alpine Club of Canada backcountry huts, where everyone bunks down on padded sleeping platforms right next to one another, and God forbid you’re next to the dude who farts sausage stink all night or snores like a freight train. (He experienced both).

I assured him that no, he didn’t have to share a room, and in fact I’d booked the Honeymoon Cabin – a little log cabin completely separate from the main lodge.  He was quite thrilled about that.  And then when I told him all of our food was provided by stellar backcountry chefs, he perked up even more. No noisy people, no cooking and no cleaning… all good.

FirstlookxBlessed with a bluebird day and crazy warm temperatures for January, our Skoki day couldn’t have been more perfect.  We checked out of our  little cabin at Baker Creek and prepared to go every more rustic.  I was SUPER PROUD of him for making the trek out to the lodge.  Not only was he chipper, but he booked it along and we snowshoed up and over two mountain passes and down into Skoki Valley to the lodge in 3.5 hrs arriving mid-afternoon in time for tea. Not bad!! Well deserving of a night in our very own wee cabin.

Skoki’s honeymoon cabin is – by all means – the way to go. The lodge, built in the 1920s, is charming but squeaky, with the ability to hear all of your neighbours in the adjoining rooms. The cabin’s resounding silence conjured up the epic depth and aloneness of the being the only two people in the world on a fluffy king bed with a softer than soft duvet.  Totally amorous if you had any energy left after snowshoeing in, scarfing down multiple bowls of soul-defying tomato orzo soup with homemade biscuits, guzzling lemonade, snacking on cheddar and brie and pecans and blackberries, and polishing off every last crumb of both the gingerbread AND the lemon tea cakes because you couldn’t quite make up your mind which would go better with your third steaming cup of apple raspberry tea.

We completely passed out in that cozy bed until the sun set, and we found ourselves hurriedly throwing on hut booties and sweaters a few minutes before the dinner bell at 7:00 pm. Like we could fit more food in.Firesburningx

The lodge’s great room transformed into a candlelit haven, with staff moving quietly to and fro, preparing for the evening meal.  The menu board promised halibut, spanakopita, Skoki salad, roasted vegetables and chocolate cake.  We selected seats at the long, polished table and were soon joined by our fellow inmates. My dear extroverted husband took over our social obligations and I sweetly faded into the background, observing.  We met folks from Calgary (tell me a time at Skoki where you don’t meet someone from Calgary…) and a couple from the States. There was the obligatory teen, and a few groups of friends, along with some Aussies for good measure.  Most everyone was lovely, and only a few you’d like to short-sheet their beds. Which could actually be done because there are no locks on the doors at Skoki.

A delightful affair, is dinner at Skoki Lodge. Not only because of the stellar menus created and prepared by Katie Mitzel and her staff, but because it is communal, taking us all back to the art of conversation.

I’d like to say after a leisurely dinner that we fell into a fitful sleep from all that mountain air and good food, but alas we did not.  Bedtime at Skoki tends to take place between 9:00 – 10:00 pm, but we were wide awake following our afternoon nap and dinner.  We warmed up the cabin and did a bit of an electronic cheat, listening to the CBC’s Vinyl Cafe on my iPod, watching the battery operated twinkle lights we’d hung in the cabin windows.  It was after 1:00 am and several chilly excursions to the outhouse that we finally fell asleep….just in time to get up for our 8:00 am breakfast. Yes, breakfast.

SkokiteaxAll about the food.  The Skoki kitchen serves up both a cold and hot breakfast (second breakfast!) followed quickly by the make-your-own-lunch accouterments for either your day trips around the lodge or your trip back to reality.  We only stayed the one night, so we made off with cookies and pockets of trail mix, not bothering with the sandwiches this go around.

Our journey back was a slog up Deception Pass and then the long-haul to Skiing Louise and an endless trudge down the ski-out.  Last time, lifties put us over the mountain but this year, snowshoers had to use the ski-out…which added a ridiculous amount of time and effort. Any shine from the lodge might have worn off DH at this point. In fact, yes, yes it was most certainly gone.  There was a lot of cursing about snowshoes and walking and inconsiderate people making other people snowshoe so far just to reach cars where there are heated seats and mobile chargers.

Despite all the tromping around in the wilderness, I still managed to eat my weight in food, and upon arriving back in Banff (and massaging my legs back to life) we had a celebratory (as in, we’re alive!) steak dinner. Mmmm steak.

Hence the stretchy pants.

It might take some time to recover. I might need another week.

 

 

 

Planting milestones for 2015

Almost two weeks into the fabulous NEW YEAR and I’ve discovered that oh yeah, I’m still me.

It’s like when you get married. Or have a birthday with a zero at the end. And everyone’s like, “Do you feel different??”

Well – I’m still me. Disorganized. Like beer. Love sugar. Need to think a little more highly of myself. And other vaguely endearing traits. But traits that aren’t winning me a kick ass new body so far this year.

That is, after all, what I’ve decided my goal is for 2015: to be, like, uber fit. Yes, the scale will always haunt me and I’ll keep standing on the damn thing (aka I want to lose 50 lbs) but overall, the idea is that I get FIT. Reduce fat, increase muscle. Look awesome. Be strong.

Measurables? Erg. Yes. This is the hard part.

Well, let’s start with some milestones. January: weekend in the mountains full of winter sports, including snowshoeing (yep – another trip out to Skoki Lodge, but this time only one night, so that’s 11 kilometres, 2 mountain passes and a bunch of elevation times two.  Just enough time in between to eat and get a good nights sleep).

May: trail racing! The trail racing season will kick off in the Spring and I’m already signed up for a 10K, with a few others in the pipeline. June: Epic (oh yes, very epic) National Three Peaks Challenge = flying to the UK with my girls to hike the highest tippity-top mountains in each Scotland, Wales and Britain…all in 24 hours. WOOT.

July: Running a half-mara, trail style in the mountains, Powderface. Hiking the West Coast Trail with my most awesome blood relatives who are dear enough to put up with me and give me rides to all the very best trailheads. August: More Rocky Mountain hiking and a half-mara road race in Van, Seawheeze.

Oh, and I did sign up for some online “run 2,015 miles in 2015” thing, too. But they’re PURPOSEFUL miles, not just all my FitBit steps.  Let’s just say, I’m currently a little behind on that goal.

Did you catch all that blank space? Sort of between February and May? That’s gonna require some serious training….However, my KNEE (and I’m so sorry that I’m going to go on and on about this to the point of boredom) is killing me.  The doctor says to go get orthotics and new runners.  Apparently my issues are due to the fact that my feet turn in.  The rehab guru gave me 10+ boring but important exercises to do to strengthen the glutes.  Apparently my issues are due to the glutes not firing…putting pressure on other parts of my legs.  Soo.. being a good girl I’m just doing it all.

new shooze

I need my knee back so that I can walk, run and hike.

I suppose in many ways getting an injury is beneficial. It gives the opportunity to learn more about your body and be more careful. It’s also upping the ante right now, making nutrition my #1 star, not sweaty workouts.  Insert sad face = I LOVE sweaty workouts.

The shock of going back to work (no more 8-hours-a-night) has made me all lethargic.  Last week, I only made dinner once, and left the family to fend for themselves.  We all ate poorly.  One day, I think I ate nothing but carbs. It was so weird.

With that top of mind, on the verge of a new week, I decided to ensure that THIS week was not going to be a nutrition disaster.  Today was BEAUTIFUL out = sun + blue sky. I was dying to go for a snowshoe or over to the winter festival…but I promised myself that I would go shopping (Costco!) and prep meals for the week.

Meal prep January 2015

Now, this meal prep actually took me HOURS. The sun set and I was still prepping!!! Maybe it’s because it was my first time to really do it on a grand scale?? I hope this gets shorter…!  I made 5 lunches + snacks for myself based on the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan, then a set of grab + go snacks for the boys for lunch or after school. Then, I started in on the meal prep for suppers. I posted the menu on the family blackboard, so I’m sticking to it.

MON – Shredded chicken tacos & salad
TUE – Shepherd’s pie & broccoli on the side
WED – Caribbean beef stew
THU – Turkey quinoa taco bake & salad
FRI – Pasta w/Sicilian meatballs & Caesar salad

All of these have healthy and not-as-healthy options. I’ll go heavy on the greens and light on the optional carbs on most of these for myself.

The good news is that in this process I re-discovered what was in the depths of the freezer, and another goal is to use up what we have before buying new stuff.

Now, it’s like, bedtime, and no snowshoeing, no frolicking outdoors…etc.  Sigh. But I think I did the responsible thing… Until next time, some snowshoe shots from LAST week 🙂  Have a fabulous week out there!

Snowshoe awesomesauce

 

20/20 vs. beer goggles

It’s come down to budget: contact lenses or adult beverages?

The adult beverages won out.  I know – terrible, right?  Rather than ensure clear visibility whilst snowshoeing through the delightful Canadian Rockies, and avoiding the maddening fogging of the glasses/goggles, I’ve opted for bringing a mini bar into the backcountry.  I never claimed to have good judgement.

Skoki Lodge, the destination of my ultimate January snowshoe challenge journey, is a rustic mountain cabin built in the 1930s, and was recently given a celeb-boost by the stay of HRH William & Kate in 2011.  In the winter, it’s an 11 km ski or snowshoe into the backcountry of Banff National Park up and over two mountain passes.  All of the meals are included – and are reputed to be nothing short of spectacular – along with all bedding, so no sleeping bags required.  Technically, only clothing and snacks are necessary for me to carry in, but my pack list is as long as my arm. It’s WINTER. You never know what might go down, man.

I’ve got everything from duct tape to the lodge-worthy flannel shirt going.  Knife. Emergency blanket.  Hut booties. Head lamp. Down jacket. Toothbrush and face cream. Rebel, Flip, iPod. Camo buff for cool photos. Insulated Skhoop skirt for awesomeness. A bunch of the aforementioned adult beverages.  Jill had read somewhere that the wine – ordinary wine – was $40 a bottle out there. They do, after all, have to pack it with their supplies.  So, I figured I’d save a dollar or two and bring my own. Captain? Aye-aye!

Two more days until we hit the road for the Rockies!

The mountains are calling, and I must go. ~John Muir

Sweet Sunday snowshoe

Sundays no longer equal brunch, football or sleeping in.  Sundays are now when-am-I-gonna-meet-you-to-snowshoe??

Round 3 – ding!  Snowshoeing this week was back at the dog park, fully loaded with packs ready for the mountains.  The only thing I hadn’t yet packed was the first aid kit.  And the cheese and jerky. And the rum.  And the rope. (Rope just seemed like a good thing to complement the duct tape which was already packed. It also is a lovely accent for the snazzy blue & orange avalanche shovel Jill bought.)

Thankfully, it was a glorious day at only -6C and it was our first warm weather, sunny sky go at it.  Long, slow ascents and a couple of loops.  It almost felt as though this was getting easier.  We had a few minor heart attack moments when dogs came racing past or stealthily just appeared at our sides.  Good prep for any unexpected backcountry visitors on our 11km trek next week: you know, grizzly bears taking a break from hibernation, or cougars just out to plain old snap our necks.

Yes, cougars.  Cougars stalking us is one of our safety concerns for our Rocky Mountain snowshoe adventure. Another is turning left too early (aka getting lost) at Deception Pass and falling off a cliff in a white-out.  There are one or two more, but thankfully I can’t recall them right now.

This Sunday snowshoe outing with Jill ended the week on a high note.  For the past several days I struggled with getting to the gym in the mornings, which meant I then had to go at night with 20 million other people. I dreaded that.  And then I began to lose focus – why bother? I’m never going to get into shape. It’s going to take forever and there will be so many disappointments along this journey. And my knee hurts. So, why not take a “rest day” or three?

Right?? Not sure where the devil on the shoulder came from, but it was rough. Once I was out snowshoeing on Sunday, it was all, riiiiight. Now I recall what I was training for… And it didn’t hurt that we had a couple of interested bystanders at the dog park be all like, “That looks like good training!” (why yes, yes it is) “Why are your snowshoes so big?” (it’s all about size, ma’am) and the like.  Part of you just wants to smile smugly and say nothing, and the other part wants to talk their ears off about training, snowshoeing, getting fit, going to the mountains and other exciting parts of my life story.

Only three more work days until we hit the road for the Rockies! Woot!

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
~ John Muir