One of my FAVORITE hikes so far this year with my beautiful boy! The rain was not going to stop, and we were not going to let it stop us either!
I was on Facebook one day, and I came across this post about best hikes in the Kananaskis with kids, so I thought I would take a look at it. I saw quite a few interesting hikes but this one, the Ptarmigan Cirque, stood out the most to me and since then was a must do for this weekend. I knew rain was in the forecast for the whole weekend, and thunder showers! Either way I was up for a drive and willing to give it a go.
I was a little nervous with the directions as I had never really been this far down highway 40 before and thinking that I am directionally challenged, I thought there was potential that I would totally miss it and just end up in Longview! ha-ha. BUT – that wasn’t the case, I saw the Highwood Pass highest point sign and shortly after there was a sign for Ptarmigan Cirque and a parking lot. I also saw the cross walk mentioned in the trail peaks log about the hike itself. I knew I was in the right spot!
We pulled into the parking lot and Nolan immediately woke up and was excited to get outside. I undid his buckles and he eagerly climbed into the front seat with me and asked me to open the windows please, “mami, abre mi minnooooo for fa for” ha-ha, (again, my son is learning Spanish). So I opened the “minnoooo” and he started saying “Holaaaaaa” to everyone he saw while we munched down on some sandwich’s before we got ready. As we were eating, and starting to get ready, the rain continued to come down, but started coming down harder! I didn’t think anything of it, and kept moving along with the plan. All done up with my layers of socks, my boots, my rain jacket, Nolan knew it was his turn so he starts taking off his shoes, pants, diaper! ha! and lays down and I suppose that meant a diaper change, even though it was perfectly clean already. He knows the mountain routine! I changed him anyways and put on his rain pants, shoes, sweater and rain jacket. “back pack mami” as he passes his little pack to me. I feel so proud he is catching on and I can only assume that he is enjoying our adventures and is patient with the process of getting ready. We strap into it all and lock the jeep, and we are off!
As we were heading out, we got talking with the people who parked beside us, as they had kids to and I was wondering if they were going to do the hike also even though it was raining. They said they would try to go for as long as they could and then head back. They were not dressed for the weather so I lent them my umbrella and when they were to turn back, they could just leave it under my jeep if I didn’t return with them, and that’s exactly what ended up happening.
As Nolan and I continued on the find the trail head, I wasn’t sure how he was going to do. He wasn’t complaining about the rain yet, that is until we got a little further down the path and I wouldn’t let him splash in the puddles with his shoes. We do have rain boots but they were soaked from the night before in puddles. hmm. . . Maybe with toddlers, I should invest in two pairs of these. He did continue to hold my hand and walk with me for quite a while though so I just kept pushing it to see how far we could get. Nolan loves to have a hiking stick which I think is awesome. My mom, his Amma, actually made him one, sanded it and stained it, added a little rubber end to it for me. He never wants to leave without it!
We ran into another family as we made it to the trail head and crossed the road. There was the mom, dad, two kids aged 3 and 5 and two friends of the family who were visiting for the first time in Canada. We kept passing each other on the trail as we would break for photos and kids wanted to stop. As we made our way up, I learned the family is from Australia and they moved here about six months ago to simply experience and adventure together. It sure sounds like they have done quite a bit of it and I was so motivated to keep going with Nolan after chatting with them. Their two friends, I think, were visiting from the states and had just gotten here the night before so they wanted to show them the Rocky’s before they left the following week. At one point, Nolan was getting frustrated with slipping as it got steeper and asked me to carry him. I carried him for a bit and when we once again caught up to the family we met, they offered me an Ergo carrier so I could carry Nolan and feel safer in the wet mud. Only compromise was we had to hang out with them, as they said ha-ha but we were more than happy, thankful and excited to hike with our new friends for the day 🙂 !
They helped me strap Nolan onto my back and instantly he perked right up and started chatting with everyone. Carrying him in a carrier on my back is WAY more comfortable than trying to carry him in my arms. Especially on slippery areas. From there on, we stuck together as a group and enjoyed our hike. We all chatted a lot, took photos, and enjoyed the beautiful views. I was so taken away by this hike, as I said at the beginning of this post, it is definitely one of my favorites this year that we have done together and I would really like to do it again. We did the loop, but I heard that we could have gone past the green area and back up into the rock bed a bit more to see more up there. That will have to happen another day, as it continued to rain on us throughout the hike and it didn’t seem like it was going to let up at all.
Before we crossed the creek, we stopped for some more photos and snacks, and put more warm clothes on kids.We ran into a Park guy who was hiking the loop and showing people a Grizzly claw that they had taken from a dead Grizzly that they had. Those claws are bigger than my FINGERS! Scary! After our chatting with him and snacking, another family with small kids was coming up behind us and it started to rain again and a lot so we continued on our way. Through the creek and on a rock trail we headed back around the loop on the return of our hike. We crossed the creek twice and I am so surprised at how dry my feet stayed! I definitely slipped into the water a few times and thought they would have been soaked but, nope! They held up great!
We made our way down the trail and eventually made it back to our vehicles where I returned the carrier, we exchanged Instagram information and went our separate ways. I came back to my umbrella that the other people had left under my jeep as they said they would, and Nolan and I got out of all of our wet stuff and warmed up, had another snack and headed out on our way.
On the way out, it was POURING rain on Highway 40. The clouds were so incredibly dark throughout that whole stretch and once we got to Barrier Lake area and out towards the Trans Canada highway, it cleared right up!
I was so happy and it felt amazing not letting the weather stop us. I am so proud of my boy for not even complaining – even though it was a tad chilly with wet hands. I absolutely love meeting other hiking families and tagging along with other groups. I was happy to share my umbrella with someone who needed it, and I was also helped out by being offered a carrier to carry Nolan so we could continue and do the whole hike.
It was all around a beautiful feel good day and much needed!
Till next time, happy trails!