Hail. Peanut sized hail was pelting the back of my yellow waterproof Columbia jacket. I was hunched over protecting my 1 year old from the pouring rain and the hard drops of hail. My husband was carrying our 3 year old and we were both sprinting down the last 10 metres of the trail to the parking lot. When we arrived at the parking lot I was reminded that we still had a good 100 metres to run before we reached the dry safe shelter of Dusty our VW Eurovan.  We had parked on the other side of the parking lot near what we had thought was the trail head to Peyto Lake. In some ways we had parked at the trail head as we started on that trail that took us to a road that led us up to the view of the Peyto Lake. On the way down we took the more scenic trail that ended at the opposite side of the parking lot. The storm grew fierce and I was glad we were not the people we had just seen only 5 minutes earlier hiking the 10 minutes up to the view point as they were further than us from the parked cars. I increased my stride to a sprint. I haven’t sprinted much since the days of playing rugby. In some ways it was exhilarating having a reason to stretch the legs out in order to propel myself forward like the old days of being chased by an opponent who was ready to smoke me to the ground. Instead of heading for the try line to score I was headed to Dusty for shelter.

Peyto Lake and Surrounding Mountains
Mountains surrounding Peyto Lake

What felt like an eternity, which I am sure was only 1 or 2 minutes, we finally reached Dusty. All 4 of us jumped into the van. We quickly removed all the soaking wet rain gear that had kept us incredibly dry. The earth-shattering hail pounded on the roof of Dusty and it became clear that driving anywhere would only increase the force of the hail on Dusty potentially causing lasting damage. Not to mention that driving in these conditions can increase the possibility of a car crash. So we were stuck…. Luckily with a full stocked fridge, the Strumbellas C.D. and delicious homemade banana bread that we had made prior to our camping trip. With the Strumbellas blaring over the ‘ol 1993 VW Eurovan Stereo system we had a Mang dance party. Our two youngest were dancing their hearts out on the floor of the van while we wiggled in our seats.  A couple of pieces of banana bread later and a few gulps of water, the vicious storm left as quickly as it had come crashing down.

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VW Van Dance Party
VW Van Dance Party

Luckily the storm was heading the opposite way of our campsite at Thompson Creek Campground so we got everyone buckled and began driving into the sun. I wish I could say that the sun stayed around for most of our weekend of camping but it did not. It rained and hailed off and on making it really difficult to do much of anything.  Not to mention the fire that we tried to start for over an hour. Every time it was crackling and about to roar a downpour would rush down and put out any chance of a fire. In fact after the second night we decided to pack it in and drive closer to home. We decided that if we could find some nicer weather along the drive home we would camp and if not then we would head home.

Setting up camp with two littles
Setting up camp with two littles

Camping with two littles in the rain can be a challenge and this trip I was not up for a 3rd night of hard rain and hail. Our 3 year old is not the hard one. She can be easily entertained with a book or playing make believe in the van if the weather turned foul. Our 1 year old is completely the opposite. This is her mindset. Give me everything dangerous and let me do it. Starting a fire? Let me jump into it. That boulder? Let me jump off of it. I guess I just was not up for the challenge of managing these risks while dealing with the grueling weather.

Bedtime in the Van. This little monkey likes to climb everywhere!!
Bedtime in the Van. This little monkey likes to climb everywhere!!

Off we drove towards Banff. As we drove the skies opened up and the sun peaked out of the clouds. As we passed Bow Glacier we decided to stop for a picnic lunch and picked the best spot with a jaw dropping view. We explored the trails and the little bridges but decided that we would save the easy glacier hike for another trip. Back in Dusty and we drove to the Banff Hot Springs excited to be warmed up by the natural warmth of the earth. We had dinner at Nourish in Banff, Alberta. Nourish happens to be my new favourite restaurant in the world with its delicious vegetarian food, Kombucha on tap and beet juice tequila ceasars. I mean SERIOUSLY YUM!!! In the end it was a luxurious warm day and we decided to end it at Eau Claire campground in Kananaskis country. The night and the following day brought us blue skies as we enjoyed breakfast outdoors without a tarp.

Picnic with a view of Bow Glacier
Picnic with a view of Bow Glacier
The perfect hiking stick
The perfect hiking stick

We ended the trip on a high note and hiked the easy short 1.5 km Eau Claire walk/hike from the camp site that provided beautiful mountain views. My husband was in awe as he had to chase our 3 year old down the trail as she ran the hike leaping over sticks and jumping on rocks. She completed the 1.5 km in about 10 minutes!! When I came out of the woods with our 1 year old my husband was raving about how he had to run to keep up with her and that she was running like a solid trail runner. Clearly he was getting excited for the day when they could venture into the trails and run together. Anyways with all the ups and downs this trip was unforgettable in so many ways. Looking forward to our 2 week trip coming up in the next few weeks!!!

The 1.5 km hike from Eau Claire Campground
The 1.5 km hike from Eau Claire Campground
Stopping to smell a flower before her epic 1.5 km trai run
Stopping to smell a flower before her epic 1.5 km trai run
By Annika Mang
By Annika Mang

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