Echo Valley Provincial Park- Winter Edition

All winter I have been eyeing the weather, and availability for a yurt at Echo Valley.

It finally happened, one night available. *Sold*

One night was all that we wanted as this truly was an experiment. This was as “winter camping” as it gets for us. We honestly had no idea what to expect with regards to how warm or cold we would be. I had called the park inquiring about the heater situation and was informed that there were 2 radiant space heaters. We were still worried, worse case scenario we freeze – or pack up and go home.

Fun fact – our family of 5 only had 2 sleeping bags. Maybe we weren’t ready for this?

I swear I tried to be minimal (as the truck is packed full).

Here’s what we packed:

  • Sleds
  • Skates
  • Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
  • Winter gear
  • Clothing
  • Food for supper night one
  • Food for breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Kettle for instant coffee
  • Dishes/ cutlery

After a big dump of snow Thursday, it was still snowing Friday – the perfect time for winter camping – a snow storm. Upon arrival the park was pretty quiet ( ie we were the only ones there).

We set up our beds in the yurt and Ty started the fire for our gourmet hotdog and brown beans supper.

The kids were being not their best selves. It was bad, and really dragging us down. We contemplated going home. Privileges were lost (marshmallows, movie before bed, tv for the week). My six year old told me he was never going to talk to me again, even when he is an adult.

It turns out everyone was HANGRY. I swear as soon as we ate a switch was flipped and we were back to having the best time ever. Hanger can truly gets the best of us.

After supper (it was a later supper). We decided to skate the park. Selfishly I really wanted to see it all lit up. Upon arrival (it was dark) , P was scared of wild animals, specifically – wolves.

We made it one lap, I didn’t even put on my skates (just so much effort). P was so scared, the kids started to get cold, was everyone crying? Maybe?

This is the point of our weekend where we realized we would have a flat tire in the morning. Thank goodness for tire sensors am I right? Not sure how, or when, but it was something we (Ty) would worry about in the morning. Spoiler alert – at some point we drove over a screw. Cool, cool.

As we listened to the sound of popcorn popping and fire crackling, you could hear the sweet sweet sounds of a toddler yelling “Mom!” “Dad” echoing through the trees. Nature, so zen.

We ended the night with a popcorn (and a popcorn meltdown). S wanted more popcorn and there was no popcorn and the ultimate solution as a 2 year old is to yell “popcorn” at the top of your lungs, so we obviously bribed her silence with chips. Also, now just realizing no one brushed their teeth.

I lied. We ended the night with a diaper blow out. Pooping in a diaper seemed better than a 2 year old and a pit toilet at 9 o’clock at night, the blow out was a bonus. The only reason we had extra pyjamas for her was to use as a fleece layer under winter gear.

Everyone had a sleeping bag and blanket, the children slept wonderfully. Sweet little S was the last one standing around 11pm. Bless her. Ty and I slept as comfortable as you could as millennials in a camping cot (our backs). We had moments where we felt cool in the night, but never uncomfortable.

Rise and shine! We woke up around 7am and had a gourmet breakfast of muffins, cantelope, and yogurt juice. Ty and I enjoyed some instant camping coffee mochas. Ty also enjoyed changing the flat tire.

The kids played on the snowbanks while I packed up. Why are sleeping bags so hard to put back in the bag? Why?!

To end our 24 hour adventure I really wanted to try something new, I then changed my mind, but Ty persisted. Snowshoeing. Rentals are available at the park office for $10 a day, $5 for children. We took advantage of the rentals for less than 1% of the day.

We tried to follow an existing trail to a look out, and carved a little bit of our own path as well. The kids really enjoyed getting to the look out. The kids did not enjoy having to snowshoe back. P cried hysterically the whole path back. I’d also like to make in known that we were snowshoeing for less than 30 minutes. M had a good attitude and let me know at the end that he was just thinking about what he would order for lunch.

Lunch – we planned our final meal to be from the Echo Ridge Golf Course stationed at the visitors centre. Ty and I both got the cue bowls (pulled beef or pork, mac and cheese, coleslaw). M went with mac n cheese, P went with nacho Doritos (the snowshoe was hard on him- anything goes). S was able to take anything from anyone. We tried eating outside, but it didn’t last long. We saw/ heard the signs and packed up to head home.

The kids slept soundly on the drive home, we played a new game that I had started on the way there. Anyone who falls asleep on the drive gets a prize. Everybody wins, it is my new favourite game.

Final thoughts – The snow fell magically all weekend, it was beautiful. We really enjoyed our one night in the woods. There was chaos followed by calm and despite our challenges (behaviour, hanger, meltdowns) we would do it again, and even for 2 nights (weather depending).

You don’t know if you don’t try – so we try.

Keep on sasking [in the snow] ❄️

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