This post is super-old now... with the second kid we've had troubles both getting out and finding the time to tell the internet about it. I stand by our choice... but am finally clearing out some half-finished posts before our 2-month parental-leave bike tour...
In what is starting to become an annual tradition F and I headed up to red Heather for a fine weekend of snowcaving. It was really great to see a lot of other families with kids up there too - we were going up with my friends Tim and Mirella and their 6 year old daughter T, and meeting my friend/supervisor Jeff and his 9 year old son D. Our coworker Anita would be up there too for her first snowcaving experience. Along the way we met another dad with his similarly-aged daughter, and a large group with sightly older kids, all winter camping in tents. We also met two families towing their kids up wearing harnesses and Alpine ski gear, so that the kids could ski down themselves - it was the first time I'd seen somebody I didn't already know doing that.
The initial plan was for Line and N to join us for the day, but the forecast predicted they would be driving home, alone, in the middle of a full-on winter storm. So it was just F and I (at least from our family). After some digging to create a parking spot (making the steel shovel and pick-axe that live in the car useful yet again) we began towing up the trail. F is now an expert at being towed and overall we had a good time on the way up - she would zig-zag on the trail, try and ski into the fresh snow, and (new to this trip) demand to be towed backwards on occasion. Despite being a better downhill skier T had a bit of trouble, both due to less towing experience and a less comfortable harness system (inspiring me to make this post about F's home-made ski harness). Up at the shelter we met up with Jeff et. al., cooked some grilled cheese on the wood stove, and got digging.
F spent a little bit of time 'helping' me, but for the most part F and T entertained each other with one adult supervising, leaving one digger per cave (but with Tim and Mirella alternating on thiers). I dug my classic snowcave, with standing-height vestibule and a wide sitting-height sleeping platform just higher than the entrance tunnel. See this post for my snowcave digging 'recipe'. After a dinner of bunny-pasta (F's usual choice) we headed to bed. As is best-practice all our gear came into the cave with us.
After getting F all set up and ready for bed came what is usually the hardest part of camping alone with F - leaving her on her own for a few minutes while I go to the outhouse. You see, F doesn't like to be on her own - even just in another room in the house for a moment. And, like many kids, she's afraid of the dark. I helped her put on her headlamp then explained where I was going, how soon I would be back, and that the snowcave was a very safe place. She made me promise to be 'quick as a brick' and 'snowman fast', her standard, which always amuses me since neither bricks nor snowmen can move at all let alone particularly fast. I ran. Imagine my surprise when I can back to find F had buried her headlamp inside her sleeping bag and demanded I do the same, so we could see the faint moonlight glowing in through the door tunnel - progress!
Inside the snowcave the temperature hovered right around zero and it was a bit humid, but our smooth domed ceiling with single vent hole right at the top (over the vestibule) made for a drip-free night. We both got a really good sleep in the silence of the cave.
In the morning we found that we'd been snowed-in by the overnight storm. Since we were in no rush we lounged inside the cave and ate leftover grilled cheese for breakfast. F grabbed a pine needle off of the ceiling that had been trapped in the snow, and pretended to shave me with it. Then she moved on to my eyebrows (which are super bushy). I commented that mom would really appreciate that. F asked why, so I explained that trimming my eyebrows made me look like a younger, more attractive, version of myself. She looked puzzled "But - you'll still look like an old man!". It wasn't until I burst out laughing that F realised she'd made fun of me and started laughing too.
F used the potty that I still bring with us when we do overnight backcountry trips (so much easier than trying to convince her to use the outhouse), but since I didn't bring an adult-sized one we eventually had to make our escape and I dug our way out. I always bring my shovel inside, but it was the first time I had to use it (although, to be fair, mostly I just pushed my way out). The other snowcavers had all already escaped their caves, and the day trippers had started to stream in to ski the fresh snow.
After showing off our caves we collapsed them and skied out; the new snow made for great conditions on the ski down to the carpark.
Say Nuth Khaw Yum
Discovery Islands Bike loop
East Coast Trail
Recent tips and thought
Pandemic pondering and wandering
Tweaking our haul-a-day
Making kids crampons
Digging a snowcave
Make a kid towing harness