I've taken the kid(s) snow caving every year since 2017 (when F was 2, in 2016, we tried to take her snowcaving... but she fully refused to go into the cave and we ended up sleeping in the tent instead; the following year we had much more success). Two years ago, when N was a baby, I took F "on my own" (actually, with a couple other families) while Line stayed at home with the new baby, and last year I managed my largest snow-cave ever: 4.1m long by 3m wide with a ceiling height of 1.2m, sleeping 7 people. This year, Line would stay at home with baby W and Miriam and I would take F and N together.
Before you get too judgy this trip actually happened way back at the end of February, before camping became a controversial activity, back when covid was this far-away thing that hadn't really made it to Europe or North America (or, at least, so we thought at the time). It was a special trip for me, but I was kind of busy and didn't write things down at the time... and then the pandemic hit and I became busier than ever. Now that we're settled I want to try and get most if it down before my memory fades too much...
Heading up from the parking lot went very smooth - I towed N in a toboggan, and F wore cross country skis with some old climbing skins attached by just folding the end over the tips. Miriam had only been on skis a handful of times at this point, but was basically an expert at the uphill part from the beginning. I'm sure there must have been some candy-bribery involved, but F skied most of the way herself, with Miriam towing her up the last bit. We made it to the shelter by early afternoon, where the obligatory grilled-cheeses were placed on the wood stove.
Snowcave construction went well, with occasional "help" from the kids, although there was a serious last-minute deviation from the planned construction. A tree was discovered, not during the initial probing of the area, but when it "appeared" right at the edge of the almost-completed sleeping platform. The cave ended up decidedly lopsided, with both the kids' and adults' sleeping platform opening up to the right of the entrance, and a pack-area (aka a not-quite-wide-enough sleeping platform) with a tree at the back of it on the left. Oops - that's the first time I missed a tree while probing... whether it was bad luck this time or good luck on all previous caves is an interesting question. The cave was more-or-less finished before dinner, but I didn't get back in there to set up all the sleeping mats etc. until well after dark while Miriam read the kids stories in the cabin (it is good to let a cave set a bit between smoothing the ceiling and laying out all your down anyway... we'll say that was the plan, I guess). When I returned I found Miriam sitting by the woodstove, trapped under two sleeping kids. Somehow we managed to transfer N through the tunnel with her sleep only barely disturbed, and F didn't take long to settle.
After sleeping in the next morning we emerged from the cave for breakfast right around when the first of the keen daytrippers started arriving at the cabin. As usually occurs when I'm up at Red Heather I ran into many friends and acquaintances. The kids played around a bit near the cabin, but with lots of fresh snow we decided to attempt to go for a ski in the afternoon. This would be especially challenging because N (only 2.5 years old) barely skis at the resort, and Miriam is still learning herself. Plus it had become a bit of a storm. I took N on my shoulders, and Miriam towed F (now on downhill gear). F fell over a bunch of times before she decided to just stay in the track. N was pretty keen until it became time to go downhill...
The skiing portion of the trip didn't go as well as the rest of it. Despite my best encouragement N became a crying mess once she discovered how different powder skiing was to resort skiing; Miriam was already familiar with this phenomena but was much better at keeping her difficulties to herself. F thought that watching others learn how to ski was too boring and took off down the slope with me yelling at her to stop. Fortunately she didn't ski too far before she did stop, but had still gone well below the elevation of the track back to the hut. I left N with Miriam and skied down to haul her back up; we had a discussion about responsibility to the group when in the backcountry, and I think she "got it" (or maybe it's just been long enough that that's how I remember it). By some miracle Anne appeared (having just finished some laps above the cabin herself) right as I made it up to the track and took F off for some skiing at her pace - F loves hanging out with Anne, and Anne is a good skier, so this worked out perfectly. I made it back up to Miriam and N, and scooped up N to carry her back to the cabin in my arms.
In desperate need of a nap we managed to put N down in the corner of the noisy cabin while we packed up to head down to the car. Carrying her back down in my arms, still half-asleep, seemed like it was going well... at least until I bumped a snow-laden branch and she received a cold awakening. I can't really blame her for crying all the way back down to the car after that. My arms were tired when we got down, and Miriam had to go on a short off-trail adventure to retrieve a jettisoned ski, but we still declared the trip to have more-or-less been a success. On a subsequent weekend (the last ski trip before covid) N did manage to ski all the way down from the Red Heather shelter on her own skis - between my legs, but still mostly just using me for braking, and only occasionally for balance.
(See also how to dig the perfect snowcave.)
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