Tanluhu 15L Trail Running Pack -Budget Friendly Gear Review

As I have been beginning to get in to canicross the last few months, I have also started looking into purchasing a trail running vest so I can carry water for myself and the pups. In particular, I love the look of the Nathan Trail Mix 7L Race Pack. The only draw back for me about it was the price, as $150 for a hydration pack is pretty pricy, especially for a beginner.

I hummed and hawed about it for a long time, until a few weeks ago when I stumbled across an amazon listing for a pink hydration vest that was only $35. After reading some positive reviews, I ordered myself a Tanluhu 15L Hydration Pack and have since been able to try it out a few times.

The pack weighs about half a pound, comes in a variety of bright colors, has reflective strips, and 8 pockets. The material feels fairly sturdy and the plastic pieces aren’t flimsy. It fits my Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir just fine, the only inconvenience is that the zipper is on the wrong side so the pack needs to be either turned around or the top of the pocket left open.

There is plenty of room in the various pockets and the bungee cords on the back would be perfect if you needed to drop a layer or carry an extra along. I’m glad that I’ll be able to fit a collapsible dog water bowl in it as well as extra water for my pups.

It is likely most suitable for a size M-L, and would feel a little loose on an XS-S. The front straps are adjustable, however they don’t fit quite as snug as I would like. I think it would be a relatively easy fix to swap them out for shorter ones if you wanted to DIY your way into a better fitting vest.

The pack feels comfortable while you are moving, and the thick straps did not dig in on my shoulders or sides. The front pockets are well placed and your arms do not catch them as you run.

Piper enjoying a run

In summary, I think that this piece of gear is a great find for its price. It is comfortable to wear, has plenty of room, and comes in a variety of colors. It’s a great choice for a beginner like myself who is interested in getting in to trail running. If it is an activity I plan on sticking with in the future I might look for something with a more tailored fit, but for now this vest is perfect for what I need it for.

Happy trail running!

Positivity in Hiking

A few months ago, while winter was in full force in the prairies, my boyfriend and I stayed indoors and binge watched the Worlds Toughest Race on Amazon Prime. It follows an Eco-Challenge in Fiji where teams of 4 must race a 671 kilometer over multiple days and many different practices such as trekking, biking, swimming, paddle boarding, and more. We were blown away at the speed and dedication of the teams, and their ability to put the challenge above their own personal comfort. It was incredible to see people putting themselves through such extremes, and all with a smile on their face.

While I can’t even begin to imagine what it would feel like physically and mentally to take part in something like the Eco-Challenge. The show made me think of times out adventuring or hiking when things didn’t necessarily go our way, or maybe just feeling uncomfortable out of our element, and we needed a little encouragement to continue on.

Lindsay tackling a ladder on the West Coast Trail

I have found that it’s easy to get in a negative head space on multi-day trips, and very difficult to get out of it. My mood usually takes the biggest turn when I can’t keep up with proper foot care. I know that I have sensitive feet, so I try to tape them and prevent injury, but sometimes it just can not be avoided. I remember trudging through streams with soaking wet boots after days in the rain, just knowing that with every step my feet were getting more damaged in the boots I couldn’t dry off. I wanted so badly to enjoy where I was, but I kept getting caught up in frustration with my boots and the weather. In that case, I was so lucky to having overwhelmingly positive hiking buddies to keep my spirits up and have some laughs with.

I really like REI’s Fun Scale and the idea of ‘Type 2 Fun’ as a descriptor for adventures. Even though some thing might be difficult in the moment, I always find myself planning the next trip.

There are a few things that I try to keep in mind or plan ahead in order to end more hikes with positive experiences.

Identify the things that may be negatively impacting your mindset and brainstorm solutions.

What is that thing that has an immediate impact on your mood? I have already mentioned that my attitude usually takes a turn when my foot care isn’t at its best, but factors such as poor weather, not enough food, or not keeping on schedule, can all impact people differently on the trail. If you identify what bothers you, you may be able to mitigate it in the future.

Scratched up legs after a day of bushwhacking

It may even help to prepare yourself mentally for ‘worst case’ conditions, and by building those expectations beforehand you are better able to manage those obstacles. If I expect to be trudging through mud all day and then find that the terrain isn’t quite as squishy as I predicted, it is a happy bonus to my adventure.

Obstacles on trail

Surround yourself with positive people.

Sometimes the people you surround yourself with can make or break your experience. It’s a great idea to chat with your hiking companions beforehand so you understand their limitations and expectations. You can go through a trip plan together, and talk about the different pieces of gear you are carrying.

My sister is an extremely positive hiking companion, and an overall delight to be around. Her group mood booster is asking, ‘what was the best part of your day?’ I love this question because it makes you step out of your clouded headspace and reflect on the amazing things around you.

Chantal & sand dunes

Lindsay, my go to adventure buddy, is the best at being prepared. Her mantra is that there is no such thing as bad weather, and sometimes I need to grit my teeth when I say it, but she isn’t wrong. We will stick to our plan so long as it is safe to do so and we are dressed accordingly. I have found myself really enjoying hikes in rain and snow.

Urban Hiking with Lindsay

While everyone has their moments, it is wonderful to be a part of a team and to work through trying situations together.

Hike your own hike.

If you take a look at any hiking page or group, you are likely to see plenty of hiking ‘rules’. Some people prefer to hike ultralight, some without technology, some alone, and others with groups. While there is plenty of good advice and support to be found, don’t get caught up in worrying about things that are purely someone’s individual preference.

Don’t stress about hiking ultralight if you know that you like to carry a few more luxury/comfort items, or if you prefer to hike at a more relaxed pace, or if you like to stop and take plenty of photos. At the end of the day it is your own experience and you should enjoy it, safely of course.

Chantal and Megan on the GDT

How do you keep going when you are feeling drained out on the trail? What words do you keep in your mind to continue on and finish the adventure?

Happy hiking!

Outstanding Blogger Award Nomination – Interview With an Adventurer

Thank you so very much Tea & Hiking Boots for the “Outstanding Blogger Award” nomination. I loved reading your response about the silver linings of living through a pandemic, and I share the same appreciation as you for a clean bathroom!

I love following the adventures of so many bloggers, and I think its a great idea to be able to pause and reflect on past adventures. I also love the opportunity to create your own questions to ask to keep the award responses new and interesting. I have tweaked the award a little bit, I hope you don’t mind.

Here are the basic rules:

  • Provide a link to the creator’s original award post.
  • Answer the questions provided.
  • Create 7 unique questions.
  • Nominate up to 10 bloggers and ensure that they are aware of their nominations.

Her questions:

  1. You are given the opportunity to live a year in any city (or town) in the world. Room and board are completely covered. Where do you go?
  2. Sometimes photos aren’t “Instagram-worthy” but they hold great memories or make you laugh. Do you have a travel/adventure photo that fits this description?
  3. During your travels and explorations is there a walk or hike you’ve really enjoyed?
  4. Do you ever divert your itinerary based on advice from locals or other travelers?
  5. If you could learn any language instantly, which one would you choose?
  6. What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
  7. A visitor is coming to your local area, do you have a recommendation they wouldn’t find on a “Top Ten” tourist listing?

1. You are given the opportunity to live a year in any city (or town) in the world. Room and board are completely covered. Where do you go?

As of late, I have been completely amazed by Cecilia Blomdahl , who posts about her life in Svalbard, which is a group of islands between Norway and the North Pole. She lives in a cabin with her significant other and their husky, Grim, and shares amazing photos as well as bits of everyday life. I would love to spend some time in such a unique environment, and boy would it ever be a treat to see those northern lights, arctic foxes, and above all a polar bear (from a safe distance of course).

2. Sometimes photos aren’t ‘Instagram-worthy’, but they hold great memories or make you laugh. Do you have a travel/adventure photo that fits this description?

Haha, yes. There are two photos that come to mind for me when I think about this question.

The first is on one of my first overnight hiking trips. We had finished a long 20+ kilometer day and just settled down to cook some dinner, only to realize that I had forgotten to pack the propane for our camp stove. This rendered our dehydrated backpacking meals rather useless. Luckily, I walked over to nearby group who was kind enough to lend us a small propane tank to boil some water and everything turned out just fine. The photo is of me laughing in the tent while my sister lectured me for being irresponsible, while simultaneously being glad that I had still managed to find a way for our meals to be cooked.

The next photo is from the section of the Great Divide Trail that I hiked last summer. After days of rain and cold, we finally had a warm evening where we washed a bit of laundry and hung it up to dry. The next morning, much to my dismay, we woke up to frozen solid socks and underwear, I guess it wasn’t as warm as we had hoped.

3. During your travels and explorations is there a walk or hike you’ve really enjoyed?

While there are so many hikes I have enjoyed, Wilcox Pass off of the Columbia Icefield was a magical experience for me. You get incredible mountain views without huge elevation gain, so you spend less time thinking ‘I’m tired’ and more time appreciating the scenery around you. One of my favorite photos is one of relaxing bighorn sheep with my favorite glaciers in the background. It truly felt otherworldly.

Wilcox Pass, Jasper AB
4. Do you ever divert your itinerary based on advice from locals or other travelers?

Yes absolutely! I have been so lucky to work at a few tourist destinations and see first hand that the locals get a very different, and sometimes more unique, experience. I think to do what the locals do is such a great way to truly experience a new place. It’s also quite common that what the locals are doing is more inexpensive than the itineraries geared towards tourists. On the flip side, many locals never seem to make it out and enjoy the tourist attractions that are right in their back yard. So, no matter where you live, get out and play tourist for a day! I’m sure you’ll learn new things about the place you call home.

Jasper National Park, the bluest water I’ve ever seen
5. If you could learn any language instantly, which one would you choose?

While working as a tour guide in the Rockies, the languages that would have been the most beneficial for me to know would have been Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, and German! The visitors were always so kind and eager to teach, and by the end of the season I could usually add a few poorly pronounced words to my vocabulary, but to be fluent would have been incredible.

A tour group on the Athabasca Glacier
6. What is the best book you have read lately?

Unfortunately, it has been quite a few months since I have finished a book, I have been trying to struggle my way through one for the last few weeks but have yet to find the time for success. The last book I read was The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. It’s a story about a young girl who is whisked away by her family to near-isolation in Alaska. She learns both how to survive in the wilderness, and how to survive a turbulent home life. I read this book while I was on a week long hiking trip, and while it was wonderful, I should have chosen one with a desert, or sunny beaches. I felt like a popsicle in my tent It’s a lovely read though that I do recommend with a warm blanket and hot cup of tea!

7. A visitor is coming to your local area, do you have a recommendation that they wouldn’t find on a ‘Top Ten’ tourist listing?

I don’t think that people often visit Saskatchewan with hiking and outdoor adventure in mind, especially with the beautiful Rockies only a province away. We do, however, have some lovely parks and trails. The most commonly recommended would be Prince Albert National Park or Cypress Hills, but I think that Douglas Provincial Park is one of my favorite places to visit. Cacti and sand aren’t exactly what you expect in the prairies, but that’s exactly what you will find at Douglas.

Douglas Provincial Park, Saskatchewan

I adore the Outstanding Blogger Award, but I wanted to create something a little more adventure specific! I changed the title to ‘Interview With An Adventurer’

My Questions

  1. What is your favorite photo that you have taken on an adventure, why do you love it?
  2. Do you have any mantras or words of wisdom that keep you motivated when you are feeling like stopping?
  3. What is the most delicious food you have ever eaten while out on an adventure?
  4. Who inspires you to continue exploring?
  5. Have you ever been surprised or seen something unexpected out in the wilderness?
  6. What is the best lesson that you have learned from spending time in the outdoors?
  7. What adventure are you planning right now?

My Blog Nominations

Colorado Chelsea

Hiking Girl with Dog

Fat Man Little Trail

Elizabeth Seeks

Alisen Dopf

Joe the Cockers Hikes

This is all for fun so please don’t feel obligated to participate, but please do let me know if you do so I can read your responses!

Happy adventuring. 🙂

A Quick Winter Overnight

This past week, I have been busy studying for a work-related course. It usually seems that these courses align with the warmest weather that week, so I found myself staring enviously out the window as my boyfriend enjoyed a cold drink on the patio.

Luckily, some friends had been wanting to plan a winter camping night for a few weeks and we had set our date to that Saturday evening. It feels like a bit of a cheat to say ‘winter camping’ when it only got down to -1 to -3 degrees that night, but it was still technically winter!

After I packed up my study books for the day, and after enjoying a quick celebratory beer, I packed up my gear. We decided to spend the night at a nearby provincial park, which just by my luck is only minutes away from my house. My sister arrived and we made our way over to the other side of the lake.

Our friends had already been out for the day enjoying the hiking trails, so we arrived to a crackling fire and smokies on the grill.

With the luxury of being close to a vehicle and also close to home, my sister and I set up our tent and stuffed it silly with blankets. Not to mention that I had brought two of my dogs along with me who have proven to be excellent tent heaters in the past.

As the sun set we chatted around the campfire. The dogs barked at the nearby coyotes, and just about anything else they thought might be too close to our camp.

Much to our delight, the northern lights appeared above the lake. I have seen them plenty of times in my life, but I had never seen them dance as beautifully as they did that night. We were in awe as the green and orange lights trickled across the sky. I tried to snap a photo but of course the cellphone pictures never do justice.

Northern Lights

Eventually I had to tuck away into the tent and get an early night in before I was due back in my Zoom class at 9am the next morning. I snuggled up with the dogs and had no problem warming up. My sister, on the other hand, came to the tent about and hour later and ended up sleeping with dog paws pressed into her back instead of the furry space heaters she was hoping for.

We woke up fairly early the next more to pack up and get home in time for my class, but it was an excellent night outside. I often write off the winter season entirely for camping, but I definitely need to give colder temperatures a try next time!

It was great to have a quick getaway from studying, and our first tenting night of the year! Getting all of my gear out has only gotten me more excited for the adventures to come this summer.

A perfect sunrise over the frozen lake

Happy camping!

Taking part in YXE Winter Bingo, Saskatoon

A few months ago, my sister sent me a post shared by Outter Limits in Saskatoon. The YXE Outdoor Bingo is created by a collaboration of local businesses with the goal of getting people out and enjoying the city. It looked fun, so we both decided to take part! Here are the activities that I managed to accomplish. Now my fingers are crossed that they release a summer bingo.

Make a sling for your arm with a piece of clothing. I overthought this one. My mind was full of complex ideas to tie up a jacket or pair of pants and create an impressive looking sling. In reality, if you find yourself in a situation where you need a sling in the outdoors, you likely won’t go out of your way to make it fancy. After a quick browse on YouTube, I made the easiest sling I could imagine out of a simple T-Shirt. All you do is place it over your head like a necklace, and put your wrist through the opposite arm hole, while using the rest of the material to support your arm. Easy peasy!

Hop online to learn about Zwift bike training. This activity has apparently exploded since the pandemic hit, with people looking to keep their physical activity closer to home. We learned a bit about how it all works and the programs do look wonderful. With my current budget, I will stick to running around outside, but it is a great idea for avid bikers or people looking to explore from the comfort and safety of their homes!

Cross country ski at one of the cities maintained trails. I loved this one, and try to get out on the trails as much as I can in the winter. My sister and I went to Diefenbaker park and enjoyed the loop as well as a beautiful sunset.

Enjoy some hot cocoa outside. Okay, the picture makes it tricky to see, but I swear there is a hot chocolate in there! My sister and I took the dogs for a walk on Blackstrap Lake with some hot drinks. The trickiest park was trying to keep three rowdy dogs from knocking over our precious beverages.

Make snow angel. This is another activity that is a little trickier with dogs, you have to avoid wet noses and playful paw slaps.

Try a new winter activity. Piper and I tried Skijoring together for the first time this winter and it was a blast! As a retired sled dog, she knew exactly what to do and it was mostly up to me to get used to it. We skied along the Finlayson Island trails in North Battleford and had an amazing adventure.

Find some animal tracks in the snow. With all of the snow and cold at the beginning of this winter, the deer moved in to Shields. I wake up in the morning to chewed up trees in my front yard and little deer prints up to my front door, if only I would just let them in.

Go for a winter run. We checked out Blackstrap Provincial Park for a quiet walk in the snow. After startling a nearby owl, the dogs decided that we should probably run the trails instead of walking them. This was fine by me because I do want to start Canicross in the summer. Lets go dogs!

Explore the river by the old farmers market. My cousin had sent me a message saying we should meet up for a distance walk. We grabbed some hot drinks from a nearby café and strolled down the riverside. It was colder than expected, and I probably should have layered up more! I was glad to have a break from dogs trying to chase my resident deer while out walking, only to be rudely reminded that Saskatoon is filled with jackrabbits. We still had a great time, but it was not the leisurely river walk that I envisioned!

Take a selfie in your favourite winter spot. Choosing one favourite spot is a tough one for me, so instead I chose a selfie! We decided to give Optimist Hill a try on sleds one evening and had a great time zooming down the hill.

Enjoy the night sky. I have been lucky to have many evenings to enjoy the night sky this season, especially after moving out to the lake. This particular evening we decided to ski along the river at night. It was fantastic!

Go for a winter adventure at Cranberry Flats. If you stop and look, you’ll see so many amazing features that make the prairies truly special. There is one large main trail and plenty of smaller little offshoot trails to explore with a lookout point that gives you a fantastic view of the river.

Getting lost along the Meewasin trails. This one was easy as pie because I often find myself lost along these trails. Well.. not lost lost, but I have thought I was coming up to return to the main trail before and accidentally found myself in someone’s yard, oops. My Piper girl enjoys the trails just as much as I do so we don’t mind a wrong turn every now and then. It’s important to keep an eye out and share the trails with mountain bikers, but I have never had any issues. Most people that you come across are incredibly kind.

I would have liked to check more items off of the list, but I will be excited to give it a try the next time an opportunity like this is offered! What a fun way to engage the community in the outdoors in a safe way. Huge thanks to all of the small businesses that put this idea together.

Happy exploring!

Living the Lake Life

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I bought our first home together. We decided to trade city life to move out to a small resort village in Saskatchewan and have been enjoying the lifestyle to the fullest ever since.

Moving right before Christmas might be hectic any other year, but with the Covid-19 restrictions in place we weren’t allowed to go and visit with family. While it was a strange and quiet holiday, we had a lot of time to unpack and set up our new home. With just our luck, the strictest restrictions our province has implemented so far went in to place right before our moving day. So, without the ability to offer pizza and beer in exchange for some help, we ended up moving almost everything just the two of us. But it was well worth it to spend that first night in our cozy new home.

Before moving, I lived on one of the busiest streets in one of the busiest cities in Saskatchewan. While I liked my little house, sirens and traffic were regular background noise for me, and my fingers were always crossed that I would walk out to my car in the morning and none of my windows would be smashed. Now, city life absolutely has its perks. I love trying new restaurants, checking out the local vintage shops, and taking the dogs to the riverside dog parks, but I think that living in a small community is my favorite place to be. Now, I wake up to a quiet house where I can leave the blinds open to let the sun stream in. The dogs watch deer from the windows, and race across the frozen lake in search of any scraps left behind by whoever is out ice fishing. We are also close to a Provincial Park, and there’s a perfect skating rink right by our house.

With the extreme cold we have has in the last week, paired with a lot of snow early on in the season, the deer moved in to our little village. While I love living somewhere where I can see a deer from my front window, the dogs have taken it as a personal challenge to chase them at every opportunity. I have been working on my core strength on walks lately, holding back my two coyotes while the deer lay in neighboring yards without a care in the world. A few times we have made the mistake of trusting June off leash, and ended up chasing after a dog in hot pursuit of some deer that are certainly faster than her. These chases end up with us huffing and puffing to the house to find June already sitting in the front yard guiltily.

While June likes the thrill of the chase, Piper finds her joy in sneaking frozen deer poop or fish remnants off of the ground as we walk along. She loves zooming around on the lake, sometimes forgetting that the ice below her feet is in fact quite slippery. The lake that we live by is also host to hundreds of ice fishing shacks in the winter months, and there are always plenty of people out making the most of the cold days, even after a bout of strong winds toppled over and damaged many of them a few weeks ago.

I took the dogs to the nearby park to check out the cross country ski trails the other day and was glad I hadn’t decided to try them out blindly on my skis with two dogs. They look like a blast, but definitely a little more advanced than where my skijoring skill set currently is. Instead, we enjoyed a walk and a little break from all of our deer friends. Lake life is certainly the life for us.

With all of the fun we have been having this winter, I am so excited to see what summer has in store for us!

Skijoring in a Winter Wonderland

Wow! Has it ever been a busy few months, from Christmas, to studying, to moving into a beautiful new home, I have hardly had a minute to write anything. I have been enjoying myself so much, but I am happy to finally get back out and document some more adventures.

January 18, 2021

Today I finally checked my first item off of my winter bucket list. My mom and I packed up our skis and my dog and we headed out to try skijoring! We went to the Finlayson Island trails in North Battleford, and the weather was a perfect -1 degrees.

Now, Piper is a retired sled dog, and no stranger to running on snowy trails, so she was thrilled to get back to it. I was a little nervous, not sure how many tumbles I would be taking. We started off a little rusty, with Piper lagging behind and then running forward like a slingshot but after a few minutes of getting in to the swing of things we were a perfect team.

The weather could not have been better, and I found myself feeling even more balanced with a dog than when I ski alone. It was such warm day that our skis stuck to the snow whenever we stopped, and the dried berries that fell off of the trees in fall were colouring the wet snow around them pink. I looked down at some specks on the ground and noticed that even the snow fleas were out to play. It’s always fascinating to see little creatures alive and well in the snow.

It was a wonderful experience and I’ve ordered Piper a proper pulling harness so we can go all of the time!

Happy winter adventuring!

10 Things I Learned as a Tour Guide in the Rockies

  1. Running water and flushing toilets are a gift. (I also have a strong appreciation for all buildings that don’t have mice)

2. Someone on your tour will absolutely do that thing that you told them not to. They will let go of the dog sled, and they will step in that ‘puddle’ on the glacier you warned them about that turns out to be 4 feet deep.

3. Always have a few stories or jokes saved in your back pocket. My tour bus once had an unexpected delay, and I found myself entertaining my guest two hours instead of the five minute planned ride.

4. Pack extra of everything. Have extra pairs of mitts, toques, and most importantly, snacks. Most of the people you are working with have travelled a long ways and are now in a new environment, and its not uncommon for them to feel unwell as a result, an extra Gatorade/granola bar in your pack could save your tour.

5. Tour groups love it when you sing. I personally can not sing, but the musical guides that I worked with were by far the most mentioned on TripAdvisor reviews.

6. Plenty of snacks are better than packing a full lunch. There’s not often time to sit down and eat a full meal, so it’s good to have things you can eat on the go.

7. You will clean up pee, poop, or puke more often than you think.

8. You will always be learning little lessons and anecdotes from your guests. I had new stories every day about interesting tourists I spoke with and loved meeting so many new people.

9. Squirrels are not afraid of sled dogs. They will break in to your pack and steal your lunch while your 8 dog team watches.

10. You will work long hours and be out in the elements all day, but you will enjoy every minute of it.

Happy touring!

Learning New Things Off-Road in Hinton, Alberta

For me, hitting the trails is usually done on my own two feet, or maybe on a pair of skis if we have enough snow. My boyfriend, on the other hand, prefers to explore the trails on his dirt bike, and he invited me along for a weekend of off-roading at the Brule Lake Sand Dunes just out of Hinton, Alberta with some of his friends. I was nervous, but excited to join in for a new adventure.

Now, my ATV driving experience is minimal, having gone with him once before and then a handful of other times throughout my life, but I hoped that if I took it slow I would be just fine. The guys loaded up all of the units on the trailer and we set out on the around 8 hour drive to Hinton. I was lucky to be able to borrow an ATV from one of his family members to use for the weekend.

The Big Bear Cabin at Entrance Ranch

After a long day of driving, we arrived at the Big Bear Cabin at Entrance Ranch, which is an awesome cabin with a full kitchen, bathroom, and enough room for about 9 people to sleep. We enjoyed a warm fire and then headed off to bed early.

The next morning we made a delicious breakfast and then piled into the trucks to head to our destination. I was still feeling excited, but now even more nervous because we had been warned the night before that the trail in was quite treacherous.

A cozy fireplace after a long day.

As it turned out, the trail was exactly as they had warned us. We arrived and unloaded, then set off in to the trees to get down to the sand dunes. I found myself going down a steep, narrow hill, with a large rut in the centre where water must have drained at some point. With my lack of experience, and the sketchy terrain, my tire caught the rut and flipped the quad over on to its side. I fell off the other direction, and knew immediately that I was fine, but watched in horror as the machine I was borrowing toppled over.

Fortunately, my boyfriends brother was driving behind me on his quad and he hopped off quickly to make sure I was okay. I was so thankful that he was there, even though my fear was quickly replaced with embarrassment as he had watched the whole thing unfold. Together, we flipped my quad back upright and nothing was damaged. Except for my confidence of course, which was shattered for the rest of the day.

We eventually made it out of the trees and down to the waters edge where I breathed a sigh of relief. The rest of the crew enjoyed the hills and trails and I tried to stay on the flatter sections as much as I could.

There were plenty of other people out enjoying the dunes, from families out for a cruise, to very experienced riders making the steep uphill’s and winding trails look effortless. I was in awe at the control and skill that the riders had.

As the day went on, my confidence built up a little, but I was still nervous at every steep section. It was frustrating, but I just didn’t have enough experience driving an ATV to feel comfortable. I instead chose the flatter paths, and enjoyed the other parts of the sand dunes. It was still a breathtaking place to be with mountains peeking through the cloudy day.

We stopped for breaks along the waters edge both days to have some lunch and warm up by a cozy fire. At the end of the day we found a different path out to the trucks that took a little longer but was much easier to navigate, I was so relieved.

Lunch time

The second day we came back in on a less treacherous path, and with some encouragement from the others, I rode in just fine. One of the people in our group let me drive his side by side for a few hours while he took the quad for a spin. It was like a switch was flipped for me, from feeling nervous and unsure at every hill to suddenly being way more comfortable and enjoying a bit of a challenge. The steering and stability of a side by side, plus the familiar car-like set up were a world of difference.

I was so thankful for that last few hours of driving to end off the weekend on a high note. I may have left feeling a little discouraged otherwise, but now I am looking forward to giving it another try one day.

An abandoned truck

We stopped to enjoy some views, and eventually made our way back to the trucks, ending off our weekend at the Brule Lake Sand Dunes. I was happy to have a weekend of new experiences with a great group of people.

Done for the day.

Even though it can be tough, and sometimes things don’t go as planned, there are so many things in my life that I am thankful that I did despite being scared to do so. Getting out of your comfort zone (safely) is such a great way to build confidence for the future, and also to understand that you are capable of so much more than you even think.

I remember taking a scuba diving course in cold lake with very poor visibility. The instructor told us that it was a great place to learn how to dive, because if you can manage the cold and low visibility, then any other dive trip after will seem like a breeze. His comment has stuck with me for years, and I try to remember it whenever I am frustrated with learning something new. It might be a good idea to learn in less than ideal conditions, or put yourself out of your comfort zone, in order to give yourself a solid foundation of knowledge. Then, you will have those skills at your finger tips in the future whenever you may need them.

What outdoor activity made you nervous the first time you tried it?

Happy trails!

My 3 Outdoor Activity Goals for This Winter

As the leaves are beginning to turn, and the mornings are getting darker, I am starting to think about how I can make this winter one to remember, even though it seems likely that we will still be practicing social distancing. Pushing myself to get outside despite the cold makes me appreciate the season a whole lot more, and also catch some of that elusive daylight. This will also be my first cold season with my dog Piper, who I adopted back in April, and I am looking forward to making her first winter as a retired sled dog a great one.

Here are three things I want to give a try this winter!

Skijoring With Piper

For the last two snowy seasons, cross-country skiing has been my favorite way to get outside in the cold. Now that I have Piper, I think that skiing could be the perfect activity for us to do together. As a retired sled dog, she is extremely familiar with wearing a harness and running on trails, so I’m hoping it will be an easy transition for her.

Piper at work

Even in their retirement, sled dogs require plenty of exercise, and Piper still loves to run. I need to purchase a pulling harness, a hip belt, and a tug line to get us started. Piper is not much of a puller (based on my experience with her on a dog sled), but she loves going running so I’m hoping that this can be a great way for us to get some exercise this winter.

Cross country skiing

(Finally) Learning How to Snowboard

This is something that I have been saying since I was 16, but I really truly do want to figure out how to snowboard without getting scared and stopping, or falling every few minutes. It is so frustrating to try over and over again to feel like I haven’t made a stitch of progress, but I’m also not quite ready to admit defeat.

I may even consider switching to downhill skis instead of a board if I continue to have no luck. I am thankful for my kind and patient boyfriend and friends who continue to convince me to go back and give it another try. And if all else fails there’s always a chalet nearby to sit by a warm fire and enjoy a caesar, right?

Winter Camping

Camping is one of my favorite things to do throughout the warmer seasons, and I would love to get out and experience the winter even more. About four years ago I spent an overnight in a Quinzhee with my Recreation and Tourism program and it was such a unique experience.

Successful night in the Quinzhee

A Quinzhee is created by building up a large pile of snow, letting it harden up, and then hollowing out the center to create a space to sleep. As soon as we get enough snow on the ground, my sister and I will be out there trying to craft the perfect snow shelter. We will need to trade in our ultra light backpacking gear for some heavier cold weather sleeping bags, but sleeping in a snow shelter can be very warm if it is set up right! There are so many amazing places in Saskatchewan that I want to revisit in the winter, and camping is a great way to do it.

Ready for a winter overnight

How are you going to get outside this winter?

Happy adventuring!