Back Country Labrador

Taking my Chocolate Lab Mya into the back country camping was one of those things I never thought was going to be an option for us. Mya came to us at 18 months of age, she had already gone thru three homes and had so much energy she would run herself to complete exhaustion. I quickly nicknamed her Crazy Brown Dog!  

Here are the three things that needed to happen if back country camping was ever going to be in the cards for us.

Back Country Lab ~ My Slice of Paradise

1. Maturity

Mya is now four years old and has matured enough that the reality of taking her with me was a real possibility. A car camping trip that included tent camping and the use of back country gear was step one. She would have to learn to stay in camp even with other people and dogs roaming the campground, sleep in the tent and have it still standing in the morning, be respectful of camp space. It was a success!

Back Country Lab ~ My Slice of Paradise

2.Leash manners & Recall

While on the trail your dog should be on leash (Mya is not a fan she would rather be running giant circles). This is extremely important in keeping you and your dog safe. Recall is just as important during off leash time. These two things take some training and practice to master which we are continually working on.

If you are staying in a campground with multiple different groups your dog should be comfortable with being tied up for their safety. Not everyone likes dogs. 

Back Country Lab ~ My Slice of Paradise


Your dog should be able to carry his/her own basic gear. Food, bowl, toy, bed and a first aid kit designed for dogs (I just add in dog specific items to my first aid kit). Mya has her own pack and carries her own gear. I make sure that it is not more than 25% of her weight, which for Mya is 20lbs. Introduction to the pack before the big trip is important even if the trip is only a day hike.Start off with no weight in the pack and build up slowly so that they can carry the weight comfortably. This should be a positive experience and not all dogs will take to a pack right away. Her bowl was collapsible so not take up much space and we brought her Kong along which gave her an energy outlet.

If you would like to hear about our trip I have the details of the trip to Whirlpool here


Maligne Canyon Ice Walk ~ Jasper, Alberta

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Back in January Sarah over at Stop Nothing but Time got up at the crack of dawn, loaded ourselves and our gear into the truck and headed to Jasper to stand on a frozen Lake Beauvert for sunrise.

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk ~ Jasper, Alberta

After some breakfast the decision was made to go hike Maligne Canyon. I have hiked this trail many times in the summer months and 2015 was my first winter Ice Walk.  Heading back into the frozen wonder of the canyon was something I was excited for.

How to get there…

From Jasper we take the Maligne Lake Road to the fifth bridge parking lot. This hike is enjoyed by many with multiple guided tours happening daily.

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk ~ Jasper, Alberta

Photo Credit Stop Nothing But Time

Gear is loaded up and Ice Trekkers are put on our feet to assist with traction (we are about to walk along a frozen river) and the truck key is safely stored away in a pack pocket.

What to Expect

As you cross the parking lot towards the river you will see a bridge that will take you across the river and signage with lots of information

Maligne Canyon ~ Jasper Alberta

Trailhead Signage

Maligne Canyon ~ Jasper Alberta

Fifth Bridge

With this only being my second time out on the ice walk I was surprised just how different it was from the visit in 2015.  As you approach the bridge that will take you across the river it is hard to believe that this river is completely frozen over just a few hundred yards up the way.

Maligne Canyon ~ Jasper Alberta

Once you cross the river and turn right along the trail you have two options to take you to the frozen section of the trail. We decided to take the path that takes you along the edge of the river before taking you back up to the trail for a short bit before heading back down to the river but this time it was frozen.

It is at this spot that I stopped took a few photos and started my hike along the frozen river

Maligne Canyon ~ Jasper Alberta

Waterfall at the point where you start the Ice Walk

Due to popularity of the area the path is well packed and visible

Maligne Canyon ~Jasper Alberta

Path along the river.

Maligne Canyon ~ Jasper Alberta

Always an opportunity to take a picture for others


The hike is not very long but has always taken me a good two to three hours to make my way up and then back.

Maligne Canyon ~Jasper Alberta

Maligne Canyon ~Jasper Alberta

Maligne Canyon ~Jasper Alberta

Maligne Canyon ~Jasper Alberta


Gear Needed

Winter boots
Ice Grippers
Appropriate clothing for weather
Hiking poles if you have them

If you are ever in the Jasper National Park during winter I can not recommend this hike enough

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk ~ Jasper, Alberta

Maligne Canyon Ice Walk ~ Jasper, Alberta

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Jacque Lake ~ Jasper National Park

Girls only you say?

You bet this trip was planned as a all girls trip. There was six of us in total two of which were preteen girls.

Jacque Lake - Jasper National Park - Canada

Let the fun begin

So let’s just get right down to it

Elevation Gain: 240 m

Distance: 12.2kms into Jacque Lake

Difficulty: Easy

Directions to Trailhead

From Jasper
Take Highway 16 east towards Edmonton. Two km from Jasper, turn right across the bridge onto Maligne Road. Continue for 28 km south on the Maligne Road to the south end of Medicine Lake. Turn left into the parking lot.


Jacque Lake - Jasper National Park - Canada

Stop Nothing But Time hiking the old fire road with my Daughter


Trailhead to Jacque Lake Campground 12.2km

You will then find the tail head at the Beaver Lake Picnic Area. The hike begins on an old fire road for the first 4.8kms and at km 1.6 you will arrive at Beaver Lake. It’s a small lake with nice views where we saw canoes that you could rent (Check out Currie’s Guiding for more info).


Jacque Lake - Jasper National Park - Canada

Beaver Lake


3.2kms further down the trail you will arrive at the first of the Summit Lakes


Jacque Lake - Jasper National Park - Canada

The first of the three Summit Lakes


The trail turns to the right and goes into the forest. This is where you leave the old fire road and continue along a narrow rooty trail. We went in early fall so it was a lot drier than what you read about in the spring and summer months.


Jacque Lake - Jasper National Park - Canada

Part of the trail after the turn at Summit Lake


This was a long but easy hike and is a great overnight for families. I took my daughter (typical preteen on my hands at this time) on her first overnight trip here. Part of the appeal is that you can have a fire, which is a nice treat most of the back country campgrounds in the national park fires are prohibited.  With campfire comes SMORES!!!! I love this photo of Stop Nothing but Time 


Jacque Lake - Jasper National Park - Canada

Campfire and Smores


It was during this trip that I realized she was interested in taking photos. A love I was surprised to see and that she was coming to that age that she would no longer want to hike with me and this turned out to be her first backpacking trip and her last for over a year. With a new season approaching and her now armed with her own camera equipment she is showing a new interest in once again joining me for short hikes and overnights.


Jacque Lake - Jasper National Park - Canada

My daughter spending some time with the camera


The area is known to be frequented by moose and you can read many stories in the guest log that you will find in the common area. I was hoping to be one of the lucky ones that would be able to add to the stories but all I seen was a single cow moose meandering along the shallows at the opposite side of the lake munching on grasses.


Jacque Lake - Jasper National Park - Canada

Can you spot the moose?


Where do you book?

Reservations open in January for a bunch of the campgrounds in the National Park                           A backcountry camping permit is mandatory for all overnight trips and can be obtained online at or by calling 1877-737-3783

Non-refundable reservation fee $11 ($13.50 if done by phone)

In winter please check the local avalanche bulletins and condition

Jacque Lake ~ Jasper National Park

Adventures of the 4 legged kind

Thought it was finally time to do some introductions ..

Introducing Mya…

Mya is our  chocolate lab and at the age of four has finally matured enough that back country camping became a reality for her and I. My joined our family when she was 18 months and had already been thru three homes. We quickly nicknamed her “crazy brown dog” as she had so much energy that managing her was a challenge. Daily walks were not enough which did not take me long to realize. This girl needs to run and run hard. Fast Forward two and half years and she is still “crazy” but is learning the balance between on and off.

Mya - Chocolate Labrador - Hiking Dog - My Slice of Paradise

Mya my Chocolate Lab

My Little “stink”

Labradors ~ Hiking dogs ~ My Slice of Paradise

Tess my Charcoal Lab

What can I say about Tess? Well she is one beautiful girl who loves the trail but is terrified of her own shadow most days. Tent camping of any kind is not in the cards for her yet but is something we will be working towards.

This coming year will be lots of learning thru trial and error about what its like to take your dog not only on day hikes but overnights in the back country.

Make sure to follow along as I share my journey thru it all

Hiking Dogs - Labrador Retrievers - My Slice of Paradise

Whirlpool Camp ~ Jasper, Alberta

This was the first time I took Mya along with me and for those of you who do not already know who Mya is she is my chocolate lab aka. Crazy Brown Dog She has gone car camping with me multiple times but never back country and she was defiantly up for the challenge


One happy pup about to hit the trail

With Whirlpool campground being at the  6.5kms mark along the Athabasca Pass Trail it was the perfect opportunity to take Mya and a few ridiculous luxury items as well.


Yes that is a frying pan and eggs

The trail follows an old fire road so its easy to follow. Near the beginning of the trail you pass by Moab Lake which is fishable.


This campground is very primitive.  No luxury of the green throne here … You guessed it only a hole in the ground and a log for you to perch on. For some this might be a deal breaker but I have to say it was not all that bad.

This was the first time I got to use my Mountain Hardwear Optic Vue 3.5 and I have to say I love it. It was a little big for just Mya and I but would be perfect for two people and a four legged companion or three people.

Our weather was wet and windy but it kept the mosquitoes away that we found during our day hike a little further up the trail.

We came across a couple of these torn up trees that had been stripped by a porcupine. Something I had never seen before. I found it fascinating.


Mya was unsure on how she was to react to the bird that was chasing us down the trail.


Parts of the trail past Whirlpool where very wet, it looked like a creek had rerouted itself to follow the trail. There is also a log crossing that for myself was more difficult than I had expected. The log was wet and it crossed over a raging creek. Stop over to  Stop Nothing But Time to see her post about our trip for a couple of images from this spot.

Our steak and egg supper was by far the best back country food I have yet

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Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park

Last year my friend Sarah over at Stop Nothing but Time
convinced me to hike the Berg Lake Trail with her, her son and Nephew.

I sure am glad I did!

Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia

Mount Robson

This was one of those hikes that when you see the pictures it instantly gets added to the bucket list. So when opportunity struck the planning began.

You MUST reserve your spot well in advance

With this years hike already booked and in the planning stages it is already very evident that things this year will be different beginning with length of time on the trail and the biggest difference for me is that my daughter will be joining me
The plan
To hike to Whitehorn Campground and then up to Emperor Falls campground where we will spend two nights and use it as a base camp for a day hike into Berg Lake
The idea of breaking up the hike in is one I am thankful for this time around. Having my daughter with me I need to remember not to push too hard or she will not have fun. Her having fun and enjoying this trip is the most important part.
Trail Head to Kinney Lake Campground; 7kms; Easy
The beginning of the trail from the trail head to the the first camp at Kinney Lake will take you thru an old growth Cedar/Hemlock forest along an easy trail. This portion of the trail is used for Day use hikes where bikes and Dogs are allowed. Both of these are not permitted past Kinney Lake.

Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia

A short dip of the hands to cool down

Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia

Taking a moment to soak the feet

Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia

Sarah explaining where we were headed

Kinney Lake Camp to Whitehorn Camp; 4km; moderate

The trail that continues on from Kinney Lake narrows and becomes a little more technical than the first section. There is a bike Rack at this point for those who chose to bike the first 7kms in. It is here that you can take one of two trails. One will take you along the flood plain but is not always passable so make sure you check at the visitor center before you hit the trail if this is an option or not. If it is not then you take the higher ground where you will hike across boulder fields and across landslide areas.

Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia

A sign along the way reminding us to be careful

Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia

The suspension bridge into Whitehorn Camp


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia

Shelter at Whitehorn Camp


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
Whitehorn Camp to Emperor Falls Camp; 5km; Moderate to Difficult
I won’t lie this portion of the trail is my least favorite. From Whitehorn Camp to the start of the Switchback up the mountain is a nice leisurely stroll along the river where you start the trek up the hill thru the Valley of a Thousand Falls. I recommend you take your time and go at your own pace up and make sure to take in the different view opportunities. Near the top is where you will get to the short side trail that will take you into the powerful Emperor Falls. This section of Trail is very wet and slippery due to the moisture being thrown off of the falls. Take your time and it is all worth it.
*Make sure to fill up with water as Whitehorn is the last available water source before going up the Hill.

The Emperor Falls Campground is 500m past the trail to the Falls.

Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
Do not forget to fill up your water


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
Looking down towards Whitehorn Camp


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
First glimpse of Emperor Falls


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
Emperor Falls Roaring below Mount Robson


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
Time for a nap


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
The mist from the Falls feels amazing
Emperor Falls to Marmot Camp; kms; Easy to Moderate

When leaving Emperor Falls camp and heading towards Berg Lake you will pass thru Marmot Camp which is located at the south end of the lake. To get there you hike thru the valley and along the flats. This is one of my favorite sections of the trail. It was wide open and the views were breathtaking

Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
I loved the trail between Emperor and Marmot


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
The flats between Emperor camp and Marmot


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
Stopping for water


Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
Marmot Camp to Berg Lake Camp; kms; Moderate


From Marmot to Berg Lake the trail will take you thru the trees along the Lake to get to the other side.  There are numerous look outs along the way to stop and it all in. Once to the other side of the Lake you have arrived at Berg Lake Campground. From here there are many other Options for day hikes as well as two other Campgrounds.
Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
The first view of Berg Lake from Marmot Camp

Berg Lake

If you hike to and stay at Berg Lake you will have many options for day hikes. There are also two more camps past there. Many people hike all the way to Berg Lake and use it as a base for the many hikes from there. Berg Lake Camp has a shelter and outhouses
Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
Other Options:
Last year I did part of the Tobaggan Falls. This year I plan on doing all of it. As the years pass I would like to explore all of these other options
Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
My view from the Tobaggan Falls Trail
Info taken from BC Parks for the other options listed below
Hargreaves Lake Route (1/2 day): From Marmot campsite near Berg Lake, this route climbs to Hargreaves Lake and Glacier. From the viewpoint, the trail continues and crosses the Toboggan Falls Route on course to the Mumm Basin.
Toboggan Falls Route (2 hours, return): From the trailhead at the Toboggan Creek bridge near Berg Lake campsite, the trail climbs to Toboggan Falls and the surrounding alpine basin. This route intersects the Hargreaves Lake and Mumm Basin routes. Continue up beyond this junction for an extra 45 minutes and you will reach a small cave.
Mumm Basin Route (1/2 day): A steep alpine trail leads to views of the alpine lakes, mountains and glaciers. The trail can start or end in Robson Pass or Berg Lake campsites.
Snowbird Pass Route (1 day): Snowbird Pass is closed May and June due to caribou calving. A challenging route marked by rock cairns (caution required), it provides spectacular views of the back of Mount Robson. From berg Lake campsite the trip is 22 km, return. Start north of Rearguard campsite, follow Robson River then travel up to Robson Glacier’s moraine. Hike up to an alpine meadow, beyond which is Snowbird Pass.


Moose River Route (7 days): This route should be attempted only by well-equipped, experienced hikers as river crossings and route finding are required. This 105 km route can be accessed via Berg Lake, through Robson Pass onto Adolphus Lake continuing on the Jasper National Park trail system. The route takes you over Moose Pass back into Mount Robson Park and down the Moose River to Hwy 16 near its confluence with the Fraser River. For day hikers, trips along this trail offer view of Adolphus Lake (7 km return, to Berg Lake) or Coleman Valley (26 km, return, to Berg Lake).
Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia
A winter View
I strongly recommend you head over to Stop Nothing but Time and give it a read for a more detailed account of gear and preparations
If you ever get the chance to experience what this area has to offer take it
Fun fact
Mount Robson Provincial Park, is included within the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks as a UNESCO world heritage site
 Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia            Hiking the Berg Lake Trail ~ Mount Robson Provincial Park ~ Beautiful British Columbia


Puppy Love

Meet Tess..
A Charcoal Labrador
The newest member to the Pack


She is 12 weeks of age and has been with us for a month already. 
She is sweet and cuddly and very much a typical Labrador at heart. 
The day we brought her home was an exciting day for all for many different reasons. 
Honorable mention … 
The terrible weather I endured. Sun, Rain, freezing rain, snow. The drive which is typically an 8 hr round trip turned into 14, partially due to my must stop at Costco in the city. 
But we could not be anymore blessed than we are with this little girl. She loves her crate, has only had the occasional accident in the house (mainly our fault for not paying attention) and loves her toys. 
She loves our daughter and the other dogs. 
Sam is indifferent with her, hes too old to care, and just wants to know when she will grow up  
Mya has taken on a mother roll with her and Tess is learning quickly
She joins us for walks but by next summer she will joining us  on all of our adventures!
Welcome home Tess

Who ever said change was bad

It was back in August that I managed to take some serious time off work! 
During this time my family and I came to realize that me being home for after school and supper time was important. 
This was always something that I had dreamed about but always said “we cant afford it” But really the question was what was I willing to sacrifice for this? The more I looked at it and analysed it the more I came to realize that it was actually easier than I thought!
Armed with my new found desire and knowledge I took that plunge to be home more! I still work outside the home but I was fortunate enough to find something that would allow me to be home with my family after school and on weekends! This change is something that is both a blessing and a challenge.
 The Challenge?
Adjusting to finally having what I refer to as my happy balance point between personal and professional life.  
So no more take out, Tim Hortons and spur of the moment shopping adventures for me! 
This doesn’t mean I can not still do the things that make me happy. Just means I have to be more careful about how I go about it…that’s all. 
Can I still plan my backpacking trips for 2015 …You Bet! 
Can I still hike with my dogs, friends and Family….Absolutely
To all of those out there with a desire and a dream 
Sometimes in life we just have to take the leap, with some careful planning of course!


Vacation… Not for this gal!

So people all around me are always taking vacation….
So what do I do?  I plan a staycation!

After a few years of no extended time off work I was overdue 
and looking forward to the time at home

I get my time booked off and start my planning 

The list I have created for myself was much longer than I was expecting.

Finish cleaning out the junk left in the yard (I had started this a couple weeks prior)

Tear off back section of the deck



Build Garden boxes

Fix fencing

and the list goes on…but you get the idea!

And just like that …. Garden boxes

Will I plan another Staycation? 

You bet. I was finally able to have the time to tackle some of those yard plans I had been thinking about for over a year. Which in the end made me realize that all the things I didn’t like about my yard where just things that I had not had the time to change. Its amazing how life gets away from us with the demands of day to day life. 

Staycation 2015….wonder what I will tackle next