Over ‘Reading Week’, a break in the middle of my University Winter term, I was given the opportunity to work with @lincolnca on a project for #lincolnfamilyday getaway to the mountains for a week. I was fortunate enough to test out their 2018 Lincoln Navigator, which had plenty of space for all of us, with the second and third row seating, though we kept the third row down for the dogs and all of our gear. Let’s just say having to return it after 7 days on the road was a little difficult. There’s nothing quite like having great space and comfort while driving, after being outside adventuring all day, or if having a far distance to commute, which we surely put on the kms throughout the days.

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Two Jack Lake – Photo @jadubya

Family is a word that may have a different definition attached to it depending on who you were to ask. I have my immediate family, mother, father, three sisters, all who live in Red Deer, along with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Though I also have ‘family’ members outside of that immediate circle. My pup Timber (@timber_tails – who is now one year old as of February 6th), has been one of the best things that has ever came into my life. He is the beginning of my very own little ‘family’. We must never forget the four legged family members! I have friends in different provinces, states and countries for that matter, who I consider family: soul sisters, ‘brothers from different mothers’, and others who I have just immediately clicked with and feel as though you have known forever, who truly care.

When I was approached with this opportunity I immediately knew what I wanted to do with the seven days I was going to have. My friend Jessie (@jadubya), who lives down in Denver, Colorado with her pup Boone (@boone_tails) and myself have been trying to meet up for another road trip for some time now. We started following each other on Instagram about 3 years ago now, and immediately connected, chatting back and forth we just understood one another and became a support for each other, even though we are 1,900kms apart. We began planning our first trip together, and she drove up to Alberta in November of 2016, and I spent 4 days touring her and her pup around, as she had never even been to Canada before. Since that trip we had met up only once a couple months later (where she met Timber at 6 weeks old), so after almost a year it was time to start planning another adventure, and this time with both our pups!!

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@jadubya @brookewillson November 2016 – Bow Lake, Icefields Parkway

Like I had mentioned, family is a word thats defined differently by every person you ask. Jessie and I can both say we have that ‘soul-sister’ relationship that is very rare to come by, and well Boone and Timber are simply ‘brothers from different mothers’, and come with us everywhere we go. Boone has been with Jessie for five years now and they have created a bond that I was envious of and had always wanted for myself, though due to travel, working, being in school and always busy I was never able to get my own dog. It wasn’t up until a year and a half ago where I really started to settle back in my home town, with plans to go back to University. This meant I would finally be settled enough to get my own pup, so I went ahead and made the choice to, and it was the best thing I could have done for myself.

Timber has been on adventures with me since he was 9 weeks old, starting off in my backpack, and only hiking/walking for little bits at a time, and now at 1 year old he joins me on longer hikes, trail runs, camping trips, in my kayak and paddle board. He comes with me to do errands, whether its out for a ten minute car ride, or hours upon hours, road tripping somewhere. Being a ‘fur mom’ was a bit scary at first, thinking I would really have to alter my adventures, considering whether or not Timber could come, what the weather was going to be like, if he could handle it, and if not who was going to be able to watch him while I went away, though instead I have found him only enhancing my adventures. I rarely plan trips that he can’t come along on, and this summer coming up gets me that much more excited. So many fun things to come!

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Wasootch Ridge – Timbers first hike – Photo by @matt.snell

My family may be small but he sure takes up the biggest part of my heart!

Jessie would say the same about her and Boone, and almost anyone with four legged companions. Before Jessie arrived

Day one – I spent the first day with two other girlfriends, Leah (@leahtylerszcuki) and Vanessa (@vanessafraser) who I am very inspired by. Not only are they adventurous, strong women, they also have the hugest hearts and passions for life. Two ladies who I also felt immediate connections with. Both sharing that large passion for the outdoors, adventure and creative sense, attempting to capture moments along the way, with a desire to inspire others to live an adventurous, active lifestyle.  We drove out into Kananaskis to go snowshoeing, the temperatures were cold and the sky was grey and snow was in the forecast but it didn’t stop us from getting out. We snowshoed Elkwood Pass, a trail none of us had done before, just off of Lower Kananaskis Lakes. After four hours of touring around we headed back into Canmore to get settled at our hotel, then headed for a later dinner, where Jessie met us. 1,900kms later she had made it!

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Leah @leahtylerszucki (left) Vanessa @vanessafraser (right)

 

 

Day two – We headed to @sunshinevillage for a ski day. When we woke up in the morning the forecast read -27 and -35 with windchill. Good thing we packed lots of good layers, were prepared for many coffee breaks in between runs, and went into the day with good spirits, laughing through the cold. Our fingers and noses may have been chilly but our hearts were sure full!

Boone and Timber stayed with one of my friends @matt.snell a friend in Banff (a local photographer) and enjoyed the day with him, while we all went to the ski hill.

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Left to Right – Leah @leahtylerszucki , Jessie @jadubya, Vanessa @vanessafraser and myself @brookewillson

Day three – On Monday Jessie, Vanessa, myself and my friend Matt Snell headed to the Icefield Parkway, listed as one of Canada’s most scenic drives. Matt and I have been on a number of adventures together since meeting almost a year ago. Photography, hiking, camping and outdoor adventure in general is something Matt is very passionate about as well, so we have connected on those levels. He has inspired me to take more photos, as his portfolio and ability to capture certain moments is quite impressive.

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Photo by @matt.snell

The weather and road conditions varied during the week we were out, though the features offered with the Navigator had me feeling relaxed and confident while driving. I felt in control, simply by twisting a dial . ‘From 4×4, to Slippery, deep conditions, Excite, etc. the Navigator offers six distinct selectable drive modes for confidence, exhilaration and control in a wide variety of driving conditions’.

The panoramic vista-sun roof also provided greater views and a more spacious feel. Both front and second row passengers have their own control of the retractable sun roof, making it an even more inviting ride, brightening up the cabin. Would love to travel in the Navigator in the summer months, feeling the fresh air from above us.

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Myself and  @timber_tails – Photo by @matt.snell

We stopped along the way to take some photos, before arriving at the trail head for Panther Falls, a quick 2km hike round trip. There is a parking lot 9km before the Jasper/Banff park boundary, there is a pull out on the east side of the highway, at the Bridal Veil Falls viewpoint.

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Panther Falls – Photo of me by @matt.snell

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From there we headed for Abraham Lake in search of ‘bubbles’, and we found them! Myself, Vanesssa and Jessie had never seen them before, though Matt had been 3 times prior and couldn’t resist going to explore the lake again. He showed us exactly where to find them. Even though it was cold yet again we spent some time walking around the lake and admiring the beauty, jumping and joking around in order to stay warm!

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Model @vanessafraser – Photo  @brookewillson

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Photo by @matt.snell

While driving the Navigator I could not get over how smooth of a ride it was, the girls also kept commenting on the comfort and ease of ride. When traveling far distances, especially in the mountains, on back roads etc. road conditions vary and for smooth and confident driving, Lincoln believes your suspension should too. The adaptive suspension on the Navigator controls the up and down movement of the wheels when driving on uneven surfaces and over potholes. ‘This system, controlled by the six-selectable drive modes (which I commented on earlier), helps decrease the stress of harsh driving situations of the outside world without compromising the comfort within.’

Photo by @matt.snell

From there we headed back along the parkway as the sun set, and slowly made our way back to our cabin (pictured below), which we had rented for two nights in Harvie Heights, a hamlet between Canmore and Banff. I have been staying at these cabins for almost ten years now, and even though they are simple, small and rustic they sure are perfect, holding so many amazing memories, AND they are pet friendly!!!!

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Rundle Ridge Chalets – Harvie Heights. Photo @jadubya

Day four – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday it was just myself, Jessie, Boone and Timber. We got up Tuesday, packed up the car and headed into Spray Lakes area for some site seeing and a quick pit stop for tea at Mount Engadine Lodge.

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Spray Lakes – Photo @jadubya

There were so many features of the Lincoln Navigator that I loved, which made it easier for traveling with a number of people and for the dogs and all our gear. The drop down step provides an easier step when getting in and out of the vehicle, and it retracts up when you get in, giving the vehicle more clearance when commuting.

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Spray Lakes – Photo @jadubya

From there we headed to Johnston Canyon, a very popular trail just outside Banff. along the Bow Valley Parkway. The trail to Upper Falls, is about 5.2kms round trip (2.6kms one way and only 120m elevation gain) making it very popular for anybody visiting the area, as it is very doable for all levels of hikers.

Day five- We visited three different locations. Starting off in Kootenay Lake Provincial Park, we drove an hour and 15 minutes to Marble Canyon, a quick 2km hike, before heading to Haffner Creek, a trailhead just a minute down the road.

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Marble Canyon – Model @jadubya Photo by  @brookewillson

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Haffner Creek Trail – Model @jadubya Photo by @brookewillson

From there we headed to Yoho National Park, to hike to Wapta Falls. Usually it is only a 4.8km hike round trip in the summer months, but in the winter the road to the trailhead is closed, so you have to hike the road which is only 2.1km. The hike totals 9km round trip in the winter, though still very doable for all levels of hikers, seeing as the elevation gain is only 150m and the snow often quite packed down (being a very popular hike).

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Wapta Falls – Model @jadubya Photo @brookewillson

Day six – We spent our last day being tourists driving to various lakes and viewpoints in and around the town of Banff. Starting off with sunrise at Vermillion Lakes, then we headed to Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka, all three within a few kms of town. After we headed up Tunnel Mountain (you can drive to a view point), towards Tunnel Mountain Campground to a viewpoint that overlooked Mount Rundle, an iconic mountain in the area.

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Two Jack Lake – Photo @jadubya

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@timber_tails and @boone_tails taking in the views of Mount Rundle

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Spending an entire week with close friends and our fur legged little ones, who have turned into my ‘mountain family’ was a blessing. Huge thanks again to @lincolnca for the #lincolnfamilyday opportunity, for providing us with an unbelievably comfortable, and reliable vehicle, to enjoy our week.  Already looking forward to the next adventure!

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Lake Minnewanka

 

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