DLTK's Blog
Dressing the Family For a Hike
October 2018 - Alberta, Canada

by Leanne Guenther

The Saskatchewan Prairie

Wheat fields and blues skies as far as you can see on the Saskatchewan prairie.

I’ve lived in western Canada my entire life.  As a child, I lived in Saskatchewan — think wheat fields, blue skies and prairies.

As an adult, we’ve lived right next door in Alberta.  Still lots of grain fields and prairies, but also cattle ranching and the Rocky Mountains.

Alberta prairie and the Rocky Mountains

Alberta prairie and the Rocky Mountains

The only month of the year that I haven’t seen it snow is August.  And I’m not talking snow on a mountain top...I mean snow in the towns and cities.

The only time I saw it snow in July was just bizarre.  It was a snow thunderstorm.  Until then, I would have said it was impossible to have lightening and snow at the same time but apparently not!  And no, it wasn’t hail... we get both hail and snow here and this was about a half foot of snow.  It didn’t even last a day, but it made for some great snowball fights!

A snowy autumn landscape.

We were greeted with an early snowfall during our autumn drive to the Rockies.

In mid September this year, we headed out to Lake Louise for a weekend away.  September is typically larch tree season and the Lake Louise area is a great place to hike and experience them.  Larch trees are “evergreens” that change colour in autumn, turning a rather spectacular shade of golden-yellow.

About 20 minutes out of Calgary we realized we were headed into a winter wonderland instead of the colourful autumn splendour we’d been expecting.

Undaunted, we continued on.  Unexpected fresh snow with just below freezing temperatures is great fun to hike around in.  We rarely leave the house without a variety of layers to keep us comfortable, whatever the weather may bring so we were ready for this unexpected twist on our adventure.  

We had a blast at Grotto Canyon and Lake Louise that day but giggled a bit (don’t hate us) at the shivering tourists that were sorely unprepared for what Mother Nature can bring to the Canadian Rockies.  I’m sure the shops in town have done a brisk business in mitten, scarf and toque sales today!

So!  Here are some tips for dressing in climates that can be hot or cold depending on the fickle nature of weather:

Three layers mean you are ready for any weather.

Layer 1:  a short sleeved, breathable t-shirt like merino wool or bamboo or one of those fancy synthetic hiking shirts.  Cotton isn’t quite as good as it holds moisture.

Layer 2:  a long sleeved fleece sweater.  I prefer one with a zipper as you can wear it unzipped if you need things a little cooler.

Layer 3:  a windproof, waterproof jacket with a hood and deep pockets.  I have a gortex rain jacket that I love.  Snow is just frozen water and it tends to melt on you.  A thick, sturdy raincoat will keep you dry and protect you from the wind.

And that’s it!  You’re ready for sun, rain or snow.

Yes, we own down-filled parkas and wool overcoats for in the city, but for typical hikes, warm fleece plus a sturdy raincoat give us the flexibility we need to stay cozy and comfy.

Scarf, touque and mittens.

I love wool mittens, hats and scarfs but sometimes you need something warmer and water resistant for your hands.

I also always like to have a wool scarf, toque and fairly waterproof mittens along but I’m often caught without them.

Hiking pants work perfectly for my legs.  If it’s dead winter, I wear long underwear under them.

And for my feet, it’s pretty much always wool socks and water resistant hiking boots.

Hiking boots and wool socks.

These boots were the best investment Darren made for all seasons in Calgary.

So if you’re coming to visit, by all means bring your shorts and flip flops but make sure to save room in your luggage for boots, a scarf, a fleece sweater and a sturdy raincoat!

The good news is that apart from the mittens and toque, all of the other items are handy in almost any climate so you don’t have to purchase an entirely new wardrobe just to visit a place where it snows.  You do, however, have to bring along all your layers even if you’re visiting in June or September!

Glenbow Ranch

Hiking at Glenbow Ranch near Cochrane, Alberta in October.

“But Leanne”, you ask, “Will that keep my children warm in -40 degree weather!?”


The only thing that will keep your children warm in the coldest weather is to stay inside by a roaring fire drinking hot chocolate and playing board games.  Minus forty degrees is the same in Fahrenheit and Celsius... and is, as my dad would say, “bloody cold” no matter which way you measure it or what you choose to wear.

Yoho National Park

Hiking to the Paint Pots in Yoho National Park in early spring.

If you’re here during the dead of winter the “how to dress” rules might change a bit (for example, you might substitute a parka for the raincoat depending on how cold it is, although I actually stick with my sturdy, hooded raincoat plus fleece sweater year round) but if you happen to end up here during a cold snap or a blizzard, just wait it out indoors or at least don’t wander too far away from shelter.

Hiking from Eagle's Eye

Approaching Eagle's Eye Lodge while hiking at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.


Make It...
Mittens Paper Craft

Mittens Craft

What you’ll need

  • a printer
  • a piece of paper
  • some crayons, paint, markers or pencil crayons
  • scissors
  • glue
  • fun foam
  • something hard as a base (a margarine container lid or cardboard from a cereal box work well)
  • sparkle glue or sparkles
  • ribbon, string or wool


  • Print out the craft template of choice.
  • Colour (where appropriate) and cut out the template pieces.
  • There is a left and right mitten, decoration (piece with hearts and snowflake) and cuff (striped piece).
  • You can colour the decorations with sparkle glue or sparkles if desired.
  • If you want, you can trace the left and right mitten template pieces onto a piece of fun foam to make a more permanent craft.  Or you can glue the mitten template pieces to a hard base (cardboard).
  • Glue the left decoration and right decoration onto the left mitten and right mitten respectively.
  • Glue the left cuff and right cuff onto the left mitten and right mitten respectively.
  • At this point, you can either:
    • Attach one end of a string, ribbon or wool to each mitten so you can hang on the Christmas tree (either by poking a hole in the base and threading the string through or by attaching well with tape).  It looks like the mittens little kids wear so they don't lose them.

Template:   color  or  B&W


More detailed instructions are available on the Mittens Paper Craft page.


Disclaimer: As always, my opinions are my own.

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All photos in this blog post are copyright Leanne Guenther or are used with permission.

Leanne's byline photoAbout Leanne:

Wife, mom and the woman behind the scenes of the DLTK's Crafts for Kids websites.  The websites are a terrific hobby -- run by (me) Leanne, a mom with two girls as my official craft testers and my husband as my technical support.  DLTK are the first initials of each of the people in my family (I'm the L!).  Whenever we send out little cards or whatnot, we sign 'love DLTK' ... when I started the website I used the initials.  Had I known the website would get actual strangers visiting it, I would have picked a less mysterious name but we're all stuck with it now!

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