October 6th, 2015
By Kymberley Hill
After growing up with a dad who loved adventure, it is not surprising that Melissa Schulze introduced her own daughter to the outdoors as soon as she was old enough. Makaila, at 5 years old, has already accomplished more in the great Canadian outdoors than most people do in a lifetime. During their weekdays, when they cannot escape for their adventures in the Canadian Rockies, they spend precious family time together by continuing their love of the outdoors from their home in Red Deer. Melissa has a private, nature-themed dayhome and together-Melissa and Makaila climb, walk, snowshoe and ski often! But, come the weekend, the mountains are calling this mom-and-daughter hiking duo and travelling from Red Deer Alberta doesn't stop the pair from exploring the National Parks almost every weekend.
Q: Melissa, you are raising a mini-adventurer! What age was Makaila when you started taking adventures together and did Makaila take to life easily as an adventurer-in-the-making?
As soon as Makaila was born I couldn't wait to take her to the mountains. She was 2 weeks old when I first took her to Lake Louise and by a few months she was already camping and doing peaks in the carrier backpack. I must say, she has a love for nature that even I cannot explain. She has no fear and the outdoors is where she feels the most comfortable.
Q: Why do you feel it’s important to discover the outdoors together and plan your mom-and-daughter trips and adventures?
When we go explore together we are not only mom and daughter but we become a team. She and I respect and learn from each other. Both being in our element we always make the most of it no matter what the situation. Even as a toddler, she used to love planning just as much as doing the adventures. The maps, the packing, and the excitement. I think spending this time together brings us so much closer than if we just lived a regular life - and that is why it is so worth it.
Q: What’s the biggest / most memorable adventure you have shared together to date? What made it so memorable?
Melissa: For me it was our backpacking trip to Assiniboine this summer. We only had two days to do the trip and at the last minute someone suggested we should take the slightly longer way back because of scenery. It didn't take too much convincing and I agreed. That day we walked 17km and we both had some tense moments, but I will always remember her hugging me and telling me that no matter what, it was going to be okay. That sometimes crying is good and we sat there together exhausted but sharing an important moment I will never forget. Makaila: Edith Cavell! Edith Cavell! Melissa: I must admit Makaila fell in love with that mountain on a recent trip to Jasper. She says the ice falling into the lake, the icebergs and the mountain itself is absolutely amazing to her.
Q: You obviously have a lot of outdoor adventures together and plenty of mom-and-daughter time in the outdoors, what are your favourite ways to spend time / explore?
Melissa: I love hiking with her, she really opens up and we talk about so many different subjects, we talk about memories, we sing, we tell stories...but we also really enjoy kayaking and we hope to start climbing more. Really we just love to get outdoors even if it just means sitting around the fire at the campground. Makaila: Climbing and hiking with mom. I like when mom takes me on glaciers and I pretend to ice climb.
Q: You spend lots of time hiking and exploring in Banff National Park, what is your favourite trail or area in the Park? Melissa: I love it all. It is so hard for me to decide. We spend a lot of time in Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway but Moraine Lake, Sentinel Pass and Mt.Temple is an area that has had my heart since I was a teenager. Moraine Lake is also where my husband proposed, which puts it at the top of my list. For Makaila-the Bow Hut Trail and the Bow glacier, where she got to explore and get on the ice. I think she is starting to love ice as much as her mom! We also hiked past the Hut where we got to look down onto Bow Lake, what a beautiful place!
Q: Have you got any trails in Lake Louise that are still on your must-hike list for this year?
Every year in the fall we do Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive to see the beautiful larches. This year we plan on doing the two tea houses and Sentinel Pass in one weekend. The landscape is absolutely splendid and the larches make for such scenic views.
Q: In your opinion, what makes Lake Louise a special time of year to hike together?
There is nothing like the blue turquoise color of the lakes, combined with the orange and yellow of the beautiful changing larches. It is simply stunning...
Q: What’s your favourite memory to date of Fall in Lake Louise?
Melissa: Last fall we woke up in our tent to a small blanket of snow, it was so beautiful, we then went on and hiked the Big Beehive. We literally had to stop every few minutes to admire the scenery. The view of the lake in harmony with the fall colors from the beehive was a hit for me! Makaila: After hiking last fall we stopped at the tea house for some warm tea. It was really nice to watch the chipmunks from the balcony of the Lake Agnes Tea house.
Q: What does your typical hiking day look like in Lake Louise; have you any tips for other moms and daughters taking a hiking day / trip, on what to do or pack?
On a day hike to Lake Louise, we usually like to camp near our trail, either in Lake Louise or Mosquito Creek on the Icefields Parkway. We like to enjoy a good breakfast and head up to the trail. We take a million breaks and then eventually will find the perfect spot for lunch. Usually by then we decide to go further than we expected and that is what makes for such fun adventures! I usually carry a day pack with warmer clothing, water, lots of snacks and a first aid kit. My girl also has her own pack-in case of an emergency I want her to know what to do and have all the tools with her. Trails I would recommend are the Lake Agnes Tea House and the Plain of Six Glaciers as well as the two Beehives. However, even a walk around the lake can be very nice for everyone. Moraine Lake also features amazing trails and if time permits and you feel more adventurous, the Larch Valley and Paradise Valley area are beautiful.
Q: How would you typically refuel after a hike in Lake Louise, have you got any favourite spots for a celebratory hot chocolate or dinner together?
Melissa: We both really enjoyed the tea house after hiking around Lake Louise. But this summer we stopped in the village a few times for ice cream, which is my girl's favourite treat! Makaila: Ice Cream!