*notcot in wearable , 09:37

Mount Engadine Lodge + Spray Lakes- 09.11.14

engadineMAIN.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, Shawn, Bucky, and I are loaded up in the NOTFZJ80 spending a week in Alberta roadtripping, camping, and exploring all that we can fit in… follow the series here to see what inspires us along the way!

The one thing you can count on on a multiweek road trip is running into the unexpected. In this case the weather took a turn to the cold and snowy for a few days! Like wake up to half a foot of snow sticking kind of snowy… and that didn’t stop us from genuinely, excitedly trying to go find a camp site by Spray Lakes. The camp sites are THAT stunning just off the water nestled in the trees. But like in a fairy tale ~ we headed to dinner at the Mount Engadine Lodge around the lake, which appeared like an adorable Swiss chalet mirage through the low visibility of the snow and trees… and with dinner, they offered us a spare room and told us not to be silly instead. By the time i woke up and saw the inches of fresh powder everywhere, i think we made the right decision!

Honestly, there is something just magical about Mount Engadine Lodge. Beyond the adorable chalet style, the people both running it and guests immediately treat you like family as you curl up by the fire, play games, and join the communal dining area. The first thing you are offered is to get out of your wet shoes and slip on some colorful hand knit slippers. Then you hear “BEAR” and “MOOSE” and then “TWO MOOSE!” within moments of arrival… and it’s not joke. Staring out the vast windows overlooking the meadow, sure enough there is a mama and baby bear sauntering down, and two moose chowing down in the mud pit. Often you read things are “like the Serengeti for wildlife viewing”, but to pop in and have all of this happen so fast… magical! See our adventure to Spray Lakes, Mount Engadine Lodge, and the rather precarious drive out on the next page!

Heading to Spray Lakes - it was beautifully dramatic… onway1.jpg

The backdrop became a new monochromatic world of speckled black and white. onway2.jpg

Exploring the various camp sites - 14 and 19 would be our dream picks in better weather! - at Spray Lakes… you can really take a few steps from each isolated campsite tucked into the trees and be right at the water’s edge. Bucky loved hopping along the edges, but it seems like even he knew the storm was coming. onway3.jpg

The Canada Parks beaver logo is so simple and adorable, especially when on wood! onway4.jpg

Heading over to Mount Engadine Lodge for dinner we came across a pair of rather curious deer. onway5.jpg

Pulling up the driveway, we see the lodge! onway5a.jpg

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How cool is the door handle? engadine3.jpg

Step inside to the offer to get our of your wet shoes/coats and slip on some of their colorful hand knit slippers and curl up by the fire. Bucky was a fan for sure. Beyond the fire there is a larger living room and dining room all with spectacular views. engadine3a.jpg

In lovelier weather, you can head out to the deck beyond the living/dining rooms. engadine4.jpg

As you can see, it’s perched on the hill… engadine5.jpg

… above the moose! It’s quite the view down into the meadow with the creek passing through at the base of the Rockies… engadine6.jpg

They say they get a lot more moose than most because key nutrients key to moose antler development and fertility wash down to this spot. engadine6a.jpg

Their spare “room” happened to be Whiskeyjack - in their detached cabin (where we saw the mama and baby bear wander by upon arrival!). engadine7.jpg

Whiskeyjack is a two bedroom/one bathroom suite - where they kindly laid down spare comforters on the twin beds for us to let Bucky curl up and nap during dinner. engadine8.jpg

After coming to our senses to stay the night, we settled in and headed back to the main lodge for dinner. engadine9.jpg

Every meal is a family style buffet of deliciousness. The other guests said every meal was so good, they couldn’t help but gain weight - though most guests are avid hikers, climbers, skiers - so they will fuel you well for your adventures! Dinner was a mix of lamb, sweet potatoes, salad, and broccolini. So good! engadine10.jpg

Cuckoo Clock! Wonderful owl on the lovely wine with dinner. Chocolate Mousse for dessert (i coludn’t help chuckle at the pun of moose, while so giddy to see my first moose in the wild!) and the chalkboard door of bird sightings! engadine11.jpg

Spray Lakes on the topographic map… as you can see, we’re right up against the Alberta/BC border. engadine12.jpg

The lovely folks at Travel Alberta gave us some local, must try goodies. So when the staff invited us to join their game night, we invited them to taste test with us! From the Alberta invented Caesar Cocktail - think a clammy twist on a Bloody Mary - to Porter’s Tonic Syrups… and the Eau Claire Distillery Three Point Vodka, based in Turner Valley, which is Alberta’s first independent craft distillery! I’m smitten by their playful animal headed victorian graphics on the label. engadine13.jpg

After learning more about Alberta, Canada, and all the creatures at Mount Engadine Lodge, we tucked into bed for an early morning of more creature viewing and promises of an amazing breakfast.

Waking up, it was clear that it had been snowing hard all night. engadine14.jpg

Look at the NOTFZJ80! Even living in snowier climates, i was either not old enough to drive, or didn’t have a car - so this was my first time digging my car out of the snow! engadine14a.jpg

Here’s Bucky hanging out at the cabin door (don’t worry it was just for a few while i was taking some pics!) and looking out at the September Winter Wonderland. Breakfast was amazing french toast with peaches, sausage, and hard boiled eggs - all of my favorites together! The Mountain Blends Coffee Roasters has some goat on their logo! engadine15.jpg

And sure enough - i jokingly ask, “any moose yet?” after stepping out for a moment and the answer is YES! A big guy across the way nomming and shaking off the snow every few steps. I could have sat and watched the animals for hours… but alas, it was time to head onwards to Banff! engadine16.jpg

It was still coming down pretty hard, but it was time to go, and in theory the NOTFZJ80 had everything it needed to get down the mountain. In a lesser car, i would have been horrified to even try heading out in. The sweet folks at Mount Engadine Lodge even sent us on our way with two packed lunches - complete with homemade bread sandwiches, trail mix, and a couple cookies!

We heard the snow plough clearing the road which sounded like a good sign… however we caught him within 5 minutes and chatted with the driver about whether it was safe to head down ahead of him. He looked our car up and down before saying we’d be fine so long as we took it pretty slow. The 4 wheel drive and weight of our vehicle should take care of the rest. So on we went… blazing our trail in the few inches of fresh snow and low visibility. engadine17.jpg

Bucky’s look at me when i’d hop out for a picture… engadine18.jpg

Shawn and I joked this was the most focus driving has needed from us in some time! engadine19.jpg

Beautiful as it was, i won’t deny it was a little scary. BUT that being said - the NOTFZJ80 handled just like it was built to. And sure enough we made it down the mountain, and back to Canmore… it just took a while! engadine20.jpg

It’s always best to leave wanting a little bit more… we will definitely have to find our way back to the magical Mount Engadine Lodge sooner than later! I can see how a week there to relax and be well taken care of while watching the vast wildlife surround you would be the perfect way to re-energize! Thanks again, to the amazing team at Mount Engadine Lodge, for taking us in on what would have been a rather exciting night for camping.

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