Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sneak preview

I'm off on my fastpacking trip next weekend (4 July) so decided to go and scope out Cataract Pass beforehand as I was concerned that the snow level might be too high and, if that was the case, I'd have to rethink my plans. Lucky for me, the snow doesn't look too bad so I'm happy to give it a shot. If the snow melts too much, the creek crossings will be buggar to navigate as some of them are pretty wide and fast, so fingers crossed that won't be an issue.

The plan is to start at the Icefields Parkway just down the road from the Saskatechwan River Crossing and run the mountain system behind the Parkway all the way to Jasper. It's just under 200 km (can't remember the exact mileage) and I'll camp en route either in backcountry tent sites or will do some random camping. I've spent a lot of time researching the right gear, and have been tweaking this over the last couple of weeks. I'm just in the midst of putting together my food (the fun bit!) and first aid etc.
I feel pretty good about things. I've spent the last month having nightmares about all the things that can go wrong so have spent a lot of time reviewing my wilderness first aid, how to deal with angry bears, how to fight off cougars, falling off a cliff etc. I even bought the Survivor Man's book and will be packing some drier lint with me in case I need to make an emergency fire! It's amazing how the imagination can take you on some dark journey but it's also the catalyst you sometimes need to ensure that you're prepared for anything that might come your way. Having just run into part of the area, I now feel confident that it'll be a fun trip. I've taken a week off work but don't have any schedule of being anywhere on a specific day. As long as I get to Jasper by the end of the following week so that I can make it back to Banff in time for work on the Monday, then I'll be happy.
I think it'll be an amazing experience; I haven't done anything on this type of scale before, especially not as a solo trip, so it'll be interesting to see what I make of it. This could be the start or the finish of my fastpacking days!!! Either way, I'm excited.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I'm busy prepping for my solo, fastpacking trip coming up very shortly. I've spent the last few months researching ultralight gear and spending my tax refund on new toys and thought it would be a good idea to test everything before leaving home to make sure it all works. So on Saturday afternoon, my buddy Mike and myself ran out to a campsite at Lake Minnewanka which is close to home. Mike's been collecting some fastpacking gear over the last year and was keen to give it a go, so we snagged the last tent site and set ourselves up; Mike in his hammock and me in my shiny, new Contrail tent courtesy of Henry Shires from Tarptent. Weighing in at only 24 ozs, it's a gem! Once we set up our home for the night, we headed up Alymer Lookout which has stunning views over the valley. This was a good way to work up an appetite for dinner and the perfect opportunity to try out our homemade stoves (using an old cat food tin!) We had boiling water in no time and were soon munching down on our dehydrated meals feeling quite proud of ourselves. After hunkering down for the night, we were soon greeted by huge winds followed by thunder, lightening and torrential rain that lasted the whole night. Perfect conditions to test all the gear and I'm happy to say that everything went well. I had a little bit of water pooling in my tent which was my own fault as I hadn't staked it out very well due to the gnarly tent site we were on, but otherwise everything worked really well. Our GoLite Jam2 packs were awesome to run with and even stayed dry during the downpour which was a bonus. I think we both learned a lot from the test run and it's given me a chance to tweak my packing list. Plus it was huge fun!
Mike setting up his hammock.
The morning after the storm .... time for a nice, hot cuppa!
The food storage area where you hang your packs/food from a pulley system. Very Blair Witch!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Canmore Challenge

Steve on his 2nd lap! And me above, tackling my first hill.
Mike (in orange) ran from Banff to watch the race which I thought was hilarious! And we met up with our good buddy and running extraordinaire, Jason Loutitt. This is the man responsible for lighting my passion for trail running and I will be forever grateful to him for that.

I haven't done any short races for a very long time and had forgotten how hard they are!! Steve decided he wanted to run the 12 km Canmore Challenge at the Nodic Centre so I got caught up in the excitement and signed up for the 8 km, thinking that it would be a good way to get in some hard speedwork for the week. They were using this event to select the Canadian Mountain Running Team so there were lots of amazing runners competing in both distances. Unfortunately, the course that had been chosen for the race wasn't that great considering that we were in a place that has an abundance of very cool, single track to run. However, it was a beautiful hot day and fun to get out for a local race. Steve took 3rd place for his age category and I took first place in mine so we both enjoyed a brief moment on the podium. It was also a great way to catch up with some old friends who we haven't seen for a while. But the best bit was going for ice-cream afterwards! Hmmmm .... that was well worth running my socks off for!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


it's been a hot, sunny, action-packed weekend! More to come .....

Monday, June 1, 2009


Deb and Laurie getting ready!

Mike and Lesley listening to Race Director, Lyle

My mate Jules and her friend Jane

What an amazing weekend; we had brilliant blue skies and hot sun! On Saturday I went to Nipika Lodge with my friend Mike to run the beautiful and challenging 25 km trail race, Crazy Soles. They've got some wicked single track trails out there that snake their way up and down The heat of the day and the dry environment definitely made it a bit more difficult. My heart rate was off the roof but I had a great day. I even won a prize at the end so that was a bonus. Lesley came along too for her very first race - she's so awesome, as she's only just started to trail run and this is definitely a tough course. Loads of local people were there too so it was lovely to catch up with everyone. They also offered a 3 km race for kids and a 10 km race for those who didn't want to do the full 25 km so it was a great event for the whole family! Nipika Lodge is an eco-lodge set amongst beautiful scenery in the Kootenay's and is run by Lyle and Dianne Wilson. This is also the site of the Nipika Loppet in the winter. Thanks Lyle and Dianne for all your hard work in putting on a fun race! Check out their website at