Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pipestone to Skoki

With the larches turning yellow, it was time to run into Skoki. We decided to make a day of it and run via the Pipestone (48 km) which is the same region where Mike and myself had been running on our Molar Pass day.
There are always creek crossings involved when we run with Steve - guaranteed! I can't start to explain how freezing cold the water felt but luckily there were no more than a half dozen of them!
The Skoki valley
The larch trees were so yellow, they almost looked neon.

The colour of this lake was amazing - I love turquoise! Even the sound of the colour is exotic.
Looks like a storm is coming - I hope everyone brought their rain jackets?!!!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Crypt Lake, Waterton National Park

Crypt Lake is rated as one of the best hiking trails in Canada because it shouts of Adventure! 17.2 km of Adventure. First, you need to take a 15 minute boatride from Waterton over to the trailhead.
Then you run a beautiful, hot and dry trail (mainly uphill) to the Real Fun Bit - the ledge and the tunnel!
The trail to the ledge/tunnel.
Steve climbing the ladder up to the tunnelWatch your head!

When you come out of the tunnel, you have to scamper up another rocky section but there's a steel cable in place to help you up.Sure is a long way down!

Crypt Lake! What time did you say the last boat leaves?

I'm HOT!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Waterton has some beautiful trails to choose from and we decided to run Carthew/Alderson Trail, but instead of doing it as an out and back which seems to be the most popular for hikers, we planned do one big loop and run along the Boundary Trail inside the US and pop back out at Waterton Lake, a total of about 34 km. What a fantastic day! The trail up to Carthew Summit was beautiful; very rugged and mountainous. On the other side, the Boundary Trail looked like it hadn't been used for many months - very overgrown and rugged.

Waterton National Park

I can't believe that it's taken me so long to get down to visit Waterton. It's only 5 hours from Banff and if you take the #40 through Kanananskis, it's a beautiful scenic drive. You also get to travel through the ranching areas of Longview and Pincher Creek and it's a reminder that Alberta is Cowboy Country!

Waterton neighbours Glacier National Park in the US and together, they form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. How cool is that! 505 sq km in size, it's not a huge park but boy, it is choka-blok full of beautiful scenery and unique features. It has the oldest exposed sedimentary rock in the Canadian Rockies so looks very different from the mountains here in Banff and is surrounded by the prairies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mist Ridge, Kananaskis

I managed to take a Friday and Monday off so it was time to plan a road trip! When you have 4 days off in a row, it's important to do something special with them so Steve and myself decided to have our last summer hoorah and head down to Waterton National Park. It's only 5 hours away from Banff but is another world from here!
Instead of being scrunched in the car for most of the day, we decided to stop in Kananaskis en route and chose Mist Ridge as it's a nice 24 km loop and would give us some great views of the area past Highwood Pass.

I'll post photos from Waterton shortly!

Molar Pass-Fish Lakes-North Molar Pass

I love running loops! Big loops if possible. When Mike told me he wanted to run into North Molar Pass, I was quick to suggest doing a loop which turned out to be 53 km. Perfect for a day's outing so he, Leslie and myself set off from Mosquito Creek and took off to Molar Pass. I hadn't been in that direction before so it was fun seeing something new. This is the view from Molar Pass.
Leslie had run this way last year and had mentioned that it's easy to lose the trail which we did almost immediately after the Pass. But it was fun bush whacking our way down to the valley floor and from there, we followed Molar Creek. We weren't the only ones travelling this way. We bumped into 2 hikers from Seattle who had done the loop in reverse over 3 days and were on their way out. They were quite surprised that we were doing it in a day! We also came across these wolf prints which were very cool to see.
After reaching the Pipestone River, we started to head in the direction of Fish Lakes. It's such a beautiful area out here and, apart from a party of horse riders, we saw no-one until we started up North Molar Pass.
After leaving Fish Lakes, we started heading towards North Molar Pass and bumped into lots of people hiking into the camp ground there. It'd be a gorgeous place to camp! We bumped into some folks that we had passed earlier on in the morning so it was nice catching up with them. Thanks for taking the photo of the 3 amigos for us (L-R: Leslie, me and Mike).
Mike and Leslie heading over North Molar Pass.
Mike in his element!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Northover Ridge

At the end of last month, Mike and myself ran Northover Ridge in Kananaskis. This is a 36 km loop which we did for the first time last year and which quickly became a classic.

Burstall Pass

Kananaskis is one of my favourite areas; not only does it have one very cool sounding name, but it is also home to some drop-dead gorgeous scenery. Located between Banff and Calgary, it's easy to get to and tends to have less people than Banff. Last weekend, Steve and myself headed out to do some running at Burstall Pass and even though I knew it was going to be pretty, I had no clue that it was going to be so stunning!
The Robertson Glacier above, views from Burstall Pass and looking down on Leman Lake.

Mt Assiniboine poking up at the back of the mountain range.

Summer fun

I finally got ran the Skyline Trail in Jasper a few weeks back. It's stunning. From the minute you leave the trailhead at Maligne Lake, it's just one gorgeous run. The views from up at The Notch were a little hazy due to some forest fires further north and it was also very windy, but what a sweet day!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Race report: Stormy 100 mile

Located close to Vancouver and en route to Whistler, Squamish is dubbed the "outdoor recreation capital of Canada". I can remember passing through this small town many years ago and being impressed with the huge rocky crags that sit at the edge of town.

Stormy 100 starts at the recreation center in Brennan Park and comprises of 2 x 50 mile (80 km) loops that have you running on all sorts of terrain. The race is 97% trails or forest service roads and 3% paved road and has 6000 feet of elevation gain per loop.

We started the race at 10.00 am (the original start time is 12.00 noon which seems extremely late in the day if you're a crack-of-dawn type of girl like me). Luckily, the recent heat wave had started to drop and the temperature was perfect. I was surprised at how fast everyone bolted off from the starting line. With 100 miles (160 km) to run, what's the hurry? Steve and myself stayed at the back for quite a while but knew we would inevitably catch up with some of the folks who had gotten sucked into the fast start. Funny how that happens ... I made that mistake when I first started racing and learnt the lesson well after being totally spanked on a local race.

The nice thing about this race is that you get to run on such varied terrain. The paved sections were short enough to enjoy and the single track was the sweetest, technical single track that I've ever run on. It was a blast! I felt like a 5 year old running through some of the most amazing forests with ferns and plants bigger than me. I like the technical stuff ... it's like mountain biking without the bike and is pure fun. The other thing I enjoyed was running with Steve for the first 30 km or so. He's a much faster runner than me so it's natural that we eventually lost sight of each other.

Also on the course were sections of forest service roads and the 2 main ones were nothing short of evil. The first one, called University, had us climbing up and up (and up!) and then finally we were back onto a single track section for the descent. The other gnarly section is another forest service road called 9 Mile Hill. Yep! it's 9 miles of super steep up on a gravel road but a nice descent on single track.

During the first lap, I tried to make a mental note of the course as I knew I would be running most of the second lap in the dark and even though it was very well marked with flagging tape, we all know how easy it is to zone out and miss a turn. I was amazed at how much I remembered!

The race director for Stormy is Wendy Montgomery and it was obvious that she had put in a lot of work into the race and had a wonderful team of volunteers also putting in a lot of hours to make the event a success. There were plenty of aid stations en route with fluid and nibblies and there was no problem with being able to drop an aid bag at the bottom of 9 Mile Hill (which is a life saver if you enjoy running without a crew or pacer).

The other nice thing about this race is that it's a low key event. The volunteers and the crews of other racers do a great job of cheering you on at the aid stations but otherwise, I found it to be a pretty quiet race. And with only another 29 competitors on the course, you get to spend lots of time running by yourself. This might not be some people's idea of fun, but I love being able to spend time inside my own head and tend to be a bit of a loner when it comes to racing so it definitely suited me.

I had a great time at Stormy; I thoroughly enjoyed the race and kudos to all the people who work so hard in making this event a success.