Tuesday, August 17, 2010

UTMB here I come!

Yep, it's that time already. I'll be flying out to Geneva soon and then making myself at home in Chamonix, getting ready for the big UTMB! I'm under no illusion that this race is going to be brutal but I'm hoping to keep it together and enjoy it for what it is. I think being in Europe and being part of such a huge race will be quite the experience and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I make it to the finishing line in one piece. We get 46 hours to finish and there are 10 cut-off stations along the way so I'll try and pace myself; I've never run through 2 nights before or for this amount of time in one go so it'll be interesting to see how my body/mind hold up. The elevation gain/loss is horrendous so there's definitely pain in the forecast but it'll also be a beautiful place to be and a great experience. Fingers crossed!
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Mt Piran

Lake Louise - probably the most photographed lake in Canada
The view on the way up to Mt Piran
Mountains and glaciers!
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cirque Peak

I made my annual run/hike to Helen Lake last weekend. I've been doing this hike every summer for the last 15 years and never tire of it. I used to guide hiking groups here regularly and would often spent my time off returning to Helen Lake to do it all over again! However, this was the first time that I had climbed up Cirque Peak which is something I've fancied doing for eons but never wanted to go up alone (I'm a baby!) It's basically a hike up and has amazing views.
It was little hazy up there, a combination of smoke from wild fires in British Columbia and cloudy weather. However, it was still amazing and will be somewhere we'll go again on a clear, sunny day.

There's always lots of Marmots at Helen Lake! This one was at the bottom of Cirque Peak and was really cheeky; it wouldn't leave us alone probably hoping for some food.
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Birthday girl!

It was my birthday yesterday! Yay - another year older. And a beautiful, rich chocolate cake. Oh, life is sweet. Thanks Steve!
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

North Boundary Trail: last day

I had another great night camping - I love carrying what I need on my back during the day and building a little home for the night at the end of the day. I like the rituals that I fall into to ensure that I stay safe and healthy.
I realized that I would be back in civilization again within a few hours and felt ready for it. I don't think I've gone 3 whole days without seeing another human being before and even though I'm comfortable by myself, I was looking forward to having a cruisy day running down from Robson as I knew the area would likely be free of any animals and if there was a problem, there would a ton of people who could assist. Even though it's fun being "out there alone" it's also quite edgy. I'm constantly on the lookout for wildlife, forever making lots of noise to give any bears the heads up that I'm running through, and am very conscious that I can't make any mistakes.
Being at Robson washed away all these concerns. I let my guard down, giggled out loud and enjoyed every minute of this beautiful area, quite happy to say hello to the numerous people that I met on the trail. I was down at the visitor centre by lunchtime and as I munched on my egg sandwich, I looked around at all the tourists and smiled .... if only they knew where I'd spent the last 3 days!
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North Boundary Trail: Day 3

Day 3 was a long day, running through lots of forests, but for some reason I was excited. I was pretty sure I would make it to Adolphus campsite which is not too far away from Mt Robson. And Mt Robson would be crawling with people, so it was possible that I may see some folks today. It was after all, 3 whole days without seeing or talking to anyone and I think I was excited to have human contact again.
I passed lots of beautiful lakes and crossed lots of old avalanche slopes full of cow parsnip and tall willow bushes, so I was making lots of noise, especially later in the day.
Chown Creek was particularly beautiful. And just before getting to Adolphus, I turned a corner and there stood Mt Robson like the majestic mountain it is. Highest in the Canadian Rockies and oh so beautiful! I never did see anyone - Adolphus was yet another deserted campsite but that's okay, I didn't mind being alone.
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

North Boundary Trail: Day 2

After a fairly good night's sleep and a hot breakfast, I started out for another adventurous day. I was starting to gain some elevation today and the trail was a little harder to run on; or maybe my legs were just tired!
My favourite part of the day was crossing Snake Indian Pass. It's just gorgeous up there.
I was tempted to camp up on the Pass as it felt beautiful to be in an open meadow with gorgeous mountains to look at but I fancied having a fire at night so decided to head to Byng Campground which happened to have a huge stock of dry firewood. I got in late afternoon and enjoyed having a few hours of hot sun to dry out all my sweaty clothes and I even took a small bath in the creek that ran next to the camp (no soap of course!) What a great day.
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North Boundary Trail: Day One

For this year's fastpacking adventure, I chose the North Boundary Trail which is close to 200 km in length, starts east of Jasper and runs west, popping out at the back of Mt Robson. I'd spent the Saturday running the Brazeau Loop (82 km) with Steve, Mike & Leslie so I spent Sunday in Jasper getting the final details of my trip organized and resting my legs. Parks Canada confirmed that no-one else was on the trail which is what I expected; it's a pretty remote place to wander and takes most people 10-12 days to backpack so isn't so popular these days. Which is a shame, as it's a beautiful location and is well signed.
After a good night's sleep at the Athabasca Hotel, I got dropped off at Celestine Lake Road by Mr Taxi and started to yell and holler my way on an old fire road so that I could access the trail. This area is prime black bear territory so I made lots of noise, especially as there was a lot of fresh bear scat on the trail. Snake Indian Falls was a little ways off the trail so I ducked down to take a look. The mist coming off felt nice seeing as it was turning out to be another hot day.
As I made my way to Willow Creek, I spent a bit of time in the horse camp as it was such a beautiful place. I opened the registry book that I found mounted on one of the trees and saw that a couple of wardens had travelled through this area 4 days before me to do some trail maintenance. I kept thinking that I might bump into them somewhere, but it wasn't to be. I was having a great time and found the running easy enough on my legs that I ended up doing 62 km but called it a day once I reached Blue Creek camp. I ended up setting up my tent in the horse camp as the creek crossing was way too dangerous to get to the hikers camp.
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