Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Solistice Weekend

This past weekend was a 3-fer. That's 3-fer' the price of one! It was summer solistice, it was Hollys' birthday and it was the first weekend that the Takakkaw Falls Road opens to access primo Yoho backcountry!! So many good reasons to get out of town and go camping. We were stoked to get out and run and relax and breath in the scenery.
With that, I packed up a ridiculous amount of gear and food and headed out to one of my favorite easy escapes - The Takakkaw Falls Campground. I do it every year, on opening weekend. It's some of the best accessible wilderness out there! This time of year, you just never know how much snow will be out there, so I always go knowing that it will probably be an adventure.

On Friday, we headed up early to score a prime camping spot overlooking the falls and then had enough time to go out for a 3-4 hour adventure. I wanted to see how much snow was up high, so we climbed the trail up towards famous Iceline Trail and then detoured off to Yoho Lake. Less than 1 km up we hit the snowline in the forest, but the trail was quite passable to the lake. We had mud, lots of water running down the trail, deadfall and of course, snow!

Everything is Alive!! Spring Growth on the Trail. It felt tropical.

Deadfall. See "how to" entry here.
Yoho Lake is Cool.

The adventure began after we left Yoho Lake to climb up even higher towards the Highline connector. I knew the trail would be hard to find, with all of the snow in the forest! Fortunately, we were able to walk on the snow and didn't posthole through the snow that much. I was thankfull that I wasn't a 200 lb. guy. We did still lostthe trail though, I was having flashbacks of Keith and myself doing the same thing last year!! Still, we managed to navigate our way across the highline, through a boulder field and a lot of snow, to connect back with the Iceline trail. It was a sweeeet little loop! The views looking across at Takakkaw Falls and the glacier above them were awesome!

A Spring Tradition in Yoho: Playing "Find the Trail"

On Saturday, Tannis joined us after breakfast at the campsight and we all hit the trail for a gorgeous, hot and sunny day. Lots of fun in the sun for Hollys' birthday! We ran the same 26km circuit that I had done last weekend, le Tour de Waterfalls.

Hot Chiquitas on a Hot Day - Laughing Falls

A great circuit of the Yoho Valley, Laughing Falls, Yoho Glacier, Twin Falls and the Marpole Connector to connect us back to the main Little Yoho Valley Trail with a quick run out on the flats. We had a great day and took our time to enjoy the warm weather, each other and the scenery. Near the end of the run, we did a short exploration to Duchesnay Lake to soak our legs and check out the view!

Hollys' favorite cooling method - the hand dip

Blue Sky and Twin Falls

A Very Happy Birthday Girl

Duchesnay Lake and Mount Wapta

My Super- Fantastic Sunglasses

Tannis - flying home at the end of the run!!

Back at the campsite, we went straight to the glacier-fed river to soak legs and backs. Random uncontrollable noises came out of me when I hit the water and Tannis let go a few F-bombs to deal with the cold water agony-ecstasy!!

Hell yeah, it's COLD!!

Back at the campsight, we did afternoon appies and lounged in the comfy camp chairs, relaxing and just soaking up the views and the relaxing after-effects of our days efforts. Salty Chips. Stinky Cheese and Crackers. Chocolate. A Nap. Sigh. Bliss!

As this was the longest day of the year there was still light in the sky at 11:00, we did a late evening dinner and a stroll to the base of the falls. The Takakkaw Falls are so huuuuuge, that you can hear their thunder all day and night! They rage.

Happy Birthay Girl!!

On Sunday, the birthday girl had to get up early and leave us, but Tannis and I were still planning on enjoying the day and going for another run! It rained all night and then poured in the early hours while I lied in the tent. I had a great sleep in with the sound of the rain pounding the tent! We decided to pack up the wet gear and have our breakfast in a picnic shelter on the way to Emerald Lake. Day 3 turned out to be the biggest adventure of all! We started our run on the Emerald Lake shoreline before starting up the steep climb to Yoho Pass. It felt like a tropical rainforest with all of the water, humidity and vegetation. We were both dripping, dripping, dripping with sweat. That's a triple drip. Yuck!

Not far from the lake, the trail looked a lot like this:

And we were exceptionally lucky to see these Yellow Ladies Slippers in full bloom! WOW.

As we climbed, the views were amazing and immediate. Everywhere we looked, there was water rushing off the mountainside in cascades and waterfalls! It was really hard to look at our feet and stay on trail with the crazy gorgeous scenery. And it only got better!

At the Yoho Pass Junction, we decided to take a chance and try the Burgess Highline. Now, I should know better that any trail that is called a "Highline" might be buried in snow, but hey - we wanted to go see for ourselves!! From the bottom it looked to be quite clear of snow, but we knew we would hit the snowline eventually. Either way it would be worth it, because it is so gorgeous up there, it is hard to describe!

Rugged rocks and peaks dominate, with glaciers and snowand Emerald Lake sparkling at the bottom.

There was a strong possiblilty that at the far end of the highline, it may still be snowbound at Burgess Pass. But we were hoping to make this a loop, but prepared to turn back if we had to. As we climbed the highline, we crossed avalanche chutes still lingering from winter and the patches of snow began to get deeper. As we crossed below the Burgess Shale (A Unesco World Heritage Site - a fossil bed of prehistoric ocean critters, located the top of a mountain!) we discovered a small landslide. I told Tannis, that this was quite amazing and the rocks we were crossing had slid from the fossil bed. We were in awe when the first rock we picked up, had a couple of prehistoric creatures perfectly preserved in it. The detail was incredible - you could actually see the spine of these critters!!

Alpine Anenome - wearing its fur coat. I love this flower. Just like the prairie crocus, but the high alpine version!!

The scenery was getting better and better, but the snow was getting deeper and deeper....after post-holing through some more avalance debris we finally reached a high place where we could see where the pass and the trail was. And it was buried!

It was the end of the line!! This is Tannis gazing across at Burgess Pass and looking at the deeper-than-us avalanche debris in frustration. We were so close! You could see the Burgess Pass. But it was a massive avalanche field. It was just too soft and too deep. Shortly after we turned back, we got nailed with some sleet and some snow as we began our descent.

Initially, we were both bummed, but the run back turned out to be so much fun, that soon all was forgotten. The gradual descent back to the Yoho Pass was fast and fun and perfect for running! After the pass, it got real steep and you had to pay attention, but we were racing downward with big smiles and with me making random "weeeeeee!" noises. The weather weirdness continued, with a little rainshower, followed by a glorious sunshower! We had stomped through the creek crossings and crossed the many bridges to reach the shoreline before we knew it.

Once we reached the lake, we were flying! We kept the momentum going and tagged the last 3 kilometres of the Emerald Lake Shoreline Trail at full speed. After not seeing anyone for the past 4 hours, the shoreline had many walkers on the trail, who weren't quite sure what to make of the two crazed girls running full speed through the mud and puddles. It was a great way to end the day! Strong and Happy. Three days. Three runs. A great weekend!!


Gary Robbins said...

Ohh how I miss the high alpine routes of the rockies! Great pics, loved every one of them!

Backofpack said...

What a weekend! I love the "how to" section...I'll be sure to keep you in mind next time I find a trail obstacle. My usual hope is that I won't become a trail obstacle, and that if I do, runners will leap over me and not use me as a stepping stone!!

Meghan said...

This post looks like the weekend could be titled, "Beautiful scenery and beautiful girls." Seriously, was it like the hot girls convention up in there this weekend or what??? ;)

I recall studying the Burgess Shale in college, we even had some rocks in our lab straight from where you were this weekend. It's a big huge small world.

Anyways, gorgeous, gorgeous, jaw dropping photos. Again. Like usual.

And, you had some great training as well!


Bob - said...

Yoho is one of my favorite places! It's dramatic. It's different. It's outrageously beautiful.

Grabbed ur words from post below,,,because these words sum it up perfectly...WOW what amazing views...sweet way to spend B-day with ur friend ...thanks for sharing!!

CoyoteGirl said...

Wow! That's gorgeous. I love that it's light out 'till 11pm up there.

Leslie said...

Hi Adventure Gary-
You know how brief that "high alpine" window of opportunity is in Banff!! I've got 10 weeks to get out there and do my thing...melt damn snow, melt!!

Hi Michelle-
I couldn't get over the damn tree, it had to much "girth!"

Hiya Meghan-
Yes!! Did you not get your invitation? It WAS the annual Yoho Hot Girls Convention. Next year, you can come, too!!

Hi Bob-
Welcome! I suspect you'll be getting a dose of some great alpine scenery at your next big race....

Hi CG-
I love June especially for the daylight. In winter I never do anything in the evening, but in June.....go,go,GO! I'm solar powered!

Journey to a Centum said...

Big dreams in a small town! You will get over the girthy tree in time. Don't worry another deadfall will come along for you.

I'm so jealous! Incredible, just incredible beauty. Can a run get any better than that?

Have you thawed out yet from your soak in the river? That glacial till and snow melt is the perfect therapy after a long run if you are tough enough to jump in. How long did you last in the water?

You should pack a chainsaw next to your bear spray.

My college didn't have any Burgess Shale but we did study sex rocks! In case you didn't know they are just another f**king rock.

holly said...

Nice post Resree! It was the perfect weekend.

Gretchen said...

Wow, I think you are the only runner's blog I read that definitely covers more spectacular scenery than mine. I just spent a week running in Yosemite, but seriously, where you live is even more amazing. Awesome running!

Leslie said...

Hi Gretchen-hope all is well in Truckee! You just had a week running in Yosemite? You dirty dog, now I am envious!

My husband once phoned me from Yosemite during waterfall season and he said it was one of the most impressive places he had ever been and he's been a lot of places!

That's why I run so long and far here,in summer. It takes me to some crazy beautiful places. There's really no better way to see the backcountry than by foot!