Sunday, November 2, 2008

November Insanity!!

This week, we have been enjoying some warmer temperatures due muchly in part to some chinook winds. We also had some fantastic wind storms early in the week, where the winds were howling so hard that the house was shaking and I was kept awake. On Saturday, the weather forecast was truly unbelievable with temperatures forecast to be 15c-17c in Banff. With no snow in the forecast, we decided that there was an opportunity to do one last epic run.
I have long wanted to run the entire shoreline of Lake Minnewanka which is 28km long, through the Devil's Gap and out into the foothills of the Ghost River. If you've been following Banff Trail Trash, you would know that I spend lots of time running on the shoreline of this beautiful lake, but I have NEVER run the full length of the lake! We organised with the Calgary friends to do a key exchange so we could run this incredible point to point run of 35+km and enjoy one last day of sunshine and heat before the snow flys. You virtually run through the front range of the East slope of the Rocky Mountains and out into the foothills.
I was surprised and excited when Keith said he wanted to join me - it would be his longest trail run ever and I was thrilled that he is actually getting excited about these things! My husband has slowly become a trail runner. He is feeling fit, motivated and best of all is excited to be out there running. It was a good thing that Keith committed, because as the week progressed everyone else had jammed!
Our friend Miles joined us for the first 8km and it was already comfortably above zero. The air was warm and probably 7c in the early morn of this first day of November. It was an amazing day for a long trail run!
Starting out - Miles and Keith lake side

Stewart Canyon

Miles snapped a quick pick for us at the Alymer Pass junction before heading home, thanks for the company Miles!

The lake shore campground at the 9km mark

The first 15km flew by as we cruised the singletrack and enjoyed the views. We had a quick sandwich in the sun at the Warden cabin and we didn't even get chilled.

Keith, still smiling!

We ran into the friends at around the 3 hour mark. As always, Hugh was accompanied by beautiful girls and lots of doggies! Here are Hugh, Virginia and Jen with the puppy dogs. They had enjoyed a great morning as well and were in fine form. They also reported that there was lots of blow down and a deep river crossing in the next 6km.

Lake Minnewanka Campground - 20km mark

It was all new territory for me after about 15km, but the singletrack and the views just kept getting better and better! Finally, we could see the end of the lake getting closer.

The lake filters through "The Narrows" and then into a few smaller lakes, called the Ghost Lakes and across the Ghost River. From what I had heard, the river crossing is always deep and always cold.
Keith started to get a little grumpy with the deadfall. It slowed us down a ton and just when you were getting into a rhythm again, more deadfall. We each got our share of scratches and the river crossing actually felt good on our raw legs! He snapped out of it after wading across waist deep crossing.

The Narrows

The Ghost Lakes and the Ghost River

I was feeling pretty thankfull for the good weather, because the river crossing was in the shade and it was waist deep! This is me after crossing the river, soaking wet from the waist down. C-c-c-colllld. The Ghost Lakes were real pretty and you can see the Devil's Gap off in the distance. It's not a pass, but rather just a gap in the mountains where you emerge from the mountains into the foothills.

The Devil's Gap
Wooooohooo! Keith was pretty stoked to reach the Banff National Park Boundary at the 29.5km mark. We had enjoyed non-stop singletrack up until that point. After that, the scenery changed dramatically as we came out of the Gap and the mountains.
The temperature heated up as well! I think it might have been over 20c, as it was hot enough for me to ditch my shirt and enjoy the sun on my skin. We finished off the day on some dry creek beds and some 4x4 roads for the final five km's to pick up the friends car.

Yay for hot weather in November!

We met up with the friends half-way at the new Nakoda Casino, which was the perfect meeting place. Apart from the smoking, the food at the casino was great and it was a nice opportunity to visit with the Calgary running friends! The french fries tasted extra good on this day.

We arrived home at 6:15pm after a looooong and wonderful day and my family had arrived for a quick visit. My sister-in-law Shannon was in town to run the WinterStart Night Fun Run, a 5 mile race that has been an annual event in Banff for 15 years. It attracts mostly Calgary runners and is definitely a "beer drinking" running event. I did a "presto chango" and put on my favorite running skirt and knee highs for a one-of-a-kind Winterstart fashion statement!! I have run this race quite a few times and NEVER has it ever been warm enough to put on a SKIRT. Usually, racers have to deal with the dark, with ice on the roads and with frigid temperatures. Shannon and I had a blast running and enjoying the temperatures and the crowds.

As always, I ran into a ton of Calgary people that I knew including some new friends (Hi, Barb Miller!!) and some old friends (Hi, Lise McCann!!) and even a boy I made out with at my high school grad in 1986 (Hi, Tim!!). And I got 45 minutes of quality time with Shannon. All in all, lots of fun and the legs felt fine.... I was slightly delirious, but my legs were great!!


Matt Hart said...

ok ok.. we get it. you live in the most beautiful place in the world! man every week a new post chock full of amazing photos.. oh and nice 6 pack too. deezzzaaamnn girl.

Backofpack said...

So...did you change after the river crossing or run wet? I have no idea what kind of temps you are talking about. All that C stuff. What about F stuff? That I understand! I was also greatly disappointed not to see the knee socks with the skirt. As usual, beautiful, jealousy producing pictures. I can't wait for the snow pictures, because then I won't be jealous!

Danni said...

Looks like a perfect day!!! And I love beer drinking races. I'm most impressed by your abs.

Sarah Ridgway said...

Hi Leslie - awesome run and photos and great to see Keith has caught the bug ;-)
looks like we've stollen your winter!!! we've had a very unsual Nov with snow already (YAY) - all the best, Sar

JeffO said...

nV! You have the most awesome running terrain!
You can thank me for the warm weather - I sent that up there. Had some left over and didn't know what to do with it, so I sent it north.

Leslie said...

Hart and Danni-
Maybe some day soon I will do a sit up or something! For now those abs are 100% pure trail running and nothing else!

I'm in my bra top! In November! It was almost 70F....
I was sad I didn't get a photo of the knee highs as well. Damn, night race!

All is as it should be now. Winter and the temperatures and snow that come with it, are back!
It's now snowy and -7c. Yyyargh!

Jeffo and Hart-and the rest of you...
I'm glad you get it. I do in fact, live in the most beautiful place in the world and yup, the trails are sweeeet! That's why I started the Leslie blog....I wanted to share!