Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bonus Photos

Just in case anyone is interested, here are some more photos from our run on Saturday, the Mount Assiniboine Epic, courtesy of Mike.




Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Perfect Weekend - 100km in three great days

I am feeling rather happy with myself right now: a little post run glow, content and mellow, tired and happy, but still freshly exuberant from 3 great days of running. The title of this entry says it all. A Perfect Weekend-100km in three great days! A magical 3 days, with 3 great runs, totalling 100 kilometres. Each day was very different than the other, with drastically different scenery and changing dramatic weather. It was truly an amazing fall weekend in Banff National Park! You be the judge, here are my 3 runs in 3 days:

Day 1: The Lake Louise Teahouse Circuit - 20km with Greg the Dog - Larches, Lakes and Glaciers

I awoke to a sort of cold and gloomy day in Banff, but the forecast was still calling for clear skys. After last weekend in Skoki, I really wanted to return to Lake Louise and see the larch trees in all of their yellow glory. The area surrounding Lake Louise has lots of them and a the Lake Louise Teahouse Circuit is probably the most popular walk in all of Banff National Park for good reason. Incredible turquoise lakes, rugged peaks and some massive glaciers all in one circuit. With the changing of the larch, I wanted a return visit! I picked up Greg the dog and when we arrived shoreline at Lake Louise it was cold and really cloudy. We started the climb up to Lake Agnes and I found myself surrounded by the moist cloud bank for most of the ascent. It was just sitting over Lake Louise and obstructing the views of the lake and Victoria Glacier. I took a detour to the top of Little Beehive at 2253 metres, when all of a sudden, POW!! I popped out of the cloud bank and this is what I saw:

The sun was shining and it was indeed a blue sky day!! It was amazing. We dropped back down to Lake Agnes and it was incredibly calm. The larches had changed colour and it even Greg thought it was cool!

We circumnavigated the lake and climbed up to the Big Beehive, before dipping back into the cloud and climbing up to Plains of Six Glaciers. On the way down, Victoria Glacier was grunting and groaning and burping and farting. It finally let out a huuuuuuge belch and a massive section of ice dropped off and let off a big avalanche slide of snow and ice!! A little drama. Greg didn't like it. He also started slowing down a bit on the return to Lake Louise, but after a pit stop in the woods he was good to go.

On the shoreline of Lake Louise we ran into my friend Allan Lam which was a great surprise, but a bummer because I was just finishing up my run! By the time we returned to the car, the sun was shining on Lake Louise and the cloud had cleared. Greg promptly jumped into the car and fell asleep in minutes. I think he had a good day.

Day 2: Mount Assiniboine Epic - 62km
Mount Shark Trail head to Wonder Pass to Mount Assiniboine Lodge to Citadel Pass to Sunshine Meadows to Bourgeau Parking Lot.

The most amazing thing about doing this epic point to point was just how frequently the scenery changed and just how jaw dropping it all was!! The changing weather just added to the dramatic feel of the day and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was fortunate to have the great company of Mike, who was as excited as me when I phoned, last minute and said "Hey, do you want to go for a 62km run??" And thank goodness for Steve and Brenda who gave us a lift at 6AM in the dark to the trail head. I sure appreciate my Banff friends.

Our run started before the sun came up and we were hooting and hollering to avoid any wildlife encounters, oh - all day. The first 12k flew by and before we knew it we were on the shore of Marvel Lake enjoying the first rays of sunshine. It's a big lake and we enjoyed a couple of km's of beautiful shoreline before climbing 550m up to Wonder Pass at 2395m.

We quickly emerged from the treeline and enjoyed the silver wet single track snaking it's way up the pass. It turned into snow shortly below the pass and when we reached the top, the view on the other side was a horizon full of larch trees and snow capped mountains!

It was very cool to descend down from the pass and through the beautiful larch forest. We were keen to reach the shore of Lake Magog and Mount Assiniboine Lodge for a little break and water refill at the 27 km mark.

From Lake Magog to Og Lake, the scenery changed drastically. We passed through a flat sub alpine meadow, that was loaded with grizzly bear diggings. It was really different and beautiful with the changing colours on the low lying vegetation. I was lovin' it!

Shortly after Og Lake, you enter Valley of the Rocks where the trail is a roller coaster of fun, as you slalom through a boulder field from an ancient rock slide. Then the valley opens up for some more fantastic views and ever changing scenery, before you take a sharp turn and begin climbing up to Citadel Pass.

It's a big, nasty, steep climb before the views open up above treeline. The last time I came through here, it looked like a back hoe had come through and excavated, but we never saw the creature who had done the damage. I made sure that we were making lots of noise!! Citadel Pass came at about the 46km mark and I was starting to sloooooow down. When we crested the pass, we were blasted with an icy cold Northerly wind and ice pellets were coming from the sky.

The views however, were fantastic and we could make out Mount Assiniboine off in the distance and see just how far we had come from. The run down from the pass, across the meadows and into Howard Douglas Lake was a lot chillier than my day here last Friday!! On the shore of the lake, the larch needles were being blow against the shoreline, which was really cool. Last week I was swimming here, today I was trying my best to keep moving and stay warm.

When we climbed up from the lake, for our last ascent of the day there was some fresh snow to greet us at the false pass. We could also look back and see the lake and the Citadel off in the distance where we had just come from.

From there, it was a quick journey back across Sunshine Meadows through more incredible larch forest. The scenery, the sky, the larch trees were all amazing. We had travelled through 55km of vast, immense, wild, wilderness and only seen 2 people. We blast out the last 7km on the Sunshine Village Ski Out and found ourselves back at the car around 5:00. Yiiihaw! Nine and a half hours of running and 62km later, I was a very happy girl!! I love the epic long days and especially such a beautiful and scenic point to point. Thanks for a great day, Mike!!

Day 3: Lake Minnewanka Shoreline - 18km

I slept for 12 hours straight and awoke to clear blue sky!! What is a girl to do, but go for a lazy recovery run. And it was sweeeeeet. My legs felt surprisingly good, I relaxed, I drank, I ate, I enjoyed and I soaked up some sun. I even squeezed in a nap on the shoreline in the sunbeam. Drastically different from the day before, yes?!? What a great day. What a great weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sunshine Meadows

Check out the belated post on Sunshine Meadows! I just posted it, but can't figure out how to change the dates. It is located below the Keith birthday post. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Keith!

Happy 45th Birthday Keith! When I asked Keith what he wanted to do for his birthday, he didn't pause for a moment when he said the magic word: "Skoki!!"

For our run in to Skoki Lodge, we enjoyed a perfect September day. Just check out the photos. Really. It couldn't have been any better! The larch trees have just changed color and were all bright yellow. In contrast with the green pines and the turquoise lakes and the white glaciers, it was glorious beyond words.

Happy Birthday Keith!

Just look at my hubby run! He was so excited to be running on these beautiful trails and is really enjoying the excitement of being new to a sport. In a nutshell, he is stoked on trails and trail running right now. He had improved a lot this summer - what a stud.



The larch trees were fun to run through - forests of happy, yellow, mellow trees on a calm, sunny, blue sky day. We only saw a handful of people all day.

After the 12 km run into Skoki, we had a quick coffee and headed out to Merlin Lake. There, we enjoyed a run off trail on the plateau and meadows above Merlin Lake. We even snuck in an afternoon nap in a sunbeam in the forest. After, I got to enjoy one last skinny dip of the season in Merlin Lake. Keith's not a cold water guy - he always just shakes his head and smiles. I think it was the last swim of the year.

Merlin Ridge in the distance

Merlin Lake

Heading back to Skoki

A Very Happy Birthday Boy

We headed back to the lodge and enjoyed a spread of all of my favorites: cheese, chocolate, grapes and red wine! As always, there was some good company at the dinner table and our friend Katie the lodge manager cooked up an incredible feast. The best part was the massive chocolate birthday cake. That night, we slept really, really, really good!!

The next morning, the weather clouded over and we got to enjoy a run in the drizzle. While it was grey, it was just as beautiful but in a different way. We were both running with big perma grins and enjoying the perfect cool running temperatures. The fall colors were brilliant.

On Packer's Pass we had a nice little birthday surprise - a big herd of sheep! They were peaking over the pass at us and as we continued running they stampeded over the other side of the pass. It was pretty cool.

I think it was a perfect way to spend a 45th birthday. Happy Birthday Keith! I love you!

Sunshine Meadows

Last Friday, I snuck in a bonus day before Keith and I went up to Skoki for the weekend. On this day, Darrin and I had the good fortune of getting a lift up to Sunshine Village (my favorite winter destination) for a high alpine run in the meadows. The weather was down right hot and sunny for a September day and the larches were rapidly changing color. As you can see, the first kilometre is a bit of a highway but there was nobody there!

Sunshine Meadows is one of my favorite places in both summer and winter. We spend lots of time up there ski touring in winter and in summer it has one of the best displays of wild flowers that you will ever see. In fall, if you are lucky you can have the place to yourself and run around in the meadows to your hearts content. O.K. Maybe not competely to yourself. In fall, you frequently see the huge diggings that the resident Grizzly Bears have left behind while they are escavating for bulbs and ground squirrels. But no G-Bears. Phew.

Check it out! Isn't it gorgeous?? We ran to Citadel Pass and a little further up to Fatigue Pass where the views of Mount Assiniboine were fantastic. On the way back, it was so hot we jumped into Howard Douglas Lake for one last late season swim! Next, we climbed up Quartz Hill and enjoyed a ridge run back into the meadows to join the main trail at Laryx Lake. Fun, fun and fun!!