I escaped Banff this past long weekend and headed out for an overnighter in the backcountry. Mike had a few extra days off and decided that he wanted to run an amazing and remote section of the Continental Divide Trail. A stretch of 200km trail that travels through some rugged, wild and beautiful backcountry from Saskatchewan River Crossing all the way to Jasper! For him, it was a cool mix of remote high mountain passes and also a section of more well used trail through Nigel Pass and Jonas Pass. His journey would continue through Maligne Pass to Maligne Lake and finally - along the famous Skyline trail into Jasper.
I recruited Angela to fastpack the 33+ kilometres and meet up with Mike in the middle of his journey around Jonas Cut-off. There, we would camp for the night and he would continue on his "big run". After that, we would hike back out to civilisation and shuttle his car to the finish line. For the last day, we would join up to run the Skyline trail together - 44 kilometres of high alpine trail bliss. It would be my 4th time running this trail - it's one of those trails that you don't mind doing over and over again.
Over the 3 days, we had what could only be described as weird weather. We had heavy frost and cold temperatures when we were camping, followed by a day of brilliant sunshine, followed by a day of crazy weather on the Skyline Trail. We weathered a full-on cold,windy,torrential frightening storm on the middle of the Skyline Trail, high up in the mountains. It started as a nice day, but then it changed alarmingly quick. It rained sideways, with a deafening wind that threatened to freeze us solid. It was wet, cold and miserable. At one point, I had on every single piece of equipment that I carry: a waterproof coat, a puffy down coat, a wool long sleeved top and long underwear, toque, gloves and a Buff. Yes, this is what I carry in my hydration pack on all of my long runs in summer in the Canadian Rockies. A map, first-aid kit, food, water, headlamp and bear spray fill up the rest of the remaining space. It was a reassuring reminder that it's important to carry all of this stuff when you are out in the backcountry. Sorry, there are no photos of me with blue lips, running in my down coat with my toque on in summer. You'll have to enjoy the photos of the other day - where I was blissfully running across sweeping passes under a perfect bluebird sky.
Mike in his Happy Place.
Sometimes, you need to just sit down.
Footprints in the snow
Upper Brazeau Valley
Fun on the Skyline
Calm after the Storm
Dave 4 and Mike is still cruising.
Angela and Mike, all dressed up and no place to go!!
It was a fun weekend spent in wild and amazing places in the company of good friends. Thanks Angela and Mike! That sure was a lot of fun.
Fun! Yeah summer up high is pretty unpredictable.
That's right young lady, never leave home without your 10Es.
Yo-Yo-Yo, D!! Looking forward to a longer visit and some quality mountain time. It looks good for the Leslie passport, so we're a comin'!!!
Hi Brian, the emergency gear is light but the water, the WATER! That's heavy. And I'm a trail piggy, so the food is even heavier....;)
I'm walking in the Snowy Mts in November. Hope I don't need all your gear. Another great read. What endless trails you have to explore!
Is that the sculpted, buffed, ripped Ms. Olga? Now that's an adventure!
Hi Helen - it really is endless, to the tune of 1,500km's of marked trails or something like that....
Stunning quest there. What happened after?
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