Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy. Happy. Spring. Spring.

Did you miss me?

I hope you did.  I've been busy.

There was this little vacation.

It was great.  I had good company. 

There was a  trail race in Sisters, Oregon and some time spent with friends.

There were new trails in Hood River and in the Yakima Canyon.

It was all so beautiful. 

And impressive.

And new and exciting.

I love to visit new trails and new places.

It was Spring in Oregon.

When I arrived home, it was Spring in Banff.

The sun came out.

We went outside.

And we celebrated.

The un-official arrival, of Spring.

I love to go on holidays.

But I sure do love coming home.

The photos tell 2 different stories of my Easter Weekend.  The first run, was in Invermere, B.C. where spring has definitely arrived.  The second run, was on the snowmobile trail that travels to Skoki Lodge in Lake Louise, Alberta.  Believe it or not, it's spring in the rockies!  

Happy-happy, it's Spring-spring.
Wishing you some fun in the spring sun...


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Flying by the Seat of my Pant(ies)

Who is this guy?  This is my buddy Steve.  We ran the inaugural TransRockies together back in 2007. He's 100% pure Skinny White Boy.  What's he doing?  Why he's flying by the seat of his pants!  Actually, he's running around in his Speedo on Deception Pass, in the Skoki backcountry.  It's got nothing to do with this post, because it's a pretty frickin' random Post, but I sure do love this photo!  It's been too long since I've been for a run with Steve, but the photo lives on and continues to crack me up.

Who is this gal?  This is my friend Julie.  She's 62(ish?) and loves to run around in the woods like me.  She is NOT and exhibitionist and kept all of her clothes on for our run.  We had fun running around Tunnel Mountain this past Friday.

What the hell are those?  Those are my stylin' new Hokas.  I laughed my ass off when I pulled them out of the box because, they are seriously FUGLY. I christened them in California and they loved up the muddy technical trails.  Back at home, when I added my Katoolas (spikes) and my Gaiters, they looked HUGE and truly ridiculous.  They served me quite well running in the fresh powder, almost like running in mini snowshoes with the extra large platform underfoot.  They make me laugh.

What have I been up to?  I've been flying by the seat of my pant(ies!)

I work a 4 days on, 3 days off work schedule and I fill up that time with good things, mostly lots of time spent outside.  It's a very good thing when you're too busy to blog.  In the past 2 weeks I have returned from a California holiday, sorted through vacation pictures, gone for runs with my hubby, rejoiced in spring, shovelled snow, enjoyed evening runs up Tunnel Mountain, ran to Skoki, been to the gym, been to Physio, been stretching, been for some long runs on snow, got re-aquainted with a long lost friend, enjoyed some visitors, some good food, celebrated a friends birthday, been skiing, made another trip to Skoki, visited Katie and the dogs, been through a few storm cycles followed by some great melts.  In short, it's spring.  I like spring.  Spring means good things are coming.  Spring means busy. Spring means change.

How was your vacation? Awesome, thanks.  I sure do love California.  There's so much variety and I'm constantly amazed and surprised at what I find there.  Did you know there are more people in the state of California than all of Canada?  That's right - more people in one state than our entire country.  I still haven't had time to report on our road trip.  Mostly, we spent time running in Auburn and Bishop, California.  My immediate thoughts on this corner of the world, is simply amazing. It's crazy- ridiculous to me that you can have the best of both worlds:  dry trails in the valley below and winter wonderland above.  Sounds like paradise to me.  Live in the desert or foothills and play in the mountains?  Cool.  The ski touring possibilities just from your car alone are mind boggling.  And in summer?  Whoa.  Don't even get me started.  So many possibilities living at the foot of the Sierras.  Even Reno was amazing to me, knowing that you could live affordably in the city and have access so many trails, mountain or desert, all at your doorstep.  I imagine the downside is that the weather in the summer months is just too unbearable.  Or does that just depend on your perspective?  Sun and heat are sounding good about now. :)

What's next?   Something exciting, something fun, something I've been looking forward to.   ROADTRIP!! When my work week wraps up on Thursday, Keith and I are getting in the car to take a roadtrip to Oregon.  Hello 10 day vacation exploring new places and trails.  I've haven't been through Idaho and Washington since I was a kid and I've never been to Oregon.  It'll be nice to get a little taste. We've got a little race planned in Sisters and hoping to make runs or rides in the Gorge and maybe Yakima Canyon area. Realizing it's early in the season and we will be at the mercy of the weather - we're prepared to keep it flexible.  Any holiday is a good holiday and any place that isn't snowbound is desirable, even if the temperatures are cool and rainy.  We're good.  We're hardy, we're flexible and we're from Banff.  Yeah!

Had a great day yesterday ski touring in to Skoki Lodge.  The blue sky day and mild temperatures were a bonus, but is still mid-winter here.  Stew and Anna were going in to the lodge to stay for a few days, so we joined them for the ski-in.  Last week, we walked in to Skoki on the packed snowmobile trail and had a great day enjoying a more leisurely pace. I'm fortunate to have some great friends to play with.  On this day, nobody took off their clothes - though it  was discussed.

Anna, Stew and Keith

Nicki and Keith on Ptarmigan Lake

Humpasaurus Lucy

Changing Weather

Have a great week and know I'll be out there somewhere, flying by the seat of my pant(ies)...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Misadventures in California - Part II

The day after we'd been frolicking by the river in our T-shirts and cracking a sweat in the Sunshine, it snowed.  Yup. 

A Change in Weather

All over California, storm warnings were issued, flood warnings, heavy snowfall warnings in the Sierras and a bleak forecast of rain, rain and rain from Northern California to South.

All Smiles!

This guy kept smiling.  Really, by our perspective it was feeling pretty tropical with the high humidity and mild temperatures.  I say that now, but by the end of this run - we had to flag down a car and hitchhike back to the car.  It's a fine line between being cold and being hypothermic.  It can strike pretty fast when your wet and tired and there's sub-freezing temperatures, wind and exposure.  I was surprised by how quickly I got cold.


I couldn't help but think of my friends at Coyote Two Moon running this same weekend in Ojai, California.  They've had weeks of typical Southern California weather, but the weather forecast for this weekend was threatening to go from good to ugly. And it did.

He Really Likes Snow

In Truckee and Tahoe, where we had enjoyed a blue sky day the previous day, it was forecast to dump a few feet of snow.  Damn.  Should have brought the skis!
We had plans to meet up with our friend Gretchen from Truckee, but the plans went array when Mother Nature dropped about 6 feet of snow in the High Sierras over the weekend. The roads were closed and our friends spent the weekend digging themselves out.

Fortunately in Auburn, the snow didn't stay.  The rainstorm continued throughout the night, with driving rain and howling wind pounding the windows of our hotel.  By morning it had disappeared like a drunken memory. 

Solitary in the Oaks

Naturally, the next day I made plans to go for a run - a long one.   The next day I got up early and joined up with a group who were doing a training run for the American River 50 Miler.  My feet were wet just walking through the parking lot to get to my car. :)  I was stoked to get my run on.

Friday, April 1, 2011

What I See When I Run

A few weeks ago, I took a long run where I was never further than 3 kilometers from the town of Banff.  The Chinook winds rolled through town during the night, shaking the house, but delivering a calm and warm day. I cruised by the Bow Falls and there wasn't another soul in sight.  The Bow Falls Viewpoint is one of the landmarks of Banff and one of the most popular.  But on this day, I had it all to myself.

This winter has been a real winter, with lots of snow and cold temperatures.  I kept cruising, running, smiling enjoying the warmer temperatures.  I ran by the Warner Stables and yelled "Hello Horsies!" at the horses at the stables.  A cowboy waved at me as I ran by.  I blushed and smiled. Sometimes I'm demure.

Just one kilometre down the trail, I came to the Marsh Boardwalk. In this place, the thermal waters of the Hot Springs percolate through the earth and the snow, and you'll find plants growing year round.  It's amazing.  This area is alive with bird life and I heard the song of the first Robin of Spring.  He was singing out loud and proud, but I couldn't find him in the thickets of shrub and pine forest.

Hot Springs

Another kilometre down the trail, I heard the squawks and croaks of a Murder of Crows, Ravens and Magpies.  All that noise drew my attention to something in the woods:  something large and dead.  Running in my backyard can be so amazing.  My spider senses were tingling when I spotted a large rib cage, with fresh blood glowing red in the sunlight.  My presence scared the birds away for an instant, but the lure of the Dead Thing brought them back soon after.  This isn't a usual wildlife sighting - but it certainly was exciting.  While a dead animal in the woods could be many things, in my mind it meant one thing:  Cougar kill.  Because my Spidey senses were tingling, I kept running - and maybe even increased my speed a bit.

The famous Mount Rundle greeted me off in the distance, with red Dogwood shrubs sprouting fresh buds.  Yet another sign of spring.  With the warm temperatures, the air was fragrant.  The smells of pine and spruce emanated from the forest.  The earthy aroma of rot, moisture and life was coming out of the ground.

When I run, I use all of my senses.  I'm constantly listening, looking, watching, scanning my surroundings.  I'm stopping, surveying, observing and of course, taking photos.  I was thinking about this, how I enjoy and experience nature on my runs and how unique it is.  On this day I observed not only a cougar kill, the song of a robin, fresh buds on red woods, but the tracks of Elk, Coyote, Deer and a lone Wolf.  I spotted Ravens, Crows, Magpies, Chickadees, Nuthatches, a Pine Grosbeak, a Spruce Grouse and Sparrows.  I heard the chorus of a large flock of Cedar Waxwings and when I stopped to find them, they dropped from the sky and settled in to the rose bushes surrounding me.  Magic.  Next time, I'm going to find my Robin.

Tunnel Mountain beckoned off in the distance.  So, I decided to run there.  Less than 40 minutes later, I found myself standing on the top.

The trail was in perfect shape - and again, I was surprised to be the only person up there.  The fresh snow made everything so white and pretty.  How lucky am I.  "I'm Queen of the World!"  I shouted over the town of Banff.  My home.

After a blazing fast descent, I ran on the shore line of the Bow River for a little bit and decided to call it a day.  A good day.  I see so much when I run.