Monday, August 26, 2013

My Summer: Offline, Relaxing and Awesome

Hi friends! It's been an awesome summer and I hope yours has been as well.  I've been a busy girl and I've been content with burying my head in the sand and largely ignoring the rest of the world.  As such, I've spent practically no time on the computer, I haven't been phoning anybody and I've been filling the days and weekends with fun adventures.  It's summertime, my most-est-favorite-est time of year and as you know, I love to spend my time outside.  Keith and I bought ourselves a camper - and we've been out adventuring and traveling and enjoying a more leisurely pace.

It's been a different summer because for the first summer in 9 years, I haven't been doing my usual thing:  running on trails through the beautiful mountains of my backyard. While I've been plenty active by all standards, I've been limited in my ability to run partly due to injury and partly due to too damn busy enjoying life and doing other stuff to deal with it. It was sort of an accidental break from running.  Hopefully, I'll be back in the saddle soon because it's one of my greatest pleasures and I miss it dearly. Have no fear though, I have been running - it just hasn't been the all-day-mountain-epics that I love to do.  Slowly, I'm building up and getting stronger.  Patience.  And one foot in front of the other.

 I've missed you too, oh-wonderful-online-supportive-like-minded-adventurous-friends!  This blog was started to connect with all the wonderful peeps that I was meeting in ultra-running-racing world.  It was also started to share my beautiful backyard with you.

So here you go!  Some photo's from the best of Leslie's summer adventures. And bee-yoo-tee-ful places.

Oh, Montana.  I love you.  Lake Kookanusa is Awesome.  This is Keith, Anna and Myself at the Tour of Kookanusa - 130km of bike riding goodness off-the-couch.  Great camping, great swimming, great friends and great scenery around the Libby Dam just South of the border in Libby Montana.

Our new/used camper!  The Palomino.  She's been delivering us many weekends of adventures.  Keith gets early morning smooches from Anna and Stu.  We got a great night sleep and coffee in the morning.  Yay for 4 star camping!

Why Hello!  It's cousin Kyle, from Vancouver.  We had plenty of adventures.  On this day, we took the tandem out to Corey Pass Trailhead, ran to the trail, survived a vicious attack by hungry blood thirsty mosquitoes, hiked up and over Corey Pass and made it back to work on time.  Bam.  I believe I tired out young Kyle.

Kootenay National Park.  Oh, Kindersley Pass.  You are so beautiful that I had to come again and bring my friends Ellen, Magda and Skoki the Dog.  Skoki was very well behaved when we ran into a Grizzly Bear digging in the meadows.  Parks Canada put up a "travel in groups of 4" hiking restriction on this trail the day after we were there. 

I've missed my fabulous collection of ladies-who-run.  On this day, I got to connect with Nicki and Suzy who have been getting up to many adventures of their own!

It's exciting to see old and new friends get into trail running.  After 9 summers of trail running, adventure running and competing in the occasional race - it's always awesome to see the level of stoke of newbies and old friends alike.

Oh, Columbia Lake.  Yes, this is the source of the mighty Columbia River.  It's also home to some wonderfully scenic rolling mountain bike trails like the Spirit Trail. 

I love this photo.  This photo was taken in spring, only a couple of miles up the Spray River Trail right close to the town of Banff.  I've seen 2 Grizzly Bears up-close-and-personal this summer.  Seeing them is always exciting, terrifying and exhilarating simultaneously.  How lucky am I to live where I do? 

Lake Agnes and the Teahouse

The Lake Louise Teahouse Circuit is a true Banff National Park classic.  It's accessible, achievable and it allows new hikers to get a taste of the incredible backcountry scenery in my backyard.  I love these trails and I love seeing new people from all over the world enjoying themselves out on these trails. On this day, I had a great run up to Plains of Six, the Big Beehive, Lake Agnes and the little Beehive. 

Haaay!  It's Lake Louise.

From the most accessible trails, to the least accessible I love them all equally.  Indianhead Lodge is one of the most remote warden cabins in all of Banff National Park.  I got to explore brand new territory in a trip up the Clearwater River Valley close to the Northern boundary of Banff National Park with my most-reliable-and-awesome trail buddy Mike.

The Clearwater River Valley in the morning.  This is Clearwater Lakes where there were millions of hungry mosquitoes!  

Mike heading up to North Molar Pass - I love this place.  If you've never been, you need to go.  The meadows are expansive and amazing, as are the views from the top of the pass.  The above treeline hike into Fish Lakes is awesome.

Pipestone Pass is amazing!  The trail from Fish Lakes to Pipestone was one of the best surprises of the summer.  We were in awe as we meandered for close to 14km all above treeline blissed out on the views, the glaciers and the Awesome.

Mike takes great photos, yes?  This is me, running towards Drummond Glacier on the Pipestone Highline.

The Clearwater Valley felt remote because it is remote.  We had the place all to ourselves as well.  After Devon Lakes, we didn't see anyone else out there.  It's wild and wonderful.

We got rain, cold and mosquitoes on this trip but we still had fun.  We saw massive wolf tracks, bear tracks, cougar tracks and loads of deer, elk, moose prints.  Fortunately, our animal sightings were limited to only one moose - feeding in one of the valley level lakes.

Yay for visitors!  Lucky for me, I met all sorts of awesome people on the PCT - and a few of them came to visit this summer.  This is Cathe, aka. Pounce getting her hike on on the Helen Lake Trail.  We did a 3 day hike starting at Dolomite Pass and finishing at Mosquito Creek.  We saw a Grizzly Bear in the Siffleur Valley another wild and remote corner of our park that I had never been before.

Katherine Lake

So many adventures, so little time.  :) 

With this in mind, Keith and I have been busy plotting a few adventures of our own as well.  With the help of the Palomino, we will be heading off for a return trip to Southern Utah and the Grand Canyon in a month. We've got lots of ideas that we are putting into action and life really and truly keeps on getting better and better.  Stay tuned.


kristen said...

Wow! looks like a great summer. I always love stopping by to look at your pictures. Hope the fall is just as great...and scenic!

Leslie said...

Why hello lovely lady! Good to know that my awesome Bloggy buddies are still out there. :) Thanks for the love!

Olga said...

You always have best summers, and other times, regardless of running!

Helen said...

Hi Leslie, lovely to see you back. I was a tad concerned as I was so enjoying the Utah posts. maybe when you have time they will be completed. I haven't read this post as Frank and I are in WA [ very little wifi ]and having a fab time but not enough walking unfortunately. Always think of you when I'm on foot.
Happy outdoors!!!!

Unknown said...

Hi Leslie,

I found your blog while I was looking for running-clubs or groups that were stationed in Banff. And your photographs look simply stunning.

I was hoping to get in touch with runners from Banff, because I am planning to travel there this summer/fall and I would love to go (trail) running there.

I'm a Dutch 25 year old woman and I've been a track and field athlete since I was 7, and running would be my ideal way to discover the scenery in Canada and the rockies.

Would you or other runners you know in that area perhaps be interested in meeting up and running together? (I'd be there in September)?

Or would you know a group I could try?

Thanks in advance, you can contact me at

Hope to hear from you,

Kind regards,
Dian van der Zande

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