Saturday, June 28, 2008

High Alpine Teaser

A Beautiful Day in the Sunshine!

What an incredible day to be running in the mountains. We enjoyed a perfect day of blue skys, warm temperatures and sunshine. We also got to venture to a little bit higher elevation, to check out some fantastic panoramic views. This high alpine teaser got me dreaming of future run possibilities, as the snow continues to melt and we welcome the return of summer with open arms.

The day started with a car drop, so we could enjoy a point-to-point run past some very special places. Our day started at Red Earth Creek and we climbed the fire road, taking care to make lots of noise as there was plenty of bear scat marking the way. We dove into the forest of the Pharoah Creek Trail and the bear scat was quickly replaced by some mutant moose prints. We followed the creek as it wound its way quite steeply through a mix of forest, canyon and rock. The creek was running pretty high and we got to stomp through our share of puddles! It was really pretty and quite noisy with the raging white water. When we finally broke away from the creek, the valley opened up in front of us to reveal some fantastic views.

Time to Get Your Feet Wet!

Pharoah Creek and.......

Pharoah Peak!!!

Mike in His Happy Place

Near Egypt Lake/Healy Pass Junction


After the quick lunch stop we began the 3km climb to the top of Healy Pass. Normally, it is a tough climb, but it is quite runnable. Today, we got off the hook and got to enjoy a power-walk because the trail got a wee bit snowbound. The trail was punctuated with patches of deep snow and meadows full of Glacier Lilies. The flowers were amazing!! There are still only the two early season varieties out in full bloom, the Lilies and the Alpine Anenomes. The density that they carpeted the ground was unbelievable!

The water was running over this little bridge!!

Up, Up, UP!!

The top of Healy Pass on a clear day is quite a special place to be! There was still a fair amount of snow, but totally safe and totally passable. After hardly seeing any people for the last 20km's, we were greeted by a whole bunch of people up on the pass. This is a popular day hike from Sunshine Village. We made a new friend in the form of an adorable Border Collie. She was sooooo sweet! But she kept trying to look up my skirt.

The Healy Pass Juggling Festival!!

From the top of the pass, we flew down the other side. We snapped some more photos of the awesome scenery before we hit treeline and jumped back into the forest. We flew down the last 8km to the finish line, feeling strong, stoked and solar powered after another fine day on the trails. I love to run!

Down, Down, DOWN.

What HOT day is complete without a soak of the legs and back in an ice COLD creek? This is my cold creek face.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer is Here!

Remember, just a few months back when all of my photos of Lake Minnewanka looked like this?
Or how about this?
Now it looks like this:
Yay for summer time! It is officially summer in the Rockies. The visitors have arrived, the water is high, the lakes have melted and it is time to go get out there and have a closer look at all of the amazing places that the backcountry of Banff, Kootenay, Yoho and Jasper National Parks have to offer.
This was our lunch spot today - aaaaaaah!
Steve and I enjoyed an 11km out and back on the Lake Minnewanka Shoreline trail for my Friday run and it was sunny and lovely. A cruisy 22km in 3 hours. We had a relaxing run in the sun. The past few weeks there has been a "warning" for bear activity on the trail because some random Grizzly Bear decided to peek into some random campers' tent!! Can You Imagine? You're just having your afternoon siesta in the tent, when a large head looks in through your vestibule!?! I think he was one of those "Peeping Grizzlies". Dirty Bear.

I am a big believer in Cold Water Therapy, so after a run I like to submerse the legs. It allows me to get up and run the next day! Speaking of which.....I've got to run. We are finally venturing further into the backcountry today and doing 37 or 39km (can't remember) point to point. Woohoo!

More inappropriate behaviour in a skirt.....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some Exciting News

Yiiiiihaw, it's TransRockies time!!

I am very excited to tell y'all that I will be returning to Colorado to run in the TransRockies Run 2008 Edition!! Yaaaaay! Last year, I had a ridiculous amount of fun there with my friend Steven. I couldn't have asked for a better partner and we had a great time at the inaugral TransRockies Run. See my TransRockies 2007 Race Report here.

This year, I am partnering with a girly-girl, (or is she? I don't know!) because she is my on-line/blogging friend - Meghan of Yellowstone. Normally, something like this would make me a little nervous and uncomfortable, but with Meghan I have always had a good feeling. I am very excited for this adventure with a new friend!

When I was Adventure Racing a few years back, I used to talk about how important it was to know and choose your race partner, but last year, Steve blew that theory out of the water. I didn't know him either and he turned out to StevenMountainManSuperstarPartner!! So with that in mind, I asked Meghan if she would like to join me for a little adventure at the TransRockies Run and she came back with a very excited, "Hell, yes!!"

So I am stoked.

The cherry on the cake, is that my husband will also be joining in the fun. Keith has found himself some cushy volunteer job and will be out on the course every day cheering us on. It's a good thing it's a cushy volunteer job, because he will be working his ass off at the TransRockies Bike Race, the week before.

We like the good people of the TransRockies organisation. They are just great people and they know how to put on a wicked fun, well organised event! I personally, can't wait!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Solistice Weekend

This past weekend was a 3-fer. That's 3-fer' the price of one! It was summer solistice, it was Hollys' birthday and it was the first weekend that the Takakkaw Falls Road opens to access primo Yoho backcountry!! So many good reasons to get out of town and go camping. We were stoked to get out and run and relax and breath in the scenery.
With that, I packed up a ridiculous amount of gear and food and headed out to one of my favorite easy escapes - The Takakkaw Falls Campground. I do it every year, on opening weekend. It's some of the best accessible wilderness out there! This time of year, you just never know how much snow will be out there, so I always go knowing that it will probably be an adventure.

On Friday, we headed up early to score a prime camping spot overlooking the falls and then had enough time to go out for a 3-4 hour adventure. I wanted to see how much snow was up high, so we climbed the trail up towards famous Iceline Trail and then detoured off to Yoho Lake. Less than 1 km up we hit the snowline in the forest, but the trail was quite passable to the lake. We had mud, lots of water running down the trail, deadfall and of course, snow!

Everything is Alive!! Spring Growth on the Trail. It felt tropical.

Deadfall. See "how to" entry here.
Yoho Lake is Cool.

The adventure began after we left Yoho Lake to climb up even higher towards the Highline connector. I knew the trail would be hard to find, with all of the snow in the forest! Fortunately, we were able to walk on the snow and didn't posthole through the snow that much. I was thankfull that I wasn't a 200 lb. guy. We did still lostthe trail though, I was having flashbacks of Keith and myself doing the same thing last year!! Still, we managed to navigate our way across the highline, through a boulder field and a lot of snow, to connect back with the Iceline trail. It was a sweeeet little loop! The views looking across at Takakkaw Falls and the glacier above them were awesome!

A Spring Tradition in Yoho: Playing "Find the Trail"

On Saturday, Tannis joined us after breakfast at the campsight and we all hit the trail for a gorgeous, hot and sunny day. Lots of fun in the sun for Hollys' birthday! We ran the same 26km circuit that I had done last weekend, le Tour de Waterfalls.

Hot Chiquitas on a Hot Day - Laughing Falls

A great circuit of the Yoho Valley, Laughing Falls, Yoho Glacier, Twin Falls and the Marpole Connector to connect us back to the main Little Yoho Valley Trail with a quick run out on the flats. We had a great day and took our time to enjoy the warm weather, each other and the scenery. Near the end of the run, we did a short exploration to Duchesnay Lake to soak our legs and check out the view!

Hollys' favorite cooling method - the hand dip

Blue Sky and Twin Falls

A Very Happy Birthday Girl

Duchesnay Lake and Mount Wapta

My Super- Fantastic Sunglasses

Tannis - flying home at the end of the run!!

Back at the campsite, we went straight to the glacier-fed river to soak legs and backs. Random uncontrollable noises came out of me when I hit the water and Tannis let go a few F-bombs to deal with the cold water agony-ecstasy!!

Hell yeah, it's COLD!!

Back at the campsight, we did afternoon appies and lounged in the comfy camp chairs, relaxing and just soaking up the views and the relaxing after-effects of our days efforts. Salty Chips. Stinky Cheese and Crackers. Chocolate. A Nap. Sigh. Bliss!

As this was the longest day of the year there was still light in the sky at 11:00, we did a late evening dinner and a stroll to the base of the falls. The Takakkaw Falls are so huuuuuge, that you can hear their thunder all day and night! They rage.

Happy Birthay Girl!!

On Sunday, the birthday girl had to get up early and leave us, but Tannis and I were still planning on enjoying the day and going for another run! It rained all night and then poured in the early hours while I lied in the tent. I had a great sleep in with the sound of the rain pounding the tent! We decided to pack up the wet gear and have our breakfast in a picnic shelter on the way to Emerald Lake. Day 3 turned out to be the biggest adventure of all! We started our run on the Emerald Lake shoreline before starting up the steep climb to Yoho Pass. It felt like a tropical rainforest with all of the water, humidity and vegetation. We were both dripping, dripping, dripping with sweat. That's a triple drip. Yuck!

Not far from the lake, the trail looked a lot like this:

And we were exceptionally lucky to see these Yellow Ladies Slippers in full bloom! WOW.

As we climbed, the views were amazing and immediate. Everywhere we looked, there was water rushing off the mountainside in cascades and waterfalls! It was really hard to look at our feet and stay on trail with the crazy gorgeous scenery. And it only got better!

At the Yoho Pass Junction, we decided to take a chance and try the Burgess Highline. Now, I should know better that any trail that is called a "Highline" might be buried in snow, but hey - we wanted to go see for ourselves!! From the bottom it looked to be quite clear of snow, but we knew we would hit the snowline eventually. Either way it would be worth it, because it is so gorgeous up there, it is hard to describe!

Rugged rocks and peaks dominate, with glaciers and snowand Emerald Lake sparkling at the bottom.

There was a strong possiblilty that at the far end of the highline, it may still be snowbound at Burgess Pass. But we were hoping to make this a loop, but prepared to turn back if we had to. As we climbed the highline, we crossed avalanche chutes still lingering from winter and the patches of snow began to get deeper. As we crossed below the Burgess Shale (A Unesco World Heritage Site - a fossil bed of prehistoric ocean critters, located the top of a mountain!) we discovered a small landslide. I told Tannis, that this was quite amazing and the rocks we were crossing had slid from the fossil bed. We were in awe when the first rock we picked up, had a couple of prehistoric creatures perfectly preserved in it. The detail was incredible - you could actually see the spine of these critters!!

Alpine Anenome - wearing its fur coat. I love this flower. Just like the prairie crocus, but the high alpine version!!

The scenery was getting better and better, but the snow was getting deeper and deeper....after post-holing through some more avalance debris we finally reached a high place where we could see where the pass and the trail was. And it was buried!

It was the end of the line!! This is Tannis gazing across at Burgess Pass and looking at the deeper-than-us avalanche debris in frustration. We were so close! You could see the Burgess Pass. But it was a massive avalanche field. It was just too soft and too deep. Shortly after we turned back, we got nailed with some sleet and some snow as we began our descent.

Initially, we were both bummed, but the run back turned out to be so much fun, that soon all was forgotten. The gradual descent back to the Yoho Pass was fast and fun and perfect for running! After the pass, it got real steep and you had to pay attention, but we were racing downward with big smiles and with me making random "weeeeeee!" noises. The weather weirdness continued, with a little rainshower, followed by a glorious sunshower! We had stomped through the creek crossings and crossed the many bridges to reach the shoreline before we knew it.

Once we reached the lake, we were flying! We kept the momentum going and tagged the last 3 kilometres of the Emerald Lake Shoreline Trail at full speed. After not seeing anyone for the past 4 hours, the shoreline had many walkers on the trail, who weren't quite sure what to make of the two crazed girls running full speed through the mud and puddles. It was a great way to end the day! Strong and Happy. Three days. Three runs. A great weekend!!