Monday, June 29, 2009

There are Always New Trails - Pulsatilla Pass, Banff National Park

Pulsatilla Pass

On Saturday, we started the day early and headed out to Lake Louise. As we were driving along, the thermostat kept dropping and then we noticed that the overflow ponds and creeks beside the river were frozen. Ah....June in the Rockies. Despite this -2c start to our "summer" day, it turned out to be a perfect weather day.

Keith, Steve, Mike, Phil, Tannis and myself started from the Lake Louise ski hill and ran into the Ptarmigan and Baker Lakes area. From there, we parted ways, with Keith and Tannis visiting Skoki Lodge and the rest of us going to Pulsatilla Pass.

That's me and my honey off in the distance with Redoubt Mountain lurking behind us. I was super excited for this trip, because we were going to try something BIG. A long and challenging run that would take us 72 km through some remote backcountry, from Lake Louise all the way to Banff. There was also a section of trail that I had never travelled before, that of Pulsatilla Pass. It is situated far in the backcountry 25 km away from any trailhead, in the heart of grizzly bear country. We followed the frozen foot prints of a giant beast for many kilometres and saw diggings everywhere. The bears had been doing some serious excavating.

Swimming, anyone?

Pulsatilla delivered the goodies, a beautiful high remote pass that felt oh-so-out-there. It was stunning.


Phil, breaking wind. Wait. That was me.

Phil had decided on a new experiment in "fueling for the long run" which was to purchase some very cheap and tasty Little Caesars Pizza. It kept us happy and running, but there were some highly toxic side effects. Sorry guys.

Them's are Big Mountains.

Despite enjoying a great day, I was feeling a little rough and decided to bail out at the 50km mark. I emerged back into civilisation at Johnson's Canyon trail head, which was a little shocking as it is a busy place on a Saturday. The last few kilometres on the trail, I saw a couple of girls in string bikini's and flip-flops, one guy hiking with a Ghetto Blaster (do they still call them that?) and 3 ex-coworkers from Melissa's Restaurant smoking weed in the bushes. Keep on rockin' the free world, dudes.

It was an easy hitchhike back to Banff and I made it back to town just in time to enjoy a BBQ down by the river to celebrate a friends wedding. I'm glad I cut it short. The boys took a few more hours to finish their epic day, to round up a solid 12 fun hours on the trail. Nice work boys. What an epic run. Keith and Tannis did 37km and got treats at Skoki.

It's nice that there are always new trails to enjoy in Banff National Park. Summer has arrived and I am so fortunate to live and play here!

Steve's photos here.
Mike's photos here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Iron Legs Pre-View

There's a new ultra on the Alberta Ultra Circuit and it is going to be challenging and incredibly scenic. The Iron Legs 50 Miler is all set to go for August and "epic" is the first word that comes to mind. On Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining a few friends for a preview and together, we ran the first 50+km of the course. With over 14,000 feet of elevation that we measured on the 50k, this course is a going to be a monster.

The race will take you through some of my favorite sections of Kananaskis Country. The course will be a loop, a beautiful circle tour of 80km of classic front range scenery and single track trails. These trails offer challenging climbs, long descents and beautiful scenery. Just the kind of run that I love. Tough, challenging and beautiful.

And clearly, you need to see bigger photos so you can see all of the photos here.

Thanks to Jamie and Tasha Nott for organizing and new friends Mairead, Payman and Rose for such a great day on the trails.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Post-holing in June: Weekend Adventures

Hi y'all, just a quickie post to re-cap last weekends adventures. I'll let the photos do most of the talking, but suffice to say, the summer running season is finally upon us! A couple videos for you to enjoy that really show you the challenges of running in the high alpine this time of year. It's always an adventure.

On Sunday, Mike and I headed out to explore Red Earth Creek, Pharoah Creek and go up and over Healy Pass out to Sunshine. We knew there would be lots of post-holing, but damn! There was a lot more than we expected. We post-holed for about 3km up to the pass and then about the same down the other side.
Run time: 7 hours for 34km!?!

Red-Earth-Pharoah Creek-Healy Pass-Sunshine, June 14th

Last Friday, after seeing Jill off at the start line, Keith and I headed to Yoho for a little adventure of our own. The Yoho Bike and Run. Forgive all of the vanity shots, it looks like I got a whole lot of shots of US and none of the great scenery with out us in it! We had a fun day and did our share of post-holing through the snow. We ran via Laughing Falls to Yoho Glacier, Twin Falls Campground, Twin Falls Chalet, Marpole Lake/Connector and out. We were the only people out there. So awesome.
Ride time: 45 mintutes up, 20 minutes down.
Run time: 3.5 hours and 20+ km.
Yoho Valley Road Bike and Run: Takakkaw Falls, Laughing Falls, Yoho Glacier, Twin Falls Chalet, Marpole Connector, Little Yoho to Takakkaw Falls, June 12th

The Hip Stretch - it looks like this: Just tilt and tuck the hips forward for the stretch.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Smile if You're Happy.

Meet Jill.
She's from Alaska. She's going to bicycle to Mexico, along with a few dozen other like-minded folk in this year's edition of the Tour Divide. Tour Divide is a solo, self-supported mountain bike race on all 2,745 miles of the epic Great Divide MTB Route. It starts in Banff and finishes at the Mexican border. I love this photo. She looks decidedly happy.

At the startline, there were 40+ athletes of all nationalities, shapes and abilities ready to take on the challenge. The sense of excitement in the air was contagious. And they all seemed pretty darn happy considering the challenge that was at hand.

A Banff local, Crazy Larry had come down and decorated the "unofficial" startline. Larry is one crazy Mo-Fo, but he was down there smilin' like the crazed fool that he is.

A few days prior, Jill turned up on our doorstep. She was hoping to relax and chill out for a few days before setting off on the Tour Divide. We took her on the tandem for a Town Tour and enjoyed a beautiful evening in Banff.

The next evening, I took her for a walk to Lake Louise, the Little Beehive and Lake Agnes. In retrospect, this probably wasn't such a smart idea given that Jill has to ride 2,745 miles and the trail looked like this:
Inwardly, I was cringing that she was going to have an accident and break herself and I would be the one responsible for injuring Jill of Alaska. But instead, Lake Louise and Lake Agnes worked their magic and we found ourselves relaxed and rejuvenated.

We were both smiling like Crazy Larry by the end of the night.

Good luck Jill!

May your body, mind and bicycle carry you on a great adventue wherever that may be.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday Cross-Fit

On Tuesday in the AM, Keith and I took a little walk up Sulphur Mountain before I went to work. I am making an effort to improve my walking and put a little more "power" in my "power walk". Aaaaah. Be it that it is June in Banff, we were greeted with fresh snow on the trail.

Practice the Power!!

I can tell ya, I need some practice. The boy had much more power in his power walk than myself! At the top, we popped out of the cloud line and got us a glimpse of sunshine and some mountain views.

Keith was whining when we started, but he was smiling at the end. He just needed a cup of coffee and a walk and it was all good.

Keith's speciality: photos of me with no feet.

With all of the hype I have heard about CrossFit, I thought I would start a Banff contingent. Today, I practiced my "power lifting" as well as my "power walking". Today's CrossFit workout:

100 metres push of the Ice Explorer
100 x Dead Lifts

100 x Explorer Exploder Squats

I am, in fact, superwoman so don't try this at home kids.