Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekend Running Adventures: Skoki Run and Molar - Pipestone - Fish Lakes Circuit

Greetings to all of my new friends that I met at this years TransRockies run and those of you who are new to the Banff Trail Trash blog! While I still haven't posted a Race Report on this years TransRockies Run, it is coming soon. Instead, I thought I would give you a taste of the trail running goodies that are located right here in Banff in my own backyard.

What's a girl to do after an epic week of running in the Colorado Rockies for 6 days? Well for this girl, who just signed up for the Bear 100 it meant going out for a few long runs. My friend Julie and I headed out to the Skoki area on Friday and enjoyed a beautiful day. The change of season is upon us. It smelled like fall and it looked like fall. I had a great summer, but I love the change of season. I'm ready. I love fall in the Rockies.

I never get tired of the first view that you get when you climb up Boulder Pass. It always gives me that feeling of awe and wonder when you look at the mountains across Ptarmigan Lake.

Redoubt Mountain and Ptarmigan Lake

Julie in her Happy Place!

Skoki Mountain and Myotis Lake

It's always great to join Julie on the trails. I know it's cliched, but age is only a number. Julie is a fit, healthy, hot 60+ year old. She complains she's getting slow and it's adorable.

Font sizePeek-a-boo. Skoki Lodge

Before we arrived at the lodge, we ran into Leo and the kids who were going for an afternoon walk and picnic. It was awesome to see the kids running across the meadows to greet us. Totally at home in the wilderness, their own personal backyard. The kids were playing down by the stream and doing some fishing. It made for a beautiful image. I got to see my favorite puppy, Bill the Jack Russell Terrier.

We took an alternate route back up to Deception Pass and saw lots of Grizzly Bear diggings. Some bear had been working hard, there were massive holes escavated into the earth all over the place.

By the end of the day, we had been on our feet for 7 hours and were a wee bit tired. I've felt great this week and it was good to get my legs back in motion. My plans to go to Jasper this weekend got derailed, but fortunately Brenda and Mike had an adventure planned.
The plan was to head up the Icefields Parkway and hit Mosquitoe Creek and the Fish Lakes-Molar Pass Circuit. It's a beautiful 53 kilometre wilderness circuit with 2 incredible high alpine passes, gorgeous valleys and some stunning above treeline scenery. Normally, it's a 3 day backpack trip so you don't see many day hikers out there. It's also a lesser used corner of Banff National Park and one of the most gorgeous places to run.

From the trail head at Mosquitoe Creek, the trail climbs gradually through the woods before joining the creek where the entire valley opens up before you. From there you start climbing and before you know it you emerge from the treeline and have climbed 510 metres.
Molar Pass - 2,340 metres

Mike and Brenda on Molar Pass

The Molar Pass meadows are expansive and would definitely merit a side-trip to just enjoy and explore. We got some great views as we descended off the pass and were so distracted by the scenery we lost the trail for awhile. After re-joining the trail and the creek, we spotted these massive wolf prints that were as big as my hand. Think about that! They were huge!

It was all gorgeous. The forests, the glaciers, the lakes and the valley bottom. This is one fantastic run. The Pipestone Valley had the feeling of truly being in the middle of nowhere. We were running through waste high shrubbery by the river, which could hide a wide variety of wildlife. There were certainly signs of wildlife everywhere. Scat, diggings and footy prints left by our animal friends of Banff National Park.
Upper Fish Lakes

We saved the best part of the trip for the end. The high alpine scenery on both sides of North Molar Pass are just crazy beautiful, as are the Fish Lakes. I love running above treeline! At 2590 metres, North Molar Pass is really high. There is a snow drift on the pass that is there year round because of the regular west winds. From there it is a beautiful 760 metre descent and 12km back to the trail head.

Happy Friends.

It was great to run with Brenda, we haven't run together all summer and I tell ya, the girl wins The Most Improved Award. In just a few short years she has turned into a strong, fast, trail running machine with an incredible amount of persistence and mental toughness. But most of all, she's just good people. She appreciates. And she likes to get out and see as many beautiful places as possible, just like me!

Overall, such a great day! We had perfect running weather, with virtually no winds even on the high passes. I got to spend 10 glorious hours on my feet running in the backcountry, with my friends, which is just what I need with a 100 miler on the horizon. I love my backyard. And my trail running friends. Thanks for a great weekend Julie, Mike and B!


HappyTrails said...

I think that area could be my "Happy Place", too (probably only in the summer and fall, though because I am a wimp in the cold!). Thanks for sharing . . .

Gretchen said...

It looks so awesome! Sweet pics from Transrockies, too. It looks like it was a blast. I bet you guys won the prize for having the most fun. I hope Keith is off the vitamin-I by now. ;)
I finally got my hubby to look at pictures on your blog, and now he's like, "Fuck yeah! Let's go visit those guys and go ski touring!" :)That will have to wait until he is out of school, but you know, it's a good carrot.
Can't wait for the full report on TR!

Danni said...

That looks fabulous though I obviously wished you were in Fernie.

JeffO said...

That was a long run! Right after TR. Dang, gurl! Great photos!

Backofpack said...

Won't be long till those little hills around you are once again covered with snow! A gorgeous weekend for sure.

CoyoteGirl said...

Gorgeous pictures as usual. When can you expect the first snows?

Jill Homer said...

Awesome adventure as always. Did you really sign up for the Bear 100. That means you will be meeting my ex, Geoff. (Kick him in the shins for me, will you?) :-)

Leslie said...

It's a happy, happy place K!

Gretchen, ha! - you got the open invite!

Thanks Danni, I'm glad you got to enjoy the ridiculousness of the Demolition Derby in all of its' glory.

Hi Michelle, Jeffo, CG! Damn straight, it was a gorrrrrgeous weekend. Fall is in the air! We already got the first snows, the mountains and high passes have been dusted a few times this week. Yup.

Hiya Jill! I'll kick him in the shins and then pass him. :) Is he really running back to back 100's?!? He's crazier than I thought!

Thanks all! T.R report to come....


Sarah Ridgway said...

g'day Babe - awesome photos as usual - looks stunning!!! love the pic of you and Bill - what a cutey. Been very busy this end - no time to stop lately!!! Alls good tho

sophianchor said...

Spectacular! Ben and I will have to plan a trip up there. Perhaps during the music festival....

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