Monday, July 12, 2010

It's a Magical, Mystical World

It's hard living and playing in the World's Finest National Park. Every weekend I'm faced with the same crisis - my poor little brain is working overtime with some serious decision making. The important, life altering question being: "Where Should I Run Today?" It's tough stuff, I'm telling you.

The joy of being able to run far, is being able to cram a LOT of good stuff into one weekend. :) Now that I'm back in the saddle, it's game-on.

On Friday, I was excited to be taking Keith to visit Mystic Pass. It's a beautiful place, an incredible wild pass and a long enjoyable day at 40km with a "bonus loop" to Mystic Lake. A few years ago, I couldn't take him to visit my beautiful places because it was just to far for him to walk or run in a day. It's exciting how things have changed. And Mystic Pass really is the Magical Mystery Tour. Or a Magical Mystical Place. Well, really it's just a damn gorgeous high mountain pass which I really love.


Gateway to Mystic Pass

High Alpine Bliss

I love this place.

There are large parts of this run that are run in the forest - 40 Mile creek is 14km of drudgery but Mystic Pass is so worth it! That's the benefit of running versus hiking, you can blast through the less-than-exciting bits to get to The Goodies. I had never been to Mystic Lake before, I've run by the turn-off every time, exhausted, tired, lazy or running from the Grizzly Bears in my head - so this time I'd made sure to stop. It's was a pretty little lake and I'm glad we stopped.

End of the Day - skipping down Mount Norquay Ski Area

The next day the plan was to do the "3 pass Epic" from Highway 93 to Sunshine Village. It's only 35km - but it's slow moving with the 3 major climbs and all of the good scenery to distract you. Keith decided to take a miss - the boy was tuckered after our big day and we want to make sure he stays strong and healthy for the upcoming Trans Rockies Adventures!

The last time we did this run, was during on Day 4 of the B.U.T.T Epic - a 5 day run I pieced together last year. This year, we did it in reverse order starting with the 10km climb to Ball Pass and the 1000m of elevation gain. Phewph.

Hanging Glacier on Ball Pass

Jen, taking it all in.

We zoomed down the other side, enjoyed some nice runnable single-track and some man eating mosquitoes on Haiduk Lake before beginning the climb up Whistling Pass.

Haiduk Lake

Fortunately, the mosquitoes were the only signs of wildlife we saw all day. No bear scat, the footy prints and no grizzly bear diggings. Heck, we hardly saw any people!
As this run was a point-to-point we organized a "key exchange" with a group of friends. Voila! We meet in the middle of the trail, exchange keys and continue on our merry way. No car shuttling or mooching of a lifts required.

Just before climbing Whistling Pass, we ran into our friends - 7 of them, complete with 2 dogs. It was momentary mayhem on the trail before we parted ways and set off up the pass.

Jen and Ed, climbing the snow on Whistling Pass

Whistling Pass

After cresting the pass and having lots of fun descending down the other side, we did a bonus loop to Scarab Lake. It's a stunning place and the trail was blanketed in Glacier Lilies. Our wild flower season has started, with the arrival of the Glacier Lily and the Alpine Anemone - the high alpine crocus. The flower season might be a little late this year, but of course will depend on the amount of continuous sunshine we get.


Scarab Lake

From there, a storm chased us up and over Healy Pass. Healy Pass is a popular day hike and we saw exactly zero people there. We were 3 for 3. Three incredible wild mountain passes and Zero people.

Ed, Jen and Mike flying down the singletrack of Healy Pass

On the other side of Healy Pass - me met up with Keith and Angela who had ran up to meet us. Just as we met them, the rain hit and we got soaked. We finished the day running pretty darn fast, gravity assisted of course. Still, this girl was tired with 75km on my legs in 2 days. By the end of the run, the sun was out again and it was warm enough to soak the legs in Healy Creek.


For a grand finalee, we met up with Tina Lewis and Charlie Nuttleman of Boulder, CO on Sunday for an easy run on the Lake Minnewanka shoreline. It was the perfect run to stretch my legs out and the rolling shoreline trail was great for socializing! While out on the trail, we ran into 3 groups of people who I knew. It's always funny when that happens. As one of the closest trails to Banff, it's popular with the locals. Surprisingly, there weren't a lot of people out there on this beautiful day.

Charlie, Keith and Tina

I'll admit to feeling tired by Day 3, not a lot of Oooomph in my stride - but the scenery and company more than made up for it. Aaaaah. Banff National Park. You are so immense, awesome and magical. Shall we get together again next weekend?


Danni said...

Sounds like a great weekend!

Tamara said...

Gorgeous ... nice scenery too!

Jill Homer said...

Oh, I want to go to Magical Mystical Pass. Looks like next year I'll have to take up running.

Meghan said...

Happy Banff daze!

Leslie said...

Aaaaah. Happy Banff Daze. You know it ladies, I just wish y'all were here so I could enjoy your fine company as well!


HappyTrails said...

AWESOME! Could you put some of that in a jar and mail it to us...? Great to see Keith out too! You guys have too much fun - and that's a GOOD thing!!!

Helen said...

Looking forward to getting together again next weekend. This was a magical start to my day.

Deanna Stoppler said...

Ha! I like how you did the key swap. Great idea. I'm always enticing mom to be around to pick me up somewhere and shuttle me back to my car. She's always game.

Stephanie Dexter said...

Just found your the stories and the pics! I thank God for trail running - takes me out of my head and my eyes off my watch. Reminds me of all things beautiful..
All the best


Kaz said...

Thanks for the mountain vies while I'm stuck inside!

JeffO said...

It's time for me to get up higher and grab some o' dat! Nice pix!

Olga said...

I hate you so much...ok, ok, I am just extremely envious:)

kelly said...

Amazingly beautiful. I think I need to come to your house and play. It sounds like your training is going well. When is your big race?

Kelly said...

How I wish I'd found your blog sooner! I was in Banff at the end of June. We stayed 2 nights at Egypt Lake Shelter, so I squealed with nostagia as I viewed your photos of Healey Pass, Whistling Pass, and Scarab Lake. I am very envious of your hometown... and great blog and pix!!...I will keep checking back, as w/o a doubt, I plan on getting back to Banff and checking out more sites. We were loaded with backpacks much of our trip, so I wasn't able to run...but my Minnesotan, sea-level lungs probably wouldn't have been able to take the altitude :) Have fun!

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