Friday, February 25, 2011

What -26c Looks Like...

This past Saturday, we had plans to go for a long backcountry ski tour.  When we woke up, it was a frosty -26c morning.  We thought that skiing UP a mountain, would be warmer than skiing DOWN a mountain.  So we stuck to the plan - a ski tour to Hidden Lake in the Lake Louise backcountry.  The forecast also said that there was a chance on an inversion - meaning the temperature might be warmer up high than down below.

When we rolled into the Fish Lakes Parking Lot at Lake Louise - it was still -26c.  We geared up, rolled out and all started skiing like our pants were on fire.  There's one way to generate heat and that's to move your body!  Fast!

We made our way to the backside of the Lake Louise ski hill, past Temple Lodge and headed out of the shade for the sun.  On a day that cold, it felt so fantastic to come out of the shadow of the forest and in to the open sun.  Aaaaah.  Blissful sun.  And heat.  And warmth.

Lucky for us, the forecast actually came true.  The day warmed up, the fresh snow was light, boot deep and perfect.  The skiing was Awesome!  We made some pretty turns amidst the backdrop of Mount Richardson, Ptarmigan Mountain and Redoubt Mountain - and had a brilliant day at Hidden Lake.

Sometimes, -26c can be awfully pretty.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Planning Time

Technically, it's been race planning time for months.  I've been holding off on planning anything, because there have been a few "unknowns" in the Leslie schedule.  But it's coming together - a plan for a great year, some new trails and some new places!!  I've been marking up the calendar with a flurry of pen marks and question marks and exclamation points (!!!).

I applied for Hardrock for the 2nd year in a row, but didn't get in.  No worries on that one, this summer really wasn't the time for a long trip to Colorado.  A trip to the San Juans is definitely on my fantasy wish list - it doesn't have to be Hardrock, just a little travel time to visit and run in the area. Some day!  Fortunately, my own backyard is probably the most stunning mountain environment that you'll ever feast your eyes on.  I've got my heart set on doing another multi-day running adventure this summer, right here in my own backyard.  Or close to it.  That adventure is still in the works, but I've got some solidified running adventures on the horizon that are coming up fast and furious!  That's good, because I always enjoy having something on the calendar to work towards.

In mid-April, I'm taking a 10 day road trip with Keith to Sisters, Oregon - home of the Peterson Ridge Rumble and friend Sean Meissner.  From what I understand, Sisters, The Rumble and Sean are all closely connected. I'm looking forward to ALL of it - and stoked to be re-connecting with the "running tribe"!  Naturally, I'm also looking forward to exploring some new places - I haven't done much traveling through Washington or Oregon.  10 days should give us a "teaser", yes?!?  The Rumble has a 20 Miler and a 40 Miler.  The boy is going to do the 20 and I'm going to do the 40.  That should get the ol' legs going for the season.

That will be the warm-up for the Main Event - the Maah Daah Heh trail in Mid-May.  Heck, yeah - we're taking another road trip!  This time to North Dakota for some running through the badlands near Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  I've been obsessed with the Dakota's for quite some time, so I'm super-stoked for this trip.  The Maah-Daah Heh is just shy of 100 Miles of sweet trail goodness.  We're taking 4 days to do it - with most of my friends being on their bicycles.  I thought about riding it, but this girl just has to run this one.  I can't resist.

And finally, I'm making the trip to Western States in June.  Wooohoo!  That one is booked already and I'm thrilled to playing support crew for the divine Ms. Angela - she's the hotty in blue.  Technically, I invited myself by saying "You know I'm coming, right?!"  I think that conversation took place last spring.  Either way, Ang has been a big part of many of my adventures since I met her at Western States Camp in 2009.  So, it's only fitting that I invite myself along on one of her big adventures. :)

So, that's it for running stuff.  Some solid plans for April, May and June!!  Yahooo!  I haven't got anything planned passed than - but we'll see what comes up.  I've got a few ideas up my sleeve, so stay tuned for more adventures in the works.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's a Great Big, Crazy Beautiful World

Finally, we have some extra day light.  After surviving the dark months of November and December, things are looking brighter!  The sun is up earlier and going to bed later. Yay!  That means there's enought light to go do some fun things like run and ski.  The other night after work, I managed a quick run - and got back to the house at 6:45 with dark descending quickly.  I saw a couple of healthy coyotes and got scared by a small here of elk - I guess that's always the hazard of running at dusk or dawn. It's wildlife rush hour.  Deer O'Clock.  At least the bears are still sleeping.

On this perfect clear and cold evening, we started skiing around 5:30 and skied right into some amazing Alpenglow and fading light. The surrounding peaks were glowing in the last light of the day and it was cool to see Mount Assiniboine awash in pink Alpenglow.  What a gorgeous evening. 

Mount Assiniboine


Keith and Angela - Mount Bourgeau in the background

Looking towards the Simpson Valley and Kootenay National Park

After a decadent dinner at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge, we skinned back up the mountain for a quick moonlight tour.  Once the moon came up, the entire slope was lit up to make it an exceptionally beautiful, fun evening.  As a bonus, the skiing was frickin' fantastic.  We made 3 runs by moonlight, with perfect boot deep powder under a full bright moon.  It's a great big crazy beautiful world when you ski tour under a full moon.  I don't know if you were out howling, but I sure was.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What -20C below looks like....

It was -20c all day yesterday.  It was -20 when I left for my run and it was -20 when I got back 2.5 hours later.  Hello, clear and cold.  My run took me along the shoreline of the Vermillion Lakes and up Tunnel Mountain.  I was moving slow.  It was cold.  On days like today, really, does the temperature matter?  It was amazing out there.  A dusting of fresh snow, cold enough to make your cheeks sting and your lungs burn, makes Leslie a Happy Girl.  I was solar powered! 

We followed it up with an incredible sunset ski at Sunshine.  We toured up above the meadows just high enough to see a glowing pink Mount Assiniboine.  WOW.  I've had a crush on Mount Assiniboine for a long time.  Google It.  It's a stunner.  The sunset ski was just a teaser for the main event - a full moon ski tour.  We had dinner at the resort while waiting for the moon to make it's appearance and when it did, it was magic!  The moon on the snow was so bright there was moon shadow on snow - really - shadows by the light of the moon are of the coolest things ever.  Yes, EVER!  And it certainly was cold.  It was also -20 below by moonlight as well...enjoy!  You'll have to wait and anticipate the moonlight ski tour photos.  I think we got a few pictures that actually worked.