Friday, April 1, 2011

What I See When I Run

A few weeks ago, I took a long run where I was never further than 3 kilometers from the town of Banff.  The Chinook winds rolled through town during the night, shaking the house, but delivering a calm and warm day. I cruised by the Bow Falls and there wasn't another soul in sight.  The Bow Falls Viewpoint is one of the landmarks of Banff and one of the most popular.  But on this day, I had it all to myself.

This winter has been a real winter, with lots of snow and cold temperatures.  I kept cruising, running, smiling enjoying the warmer temperatures.  I ran by the Warner Stables and yelled "Hello Horsies!" at the horses at the stables.  A cowboy waved at me as I ran by.  I blushed and smiled. Sometimes I'm demure.

Just one kilometre down the trail, I came to the Marsh Boardwalk. In this place, the thermal waters of the Hot Springs percolate through the earth and the snow, and you'll find plants growing year round.  It's amazing.  This area is alive with bird life and I heard the song of the first Robin of Spring.  He was singing out loud and proud, but I couldn't find him in the thickets of shrub and pine forest.

Hot Springs

Another kilometre down the trail, I heard the squawks and croaks of a Murder of Crows, Ravens and Magpies.  All that noise drew my attention to something in the woods:  something large and dead.  Running in my backyard can be so amazing.  My spider senses were tingling when I spotted a large rib cage, with fresh blood glowing red in the sunlight.  My presence scared the birds away for an instant, but the lure of the Dead Thing brought them back soon after.  This isn't a usual wildlife sighting - but it certainly was exciting.  While a dead animal in the woods could be many things, in my mind it meant one thing:  Cougar kill.  Because my Spidey senses were tingling, I kept running - and maybe even increased my speed a bit.

The famous Mount Rundle greeted me off in the distance, with red Dogwood shrubs sprouting fresh buds.  Yet another sign of spring.  With the warm temperatures, the air was fragrant.  The smells of pine and spruce emanated from the forest.  The earthy aroma of rot, moisture and life was coming out of the ground.

When I run, I use all of my senses.  I'm constantly listening, looking, watching, scanning my surroundings.  I'm stopping, surveying, observing and of course, taking photos.  I was thinking about this, how I enjoy and experience nature on my runs and how unique it is.  On this day I observed not only a cougar kill, the song of a robin, fresh buds on red woods, but the tracks of Elk, Coyote, Deer and a lone Wolf.  I spotted Ravens, Crows, Magpies, Chickadees, Nuthatches, a Pine Grosbeak, a Spruce Grouse and Sparrows.  I heard the chorus of a large flock of Cedar Waxwings and when I stopped to find them, they dropped from the sky and settled in to the rose bushes surrounding me.  Magic.  Next time, I'm going to find my Robin.

Tunnel Mountain beckoned off in the distance.  So, I decided to run there.  Less than 40 minutes later, I found myself standing on the top.

The trail was in perfect shape - and again, I was surprised to be the only person up there.  The fresh snow made everything so white and pretty.  How lucky am I.  "I'm Queen of the World!"  I shouted over the town of Banff.  My home.

After a blazing fast descent, I ran on the shore line of the Bow River for a little bit and decided to call it a day.  A good day.  I see so much when I run.


Meghan said...

I love this post!

Mary said...

ooh, hot springs! Can you sit in them? Banff is looking better and better. Think I'll emigrate.

Kaz said...

Take out the cougars and hot springs and I could put myself in your running shoes (well at half the pace I think). I miss the pure joy of how it feels (I just blogged about that) and your post just made me realise I also miss being at one with all the beautiful creatures and landscapes that surround you.
Your post will keep me doing my rehabilitation so I can get back on those running feet!
Happy runnings!

Anonymous said...

Love it! Such a beautiful place. I read your posts with a huge amount of envy but love that you take such joy in the "back yard" you have...all those people living there but the trails to are a lucky girl.

AdamDotCom said...

Looks like a great combination of the Banff trails. Any chance you have the GPS coord's?

Helen said...

Have just noted that my comment is on your previous blog - not here as I thought. The web cam shows snowy conditions each time I look, so the beauty of your run came as a surprise.

Sara Montgomery said...

So nice. I'm going to bookmark this for whenever I feel blah because I know it will make me smile.

JeffO said...

Leslie - demure? It IS April Fools!
Running alone and running with friends are both great, and neither can replace the other. By yourself, you hear so much more and feel so connected to what's around. People distract - in a good way, but still.

sbrt said...


Over in the UK Robins are a symbol of winter, often seen on Xmas cards and in our gardens.


HappyTrails said...

The contrast by the hot spring is pretty cool - signs of life in the middle of winter!!!