Saturday, October 31, 2009

Devil in Disguise

"as a hiker"
We had a big day designed for us this Halloween! I ran races in costume before but this would be a first to hike in costume and I jumped at the opportunity! Our adventure took us behind the Lake Louise Ski Hill through Boulder Pass on the way to Ptarmigan Lake located in the Skoki Valley area. The others had their own idea of what they wanted today to be, I had another plan!

YES! Come along my little pretties! YES! Be taken in and deceived by the sensational scenery! Scenes like The Ten Peaks, Corral Creek Meadow Boulder Pass. YES! They followed me! Enjoying the surroundings! Like Mount Temple, the Lone Larch Tree, Ptarmigan Lake.Befriending Scrambled Legs along the way, he invited me to the rock top to play. We jumped for joy, we laughed (mine being evil)! The Devil divulged and the battle began! I tried to push him over the edge without success but he overpowered me. YES! I am JUST a Devil in Disguise! The fluffy hiker decided it was time to retreat! The battle was over! Then it was time to celebrate! The real reason for celebrating as Adventure Designer put it "let's celebrate the culmination of fall, welcome the snowy hiking/snowshoeing season this Halloween" and on top of that a trio were celebrating birthdays.

We found the Halfway Hut tucked in the trees with mountains as its backdrop. After ditching some equipment at the door, we set up inside. How lucky were we with this potluck spread. Our celebration even included sparklers, one each for Ms D No Stopping Me, G-Force and Scrambled Legs.
On another note, you may remember I shared my Goal for 2010 with you. There was the possibility I could accomplish this goal before 2010 and I did! It happened today! On the long downhill trail home, I brought out my "Pelican SnowFlite 36" to race against the others. My maximum speed reached 26.9 km/hrs. I would have received the bronze medal as two others reached higher speeds than me. They set the bar high and now I have a new goal!
I admit, this Halloween was my most fun ever! I enjoyed being a menace on the mountain and sharing the day with such fun folks. Being with all of you and your attitudes of choosing to celebrate the big and the little and as Sunny D Lite says "letting the child within come out" made it the bestest! How can days like this ever be topped!

Our Adventure's Statistics
Starting Elevation: 1716 meters
Maximum Elevation: 2341 meters
Total Elevation: 625 meters (approx 2040 feet)
Total Time Including Battle and Lunch: 7:41
Distance: 18.5 kilometers (approx 11.3 miles)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lakes and a Pickle

My marquee photo shows today's destination!
Picklejar Lakes
As you can see, we found beauty in a place that others consider to be mediocre.
Just two hours from the metropolis of Calgary with its hustle and bustle and skyscrapers and freeways, we arrived at a barren trail head with not a vehicle nor soul in sight. Then just two hours beyond that we arrived at our destination, a landscape that looked rugged and desolate. High up in a valley surrounded by mountains is where we found the four Picklejar Lakes.

Lucky for us it was clear sailing the whole way up. This area escaped the snowfall that walloped the city just yesterday. The larger lake was mostly frozen whereas the others, only partially. Do we walk on water? We did have to contend with one slippery slope. On our first crossing, I stuck close to G-Force holding onto the back of his pack. I wasn't going anywhere by myself! Once past the slope, I was able to relax and enjoy the scenery. This is what surrounded us. The photos on the right are a before and after (before lunch and after lunch), with different lighting and at a slightly different angle. I see a dramatic difference. When I saw G-Force hiking along, I told him it looked like he could be in the Arctic or Antarctic.
So we're at Picklejar Lakes! What a name! Pickle! Do you think we could get ourselves into a pickle? I tried! I tried to add a little drama to the dramatic backdrop. I took a few chances, far away from the slippery slopes. Lived on the edge! Tried my hands at a scramble! Went out on a ledge! Headed up a path less travelled! I tried my best to get into a pickle but we remained pickle-free.
Ah! I guess Picklejar Lakes really are all about the lakes!
Now that's dramatic!
I love reflections! In a way that's what blogging is all about!

More reflections of ghostly looking grey trees lining one of the smaller lakes!

We picked a dining spot with a fabulous lake side view!
We were thankful for the blue sky today and the bright sunshine even though it was deceiving. It's only October and I needed hot shots in my mitts already. I realized it will be my Baffin boots (good to -35C) that I will wear snowshoeing again this winter. I was reminded it's time for the long johns, another layer up top, thermos of coffee instead of another bottle of cold water and getting the baskets on my pole bottoms. To some this all may sound very frightful, to me, it's heaven!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hallowe'en Howl 10km Race

The only thing scary about today's Halloween Howl 10km Race was the weather!

I woke to pouring down rain! Usually as the hours go on the temperature rises. Not this morning! As the hours went on and race start got closer, the temperature went down. Only slightly though. That was all it took for the rain to turn to sleet and by the time the count down started the sleet turned to snow, those big fluffy flakes. Yes, that kind!

Even standing at the start I felt the moisture in my right running shoe. I knew what I was in for and I was into it about 10 minutes later. My socks and runners were drenched. I could feel and hear the squish! A portion of the route was along the path very close to Memorial Drive. I was watching my foot placement trying to find where there was the least amount of slush. Then it happened! A car drove by, fast, close to the edge of the road and laid on the horn. The car created a wave of slush that covered me! I had never been so soaked while running in my life.

Yet, I was loving every minute of it! I felt the rush, I was exercising, enjoying the fresh air. I got to share the morning with my friends D Mo, J Mo and Lil K. It was like old times! I knew Leana would be there, so watched out for her. We chatted at the start trying to find cover and keep dry and we caught up afterwards too. She was already done and dry by the time I finished. I'm sure this race will be part of her weekend blog coverage. (What is with my new hat? It is blue and orange! It is suppose to match my shirt! I don't know why it looks grey!)

Considering the conditions, I fared well. My 305 told me the distance was 9.86km. Right from the 1km marker, my distance was showing up shorter. I covered the 9.86km in 1:03:18 running a pace of 6:25 km/min. Not my fastest, not my slowest but definitely my wettest!

Now! Which one is next!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Today was a real live oxymoron! How can something so spectacular be terrorizing at the same time! That's how I found today's trek along Pocaterra Ridge to be. This is a portion of the ridge (that starts in the middle and veers to the left making what looks like a C) we climbed to and then followed for hours. Pretty spectacular wouldn't you say? Then the terror started! I wanted a nice photo in amongst what was left of the colorful larch trees not realizing my buddies had other plans for what else should be in the photo! They bombarded me with snowballs! And I call them buddies!
We hit five summits today! Here I am on one of the most spectacular ones. I tried to do my summit jump but may have to think of a different dance of joy for the winter season because with all the layers on along with icers, I can't jump very far off the ground.
To reach each summit after the initial one, we had to descend first, which was sketchy at times. I have to admit though, I would rather the panting effort of ascending instead of descending in conditions like this. I want to descend at my own controlled pace not looking to set records here.
In every direction I looked today, I had scenes that looked like this! Even with low lying cloud, we could still see the mountain ranges far off in the distance. I think with a bit of snow, the detailing on the mountains is more vivid.
We had rain, we had wind, and we had sunshine off and on, but more off then on. As we settled down for a lunch break, I had a very short window of opportunity to bare my arms. Lunch time came three hours into the hike and after only 2.5 km. It was well deserved! I devoured it! I didn't ration it! I should have! We had more summits to summit!

Once all the summits were checked off the list, it was time to find our way down. This was not an out and back but a one way that involved car shuttling. You can see in this photo what we needed to come down to get to the road below. This is when you need to be in the company of mountain savvy people and that was the case today. We had a wide open area at first then into the trees for bushwhacking through the dense, steep forest. We needed the most direct but yet safe route down. This meant numerous times changing direction to left or right or even climbing back up only to find a better route down.
What was less then a kilometer and would normally take 15 minutes took about an hour. It was later then expected when we came down off the ridge and out of the forest. We were all hungry and spent and very thankful to reach the end and thankful for such a "spectacular" day. That's how appreciative I am, I kissed the ground!
I am beginning to believe I enjoy being scared! I have been in situations where I have been petrified and terrorized yet I keep coming back for more! I guess the scenery, being with fun folks and the exercise far outweighs the being scared!

I hope to be a part of a Halloween hike in two weeks! Now that should be really scary!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rays on Rae

If you check out my post from the previous day, I showed a photo of today's destination, Rae Lake. I had a feeling it wouldn't quite look like that photo, but I didn't expect it to look like it did when it is only mid October. Then again, we live in Alberta! Friday's are fun and fabulous days to hike! It means long weekend, it means only us on the trail, it means no traffic on the mountain roads. And so, Agent X leads us on a trek passing by lakes, winding through meadows, up hills and down, between mountain ranges and on to our destination. Oh, and up more hills and down and up again!

This was to be a hike but Park Wardens warned us to not just come with hiking boots but come prepared with snowshoes and icers too. As you can see in my shadow shot, this makes for a big and heavy pack. The creek coming out of Rae Lake was only partially icy and no doubt cold so thankfully there was a nature-made walkway over it. Yes, there is a lake behind me, I am close to the edge of it! This was as close as I could get and still stay safe. It's Rae Lake, looking nothing like the photo I posted yesterday. The scenery along the way to our destination was spectacular. The lighting on the mountains made for many amazing photo opportunities. We started with a blue sky, then slowly as the day went on clouds rolled in and for the last few kilometers the winds howled and the sky darkened. Just like the weather changed, so did our footwear. About halfway into the hike, we turned it into a snowshoe and once again a few kms before the end we turned it back into a hike. A few larch trees still held their needles and how pretty it looked to see a lone one creating such a vista. In another couple of weeks none of this vegetation will be visible. It has surrendered to mother nature and soon one will only see a clear blanket of white. The plan for today was approximately 17km but it turned out being just shy of 21 kilometers. I was O.K. with that because I never like treks like this to end. My neck muscles got a good workout, I could not stop looking around at what surrounded me. Rae Lake hike is one I will put back on my to do list because I want to see it looking like it looks in that photo from yesterday.

In Search Of........

......Rae Lake!

That is today's mission!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goal for 2010

All the talk these days is about the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics! With less than four months to go, the athletes are in their prime training mode and we are being introduced to them through the media. They talk of their training and their goals!

Well, they are not the only athletes with goals for 2010! I like to think I'm an athlete, not of the Olympic level nor the professional caliber, not even the amateur level. Nevertheless, an athlete. I, too, have a goal for 2010!

Mine is a pace related goal. Finesse and execution can play a part but only to the extent that they contribute to the ultimate speed goal. I practice but not regularly. Conditions are not always conducive. I don't have a sponsor who donates top quality equipment so I rely on department store varieties.

All that being said, my goal for 2010 is

...drum roll please...

to snowshoe up a mountain high enough and steep enough
where I can hop on my Pelican Snow Flite 36
slide down the mountain and exceed my personal best record of 19.3 km/hr as recorded on my 60 CSX last winter.
I may have to consider adding a helmet to my ensemble as this may be considered an extreme sport where safety is a consideration.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen!
Let the games begin!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving Memory 10km Run

I have so much to be thankful for and that is something I hope to never forget! Today I ran the Thanksgiving Memory 10km Run in support of the Alzheimer's Society. It's been a few years since I did this one and I was amazed at how it has grown. What a great sight to see so many runners at the start line considering the cold and snowy weather. I had no expectations for myself, I just wanted to run, feel happy and feel healthy at the end. It took about 7 km to realize that I had not been running much lately. My muscles let me know that but just a tab so.
I stuck to a 10&1s plan for the entire race. It went smooth and it went quicker than I thought it would. I crossed the finish line in 1:02:34, so my 305 says. I was elated! I devoured the individual pepperoni pizza and cinnamon roll, checked out the winners and then left to carry on with my day.
On the way home I picked up a bottle of red wine for my Thanksgiving turkey dinner tonight and some fresh red pears for tomorrow's fondue on top of Mt Burke or Grass Pass.
Thank you for today!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Badlands Beckon

Spontaneity saved my Saturday! When the body isn't quite there in one case and in the other case wanting to save the body (that's me saving myself for a 10km race tomorrow morning) then it is an opportunity to exercise the mind instead of the body. The Badlands beckoned my Buddie and he put the offer out there to seize Saturday with him.

We spent two hours wandering and wondering through the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. The place is thought provoking, I was filled with questions!
There was lots to learn!
I got to climb!
Outside was fascinating!
Inside was intriguing!
On a day that was grey, we still managed to find color!
Only 90 minutes from Calgary in the opposite direction from the mountains, it felt like we were in a land so far from anything civilized, like something on another planet! That reminds me, the original movie "Planet of the Apes" was filmed here. If anyone ever visits my neck of the woods, I would recommend dropping by Drumheller in the Badlands.