Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fantastic Fall

I ran in the leaves just because!
Today's Run
17 Kilometers
Eau Claire to Shouldice and return
sunny, -1 Celsius, not even a breeze, to start
sunny, +14 Celsius, not even a breeze, at finish
I love running this time of year! I ran in the leaves just because and I ran in shorts just because! After yesterday's hike, I was not sure how I would manage today but I was pleasantly surprised to find today to be a breeze, even though there was not even a breeze! The colors along the river were spectacular, one of the hot air balloons in this morning's sky matched the foilage in color. This was my last long run before my next and last half marathon on October 12th. I feel ready for it, now I just have to wait!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Border Crossing

What did you do today? Oh...we went for a little hike...we started out in Alberta and somewhere along the way took a turn and ended up in British Columbia! Both R and I displaying our patriotism today in our dress, our main goal was actually to border cross and where ever else we ended up or what ever else we saw would be an added bonus. The total distance trekked today amounted to 24 kilometers and we are not exactly sure of the elevation gain. I need a new toy, a GPS! We do know the Elk Pass Trail took us to the Great Divide Trail where part of it is the Alberta/British Columbia border. The Great Divide Trail separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from the river systems that drain into the Atlantic. I found this bit of geographical trivia to be interesting and to be able to say we actually stood on the divide!At the border crossing we followed a sign to Fox Lake. It was a very narrow, closed in, quiet, secluded, treed trail that led us to an open marshy area surrounding this little colorful lake. It was shortly after noon, so a good place to dine. We settled down on a log in the middle of the marsh where we could find a drier spot. We had the emerald lake in front of us and a view ahead that we thought could possibly be another destination for today. It looked far off!
But R and I do far off very well! This next destination was part of the few words of advice we received. It would be 3.5 km to Frozen Lake and this is where we made significant elevation, with parts of the trail being straight up. At times we were bent over leaning to the ground to maintain our balance and almost in a crawl-like posture to make progress up the side. At the end of the hard part the colorful larch trees spread apart and presented us with a most beautiful turquoise Frozen Lake at the base of Mount Fox. Mount Fox was named by John Palliser for a member of the Royal Geographic Society in the 1800's. The sun shone at times on the water to make it look sparkly and crystally! What a feast! Not only did we experience a feast for our eyes, what is a hike without a coke and two bite brownies!

Today I took a tumble and many stumbles. I came away with scratches and scrapes and a bent pole and without my camelbak sipper and pole baskets. I have no idea when along the route they went missing! We came away with the experience of a new adventure along a new trail, with a sense of peace and serenity never seeing another single soul during the whole six hours and thirty minutes. How often do you get to stand in two provinces at a split second in time! We did today! With only a map and R’s map reading skills and her great sense of direction, with a few words of advice, we were able to unbury a hidden treasure!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Little Story Book

This is a book I came upon one day searching through Amazon. It’s small with only 136 pages and at a mere price of $11.64. It’s called "Sole Sisters", "stories of women and running" by Jennifer Lin and Susan Warner. These are two journalists who conducted interviews with runners and came up with 21 very short stories on how running has transformed lives. These are inspirational stories of fighting cancer, recovering from 9/11, running for Kenya, four-legged running partners, and many more motivational short quick reads. A few of the lady runners have been in the news, the names will ring a bell to you, others are just the girls next door who have been transformed by extra-ordinary experiences.

This book is a keeper! "Sole Sisters" would make a great gift for "Soul Sisters" or any running friend for that matter!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I just discovered that the Annual Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is on while I am there to run the Annual Okanagan Half Marathon!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beauty Galore !

What a feast for the eyes on today's hike to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass and Moraine Lake!13 Proved lucky! We were 13 in total today! Nine of us left from Calgary at 8:15 to meet up with four others at the parking lot of Moraine Lake. We arrived about 10:15, just in time to get one of the last parking spots. I heard rumblings this could be a happening place, not only was it happening, it was hopping mad! Geesh! Everyone listened to the forecast and knew today was the better day and not to put this hike off because who knows what next weekend could bring!

At 10:30 we hit the trail with the masses, only to stop about 15 minutes in to strip of a layer or two! I was already in shorts so just needed to ditch the fleece. The first couple of kilometers was a continuous climb, so slow and steady was the pace through the winding forest. Not much to see along this part of the trail other than backs and backpacks. I was already thankful for my new trekking poles! As we worked our way up, I could feel it warming up and checked my thermometer to see it reading +20 degrees already! Thank goodness it only got three degrees warmer than that as the day went on.

An hour later, the tall green trees opened up to a view of Larch Valley with the mountain view surrounding it. We stopped on a bunch of rocks by a bridge to dine and watch others trek past and watch others trek past and watch others trek get my drift! Photographers had tripods set up working on that perfect shot. We even saw a couple of gals with their eisels set up and painting away!

After lunch, which for me just so happened to be topped of with one of those two bite brownies, we jumped in with the hords and set off to what we could see in the distance. It was a "Z" shaped switchback about three kilometers ahead on the mountain side with tiny dots on top which just so happened to be hikers who already made it to Sentinal Pass. That's where we were headed. One of the others called it "Zentinal Pass"! At the end of the Valley and at the base of the Pass was where the serious trekers were separated from the casual hikers. Many of the hords hunkered down in the valley to relax and take in the sights. Good thing for the rest of us! If you click on the photo below for a closer look, you will see the hikers along the switchback and also on the mountain top.
It took about 30 minutes to wind our way up the "Z" making sure to always look back every now and then to feast on what lay behind and below! I could not believe the view once we made it to the top! Inside I felt emotional! It was another accomplishment for me, greater than what I have experienced in the past. Behind me was a view below of Paradise Valley. It truly looked like paradise! I was nervous walking out to this point but once again, the greater the risk, the greater the reward! We took turns standing on this rock to have our winner's shot taken!
I really didn't believe anything more today could be as beautiful until we took a detour on the hike back to follow a trail that would give us a bird's eye view of Moraine Lake with some of a few of the Ten Peaks in the background. The dots on the Lake turned out to be people in canoes. The water was the most amazing color of turquoise! What we thought was a clap of thunder or a plane turned out being an avalanche on the other side of the Lake, a very safe distance away!
After eight hours of hiking, I was pretty beat, my feet were tired and lazy, I had run out of water and was so glad for it to come to an end. There was agreement from all on this! There was so much to see today, nearing the end it was hard to take in any more sights or to even appreciate them as they should be appreciated! I took tonnes of photos and will look back often, it's a day I will relive over and over!
Today was topped off with a beer and burger in Banff! A beer never tasted so good! I devoured my burger and fries! I enjoyed being with the 12 others today who were all such nice folks. We shared many laughs and stories and most of all we shared in a fantastic hike that had beauty galore!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Saturday’s Destination

Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass

This will be my first time hiking in the Lake Louise area other than going up to the tea house. This is suppose to be "THE" time of year to do this hike as the larch trees are at their peak color! I hope to get some nice photos to share especially for my friends and family in Nova Scotia who are use to only seeing maple leaf colors this time of year. They say too, expect the trails to be busy.
The hike starts at Moraine Lake which has a view of the Valley of the Ten Peaks in the background. It is pictured on the back of the Canadian Twenty Dollar Bill that was issued between 1969 and 1979. The elevation for Saturday will be 720 meters with a round trip of 11.6 kilometers. This is a little steeper then any of my previous hikes. Bring it on! I’m ready! I bought new hiking poles! I guess the proper terminology would be trekking poles!

I never use to hike with poles but I did the last two times and notice a difference with how my knees feel the next day after doing a hike with steep parts. I broke a pole the last time out. My new ones are nice! They came with baskets to attach when snowshoe season comes around.

It’s looking like there will be 13 of us! Safety in numbers and yes, 13 is a good number! The Lake Louise area hiking rule states no less than six in a group!

Will we be lucky...with great sights to see? Stay tuned!

No Sweet Saunter

slow, slower and even slower
Today's Run
from Edworthy to the Y and back
15 km
8:45 am start
+13 degrees celcius
bright sunshine, not even a breeze
This was my first longer run since the half marathon just about two weeks ago. I wasn't packing any punch today. I felt like calling it quits pretty soon into the run but just thought, take it easy, go slow and enjoy! I rested for about 10 minutes at the Y and then did the return trip back. It was pretty quiet which I enjoyed! Normally I like when lots of folks are out running like on Sunday mornings. Autumn put on a great splash of color! I tried not to blink because I know here in Calgary, the colors don't stayed around long. With about a kilometer and a half to go, I felt like I was getting into the groove, everything was lining up and falling into place and from somewhere, I have no idea where, out sprouted a burst of energy! I put the pedal to the metal and finally got that run over with! Now I need a nap!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Celebrate Good Times!

Another year older for my friend Ms M!
The heart, the spirit, another year younger!

Lady Bell, Ms M and I were a little late in our celebrating as can happen sometimes but these occasions are important enough we manage to work them into our schedules one way or another. This time, for the first time, we tried out Smuggler’s Inn for Sunday Brunch! Our waiter was a character, our booth was cozy, the fire place felt warm (although we did not need a fireplace today), the food delicious and plentiful, and as always, the company and conversation enjoyable!

We had a couple of hours to spare before heading to other commitments, and being such a gorgeous day, we felt a park-type stroll was in order and Carburn Park was the perfect place to do that on this day! It was busy with bikers and walkers, fishermen and picnickers, dogs and ducks. The leaves have started their process of changing colors and looked beautiful as the trees reflected in the water. We even saw a pirate ship floating about!

It’s always nice to spend time together!
I’m glad we had today to share!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Buller Was My Everest !

It's all relative isn't it!

...and yes, there was snow!

We hit the highway at 8:15 knowing another group was doing Buller Pass and hitting the highway at 8:00. There is method to our madness! You see, we prefer others are on the trail before us to clear the way! With a bright clear blue sky, +2 degrees, not even a breeze, R and I reached the trail head shortly after 10:00. I shot this photo just as we are entering the forest.

As Gem Trek promised, the forest was lush, green and thick with a spongy path lined with mushrooms of all kinds. It was a gradual and winding incline as we forged forward. This was easy on the legs and lungs. The snow level was minimal, just enough to create a scene of beauty. The warmth from the sun peeking through was melting the snow on the tree tops spawning a continuous sprinkle of moisture dripping down on us for much of the forested part of the trail. The air was so fresh, so clean, so pure, it felt invigorating and rejuvenating getting rid of that big concrete jungle from all of my senses.

After roughly two hours of gradual incline, it felt cooler, the trees opened up to present an open pass with snow covered mountains on either side of us with our possible destination straight ahead. We found a gigantic rock perfectly placed by an avalanche beside a partly frozen creek. It was time to relax in the sun and dine. We would need energy if we choose to ascend further. This was where I zipped on my pants bottoms. My friend R decided to remain bare legged as many others did who passed by us. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Do we dare? What if? Looking to our left, to what lay ahead, we agreed to at least investigate!

We carried on approaching the base of what looked to be a grueling, strenuous, scary last push. We looked up to see dots, which were those that had gone before us. With one last check-in we agreed YES let’s do it! We had already come so far! It was a slow slog, slippery at times, quite steep, stopping every couple of minutes to catch our breath, to look back, to take photos. About 30 minutes later we reached the summit! What a rush! It was freezing cold and unbelievably windy! It was time for another layer. We could see Ribbon Lake down below on the other side. There were four others who reached the summit around the same time we did. We were all having turns taking photos of each other and devouring what surrounded us. After 10 minutes on the mountain top, we began to deal with the getting back down. Once again, slow going due to the slipperiness and steepness. I did the slow sideways shuffle down. We reached the base and knew the worst was over and we would be fine from here on in. We found a place that was dry and flat facing the sun to enjoy our treats. We shared our oatmeal raisin cranberry cookies and those two bite brownies.

The trek out seemed long. The snow on the path had melted making it muddy at times. It was still pretty though, and the sun was warming up even more. It took another hour and a half to get back to the trail head. We knew we were close when we could hear vehicles and see the tree line open up. What a welcoming sound and sight!

Today confirmed "the greater the risk the greater the reward"! Here’s looking forward to more rewards!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tomorrow's Destination

Buller Pass

According to Gem Trek Maps, Buller Pass is rated as a "strenuous day hike". The trail head is off the Smith Dorrien Highway (highway 742) near the southern part of the Spray Lakes Reservoir. This hike is listed as being a 14.9 km round trip with an elevation of 660 meters. Buller Pass will be my first Pass of this year’s hiking season. The trek promises subalpine meadows and alpine terrain, a mostly deciduous forest, creek crossings and spectacular views.

With a forecast of rain for the city of Calgary today, that could mean snow in the mountains. You have to go prepared for anything this time of year. Well, actually, when you go to the mountains, you have to go prepared for anything, any time of the year! What kind of hike are we in store for!

Stay Tuned!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rock n Rollin in the Rockies

My morning started early, 5:30 am to be exact, leaving me lots of time to take my time. Making the best of that, I sat by the window looking at the dark cloud covered mountains, sipping on my coffee and listening to the fireplace crackle. Yes, my room had a fireplace! As the time passed, I checked the hourly morning forecast so I could make a wise choice on running attire as that plays a big part for me. I came prepared with pants, long sleeve shirt, jacket, hat and gloves. I also tucked in what I decided to wear, shorts and a short sleeve shirt. That was the perfect choice for today!

The half marathon started 45 minutes before the 10km and the 5km so us halfers got the choice parking spots. In fleece and tear-a-ways, I walked around to loosen up, picked up my chip and took two bathroom breaks. Then back to the car for final preparations. I then seeded myself accordingly and waited for the gun! I couldn’t resist, a start photo! What a view ahead of us!

At 9:15 we were off! The first few kilometers were through downtown and throughout the townsite. We turned onto a pathway that followed the river and at times I felt like I was running in peoples’ backyards. This was a great way to see Canmore. I was paying attention to my walk breaks but not to the kilometer markers or my timing. I was engrossed in my surroundings. I felt enveloped in mountains! The first half was mostly flat, not so lucky for the second half. It was quite hilly, up and down, around, up again, up around and down and over and over and over...this felt like "rock n rollin". I just knew on the downhill I could make up time if I just open up and go with it. It was here, I was able to pick people off! Could all that mountain hiking be paying off? In this area, a bunch of people including three young boys were very generous with hi-5s. I participated and found myself getting high on hi-5s.
Around the 19km mark, I had a walk break, a few runners came from behind and overtook me. The photographer on the side, let them run by then aimed the camera at me and I heard click. I said "oh no, not during my walk break!"
The last couple of kilometers were going by quickly. I realized now that I was going to have a decent finishing time. To try and make it a more decent time, the competitiveness within took over and I began picking off those that picked off me. I finished strong and happy with my arms high in the air in victory, yet once again!
Having noticed Sarah at the start and along the route, I watched for her as she crossed the finish line. She was beaming bright, I could tell she had a good race too! Check out her race report. We caught up at the watering hole and made introductions. We chit chatted for a bit and took some photos. I then headed off to get some coffee, fruit, cookies and to hear the band play.

This was my fifth half marathon this year and it was my second best time on a course that was the hardest of them all. I will definitely sign up for this one again. But right now, I am excited for the Half Marathon in Kelowna in October and training for that.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Canmore is calling... I am driving there tomorrow! I have a room booked for the night with a kitchenette where I can pop my spaghetti in a microwave for dinner and make my power breakfast in the morning. Instead of getting up at an inhumanly hour and having a 90 minute drive to the race, I will now have a 10 minute drive and I can sleep in longer. Besides, I really like Canmore and I can enjoy the area in the afternoon.

Here is the shirt! Ooops, I’m so use to saying that, I mean, here is the sack! The race is going green this year! Instead of a shirt, they gave out a reusable, environmentally friendly grocery bag.

Other going green initiatives they advertise are:
  • a paperless registration, you can still register on Sunday, they will have a computer set up
  • cups at the water stations will be composted
  • human powered rickshaws to make deliveries to the volunteers instead of a van
  • they are suggesting car pooling to the event and have set up a site to arrange that
  • bring your own coffee mugs for this race’s pre race coffee tradition

These are a few, there are more, but what a great idea!

I plan to tuck my camera in my pack along with my gels, it’s small and there’s lots of room. I hope to have some along the route photos to share with you.

So here’s to having a fun time Running in the Rockies!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Forget-Me-Not, I Never Will

Eight of us signed on to tackle Forget-Me-Not Ridge today! I have done Passes in the past but this was to be my first Ridge. Even though this was another hike in K-Country, it was in a further southwest section, a part which was new to me and I did not know even existed.

We started off at 9:30, me being the only one brave (or stupid) enough to bare my legs. Within 10 minutes from the parking lot, we crossed over a large pink suspension bridge to a creek with a low enough water level that the rocks stuck out, so that meant no need for sandles. I knew this was going to be a day of spectacular sights when right off the bat, we heard what we thought was thunder then to look to the left only to see this! I herd of cowboys came storming out of the bushes herding a herd of about 50 horses through the bushes, across the creek and off into the trees to go, well, I don't know where!
The early part of the hike was the challenging part! It was 3 kilometers of approximately 600 meters of elevation. First through tree-lined, narrow, steep, muddy, winding, hair pin turns. This was the sludging part. Then it opened up, we were above the tree line on steep, frost covered scree which afforded us this kind of view. I made sure to look back very often, not wanting to miss anything and to make sure I had this image embedded in my mind. You can see the snow covered peaks in the distance which seemed to be at eye level which meant we were up high. Then down below, the fordging river, the road and to the right Forget-Me-Not Pond which was emerald in color when the sun shone on it. We followed the narrow path for a short distance along the slope. At this point I kept my eyes in front of me because when I looked to my right, I felt my balance go a little wonky. You can see some of the trekkers behind me. I was laboring with my breathing somewhat, that happens when the air is thinner higher up but we still slowly pushed forward.
After two hours and thirty minutes, we finally reach the Ridge. Even though it was snow covered, it still felt warm because of the work to get there and being closer to the sun and the reflection of the snow. I very discreetly gave myself a pat on the back. This was quite an accomplishment! Not only was I high physically, I was even higher mentally! We could see forever! I could even pick out city center towers, which looked like specks.
This was our dining spot, behind some trees sheltered from the wind, with a view of forever and other ridges around us. This is when I had to fleece up, and zip the bottoms of my pants on. The others were happy to see me put my bottoms on, I guess I made them cold when they just looked at my legs. My cheese sandwich never tasted so good (still not ready for those deli meats yet). Of course, I topped of my lunch with those two bite brownies. We stayed here about thirty minutes enjoying the vista, snapping photos and chatting about hiking equipment.
The trip down is always quicker and the first part was really quick. Most of the snow had melted by now but once we got into the tree line, it was even more muddie and the footing was not as easy on the steep down section. I was thankful for my snowshoe poles! This was the first time I ever used poles for hiking and if I ever take on a challenge like this again, the poles will be part of my equipment. Today my knees and ankles are thanking me!

To sum up today, I would say that Forget-Me-Not Ridge got its name from all the forgetmenot flowers that blanket the ridge but for me it will be forgetmenot because of being able to conquer the challenge, completing my first Ridge and for the amazing scenery!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tomorrow's Destination

Forget-Me-Not Ridge!
I sure hope it is unforgettable for all reasons that are good!

The co-ordinator for this hike sent an email reminder for tomorrow and this is what was included:
  1. Bear Alert: It is bear season. Ensure that you are prepared and educated on bear safety.
  2. Hunter Alert: It is hunting season in Kananaskis Country. Wear bright unnatural colours and be sensitive to the possibility of stumbling onto a bear enjoying something left behind by a hunter!
  3. Are you prepared for variable weather? Weather in the mountains is often more extreme than in the city. Make sure you are prepared for wetter, snowier, colder, and maybe even hotter, weather than you would get in the city.
  4. Since it's a slug going up, it's recommended that you bring your hiking poles.
  5. Please note: there will be one river crossing. Please bring sandles.

I've been looking for a little adventure in my life but UGH! what have I gotten myself into!

The Last One

That's It!
Today's Run
My Canadian Tire Route
Out the door at 6:55 am
+8 Degrees Overcast Cool
That was my last run until the Half on Sunday! It was a good strong one and I'm thankful for that. I thought about what I might bring to Canmore to wear for the race. I reminded myself that once again don't be swayed by those that show up in jackets and pants. (Well, unless it's well below freezing and snowing!) I get warm quickly and have learned from experience that being overdressed is so uncomfortable. I have shown up at races in shorts and short sleeve shirts and have been stared at by the majority whose attire consisted of the pants and jackets. Some of these times I have thought to myself, what the heck am I doing dressed like this! I have never been sorry though and I need to remember that! I will throw in the warmer gear, just in case, afterall, this race is in the Rocky Mountains and the tops of the mountains are covered in new snow from this past weekend! My base right now is more from hiking and biking rather than running, with one more last big hike tomorrow! Two days to rest should be sufficient!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Elbow Valley, a place.... just dilly dally!
That's what we did, Ms M and I! This day was planned for awhile and the only thing we hoped for was nice weather so we could thoroughly enjoy it, and that we did! Under blue sky and sunshine, cool temperatures and only a few other dilly dalliers, we made the most of our day.
We had our choice of picnic tables so picked the best one of them all. Location Location Location! Then laid out the cloth, opened our lawn chairs, got our coolers and baskets in place, we laid claim! After a cup of coffee and a chance to relax for a bit, off we went to follow the walkway along the river. It’s paved with steps up and down, places to sit, plaques to explain, view points, railings and scenery along the path like you wouldn’t believe! I’m really realizing lately what beauty there is in my neck of the woods!
We lingered over our picnic of salmon sandwiches, snap peas and carrots, havarti cheese, cole slaw and macaroni salad. The Chardonnay paired well! When it was time for fruit and nut mix that meant it was also time to bring out the crib board! The competition was on once again! We were competitive and fierce! I came out on top this time which means it is now 1-1 which means...rematch!
We spent the balance of our dilly dallying polishing off the wine this time along with those two bite brownies and basking in the sun by the river lounging in our lawn chairs!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Laboring on Labor Day

Isn't that what you are suppose to do on Labor Day?
Hello September!
Today's Run
10 km
a neighbourhood route
8:00 am departure time
+4 Degrees Celcius and Mostly Sunny
My laboring lasted long! I'm still dealing with the aftermath of Saturday's big hike but feel much better than yesterday which turned out being a bonking day! We all need those once in a blue moon, right? These fews days have only confirmed to me that Sunday's Half Marathon will be a fun one and not a fast one. Well, mine are never fast, but that is all relative! I have another big hike on Thursday but I will have two days of rest after that. Today's running hi-lite has nothing to do with running but seeing a City of Calgary Policeman radar check and stop a City of Calgary Parking Enforcement Vehicle for speeding! Shame Shame but too funny!