Summer dreaming…adventures await

Crossing the peaks...

2014 Adventures on the HSCT – group crossing of David’s Peak:)

One of my favourite parts of summer is all the adventures we get up to.  This year, summer is late in coming and pretty sure some of the places we were able to hike/trail run this time late year are currently covered in snow.   So as of now,  I am  dreaming and planning.

In addition to a planned two week BC road trip this summer, here are some places on our list (okay my list and maybe I can cajole him into some of them).

At the top of our list, Wedgemount lake glacier.  It would be a first for both of us and may be an over night trip. Apparently there are tenting platforms and thinking of a summer night spent on snow capped mountains ad glacial waters, not to mention stargazing makes my heart soar.

Brunswick Mountain: I missed out last year because our trail running group did it when I was racing sky pilot (ok race is a strong word).  The scrambling required for Brunswick would be right up his alley, but  I may be a little chicken.  Brunswick  is definitely on both of our lists.

And some of my perennial favourites, the Howe Sound Crest Trail, Coliseum Mountain, Garibaldi Lake/ Panorama Ridge and Crown mountain. Crown was cloudy last year so hoping for a sunnier day for spectacular views.

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Climbing along the HSCT (2016)  (Photo credits: David)

 

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Crown Mountain (September 2016)  J. loved the scrambling but I was a scaredy cat

And this photo is not technically a summer adventure but it is one of my favourites.

 

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Oregon Coast 50km (October 2016 ) Not technically summer but just because:)

We will see if I can talk J. into some of the hikes.  Looking forward to another summer of adventures.  Hopefully the snow melts and summer arrives soon!

Looking to add to this list – so suggestions welcome:).

 

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This too Shall pass

“This too shall pass.”

I ended up in my PT’s office this am for the second time in almost as any months, having tweaked my ankle again.  I was not happy. 

The latest injury is courtesy of orientation run this past Sunday in Squamish as I marched through the beautiful trails, decidedly not happy after blisters and a jammed/bruised ankle.  Somewhere before 10km I tweaked my ankle, but apparently not enough to quit (or I was just too stubborn to bail). I had just about recovered from an ankle injury and was starting to log significant mileage.  I couldn’t believe this.

The good news despite a swollen ankle 48 hours afterwards, there are  no torn ligaments and I should be on the bike by the end of the week.  However this definitely means a few weeks of lay off from running and a different perspective.   I know in the grand scheme of things, this truly is small potatoes . There are much worse things in life.

But I’m still mad, and still pissed that all the work I have put in is set aside albeit temporarily, and training is stalled.  I do remember a life before running where I was very happy and yet it is crazy to think how big a part of my life running has become.

The danger lies in letting running completely define who I am and to draw my worth from being able to run.   The onslaught of social media does not help; admittedly  I am as guilty as the next person of playing the comparison game.

Jason reminds me that life (and running) is not a competition with someone else. And he’s right. I think back to why I started to run, my own reasons and not for anyone else. I run for the joy, and the fun;  I run to challenge myself and find the edges of what’s possible.   And I need to have a healthy enough perspective that when I am sidelined temporarily from running, that it doesn’t completely derail me.  But it’s hard.

Running has shaped so much of who I am in the past few years, given (and taken) in equal measures.  I used to be able to be completely selfish with my running but in the past few years, my priorities have shifted;  running is a part of my life, but not all of it.      And at the end of the day it  doesn’t matter how many races I have or have not run or how many miles I logged.  My family and closest friends me don’t care how far or how fast I can run and to be honest, if I run at all.  It’s only me who cares so deeply.  I suppose that is  worth bearing in mind as I work my way back.

 

 

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Long weekend adventures

While it seemed much of the running community was off in Winthrop, racing, cheering and crewing at Sun Mountain,  J. and I disappeared off to Squamish for some long weekend camping (sans reservations…gulp).  !  I have to admit I did have a bit of FOMO about not being in Washington this weekend, but our weekend away was just what was needed.

We decided on Paradise Valley  (Thanks to Alley for the great suggestion)  and at the end of the road (passing lots of cars on the way, we found a secluded spot to ourselves) – we later saw cars double parked, and a tarp literally by the side of the road.   J loves to “explore” while I will happily make reservations.  I am the worrier while J. knew we would find somewhere to camp.   He is often right.

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Hut Lake

Rushing creeks, towering snow capped mountains in the distance and best of all, amazing weather.  We spent the days exploring and hiking to two different lakes  (Starvation lake and Hut Lake), laying in hammocks and playing in creeks in glorious weather and drinking lots of beer.  We even had the lake to ourselves on one day (well except for a few mosquitos).   One of the lakes involved a 6km round trip hike (which I was delighted about….J. not so much).

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Starvation Lake

 

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Afternoons playing in creeks and lying in hammocks

 

It was so nice to disappear off the grid – where we cooked by the campfire, and slept in the kitted out truck (no more tents for us).  He even used foil to make egg cups where we could fry eggs over the fire.  I managed not to set myself on fire haha.

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At night we could hear the creek rushing beside us, and the stillness was amazing.  I didn’t really want to come home.  We managed to get a routine going – camp fire coffee tastes the best – and even found a discarded grill which over which we cooked our meals.

 

It was a bit of work to get everything packed and going – but so well worth it to disappear for the long weekend.  We even played in some waterfalls on our way home.

 

 

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One of my goals has been to write more this year.  Since my last post was in January and it’s now April, I would say I am falling a bit behind.

So, catch up.  This winter has been tough (well tough in Van city terms), rain, snow, and very scant days of sunshine.    I have logged a lot of miles in rain, snow, treadmill and Jason has even put screws in my old running shoes so I could partake in ice running.

After a “let’s see what happens and I just want to finish” 2016 year of running,  I put my head down and decided I wanted to put in the work again.  I hit my first 100km week ever (albeit at a tortoise pace but I don’t care).

For the last 10 days or so  I have been rehabbing a rolled ankle (sustained recently on a very adventurous trail run with Alley, which saw slippery bridges, snow, 3 falls, a bruised wrist and a rolled ankle between the two of us).  I ended up on my back, and realized after the fact, I tweaked my ankle. whoops.  Of course that didn’t stop me from finishing out the run.  Stubborn I  am.

Any how, I was not happy – but after a week of icing, heat treatment, balance exercises and anything else I could dredge up on the internet, I am back on my feet.  Not all back and not quite ready for trails yet but getting there.  My physio appointment is not for a couple of weeks, but I am slowly on the mend.  Also, pretty sure my physio would yell at me for running on the ankle but runners are a stubborn bunch.  I know 10 days is nothing in the scheme of injuries but it made me super crabby not to be able to run.  My run walk in the sunshine today has made me deliriously happy.

As for goal races this year – Squamish 50 (my nemesis) is on the list again.   I swore I would never run Squamish again right after the race  (in fact I told J. to shoot me if I wanted to sign up again) but somehow found myself on ultrasignup come registration day.

I also decided I wanted 2017 to be the year of my first 100km  Of course I didn’t really look carefully at the course description.  Exposed, 40 degrees, in a Lethbridge and apparently snakes on course.   I  didn’t really think this through mostly because registration sold out so quickly.

That is my race year in a nut shell (I might add races as the year goes on) but for now, that is it.  I have learned that racing 10 races a year doesn’t bode my well for me.  Partly because my body can’t handle that. Also  races get expensive, and maybe most importantly, trying to balance work, a social life and a supportive but non – runner partner means I get to be a lot less selfish with my time than I could once upon a time but it’s a trade off  I  happily make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elfin Lakes Adventures

 

J and I have had some prettys good winter adventures over the holidays and with our recent spell of cold and snow (aka deep freeze), I was eager to find another mountain adventure.

I had been pestering J to do a winter hike to Elfin Lakes for a while.  This week we made tentative plans for Elfin lakes, weather permitting.  It didn’t hurt that J. had new skate skis he wanted to test out. By Thursday the weather looked like it would hold (sunny, maybe a bit cloudy and not too cold).  We didn’t know the road conditions but with J’s truck which has 4WD and chains we figured we were as prepared as you could be.

Friday night was spent prepping for our adventure as we wanted to get out the door quickly. Saturday morning we were up at 5 am  and  on the road by 6am.  No traffic at that hour  so our drive was reasonably quick.

The roads were dark and the moonlight reflecting off the water along the Sea -to – Sky was beautiful.  The sky was dark but as we drove up the forest service road to the trail we could barely see the mountains silhouetted against a dark sky.  By the time we parked, the inky darkness had faded into light, and a light moon hung in the sky.

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Sunrise in the mountains

As we started our hike, the sky coloured pink.  Travelling in the winter was considerably slower than it had been in the fall/summer.  And at J.’s insistence we had brought our zip sled which yours truly ended towing most of the way up :p.  Also, our packs  were loaded with our gear. J. had even bought a wilderness survival booklet at MEC (given however, there was not a shrub in sight to eat I’m not sure how much the booklet would have come in handy had it come down to it :D).  I grumbled a bit,  as I like to travel fast and light in the mountains, but visions of potentially what could go wrong on winter adventures  were dancing in my head.  So, I carried the essentials (emergency kit, bivy, headlamp, fully charged phone, whistle, extra calories, extra mittens, and a rolled up down jacket and extra fleece layer).  He had all that, plus a compass, lantern with candles, matches, etc.

 

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Entering our winter wonderland

With the stops, equipment adjustments, it took us an hour 15 minutes approximately to the Heather hut shelter.  We pressed on, eager to reach the top. The views began to open up, and we followed the bright orange poles marking the winter trail.  The weather was spectacular; we had picked a good day to tackle this trail.

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Couldn’t resist playing in the powder.

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Few things in life make me happier than this.  Photo credit: J.

J. would turn around every so often and I would be  lagging behind, spotting  yet another photo taking opportunity. The views are spectacular and I could lose myself for hours in these mountains (literally and figuratively).

 

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J. soaking in the views enroute to Elfin Lakes

While Elfin lakes is described as moderately rolling, a full week of running before our adventure  meant my legs were already tired starting the hike.  Luckily J, likes to stop, look around and enjoy the scenery.  He reminds me that sometimes it is good to slow down, to take my time.

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Requisite selfie on the mountains – the only one we actually took together that day 🙂

I didn’t find out until the end of the day, but his feet were hurting the whole way up. The combination of different socks and new skate skis might have done it.  Meanwhile, I kept running ahead to the next marker, or lagging behind to gawk at the scenery. I could lose myself in these mountains (figuratively and literally).

At the top, we found a great little hut with spectacular views. We spent an hour and a half playing at the top, warming ourselves with this little candle lantern J. had picked up.  I also discovered the wonders of reusable handwarmers (so good).  The hot soup we had packed into his thermos and the flask of red wine I lugged up (in addition to the water) was working wonders.

I could have stayed up there all day, but eventually we  headed out as I didn’t want to be on the mountain after dark. (we did have a very good headlamp and warm clothes but still…) The afternoon sun was warm enough I peeled off layers as we made our way down the mountain. We chased the sunset down the mountain and of course my phone died at the very moment I was trying to capture (in my opinion) the best shot of the day (pastel pink colours, the fading contours of the mountains and a wide expanse of water). The whole scene reminded me of a Group of Seven painting. Sadly no photo of that moment, but we did capture some other moments.

 

We made it back to the car after sunset.  I am deliriously happy  (and happy to be done). J. was just tired.  It was an epic day on the mountains and can’t wait for more adventures.   The early wake up call was definitely worth it.

As a p.s  – we make it a practice to tell someone where we are going, when we start the hike etc, and check back in after we are done.  My mom had no idea we were in Garibaldi this particular day, but as we were driving back from Squamish, I see a text from her that reads:  “out risking your life again?” I had to laugh.

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2016 year in review

I’ve been struggling to find the words to accurately describe this year.  Let’s just say it has had its moments, both on a personal and professional level, but if I were to choose a word that best represented this year, it would be gratitude. I’m grateful for the different work experiences,  friends, family, many mountains and plentiful adventures and finding my way back to running after a year hiatus.   Here are some of my highlights:

  • My first mountain sunrise (hiking up Grouse in the dark with micro-spikes and headlamps was surreal)
  • Crewing for and watching Fat Dog racers finish 120 miles (not yet…)
  • Finishing Squamish 50 miler on a 30 degree plus day. This race was both a highlight and a low point.  Note: I told J. to shoot me if I wanted to sign up for this race again…
  • Winter hike to St. Mark’s Summit
  • Night snowshoeing – a friend’s full moon birthday snowshoe
  • Summer adventures on the Howe Sound Crest Trail
  • Oregon Coast 50km and visiting the Oregon Coast – unreal
  • A holiday break filled with alternate days in which we didn’t leave the house and went snow shoeing as many days as would not break us.  (as of this writing, my legs are rubber from all the activity I tried to cram in)
  • Watching the sunset on Hollyburn Mountain on Christmas day with J.
  • A spirited baby niece who is practically a toddler
  • An amazing partner – there is no one I would rather do life with. (even though at the moment he is glued to wrestling on tv and and shoveling chips into his mouth :D).
  • And to my friends and family who have shared this journey with me, you know who you are, you have helped shape who I am.  Thank you!

A year in photos:

 

 

 

 

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Panorama Ridge – July

 

 

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Manning Park 🙂

 

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Post race in Squamish the day after

 

 

 

 

 

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Moonlight snowshoe for Karen’s b-day

 

 

And above all, it is the little things for which I am most grateful: as  write, fat flakes of snow are falling and I am curled up by the fire with hot cocoa & baileys, savouring the last few days of the Christmas holidays and dreaming of next year’s adventures.

Goodbye 2016, let’s see what 2017 has in store.

 

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Oregon Coast 50km

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The Oregon Coast was a gift.

I had signed up for the Oregon Coast 50km back in April (race sold out in 36 hours), and figured it would be a good Thanksgiving getaway. It wasn’t hard to convince J.  He  remembered the previous Rainshadow race I had run and more specifically the pizza at the finish line :D.  We took an extra day on either end of the long weekend to make it a vacation.  September had been a crazy month for both of us and we were looking forward to this trip.

We left Vancouver early Friday morning (before 7 am at J’s insistence) and the weather was miserable:  rain, wind, fog non – stop.  At the border, border patrol asked where we were going and why.  Um, to run 50 km. Excuse me? (border patrol’s exact words)  So I repeated myself :D.  It rained pretty much all the way to our destination. I was a bit worried as running in such conditions would not be fun.

8.5 hours of driving (J. was happy to do all the driving) later, we reached Yachats.  Yachats is a beautiful little coastal town in the Central Oregon Coast and it took me all of 10 minutes to fall in love.  Our room at the inn faced the ocean, and every night we fell asleep to the sound of the waves and woke up to the same.  Need I say more?

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Sunset in Yachats

 

This race was a bit of an afterthought in that I had done exactly 2 long runs since Squamish 50 in late August (one of which was Sky Pilot) in September.  I had, however, run faithfully on the weekdays.  I had very low expectations and hoped I would finish. Dutifully, I laid out my pre – race gear and drop bag (including a second pair of trail runners). We had picked up groceries so we had dinner and drinks at the inn.

Saturday morning J. dropped me off at the Adobe resort (2 minutes away) told him the cut off time, and I did bag check, bib pickup and two bathroom breaks.  We were bused to our start line some 7 miles south to the town of Waldport. 7 miles of beach running awaited and oh my, the ocean was beautiful.  Runners milled at the start and with no fanfare, James the race director shouted, go! The most anticlimactic race start ever. I met some interesting people, including a lady who ran barefoot the entire way, and a guy who had never run more than 15 miles and started the race with no water, no food, hiking boots and khaki shorts.

I trotted along the beach being careful to go slow. I hadn’t really done any beach running, but luckily the sand was relatively firm.  Rolling waves, and fog and mist shrouded the skies. I had to pause and take a couple of photos.  Yes, I know this was a race.  Somewhere along the beach (right after I jumped into a huge puddle of water) photographer extraordinaire Glenn Tachiyama was waiting to capture the moment.

 

7 miles of beach later, we were on gravel road. My legs were a bit tired from running on the beach but a quick stop at our first aid station, fuel, and change of socks and shoes (we got wet on the beach) and I was off and running.  Nothing some flat road couldn’t cure.

I made some new running buddies, including a girl from Denver running her first ultra and a research scientist running her first, and I had company all the way to the 14 mile aid station.  We climbed through some of the most stunning trails I have ever seen. Soft single track, and carpets of moss. The trails were surprisingly runnable and I felt as though I was running through a scene from Lord of the Rings.

 

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Running through magical moss covered forests

 

Cape Perpetua was breathtaking.   I could see the highway, and ocean stretching out below us.Naturally, I stopped for a photo – op.    Then I chased a couple of runners down the trails, all the way to the 14 mile aid station.  Watermelon, coke, m&m’s and salt pills.

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Cape Perpetua

It was somewhere after leaving the 14 mile aid station (which also doubled as the 24 mile aid station) that I rolled my ankle, badly.    My foot just slipped out from underneath me and I landed on my butt. A passing runner offered his help. I thanked him and told him I would walk it off. I pulled myself to my feet and began limping along. I decided I would seek help at the next aid station (I didn’t know there was an aid station at mile 19.5) and thought I had 10 miles to go.  Well, by the time I hit mile 19.5 my ankle was no longer hurting, so I kept going.  After fueling, I felt a lot better and began picking up the pace, completely disregarding the fact I had rolled my ankle. I was careful on the downhills but in the last stretch I felt pretty good so picked up the pace.

J. was waiting outside our inn (we ran past at mile 8 ish and again at mile 27ish – guessing h) so that was a super nice surprise. He took a video of me the first time round and the second time offered me coffee (spiked) of course. Bless his soul. I told him maybe half an hour to the finish. I walked, trotted, and tried to run, and I could smell the finish line. Soon, I could hear it. I was on the tail of another runner crossing the finish line.  And then I was done.  Maybe I will go back and see if I can run it faster next year.

 

I promptly sat down, and pulled off my trail runners and my left ankle was the size of a baseball.  Oops.   A volunteer came to ask me if I wanted anything to drink. Such service   The volunteers at trail races are the best!

J came to pick me up and we enjoyed wood even pizza and several beers,  staying long enough to cheer in the last runners before heading back. The Oregon Coast 50km is a fun low key race (not technical and super runnable) and was the icing on a beautiful Oregon Coast trip.

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The Adobe – finish line of the 50km

*Post script – we spent another night in Yachats, and explored Florence, visited the Seal caves (only to be told the seals were hibernating – oh well).  The views along highway 101 are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Miles of white beaches, rugged coast lines.  I wanted to stop at every view-point.

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We went to the Seal Caves (only to be told they were hibernating) but these views weren’t bad either:)

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J. taking in the Oregon Coast.

Monday we left Yachats, and headed north, taking the scenic route, driving through Waldport, through Tillamook, stopping at Devil’s Punch, Rockaway Beach, and spending the night in Cannon beach in a quaint little one bedroom suite with the fire place with the ocean yards away.  We were treated to a brilliant sunset and sunrise in Cannon beach before we left.  As I write this, I can still hear and smell the ocean (yes I know we have plenty of beaches here, but it’s not the same).  I miss the Oregon coast already. We’ll be back.

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One last sunset in Cannon Beach 🙂

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