"Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations. If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won't exist because you'll have already shut it out." -Mae Jemison, astronaut

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hello Mountains!

Me, descending from Mt Burke
Ahhh, for one long year I have pined for your root-riddled trails, softly covered with conifer needles. How I have missed shouting "cooooeeee" and "heyyyy hoooooo" to warn away bears, whilst barrelling down single track at a quad-destroying pace. And grunting up steep slopes, looking for glimpses of blue above, which might signal a summit is imminent. Sucking in the thin air whilst gazing far down at the road where my car sits.

From the brambles and flat "downs" of England, where we covered 105k in a week with barely 800 metres of gain, we have hit the Canadian Rockies in all her steep glory, covering 115k in a week - and with 3900 metres of gain!

We have summitted Jewel Pass over the "Prairie View" loop and run the Powderface trail on a Wednesday night, covering 15k with +800 mtr (bonus for me in there with a wee bit of sheepdogging).


Rolf at the old fire lookout (circa 1954 - the lookout, not Rolf!)

This past Sunday we did an all day run - leaving home at 6 AM, we drove 2 hours into the heart of the mountains and did a "3 peak" run. You know you're with the right group of people when you post an all-day 40k 3-peak run with two days' notice and get 8 replies! So 10 of us started from the base of Mt Burke, for the 900 metre climb to the summit at nearly 2540 metres. Until it closed in the 1950s, it was the highest fire lookout in Canada. It's amazing that after another 60 years of weathering blizzards and sun, it still stands.

On our descent from Burke, we run into another ultra runner, Wayne, with two others, doing a day hike up Burke. It's a brief chin wag, sadly, as we must keep moving to bag all three peaks in the day. You never know where you might run into a problem with navigation or otherwise that could slow the group down.

Another peak (Raspberry), another picnic!
One runner left us after Burke and 3 others carried on immediately to peak #3 (Mt Lipsett) to get a head start. That left 6 of us to go up Raspberry Ridge, the site of the new fire lookout for the area. From here, you could clearly see Mt Burke and the old Cameron fire lookout where we'd just been - that was pretty cool! This peak was an insane climb of 600 metres over 5km, in burning sun with little tree cover.

In the cars for a 30 minute drive over to Mt Lipsett, losing one more runner to time constraints on his part. Now we are 5 going the 700 metres up Lipsett, to summit at nearly 2600 metres. On the way up, we meet our other party of 3 coming down. They won't be convinced to come back up with us! They have their eyes firmly on their tailgate treats in the car and a soak for their legs in a stream.

On Mt Lipsett, 5 PM in blazing sun, the last peak!
We linger a full 30 minutes atop Lipsett. It's 5 PM, we're at altitude, and the sun is still hot. Last time we were here, in early September, it was snowing. Two weeks ago, we are told, there were snow patches. We enjoy our descent as best as possible on tired quads. After a tailgate party to fill our bellies, we separate into two groups for the drive home, stopping at a mountain lake for a quick soak.

The next two days stairs are not my friend! This day basically mimicked what we need to do for TransAlps for 8 days straight: average 40k/day with +1800 mtrs. Thank goodness we have another week here to train!

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