Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 24th at Whoville

Just a few photos from our Christmas Eve.

 It's a very green Christmas. It poured all morning (very, very wet trail run! I had to wring out my clothes when I got home). The afternoon cleared up and there was some beautiful sunlight coming through the mist in the trees.
 That's right. You are seeing cheese. Raw vegan cheese! It's made from cashew, macadamia, and brazil nuts, and they are amazing. There's a cheddar, a goat style cheese, a brazil nut pesto soft cheddar type and the darker one is a "Christmas" flavour made with hazelnuts. These are so amazing. I met this nut cheese maker through work, and her cheeses are amazing! She brought samples once and I couldn't believe how delicious they very cheese-like they were. So, I contacted her before Christmas and asked if she could make some for the holidays (she only does it as a hobby - so far) and they were delicious.
 This was our appetizer: black rice cakes with grilled pineapple & mushrooms (the sauce is a tamarind based reduction). Thank you Artful Vegan once again!
 The main dish was wild mushrooms in a cashew cream sauce (very rich!) with porcini fettucine.
And our tree! Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dysfunctional Family Christmas

I don't really feel this way, but I love it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wow it's been over a month! Time flies. 

So the run went well. It seems like just a couple of weeks ago, but it's been a month already since I ran the 24k Phantom run. All I can say about it is that it was grueling. I mean it's a great event and loads of fun, but it was by far the toughest trail run I've ever done. I've done 19k on trails, so I thought 24 would be okay. Well, add in the driving rain, cold, streams, and mud-sucking puddles to run through and it all equals a grueling run. 

It started out okay. I was a bit nervous. I had never really run a race with running buddies before so I wasn't sure if I should stay with them or do my own thing. I did a bit of both, and then by the time we hit about the 19k mark, we stuck together just to get each other through the last stretch and climb. I don't think I could have finished without them.

With about 4k to go, my calf started cramping and tightening up and I was hobbling a bit. I must have been a sad sight, soaked through, muddy, and limping. One running pal, ab, got a burst of energy at the end and took off. It was inspiring to watch, but I knew I wouldn't keep up. I ran the last stretch with my other running pal, mc, and we finished together in 3 hours and 7 minutes. Seriously, that was a grueling run. I think it took me all day to get warm again. Fortunately there was some great food at the end. It's a potluck event, and someone brought cup of soups and there were vegan options! It was the perfect food on a cold, wet day. 

There was a photo captured of me after the run, and I look like I'm about to cry. I don't think I was, but it looks like it. I'm huddled under the tent watching the other runners come in. 

Anywho...I finished! My longest trail race yet. So now, there are several in the running group who have entered the lottery for the Knee Knacker race in the summer, and I'm tempted. It's a 50k. I've never done that distance on pavement or trail so it's a pretty big challenge for me, but I might just enter the lottery. I still have time to think about it though. And there's always the chance that my name won't get drawn and I won't be in the race at all. I kind of like the chance of the lottery. 

Once the Phantom race finished, several of us from the trail clinic decided to keep running on the weekends until the next clinic starts. So we've been meeting every Sunday and running trails. It's been great to keep going and is the highlight of my week. Usually my December is pretty slow for running, so with the group, I've been more motivated to keep running throughout the month. 

I hope I can juggle it all come January when I start my course work as well. 


Monday, November 07, 2011

This week in running and other fun stuff

db and I didn't hike this week, and my clinic trail run was a short one because we've started the taper week. Race day is Nov. 12th. The group did have a nice easy run on Saturday, and a few of us have decided to keep meeting Saturday mornings after the clinic is over, which I'm really glad about because I want to keep trail running through the winter (it's possible here at the lower elevations), and I don't really want to go out alone.

At the end of our run, the clinic leader had some nice draw prizes. My name got drawn early so I picked out a pair of socks. I know it doesn't sound exciting, but for some reason a good pair of trail running socks seems to make my day, and they're not merino wool which is even better (cruelty-free socks!). I'll try them out this week before race day to see if they'll work for me so I can wear them on Saturday. They're supposed to dry fast so that could be really useful. I got very very wet a couple of weeks ago, which was fine for a short run, but for a longer distance I can see how blisters would be a risk with a sock that doesn't dry quickly enough. Okay enough of socks -- you can see how ridiculously important my socks are to me.

We also got our free technical shirt that comes with the race entry/clinic fee. It's a nice long sleeve technical with little ghosts on the front (the race is called the Phantom Race). It's pretty cute. I'll also have to take it for a test run before I wear it race day. I love the free stuff that comes with these clinics and races. It should be a good race day. It looks really well organized with heat lamps at the start line, and a potluck at the finish. It should be a fun day.

db and I have also signed up for the Running Room's Resolution Run on January 1st. It's a 5 k run that we're going to do together. I guess we should start training for that soon too.

I'm considering...just considering putting my name into the Knee Knacker lottery. The draw is in March and if your name is drawn, you get to run the 50k. It may be a done deal now that I've written about it. Of course I can only enter the lottery. There are no guarantees that I'll get in, but I have to train like I am in.

There have been some life altering decisions made around here at whoville. Yes, we have decided to buy winter tires. Okay, that's not life altering too much except for it's going to cost, but once they're bought, they're bought. Owning a car does cost a lot of money! It's worth it though.

No, the bigger change is that I've decided to go back to school. I know, I know. More school? Yes. I decided that I need a career change and that I really need to be doing something that will be more fulfilling in the long run, so I've applied to the Library & Information Technology program. I want to take a course online to start (the entire program can be done online!), and then aim for full time in the fall.

I can use credit from previous degrees (hmm...this next degree better work!) to fill in some of the electives that are required. It's a two year program, and I'm actually very excited about getting started. I wish I could start right at this moment. I'm just waiting to hear back from the program once they've received all of my documents (transcripts -- boy were those fun and stressful to track down and get sent off -- and letters of reference). Hopefully it'll be in soon.

I'm sure I can still work part-time and do full time studies by the fall. I've done it before so I  know what I'm in for.

So that's the news (if you haven't already heard).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Brother's Creek Loop

 A nice way to start a hike. At first look we thought these might be Chicken of the Woods, but after reading my reference book once we got home, I knew right away that they weren't. I'm guessing they are Velvet Foots (or is that "feet"), but without a more careful look I can't be certain. Mushrooms were abundant, and the edible we saw the most were Angel Wings, but we didn't collect any since they were quite damp and we had a long way to go. However, I thought if we had collected all along the way, we'd have quite a haul (a soggy haul).

Anywho...onto the hike. In the summer I had run part of this trail with my trail running group, and we had taken a side route that wasn't on the planned itinerary, but was a route that I remember commenting on how beautiful it was.
 db and I wanted to hike on Sunday, but the early morning rain made us a little lazy about heading outside so we took our time with breakfast and getting our day started. However, I was still up for a hike in rain or whatever weather was out there.
I remembered this side route we had run and looked it up, and found a nice loop hike listed that we could do in an afternoon. It also seemed like a good rainy day option since it wasn't about fabulous views or mountaintops.

The trail I was most interested in is called the Fire Access Road, which is actually the McNair Skidway.  "This trench is visible in several locations across the mountainside and was known as McNairs 'Fore & Aft' skidway.  In the early 1900's loggers pulled (skidded) logs down this trench by a steam powered cable system (steam donkey).  The logs were then transported to the waterfornt via a logging railway.(...) In the 1950's this old truck road was used to haul logs off the mountain." (from
 It's really not much of a road. It's a double track, rocky route that slowly ascends through a variety of forest up the mountain.

The weather was in our favor since the rain had stopped. It was foggy and damp, but we would remain mostly dry.

My interest to return to this trail was for the cedars. Once we left the Baden Powell trail and started up the "road" the forest was quite eerie. db suggested that the old stumps, logged in the early 1900s, reminded him of death (seems extreme, but it was eerie and we were thinking that it was a good Halloween trail). The fog amongst the tall trunks and these old massive stumps without much greenery around did make this section quite spooky.

The rain that we have had lately did mean there were several smaller streams along the way and at times the trail itself was a bit like a stream. We eventually reached the large cedars that I had remembered from my run in the summer (like the one two photos above). The trail was much greener along this section and very beautiful. Photos don't really give you a sense of the size of the trees so I didn't take many tree photos. db did take one of me hugging a tree (ha!), but I'll save that for another day.

The trail narrowed more and the scenery changed again and became more lush with more leafy foliage, and even more moss (is that even possible in the forests here?) and soon we could hear the creek.

This junction also leads to Lost Lake and Blue Gentian Lake, but we decided to stick with the chosen loop. We had had enough of climbing for one day, and knew that once you reach this point of the loop and cross the bridge the descent starts.
 The sound was incredible as the water rushed past us and over a small cliff. It was such a contrast to being in this area in the summer when it was completely dry. We didn't go to the creek then, but I'm sure it was probably just a small trickle since all of the other creeks we crossed at the time were bone dry.
 This is such a nice little marker and bridge. Most creeks aren't marked in this way, and I found it rewarding to see the sign because it felt like we had reached a destination. In better weather, we might have picnicked here.

Much of the descent followed a cliff edge that looked down at the creek, so we had the sound of rushing water as we negotiated our way through the soggy trail, and we had some impressive views of the creek at times. The Brother's Creek trail is very narrow and was quite damp, so we had to be careful with our footing and step around lots of muddy puddles.

At the next trail marker, we took the turn that had a narrow staircase down towards the creek and a bridge to cross it again. This is where we say this waterfall, and I remembered this section from the summer run because we had stopped here to break and have a snack. At that time the waterfall was a small cascade that seemed quite pretty. However, on this day it was a rushing waterfall, and we had to yell to talk to each other as we stood on the bridge. From the edge of the bridge we could feel the cool breeze generated from the water.

Our last ascent was up away from the waterfall (another staircase) before we started the rest of our descent that ended on a West Van. street where we had parked the car.

This was really a wonderful hike, and I think the damp weather made it even more beautiful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rubber Ducky Half Update

Here's the latest results from the Rubber Ducky race I ran to raise funds for Wildlife Rescue.

Place: 31
Age group place: 5th Female 40-49 (there were 26 in my age group)
Chip Time: 58:50.7

I'm pretty happy with those results. That's the fastest 11 k I've ever done! The trail training must be paying off.
The race is one lap around Burnaby Lake so it's flat trail with some spongy, boggy parts, but I went for it and I'm pretty pleased to place 5th in my age group and to place 31st out of 132 runners in that distance!
Thanks to my mom for inspiring me! She made a generous donation to Wildlife Rescue and I decided that I would run the race with her in mind.

Beware the Runner's High

I absolutely love my trail running clinic on Saturday mornings. It is all the way to the North Shore (about a 35-40 minute drive), but it's so worth it.
I get to spend 2 hours plus running/hiking trails and each week it's a new route of rocks, roots, and streams (especially this time of year) that has a new challenge. I'm usually with several people at a time so the thought of bears doesn't cross my mind (too often). I've seen some of the most beautiful trails on the North Shore that I may have never seen otherwise.

We usually start out easy and have some light chit chat going on between us, getting caught up or just making small talk. Then there's usually a steep climb that silences most people for a while and we get more focused on our footing and trying to keep the pace moving as quickly as possible. This past week I noticed that towards the end of our runs, we get really chatty and we have a bit of a runner's high so the mood is light and fun. Two of the more experienced runners were talking about a couple of Ultra races (50k and up) they have done or are planning to do in 2012. I listened with interest in their stories and their plans. Then, they suggested that I think about doing one of these races, and I seriously started thinking it was possible. Yup, the runner's high when everything seems possible and you feel no pain.

When we ran back to our start/finish point to sign out and do some stretching, the high was still with us and they almost had me convinced to go home and sign up for these Ultras.
I'd say it took about 15 minutes in the car ride home for me to know that there was no way I was going to get home and sign up for an Ultra.

Okay, it might be on my list of possibilities, but I'm not registering for anything yet.

This coming Saturday I'll be ready for the runner's high.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Favorites

 First I have to introduce the newest member at whoville. Owning a car is a first for us, and we held off as long as we could, but ultimately it came down to wanting to have access to all those things we love to do that Beautiful British Columbia has to offer.
db no longer had the company car on the weekends since he changed jobs (oh, did I forget to mention that? -- Long story, but it's all good now). Anywho...we found a nice little used Matrix that will get us wherever we need to go.
I still transit to work, and db takes turns with a co-worker carpooling, so we're still trying to minimize our carbon footprint even though it may have gotten a whole lot bigger just by owning a vehicle. Anyway, I'm not going to beat myself up about it any longer.

Now onto fall.

 The leaves are starting to change colour, but I haven't really been focused so much on the changing colours. It's been all about enjoying fall treats such as db's Apple Pie and freshly baked bread.
When I came home from work after he'd made pie and bread, the whole place felt so inviting and warm.

My favorite fall flower: the toad lily. This is probably my favorite lily (but then again whatever lily happens to be in bloom at the moment is usually my favorite). Lilies in the fall! It doesn't get better. Just when I thought the garden was winding down and I would have to start thinking about bringing in pots and tidying up for winter, the toad lilies bloomed. I love their freckled petals and their tiny delicate presence.
And then there are the mushrooms, a definite fall favorite. The Matsutake or Pine Mushroom was our first wild mushroom of the season. Unfortunately it wasn't something we found in the forest, but rather at the farmer's market. The vendor told us that they're from the Bella Coola and Terrace areas. That's a long, long way from whoville so I'm not rushing out to search for these (even though I know they're out there!). They had two large crates of Pine Mushrooms. We picked two from the less expensive ones that needed more cleaning than the more expensive ones. They were still pricey, but we really wanted to try them.

 The next day we went to our favorite fall forested area. On route to our chanterelle spot, db found this Boletus Mirabilis. It was in good shape having been somewhat protected from the rain by the canopy. (I wish I had taken more pictures of it. db took this one. I think the fork is supposed to give you an idea of the size, but it also might be a reminder to make sure you eat your mushrooms).
db did some research to be certain that it was edible and then sliced it and panfried it. I was reluctant to try it and thought that one of us should be alert and healthy enough to drive to the hospital, but then I couldn't resist, and I really was confident that it was an edible. Very melt in your mouth tasty. It's a shame we only found one.

Finally, the bounty. There were a few chanterelles on our way to our favorite spot, but nothing to get too excited about. We hiked up to our little mossy area in the woods and started looking around, but weren't finding much -- at first. Then, once we spotted one we kept seeing more and more. We left the smaller ones. The ones we did collect were clean and dry and pretty perfect overall. Again, that nice canopy over the moss seems to keep them from getting too damp. We'd find these soft green depressions where the moss had grown over the old growth and inevitably we'd find chanterelles. It seems like they're just starting.  More fall to come.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Run Trails Vegan, Run Trails

I'm completely obsessed with trail running now. It's all I think about when my mind wanders to running thoughts. The road is just a training surface now that helps keep me fit for the trail.

Seven weeks ago I started a trail running clinic to give me the opportunity to trail run with a group therefore making it more safe, and to prepare for a 15k trail race at the end of September. I am loving this clinic! It's all women (for some reason) and I can't wait to go every week. I'm always a little nervous each week, wondering if I can keep up or if I should even be out there, and every week I have an amazing run and feel sad that its over. I'll have to see if I can continue somehow in the fall.

I've seen some beautiful trails on the north shore. Each week we're given a map and written instructions with the distance of the planned run. There are leaders for each group (advanced, intermediate, and short) who know the trails fairly well and set the pace for each group. I've been trying oh so hard to learn to read the map and instructions, but we often end up on a different route for whatever reason. This is fine because it's always a great run and still keeps us in the approximate distance, but my map reading skills aren't really improving. One week I realized that I was reading the map backwards! Someone did take the time to show me where we were on the map, but it sill looked completely baffling to me.

There have been some beautiful views, and challenging trails (climbing boulders? ), and last week I did my longest run at 19 k. It took us 2: 50 to run it, but I was so happy to have done it.

With the race next weekend I feel pretty confident that I can go the distance with some power hiking up the steep sections. While I won't have the group to run with, I will have all those other runners who have signed up to go the distance with. I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Elfin Lakes

If you are ever on the west coast near Squamish, and plan to do some hiking, I highly recommend this hike to Elfin Lakes.  Situated in Garibaldi Park, Elfin Lakes is a fairly popular trail for both hikers and bikers, and on this long weekend it was quite busy, but not too busy so that we didn't have lots of quiet time with just the two of us hiking.

It looks like it's also a popular snowshoe hike in the winter as well.

Sunday the weather was incredible. It was a very warm day (mid 20s). I had read online that there would most likely be snow along the trail. There was. It covered several sections of the trail, but the trail was well marked.
A great part of the hike is along Paul Ridge.
 The views were unbelievable. Snow-capped mountains were all around. I felt like I was in another world, and so close to home!
 Tantalus Ridge.
 Mt. Garibaldi was a constant view along the trail. We never lost sight of this beautiful peak.
 One of the most beautiful trails I've hiked. The climb is quite reasonable as well. There's not a steep, steep grade like some other hikes I've done to reach views like this. Much of the elevation is climbed on the drive up, so it didn't take long to hike up into the snow.
 First view of the lakes! We would have to hike through more snow to descend to the lakes.
 Drinking lake or Swimming lake? I can't remember which one this is. I suspect it's the swimming lake since we spent more time at that one, and had our lunch next to it. We did refill our bottles from the drinking lake. As a rule, I never drink water from lakes or creeks (beaver-fever -- or Giardia -- and other nasties being the risk), but that little glacial lake seemed pristine and was marked as a drinking water lake, so I went for it (no beavers at that elevation I'm sure!). It was cold and refreshing.
 I took this shot while I was in the lake, so I guess it is the swimming lake.
 Here's my proof that I went into the lake, only up to my knees, and not just because that was the length of my pants. You have no idea how cold this water is! It's an ice bath. I felt okay as long as I didn't move, and I stayed as long as I could stand it. It felt amazing! There was a man on the other side of the lake who dipped in quickly up to his neck, let out a whoop, and rushed out. He did that a couple of times. It was quite entertaining.

When I stepped out of the lake onto the snow, I didn't even notice how cold the snow was. I have to say that the hike back to the parking lot was a lot easier after reviving my legs in the lake.

 One of the many valley views. The pictures of the valley do not do it justice. Sometimes the valley below looked as if viewing from a plane. We looked down at trees and meadows, sometimes small ponds appeared along the route. I kept watching for bears to appear in the valley because this area of Garibaldi Park is known to have the highest concentration of black bears. I think the trail was probably too busy for any bear to appear, and it was a fairly warm day, so it wouldn't surprise me if they were all hanging out in the shade somewhere, or knew much quieter areas.

 Mountain heather is abundant along the trail and in the meadows. There were lots of wild flowers, and because of the late summer we've had I still saw lupins and daisies.
 Back into the forest.
 False morel. There is a sign at the entrance of the park reminding people that mushroom foraging is prohibited. It must be picked over though. It wouldn't surprise me, and there's probably a reason for such a sign.
 Wildflowers! My favorite is this wild tiger lily. It's actually quite tiny. It's hard to tell from the photograph, but it's probably a bit smaller than an average daisy bloom.
 I was really excited to have seen these along the trail. I don't know how I missed them on the way up the trail, but I did see them on the way down.
Elfin Lakes is now one of my favorite places in B.C. Our second hike in Garibaldi Park and they both seem to be at the top of my favorites list.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to my brother!

Happy Birthday bro'! Wish we could be there for your birthday.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cloudy Day at Queen's Lake

What to do on a cloudy day? Walk and take photos, of course. I did still swim that day too. I don't think I missed a day in the lake (except for maybe the one day when we had a downpour).
 New Brunswick blueberries are the best!
 This is close to the main logging road. Beneath the power lines are blueberries everywhere. On another day (not the day we were picking berries, fortunately), db, my bro, and I saw a bear in this area. We were driving in the truck coming back from getting wood and db spotted the bear. It stood up on its hind legs, looked at us, and then ran towards the woods, but not before stopping twice more to look at us. Did I get a picture? Nope. No such luck.
 Queen's Lake.
 Good day to watch the loons. Every night we'd listen to them while drifting off to sleep in our tent. One night the loons were going and at least 2 owls. It was getting pretty noisy in the woods!

 Walk along the road.
 You have to make sure you feed the chipmunks everyday. They love the peanuts!
 Shangri-La1 The camp my brother built. This year he added the cedar shingles to the outside. There's enough room to sleep all of us, but db and I like the tent. It gives everyone a little more space, and I do find the tent quite cosy.
 You talkin' to me?
 The fireweed always seems to be in bloom whenever we are there.
 Evening drive led us to another clear cut area where there was a lookout. db had to climb it with his binoculars to see if he could see any moose.
Hey! I'm not a moose.