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.