Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ran into a Family of Black Bears Tonight!

My running has been somewhat limited the last few weeks for 2 reasons. First, Neil's Dad is visiting from Edinburgh. Second, we are having an extreme heat wave here in British Columbia with several forest fires burning. Temperature records have been set with highs reaching over 100 degrees F where we live. Having an elderly visitor from Scotland has not helped! The concepts of drinking water, sunscreen, wearing a hat, staying out of the mid day sun are all foreign for him. Tonight I attempted a run at Hayward Lake on my own on the railway trail side. I was really looking forward to the outing. The day area at the lake was full of people enjoying the beach, lake and picnic grounds. As I headed out on the trail several people looked at me like I was crazy running in this heat. About 5 minutes out from the crowds I heard a terrible commotion to my left in the bush. I turn and discovered 3 bears up in a tree at the trail side desperately on route down. Not very graciously I must say! I turned around and did a sprint back to my car. There is nothing like the creatures of our land to define our place in this world! If others had been with me I may have had more courage to be curious but they were only feet away and I felt like I was the one crashing the party. Neil's Dad leaves Friday night and we are really hoping for some serious running this long weekend here in BC. For the last 3 years we have enjoyed a local 50 mile event in Squamish. Not sure with the lack of running if we can do it! The mileage we accomplish this weekend will be the deciding factor. Fingers crossed for cooler temperatures!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sad News from the West Highland Way Family

This morning as I was preparing to go for a run on Seattle's sea wall my cell phone went off - it was Neil calling from the conference he was attending here in Seattle. Tragic news from Murdo McEwan, Dario had passed away on the weekend while out running on the hills with his friends. I recall reading Dario's post on the WHW forum as they were organizing the run last week. I was really saddened by the news and found myself emailing friends who knew of him and reading all the comments on the WHW forum.

Neil and I first made contact with Dario last summer as we were driving on the Trans-Canada Highway talking to him on the phone, inquiring how we could sign up for the race. Dario was most enthusiastic about the event and told us how to sign up/pay etc. I recall Neil commenting when he hung up - what a nice guy...he was most helpful. Our next contact was at Christmas time when we were over visiting family and Dario offered to meet up with Neil and I to provide us with more details of the event. I recall meeting Dario at the Stirling service station for a coffee. He had a terrible cold. What a generous man to come out to meet with us when he really was under the weather. He brought gifts for us and the other Canadians signed up...Buffs! The few months before the race he was most helpful with the details that are unknown when you live across the pond. He figured out an estimated time for our crew based on my previous running events. I remember one email he sent he joked that his marshalls at the race were not versed in marriage counselling when we informed him that Neil and I were going to do the WHW together. He arranged for us to trial the transponders this year so friends and family could follow our progress along the journey. He greeted us throughout the race at many check points always inquiring how we were doing. I recall saying to Neil that Dario is everywhere on this race! And to be greeted by him at the finish with the whiskey was so special. The price giving was the best post run awards ceremony I have ever attended. He remembered something about every runner - very classy Dario! At the post race party he made a special effort to talk to Neil and I and I could tell he was truly proud that we had finished the event. I had purchased from Dario one of the West Highland Way stuffed dogs. When we returned home I said to Neil what should we call it and we both decided to call him Dario. So Dario sits on a chair in our bedroom, I give him a pat on the back every morning when I open the blinds. Now that pat on the back will have very special meaning each morning. Thanks Dario for touching so many people in many ways. Ironically when I finally did get out for a run in Seattle today I took my iPOD and it was playing some Scottish tunes I had loaded onto it for WHW such as Run Rigs version of Loch Lommond...that one was for you Dario! From the shores of the West Coast of North America and around the world today many people are feeling the loss of a great man. Neil and I had planned to try again for the WHW next year, now I feel even more passionate about returning. We really felt a connection to the "WHW Family" which Dario created. Thank-you to all his friends who were with him at the time. I hope you are OK ~

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Golden Ears Mountain

I did not like this section, the snow was slippery and I thought I was going to land in Pitt Lake!
Andy and I sliding down the snow pack. The only way to get down!

On Top!

There was a lot of snow!

The bugs were horrendous! That's me in the Midge hat we bought for WHW. Glad we had it in the pack!

Getting up there!

Pitt Lake below.

Randy, Andy and myself. Gold Creek behind us.
Today was the day that the journey up the Golden Ears worked for the 4 of us. Andy, Randy, Neil and myself. Andy and I had never been up to the top despite both of us living in the shadow of this mountain most of our lives. The park in which the mountain is located is named after it and the spectacular Ears can be spotted for miles throughout the Vancouver area.
High point: 5, 598 feet
Elevation gain: 4, 920 feet
We were on our way by 7:30AM. Andy rode his bike to Chad and Marla's so we picked him up there. Randy met us in the West Canyon Trail parking lot where the trail head starts. We started out running but after about 40 minutes it kicked up into some pretty rough terrain. It was great to have Randy along as he has not been out for awhile (something about working on his house??) Once we got up a few thousand feet the bugs started to appear and wow were they out in force! Black fly, mosquitoes, bees and wasps! Fortunately we brought along the midge hats which I wore for a lot of the higher altitude. Neil commented that it must be "hatch day" today! It was a warm day so that probably contributed. We were surprised by the amount of snow remaining and it slowed me down as we approached the summit. I was freaked that with one slip you could slide off the mountain. Not many hikers venture up on this snow! Neil commented at one point that when he did this a few years ago the ice axes really helped. ice axes brought today! The views were spectacular! The way down was very slippery and we decided the safest way down was to slide on our butts. Randy and Neil were off at high speeds down the face of the mountain. Andy and I decided to make a human toboggan and we took it in stages and made it down. Our butts were frozen, our hands were frozen (no gloves!) Back into the woods and the bugs are getting worse...if that could be possible! Once out of the high altitude the bugs were gone, the terrain improved and we were off running to finish the day in about 9 hours. A great outing with good trail companions! Thanks guys! It was fun.
Oh, must mention when we stopped at Chad and Marla's to get Andy's bike we were offered a cold drink. Perfect way to end it all, sitting on their patio reminiscing about the day.