Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Run for the 2013 Marcothon.

Late in the day, Neil, Fergus and I went to Hayward Lake for the last run of the 2013 Marcothon - I did it! I've really enjoyed the challenge this year and I am going to try to keep it up for the month of January.
Tonight we are having a quiet New Years Eve at the farm and are planning our goals and vacations for 2014. Looks like a busy year ahead with:
  • a wedding to attend in Maui
  • a 110 mile run in Scotland for Neil (I'm crewing!)
  • a conference to attend in Norway and a marathon to run while we are there
  • complete the Vancouver 100km event
  • an east coast trip in Canada and a few other local ultra events throughout the year
Congratulations to all who completed the Marcothon! Happy New Year...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Night Ride on the Seawall...keep going Marcothoners!

Today was a fun day of activity in Vancouver. We ran on the Baden Powell trail in North Vancouver for a couple of hours. We had a good climb out of Grouse with plenty of running time as well. I made my 25 minutes of Marcothon time - with plenty of time to spare. There are only a few days left in December for the Marcothon - I am predicting a strong finish for both myself and my running buddy Craig (who has moved to Kamloops and has faced some real severe cold weather challenges for the Marcothon - he has run every day in December as well!).
After the run, we walked to the post Christmas sales on Robson Street - it was busy. Neil found a book by a Scottish author that had been recommended by brother Graeme. It was the only copy in the store...good catch! After shopping fatigue set in we headed out for a bike ride on the sea wall with our city bikes that Santa Claus had brought us. We knew darkness was looming, Our new bikes are nicely equipped with good lights and we wore our headlamps that helped light the trail. It was a beautiful night in the park tonight and we observed several cars stopping to take photos of the city lights - I think as cyclists we are appearing in a few tourists photos! 
 Nice view over to Canada Place and the Convention Centre.
The bikes are great - they have the 29" tires instead of the usual 27". I think it just makes you work harder - which is actually a very good thing!
Keep it going Marcothoners ... we are almost there!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Outings and the Marcothon Continues...

I have really embraced the Marcothon this December. I've enjoyed adding longer runs during the week with being on vacation this last week. I am thinking of challenging myself to keep it up for the month of January - that is running at least 25 minutes every day and that does not include other activities or classes. We often have long outings on the weekends but miss a day or two during the week. We are signed up for TRX and Yoga again for the upcoming months and manage to get out for week day runs 2 -3 times during the week but making yourself run every day with our busy lives is the best challenge. I have really appreciated putting myself first for 25 minutes (at the minimum) each day. We had snow in Vancouver prior to Christmas but now the snow has melted and the temperatures have climbed making the mountains slushy with snow.
Here's a city view from downtown Vancouver.
I took this photo of Coal Harbour from the seawall during a seawall run one evening. It was dark but the flash brightened up the sky.

Fergus sleeping with his Santa toy. 

The snow and the lights at our house on the farm.

Our big tree in the garden with the snow and lights.
A snow run at night with Fergus.
An attempted snow shoe outing on Mt. Seymour - the trails were closed, the snow was slushy and wet.
A trip to the Santa Claus train in Stanley Park.
Shopping for accessory pillows - sending random texts to Kendall Ansell our interior designer for approval prior to purchasing. ;-) Check out Kendall's website at www.kendallansell.com for all your design needs. She completely furnished our condo in Vancouver from a distance. Awesome job Kendall, we are loving it!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Marcothon

It is half way through the month of December and therefore half way through the Marcothon. As we all know, December is a busy month. The Marcothon challenges you to run every day in December for 25 minutes. Now that doesn't seem like much but trust me at this busy time of year it is tricky! It does not include other activities or classes nor can you do more one day and hope it counts for the next day. You miss a day and you are out! Marco from Scotland was a smart guy who created this challenge.
 I have participated in the Marcothon the last few years successfully and so far so good again this year. I have had to be creative some days this year such as running up and down our drive way for 25 minutes when the ground was covered in a couple of inches of snow and the road was too icy to run safely on. Another challenge is when the Christmas parties are after work parties. A quick change into the running gear and then back into the party outfit. Some days I bring my running gear to work to hopefully get out at lunch but that never seems to happen. Neil tries every year but usually misses a day mid week when work and the farm overtake the day and night - which happened about day 2 this year. We are half way and personally for me I am past the busiest part of the month. Whew!
Fergus checking out the Christmas Tree.
We attended the Vancouver Canucks game last night vs the Boston Bruins. Great game - Vancouver won 6-2!

Fergus is helping me with the Marcothon - today Neil, Fergus and I ran for 1 hr 45 minutes on the sea wall - an out and back. Tonight we went up Grouse Mtn hoping for some snow shoeing but the snow is not quite ready for this. They were night skiing on the groomed runs but we need a little more snow for the snow shoe trails.
Good Luck to all participating in the Marcothon! We are half way there. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Baggers Banquet 2013

Friday night was the annual Baggers Banquet to celebrate every one's achievements who climbed the local North Shore and Howe Sound Mountains in the Club Fat Ass Bagger Challenge. This is my fifth year participating and finally I completed all the "must do peaks" in the competition.
The Compleatist trophy! I climbed approx.150 peaks over the years and a total of 55 different mountains.
The winners of the night...from L to R. Harry for youngest Bagger to complete the most peaks, Dave completed and won the Twisted Quaich award for exceptional flagging marking the way for those to follow, Bill was the overall champion for the most peaks climbed, myself (compleatist, first female to complete and receiver of the Quaich for the female who climbed the most peaks this year) and the Baggermeister, David.
Members of team Dodgy who did it!! Neil and Dave also completed all the peaks this year.
Myself and Sibylle, leader of Club Fat Ass.
Saturday evening team Dodgy attended the Craig Ferguson Show, the Scottish comedian. Lynette worked some magic and the next moment we were back stage having a personal photo with Craig. It was a great way to end another season of peak bagging. Congratulations to all who participated in the Bagger Challenge. It was great to hear your peak bagging stories and plans for the upcoming years. Now it's time to focus on trail running and snow sports throughout the winter months. Well done Baggers. Happy trails!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mt. Dickens, my Final Peak to become a Compleatist in the Bagger Challenge.

On Saturday morning Neil, Dave and I converged at 7am in the dark of dawn at Cates Park Marina, North Vancouver to meet the Captains of the good ship Green Dog. Ken and Tom. We were joined by fellow passengers David and his son Harry. After successfully loading and launching the boat we headed out into the murky and very misty waters of Indian Arm and set course for the Wigwam Inn where we would moor the boat and head up the trail to summit Mt. Dickens.
It's going to be a good good day!
  It was perishingly cold on the boat, particularly for Dave and Neil who drew the short straws for the seats at the back of the boat. However, it was exciting for all as we really couldn't see very well and the navigational skills of the Captains and David became key to keeping us on track.
Captain Tom
Captain Ken
David and Harry keeping a watchful eye for land masses.
 We made it to the end of Indian Arm, and unloaded onto dry land at the creek bed that has become our entry to the steep east side of Mt. Dickens. Historically, Mt. Dickens seems to have enjoyed some popularity as a local peak frequented by guests of the Wigwam Inn in the early part of the 20th century.  Documented reports talk of Victorian ladies in summer dresses making their way to the top. This strikes me as somewhat questionable, particularly from the eastern approach, given the fact that the journey is essentially a steep bushwack from sea level to the summit at 4,225 feet!
Anyway, off we went following on what is now becoming somewhat of a recognizable trail up Mt. Dickens. There were a few dead salmon lying around (spawning season) that were a bit frightening, they camouflage well with the rocks - only the smell of dead fish gives them away!

 Certainly, we Baggers have done much to open this route up.  It is considerably shorter going the water route than coming in the traditional route on the other side of the mountain.
It was steep.
Typical West Coast forest
It was about 4 hours up.
 And so after a few hours we burst out onto the Indian Arm trail some short distance from the summit.  The Indian Arm trail runs south to north over the ridge summit of Mt. Dickens.  It is an infrequently hiked long distance route established some years ago by local outdoors enthusiast, Don McPherson.  So we gathered as a group there and made our way to the summit for a special celebration of Bagging success and trail camaraderie.
Dave and I celebrating Completing the Peaks in the Bagger Challenge with this climb of Dickens
Tom, Neil, Harry, myself and Dave.
The first female completest and the Baggermeister of the competition.
We had a great celebration on the top, a tea party! Ken made very good Chai Tea on his camp stove
Plenty of celebrating and good reminiscing.
David and Harry enjoying the views
More tea, biscuits and laughter.
On our descent, the fog remains below
Here comes the Green Dog to pick up the weary baggers
Bundled up on the boat - we enjoyed the views with the lights along the shore
Neil and Dave braving the return journey.

 This was the final peak for myself and Dave in the Bagger Challenge list of all peaks.  Neil completed a few weeks ago. This makes me the first female compleatist.  Quite an achievement for Team Dodgy!

We had fun at the top and enjoyed beautiful skies and warm temperatures while those at sea level were still in the fog.  After some toasting of achievements all round  - as well as peak success, Ken celebrated a landmark birthday recently, we made our way back down to greet the Green Dog.  Reaching the water just as dusk approached we loaded ourselves back onboard to a feast of salty chips, 7 layer dip and refreshments. The Green Dog does a great job of catering to it's guests.  It was a memorable journey back to Vancouver as darkness fell and the lights in homes along the coastline turned on to shine brightly along the waters edge.

 It was a great day out and many thanks to Ken and Tom for supplying the watercraft transport.  Thanks also to David for "inventing" the Bagger Challenge which has kept the last five years full of fantastic memories of adventures in the local mountains. Lastly, congratulations to Neil, Dave and myself on completion of all peaks.  Well done team and I hope you have enjoyed all the trail tails!  I look forward to some new adventures and challenges but a return to Mt. Dickens would certainly be entertained - it's a classic and an awesome way to finish the peaks in the Bagger Challenge. See you fellow Baggers at the upcoming banquet!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Beautiful Day on the Howe Sound Crest Trail - Thanksgiving Weekend!

Sunday morning Dave, Craig, Neil and I were on the Lions Trail by 8:30 am. Craig was in town for the weekend to participate in some final bagging of the season (and of course to spend time with his family). It was great to have him along on the journey to make team DODGY almost complete. Liza has moved to Calgary so we were team DODG for the day. It was a beautiful fall morning. The small parking lot at the trail head was full so we parked back at the school parking. This allows for a walk up the steep road to view the homes of the residents of Lion's Bay. The trail starts as an old logging road, we met a few people heading out for their adventures for the day. One hiker was on his own and was going up Mount Harvey. I gave him the "be careful" warning as I have had (x2)moments coming up the back side myself.
Once we branched off the logging road onto the Binkert Trail (the Lions Trail)  we were greeted with this sign.:) Team DODG had plenty of fluid with us and we have the art of water treatment down pat to reduce our risk of having to take water from any creeks.  
Crossing the bridge over Harvey Creek. There is a plaque on the bridge (next to the unfortunate graffiti) that dedicates the foot bridge to Lions Bay Search and Rescue co-founder Marcel Andrie.
Once out of the trail that climbs up through the woods (about 2 hours up) you come upon boulder fields with stunning views below. There were patches of ice on the rocks which can obviously be very dangerous.
On our way to up to the gathering place at the base of the West Lion. We peaked over the edge, looked way up and ran into some familiar faces. Team DODG decided to carry on to Enchantment Peak and for those who were keen could go up the West Lion on our way back.
View back to the Lions from Enchantment.
The East Lion, a massive rock formation. The Lions are a very prominent feature on the North Shore skyline. It was quiet surreal that we were playing around at their base. Every time now, when I look up at them I will always remember having been there. That pretty well summarizes the reflections we are having of the North Shore mountains as we close in on completing all the peaks on the Bagger Challenge.
The "back view" of Cathedral Mountain (where we were a few weeks ago).
Coming back on the Howe Sound Crest Trail - this section really is a ledge with room for a piece of your foot with a shear drop off - I don't like this type of exposure. That's me in the middle with Dave leading and Craig contemplating from behind.  
Ah - the leap of faith - thanks Dave for catching me and not letting go! I see now in this photo that you were really on the edge yourself. I recall you saying along this section - don't push me when you land! I get it now. Last night in my sleep I had a few flash back moments - perhaps you did too!  
Once back at the base of the West Lion, in the interests of time and family, Neil and I opted to leave our team members and carry on back down the trail. Craig was determined to climb the West Lion and so he should having lived on the North Shore all his life and now having the opportunity to summit on such a glorious day. Dave phoned Helen who agreed to pick them up in Lions Bay and so Neil and I wished them well, said our good byes and headed back down the trail, making it back to the truck just before dark. The Thanksgiving Turkey dinner tantalizing smells were incredible going through the Lions's Bay neighbourhood prior to reaching the truck. We were hungry! I stashed Dave and Craig's bags they had in our truck in the woods and texted where they could find their bags. We were anxiously waiting a text from Craig and Dave to say they were safely off the West Lion. We knew they had headlamps and it wasn't a first for a journey out in the dark for team DODGY.  Congratulations Craig on climbing the West Lion and #3 for Dave! The West Lion is not a difficult climb but involves significant exposure for us part time rock climbers.  I must end this blog by admitting our timing was off for the day and we were 2 hours late picking up Fergus (dog) and 2.5 hours late for our own family Thanksgiving dinner. (Give thanks for microwaves and forgiving family!).  Next weekend we plan to climb Dickens Peak which will make Dave and myself "completeists" in the Bagger Challenge, to join Neil who finished a few weeks ago. We are very thankful for the high pressure ridge of fine weather that is allowing great bagging opportunities for another week! Happy Thanksgiving! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Three Canyons and the Rocky Mountains

Neil and I recently returned from a trip that took us to the Grand Canyon (North Rim), Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Lake Louise and Emerald Lake). It was a very active vacation!

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Our cabin where we stayed - it had some unwanted guests  - mice. We should have clued in with all the Hanta Virus warnings. We caught them eating Neil's Ginger Snaps at 3 AM. Good thing Neil is a rodent control expert and was able to chase them out and secure us a few hours more of sleep.
 The Lodge at the North Rim - beautiful big rooms for nightly entertainment and views of the canyon.
 Sitting on a stone wall at the Lodge - spectacular views. 
Neil enjoying the views on the Adirondack chairs at the lodge.
Heading down the North Kaibob Trail into Roaring Springs Canyon which leads to the main Grand Canyon.
Rock overhangs!
It was fun running down on fresh legs. Last time we were here we had already completed Rim (South Rim) to Rim (North Rim) and were heading back to the South Rim. It was great to just enjoy the outing.  
More Kaibob Trail.
The trail continues across the canyon.
  Large canyon walls - we look pretty small!
Pathways to run on with drop offs - we stayed close to the walls!
Almost done - the climb back up was tough (high altitude!)but not as bad as the last time.
At the top of the trail on the North Rim. The North Rim has an Alpine forest at 8,700ft above sea level which is quite a contrast to the rest of the Grand Canyon.  It was a great out and back, fun running down and an awesome climb up. We went to Roaring Springs (the main water source for the whole Grand Canyon) and then turned around...our  plan was to get to Zion National Park before dark that day.
Zion National Park
Climbing up Walters Wiggles - this was fun! 21 steep switch backs that are a marvel of trail engineering.  We hiked/ran down here on our last trip - the Zion traverse, at the end of our long journey in May. Great to revisit on fresh legs.
Switch back!
The trail up Walters Wiggles takes you to the trail to Angels Landing. This is the most popular trail in Zion National Park.  It was very busy with tourists, many griping the support chain for dear life as they made their way up and down.  Good thing the chain was there as the drop offs were severe - 1,500ft straight down to the canyon floor!  
High walls of rock.
Plenty of slickrock to play on. 
Plenty of squirrels around - last visit Dave dropped his pack before the climb up the North Rim and the little critters chewed through his pack and ate his Fig Newtons. Looks like this guy was eating bread - another tourists lunch.
The trail to the Narrows - you can start your canyon water experiences from here.  The sport activity is called Canyoneering where you wade or swim through water using the riverbed as your trail. 
Bryce National Park
From Zion National Park, we enjoyed a day trip to Bryce National Park, just over a 2 hour drive away.
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon. There is accommodation in the rustic lodge or you can stay in a cabin close by.  
There is a path from the lodge that takes you to this overlook of Bryce Canyon below. You would have no clue this view was there unless you come and stood on the canyon rim. Many trails to explore! We chose the Fairyland Rim Trail which provided us with spectacular views of the many formations in the canyon and the Queens Garden trail that took us down into the canyon and up showing us many incredible rock formations... one of which is said to resemble Queen Victoria. It actually did!

Views from the Rim Trail.
A perfect hole in the rock to frame the perfect picture!
Lighter coloured rock on the other side.
Having a seat on an inviting rock to take it all in.
Neil running up to the Bryce Canyon Lodge - a tourist shouted out "show off|".                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Banff, Emerald Lake and Lake Louise
We arrived in Banff to much colder temperatures than we had been experiencing south of the Canadian border. For our first outing we climbed Sulphur Mountain which is 7.800 feet. It is a steep climb from Banff where we came upon snow about half way up the climb. We also visited Lake Louise and Emerald Lake some of our favourite spots in the Canadian Rockies. It was snowing lightly which made some of the hikes so beautiful.
Snow in the Mountains.
On the trail up Sulphur Mountain.
Banff is way down there - it was a big climb up!
We opted for the cable car down.
 Views from Tunnel Mountain in Banff, the local "Grouse Grind" climb.
 Top of Tunnel Mountain with the snowy Peak of Sulphur behind.
Emerald Lake, one of our favourite spots!

 Mt. Burgess, towers over Emerald Lake. We have climbed this one.
Wapta Mountain, with the Wapta Highline Trail that passes through the Burgess Shale, a World Heritage site of geological significance.  The shale beds here contain marine fossils laid down approximately 550 million years ago when the area was all under water! 
The end of Lake Louise looking back at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
We enjoyed a few more nights in Banff to end a great vacation of Canyons and Mountains!