Sunday, June 16, 2013

Banff, Alberta

 This past week we had a 4 day trip to Banff, Alberta. Neil had a 2 day conference there so we added a couple of days to enjoy the splendour of the Rocky Mountains. This photo was taken on one of the hikes we did in The Cory Pass.

The Banff Springs Hotel where the conference was held is the castle in the distance.

 At the height of our climb which was very steep we were at 7, 700 feet.
 The wild flowers were starting to bloom - amazing through such cold winter temperatures and such high altitude they come back every year. This is known as  a "Paint Brush".
Great place for a lunch break!
A friendly Big Horn Sheep encounter...the coat on him did not look good. Neil reassured me this is normal for the spring.
Late in the afternoon we climbed the Temple Mountain viewpoint. In the mountains late in the day often storms appear - we watched this storm roll in. 
Too much snow on Mount Rundell right now we were told to climb it - we are back to Banff in the fall and this is on our to do list!
Always a great place to visit - looking forward to our next trip in the fall.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gambier Revisited

After our first visit to Gambier Island in 2011, I thought I would never go back.  In 2012, I was somehow duped into a water taxi ride there to bag Artaban after a trip to Anvil Island. This past Sunday here we are (Dave, me, Craig and Neil)  waiting for the water taxi to pick us up in Horseshoe Bay for another trip to Gambier Island. Never say never! The purpose of Sunday's trip was to complete some peaks that have been added to the Bagger Challenge in the last two years. A trip to Gambier is an experience in itself with a water taxi ride in the early morning hours across Horseshoe Bay.  It makes one truly appreciate the land and sea of South West British Columbia and all its natural splendor.   
Dave and I all fresh and ready to take on the day.

Nice view from Burt's Bluff. It gave us a good perspective of the island. 
Neil enjoying the views and capturing the perfect photo!
Happy Anniversary! Sunday was our 23rd wedding anniversary. I bet not a lot of others get a trip to Gambier Island for their wedding anniversary. We were talking it up calling it a cruise to a Howe Sound Island with an exciting excursion to the high point(s) of the island! Lucky ME! ;-)
On our way to Burt's Peak - now that's an island adventure to remember with your husband!
At the cairn on Burt's Peak.

On the descent from Burt's Peak we came across some animal bones - Neil identified the species - a deer. We lost the trail coming off Burt's Peak. However, Dave did a great job of leading us through a steep and nasty bush whack to finally find the trail once again.
Neil on the trail that goes across the island. The packs were loaded for the day. Well, at least the guys packs were loaded for the day! ;-)
This is the climb up Mt. Liddell. It's nasty! Full of many generations of blow down and rotting wood. Thank-you to those who marked the route with pink ribbon - it gave us some sort of direction to follow.
                              More of the same.                      
Plenty of decaying deadfall to travel under, over and through. I found the return down hill much worse than the climb up. I think I was getting tired from all the obstacle courses.
There was plenty of slimy moss on Gambier - very slippery! Best to just go down and slide over it.

Craig and I trying to find the way through the trees.

Wow - finally at Gambier Lake!
The puddles are full of Salamanders. We even saw a snake at the top of Gambier Peak.

Finally an opportunity to run the last 7km's. The water taxi was meeting us at 9 pm. Yes that was a long day...8 am pick up in Horseshoe Bay and 9 pm pick up in New Brighton Bay on Gambier. 13 hours!
Meeting the water taxi.

This is the inside of the water taxi ( ship!)

 Tired Dave and Craig - the seat felt very good! Same water taxi driver we had at 8am! A long day for all but a job well done! We have completed all the peaks on the island that are in the Bagger Challenge - compleatists of Gambier we are! Well done Dave, Craig and Neil.
Now I can't sign off without mentioning that this was our last regular outing with Craig. Craig is moving to Kamloops. He has found a special person there and employment in his area of expertise. We are very happy for Craig. However, Team Dodgy is getting thin we may have to send out an offer for new members. ;-) We will miss you Craig - for many reasons! I will really miss him as the guy who makes sure I get off the mountain trail. We have had a mutual helping trail buddy relationship. I help him with the up and he helps me get down! I think his job has been harder than mine. All the best Craig! We wish you well.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Vancouver 100 - one of my favourites!

The Vancouver 100 is one of my favourite events! It is a Club Fat Ass event that starts in Deep Cove and travels to Nelson Creek (near Horseshoe Bay) on the Baden Powell Trail and returns to Deep Cove. There is 16, 300 feet of ascent and 16, 300 feet of descent for the full course. It is set up so you can customize your journey and participate in many forms to suit. You can participate as crew, as a pacer or as a runner. I have participated as crew, completed 25km, completed the 50 km (in both directions) and completed the full course of 100km. That is what I really appreciate about this event - depending on what your training needs are at the time or whether this is your top event for the year - everyone can participate! It is a great day for all!

Neil and I just completed the Cateran Trail Race in Scotland  (88km/55 miles) and arrived  home last Sunday. We had been planning to participate in the V100 this year and were looking forward to the event. Neil was keen to run on his own and Wendy was committed to support me along the way. Chad and Marla were up for the adventure and to share the journey with me. They both have some exciting upcoming ultra events and were keen for a good challenging outing at V100.

The alarm went off really early - 2:15 am - ouch! We dropped Chad and Marla's car at Cleveland Dam at 4:15 am. This would serve as our support vehicle at Cleveland Dam. We then all drove back to the start just in time for Helen and Dave to send us off at 5 am. Many folk were asking where is Craig - the Race Director?

Craig where were you at this point? I think he was a couple of hours out of Deep Cove on his return to Nelson Creek. Craig started the event on Friday afternoon (remember you can custom your distance and even the RD took advantage of that!) He had a master plan, a rather dodgy one. Craig completed 75 km.

The early morning was very humid- we were all feeling the muggy conditions and noticed how much we were sweating. We reminded each other to take salt tablets and to keep the liquid and calories up. Wendy was there for us right from the start with water top ups at every opportunity for the first 25km. She even surprised us with Tim bits at Mosquito Creek.

We arrived at Cleveland Dam in about 5 hours which is what we anticipated. We were focused here to refuel, I changed my socks and shoes, added a warm layer to my pack and enjoyed a Gatorade and sandwich. Helen informed me that Neil had hurt his knee. He tried to get out of the way of a elderly lady with 2 dogs and ran into a stump that punctured his left knee with a piece of wood and whacked the knee really hard. Despite the knee trauma, Neil carried on.

After Cleveland Dam the climb continues until the top of Black Mountain. The snow was deep! We had heard via the grape vine that snow levels were really low and poles and yak traks weren't required. About 30 minutes after we left Cleveland Dam Neil sent me a text and suggested we bring poles as they would be helpful! Too late we were on our way. I felt quite unprepared for the snow with only wearing road shoes and no poles.

The snow was deep and soft! It was slow going!
Parts of the trail had some really slippery sections where we took turns wiping out. Here Marla had just slid down from the top of this snow section. I saw it happen - it was like slow motion and I shouted out "stop Marla" but she just kept sliding!
Marla was wearing green, I was in purple and Chad was in orange. When we wiped out we would shout "purple down", "orange is down".
We are making progress!
At the top. And happy to be there and out of the snow. Chad did well with the route finding. It was a good thing I wasn't on my own!

The snow was done...but now the journey down was rocky.
Rocky trail! 
Close to the finish Chad had a whopper of a slip. The log was quite large so there was plenty of room to walk over. However, it was a bit slippery! I saw Chad do the complete splits over the log and then slide sideways to a stop. I thought the outcome of this would not be good. However, "orange" stood up and announced he was fine. What a relief and Marla and I broke into fits of laughter!
 It looked very similar to this:
 Not long after this incident, wounded Neil approached. He could hear our laughter in the woods. He had finished at Nelson Creek and turned around to come out and meet us. His knee was bandaged and looking sore. How nice of him to come out and meet us! Wendy greeted us in Nelson Creek and we all went out for some sustenance at the Black Bear. Good work team Maple Ridge! Another 50km completed.
We received a message from Helen late that night - Dave completed 85km.
So another year wraps up on my favourite ultra event of the year. Thanks Craig for another exciting year at V100. That's another ultra in the bank! Which brings me closer to 50 Ultras.