Not-quite-Spring-yet trail run

I can’t wait for spring trail running in the mountains so I gave it a shot today. And I discovered that although it was sunny and warm, it is definitely not fully spring yet. This is really not surprising for end of February, but it has been unseasonably warm lately, making it feel much more like April. The ice was treacherous and covered about 90% of the length of the trail, making it absolutely necessary to have yak traks or other ice grips. I had to really keep it slow and walk carefully on most of the up and downhills.

The other indicator that trail running or hiking in the mountains in February is not that popular (or not that safe) is that in two hours of running, I only came across one hiker and his dog. Otherwise it was a very quiet run. I love those quiet runs, but I was wondering if anyone would come across me if I ran into trouble. I was trying not to think about bears waking up from hibernation a couple months early due to the warm weather, or the warning signs about cougars, or the cliffs immediately adjacent to the trail. But alas, it was a quite uneventful run.

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This trail was the Montagne Trail, a single track rolling trail on the north side of Canmore, Alberta. It skirted above the golf course but stayed off the steep parts of Lady McDonald mountain. I will have to head back out here to do the Lady McDonald trail to the peak in the summer sometime.

From what I remember, I think this is a very popular trail in the summer. I have heard it mentioned quite a bit but this is the first time I have been here.

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I had a great view on this sunny day of the mountains across the valley beyond the town site. I was inspired to do some peak bagging just as soon as the trail conditions improve – which is probably not before mid-June.

Just as I got to the car, a storm blew in with new snow. Good thing I didn’t start half an hour later. It would have been pretty miserable. But maybe the trails will be in better condition by the time I have a chance to head back out there for another trail run. Either more snow, or no ice would be great, thank you very much.

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Maybe I will aim for the peaks when summer hits. They look enticing

Montagne Trail in Canmore, Alberta. 1 hour west of Calgary, just outside the Banff National Park gates.

11 km, 1:45 hours – This sounds slow, but the ice made it tough going.

There’s ton’s of trail running in the Canadian Rockies. Check out this post

 

Just me and the trails

Trails I run – Calgary, Kananaskis, Canmore, Banff, and everywhere between.

Collage of my trail running from late Winter to late Spring.

Instagram of the amazing trails I run: @trail_runner_guy

Stories to go with the pictures here: Ha Ling PeakEpic Trail Running, KananaskisGalatea CreekJasper, Hamilton Lake, Powderface Ridge

Hamilton Lake Trail – Don’t do it in May!

Tip: When running a lonely mountain trail, google it first! Check out the trail conditions before committing.

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I didn’t Google Hamilton Lake trail before I ran it last weekend. If I had, I would have found out that it was at least 2 weeks too early in the season to try to get up there. I was post-holing up to my knees for the last 500m (i.e. very tough slogging). At the top I discovered that the lake was still frozen over and not much to look at, let alone soak your feet in. This was May 30th. But the backdrop was amazing, making up for the tough conditions.

Hamilton Lake is a tiny mountain lake located near Emerald Lake which is a popular tourist stop in Yoho National Park, adjacent to Banff National Park. Emerald Lake is a must see, and Hamilton Lake is a tough hike from there.

I should have taken one of several obvious hints to do this trail later in the season:

1) The hand-made sign at the bottom recommended snow-shoes and bringing a buddy for the steep avalanche area. The sign looked legit for winter conditions, but it sure didn’t look like winter conditions at the bottom (900m lower). When I saw it, I felt the sign should have been taken down long ago.

2) I was trying to figure out if that many spiders would build webs across the trail in the middle of the day after the on-rush of morning hikers. As it turned out, there was no rush of hikers that morning, or who knows how many days before that. I was the first in a long time.

3) The snow peaks had fresh snow on them, but I thought it unlikely this trail went that high. Wrong!

The touristy trails at the bottom were packed on this amazing Saturday afternoon, but my trail was VERY quiet (i.e. absolutely no one for 2 hours).

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The inspiring view at the bottom of Emerald Lake makes you forget it might still be winter way up there.

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The first glimpses of snow, but by then I was 600m up. No turning around.
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View of Emerald Lake from half way up.
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3/4 of the way up
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500m to go
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Post-holing knee deep for the last 500m
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Hamilton Lake – Frozen over, but beautiful backdrop.

Just as I turned around at the top, I suddenly sunk to my waist and nearly lost my shoe at the bottom. Crawled out, with blood streaming down my legs from the ice slicing my knee.

Then I saw fresh bear tracks on the snow-covered trail.

Then I left in a hurry making sure my bear bell was loud and clear.

1.5 hours up, 0.75 hours down. 11km round trip, 900m vertical

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Faces of the Bow River

Most of my runs are along the beautiful Bow River within the city limits in Calgary Alberta. I am lucky the river virtually runs through my backyard and that the riverside trail system is so accessible from my place.

I find the running water so inspiring. Here’s some recent views from my runs.

Good Thing It’s Not Dark! #seenonmyrun

Who knew there were such sketchy spots along Calgary parks pathway system?

Tunnel along Calgary trails
I’m supposed to run through there? Good thing it’s not dark yet.
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