Prairie Link Loop – Places to Run

I have run this 12km loop once before, maybe 5 years ago but I had run it clockwise. When I ran it last week, I decided to do it counter-clockwise. Well my memory wasn’t quite as good as I thought and I was second-guessing a little too much. I had neglected to take a photo of the trailhead map since I was sure it was on my phone somewhere. But when I needed it I couldn’t find it. So I was within 100m of turning around at the half way point when I came across the bridge to assure myself I was still on the right trail. There weren’t many people on the trail to ask, and definitely no direction signs. That was very close to a disappointing run!

Then within 500m of the bridge I missed the next turn even though there was a trailhead map right there. So I did an extra 1.5 km in the wrong direction before my brain kicked in with its internal GPS to override what looked right on my actual GPS.

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I love these bridges

So going counter clockwise, in mid-April I found some ice on the trail at the very end for several hundred meters near the parking lot. But overall, the trail was very dry, especially for April. I don’t remember any mud. We’ve had a very dry winter / spring.

There were maybe 10 others on the trail that I ran into over the 2 hours out there, on a weekday morning. On the weekends, it is full of mountain bikes and there can horses too. But this was a great time to be out there. I don’t get many weekday mornings to get out there.

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Hoping there’s no bears or cougars around the corner. The bear spray is buried too deep in my pack for that kind of surprise.

 

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Rocky Mountains as a backdrop
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Unfortunately, all the sections of trail that were this smooth had incredibly steep or were long hills

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Now that’s a cold river but it felt great on the feet (for the few seconds it took to take the photo).

 

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Can you tell where I lost the trail? Yeah, I didn’t read the sign and assumed I knew the way. Good thing my internal GPS kicked in eventually.

To get there from Calgary, head through Bragg Creek to Kananaskis Country, and park at Elbow Falls. Before mid-May the road is closed beyond this point but it is only 500m to the trail head. In the summer you can drive right to the parking lot for Powder Ridge Trail. That’s an amazing trail too. So is Prairie Mountain. So much to hike and run from this one parking spot.

Praire Link Loop – 15km with the wrong turn (12km otherwise), 360m elevation gain

Another Sunny #Runch in Calgary

It felt like everyone had vacated the Calgary downtown towers at lunch today and were out for a run or walk. Me included. The pathways were packed. It’s great to see so many people getting some fresh air, stretching their legs, and getting energized for another afternoon in a cubicle again.

I sure needed the run. I had skipped two days in a row, even with the nice weather because of … well… life. Life just gets in the way sometimes.

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The economy is slow around here so many people don’t have the workload pressures they have in past years. So I guess that means more and longer lunch hour runs for a lot of people. It probably means longer lunches on the outdoor restaurant patios too, but I’m not in that scene. I just whiz past them.

It is a long way from spring yet, but the temperature was up, the sun was out and the ice along the river was melting fast.

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Looking at how many pictures I took on one run, I am now wondering whether it was a hard enough run. But it was a fun run, at least.

This weather, and the thousands of other runners are a great inspiration for the spring races coming up.

See you out there for a #runch sometime.

 

 

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

 

Sun and Ice

After a long weekend of standing on my feet exhibiting at a conference, I was able to get out alone in the woods to be by myself in the quiet and go for a run.

It was a recovery run. Recovery from a weekend of talking, socializing, and people-time.

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Nature, trees, trails. I love the therapy it provides.

And being a Monday afternoon when everyone else was at work or school, I got the place mostly to myself.

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It looks like soft snow, but disappointingly it really is crusty packed ice that is great at twisting ankles. 

 

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The sand over the ice should have made it less slippery, except in the places where I couldn’t tell where the sand stopped and the ice started

Now I need to go to work, even though it is still sunny. And then I need to go on another run.

 

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.

Seen on my run – brand new bridge

Sunrise and a bridge

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50 year old bridge replaced
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2 years after the flood washed out the 50 year old bridge, there is finally another one. We can cross the river again without a 5 km detour

Seen on my run – sunrise on the trail

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Much better running weather these days. And unexpected sunrises.

Seen on my Run – Before the View Comes the Stairs

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Stair workout by the culing rink, north of downtown

No Longer the Biggest Fish in the Sea

Calgary Tower
The Calgary Tower has been eclipsed in recent years by much taller buildings. And the construction boom is far from over.