Shores of Lake Victoria

I get to spend a couple nights on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, East Africa. We are in Entebbe for some decompression after having spent over a week in rural Uganda where I led a team of volunteers. Tomorrow we fly home.

Unfortunately I have a deep chest cold so I didn’t run today, but I did go for a walk and do some stretching this morning on the beach.

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I love exploring while traveling. Maybe tomorrow I can run along the beach if I am feeling better. Looking forward to a sunrise run and a good ending to a great trip to Africa.

Source of da Nile (denial)

I am lucky enough to be traveling for work in Africa. I have gone for a couple runs so far in the city of Jinja, Uganda. It is amazing here to be at such an iconic, historic place.

Yesterday, I picked the right road to run on apparently since there were about 10 other African runners when I was running just after sunrise. I was definitely a spectacle with my white skin that nearly shines in the dark streets that have no lights. But the other runners had friendly waves.

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The rain makes for some very messy and muddy roads. And the red dirty makes a mess of your clothes. I think my shoes are permanently stained red.

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The Nile River is very wide at the start with a dam immediately downstream from where we were. This view was from the hotel where we were staying.

I didn’t see any alligators or hippos but I know they were there. I wouldn’t want to have to outrun a hippo. I hear they are deadly. Alligators too.

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Backroads near Jinja

I love exploring by running wherever I happen to be traveling. You sure get to see a lot.

Knoll Hill and Ford Creek

On Saturday we explored an area of Kananaskis we haven’t been to in a while. It was part of my reconnaissance of my race next weekend and we turned it into a weekend family hike. The trailhead was near a picnic area at the forget-me-not pond which was absolutely packed on this beautiful weekend. After our picnic lunch we hiked up this lonely trail that the tourists obviously were not fond of.

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We hiked up an hour, saw an amazing view of Powderridge Mountain and then went back down to the river to cool off.

This area is popular for horse back riding so the trails seem wider, but not less steep. There are lots of loose rock and tree roots so it will be a pretty hairy section.

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It was good to be able to check out this part of the trail race so I can visualize it before I get there.

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Sideshow Bob – Trail Running in the City

Some of the seldom-travelled trails in the city are definitely worth trying out. I ran these trails on the banks of the Bow River in Bowmont Park in Calgary with my kids last night and thoroughly enjoyed them.

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We saw some beavers, ate lots of saskatoons, heard rustling in the trees (deer and squirrels, I hope), huffed and puffed on the steep uphills, and awed at the river at sunset. We didn’t have to get out to the mountains to experiene the amazingness of creation.

I don’t think I have ever seen the name “Sideshow Bob” on any map or trail head anywhere, but I’ve heard it among the trail runners in the area. Even the mountain bikers like this trail, although seldom is anyone on the trail at all.

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We even got a sunset over the Bow River as we were finishing up.

Bladder Troubles (The Plastic Type, Not The Organ)

I’m getting frustrated with my running bladders. I’ve been buying the cheaper ones and they have been springing leaks. The first one a couple years ago was “experienced” (used) and after bouncing around in my oversized pack, it developed a few small holes. After taping, gluing and otherwise trying to patch the holes I bought a new one.

The next one developed a leak from a safety pin rubbing on it. The next one after that started leaking on one of the creases from probably too much pressure from bounching around. I unsurprisingly neglected to always pack extra stuff (weight) in the pack to keep the bladder from moving around when it was more empty. The leaking hasn’t been terrible but after an hour, the whole bottom of the pack would be wet. So I wasn’t losing much water, but it was annoying to have everything in the pack all wet. And when things like your TP gets all wet, you can get very frustrated.

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So just today I went out to get another one. This one is advertised as more durable than the last few cheap ones I’ve had. Also, I’m trying to fasten the bladder a little tighter in my bag and stuff a shirt in that compartment so it doesn’t bounce so much. The material looks more durable (but heavier). And the hose / fittings / opening don’t look as cool as the last one I had.

So we’ll see how this one turns out. First run, in about 10 minutes.

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.

Being outside is where it is at

My bike ride in to work is not usually worth noting but yesterday the sun was just right coming up over downtown. I had to stop to take some photos.

Amazing views are my excuse to spend more time outside.

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Places to run – Bow River pathway network

Yesterday afternoon I stepped out for a mid-day run along the Bow River pathway network.

This popular loop has almost no elevation change and there are multiple places to cross the river to change the length of your run.

It is very well maintained through the winter. The city prides itself in having snow cleared off before the bike commuters every morning.

At 3:30 on a workday, the pathways were very quiet.  However in another hour the bike commuters will be fighting for space on the trail too.

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This bridge is almost never empty. Crowchild Trail pedestrian bridge
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Busy road beside the pathway along the south side of the river. Especially when the commuter traffic picks up in the afternoon.
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10th Street Bridge
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10th Street Bridge
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7.5 km with almost zero elevation change

Seasons of River Ice

Out my backyard and down the river bank trail for 100m, I get this view everyday on the way to the bus stop.

Shouldice Bridge crossing the Bow River.

December 2014 to January 2015.

Stay tuned for an updated gallery as the season changes into Spring, Summer and Fall again.

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