Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Run BC Project

Girls + Mountains = Rad
Over the past week I have driven 1800kms of winding roads, run close to 130kms of pristine alpine single track and climbed a super dose of elevation in the mountains of BC alongside 11 rad women. The inaugural Run BC Project was an epic road trip to remember and I am grateful to have been a part of it!

I had the pleasure of co-organizing this trail running adventure with head organizer Jen Segger, of Challenge By Choice Coaching in Squamish.  Jen couldn't have selected a more magical series of high alpine trails to showcase the best running that our beautiful province has to offer.  From an overnight in an alpine hut to swimming in emerald lakes and bagging 2400m+ peaks, this classic trail running road trip had it all.

I will need to write a 6 chapter story to cover all of the moments, laughs, adventures, mis-adventures and memories from our road trip (stay tuned!) but I will start by sharing a few of my favourite images from the week.  When it comes to the endless giggles and confessions in the van, what goes on the road, stays on the road!

Day 1:  10km undulating route with moderate climbs from Whistler mountain to Russet Lake Hut.  From the Peak Chair, we ran Highnote Trail and rolling Musical Bumps into Garibaldi Provincial Park. We shared supper in the hut and finished the evening with a thimble each of red wine and dark Denman Island chocolate.  Chanace and I chose to sleep outside in my tent, with the wild mountain wind.  It was a cold night, with a leaky thermarest, but I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Our crew on Musical Bumps Trail on the edge of Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Russet Lake Hut and Fissile Peak in rear.
Jen, Ashley and Sarah, soaking up the sun at Russet Lake Hut
Home, sweet home.
Day 2: 14.5kms descent from Russet Lake to Whistler Village via Singing Pass trail.  After hot drinks and bars for breakfast, the group descended the Singing Pass trail at a steady clip all the way back to Whistler Village.  Next stop: Revelstoke.  We drove  510 kms of winding roads, with a break for Mexican in Salmon Arm, my old firefighting home,  before arriving at Glacier House Resort in the 'Stoke' at 10:30pm.

10 women are sleeping in here right now.

Ashley warming up in an alpine sunrise.

Day 3: 22.5kms of beautiful alpine single track in Revelstoke National Park.   Pristine emerald lakes, meadows bursting with wild flowers and big views in every direction.  7.5kms up to Eva Lake, then 5kms up and over the saddle to Jade Lake for lunch.  Eat week was in full swing and I managed to consume an entire wheel of Natural Pastures gold medal Camembert cheese in about 4 bites during our short break.  We finished with 9.5kms of mostly climbing back out to the trail head for a 22km loop in paradise. Cold coconut waters and high fives at the van before heading out on the next leg.  We were on the road and heading to the Kooteney's by 5pm, via the Arrow Lakes ferry for a 250km road leg.  I was stoked to cross paths with an old friend from Rapattack, Dave Sprouleo, for a special 20 minute, 10 year, catch up on the boat.  Serendipity hard at work.  We drove on and spent the night in two old cabins in the woods between Nelson and Salmo...and Spring (aka #pebbleshoespring) and I slept under the stars in side by side hammocks on the front porch.  Lovely.

Sub-alpine running at it's finest.  Eva Lake in Revelstoke National Park.

Climbing up to Jade Lake through endless meadows of wildflowers.  These Dr. Seuss like, Western Anemone's are my new favourite flowers.

Reaching the saddle between Eva and Jade Lakes after a 13km climb.
Mountain moments...reality or fantasy?  I don't care.

Chanace, living the dream.
Day 4: 22kms of undulating alpine single track in Kokanee Provincial Park, in the company of Nelson locals Randy and Carolyn.  We began with a steep climb up to Kokanee Lake then onward via more magical meadows to Kaslo Lake and the swank BC Parks Kokanee Glacier Cabin.  We added another 2-3kms out and back to the Slocan Chief Cabin for a view of the Kokanee Glacier herself. Out and back through the magical meadows and past the deep torquoise lakes.  After the run, we had a quick dip in Kootenay Lake before heading into Nelson for a few hours. We had our first chance to relax for a few hours in the afternoon, and we all found what we needed in the coolest interior town in BC.  Once again crazy serendipity worked her magic, and my old friend, Graham Marshall (from my first year crew at Rapattack) walked right up to me in the Oso Negro cafe.  Beyond stoked to have run into these old friends and to have the chance to visit with them for a few moments in time.  Mountain bellies were ravenous and we were on to second dinners by this point in the week.  First the Yellow Deli, then second, El Taco...we were bottomless pits!  After our second dinner, it was back to the cabins in the woods for a short, deep sleep.
Heading up up up through single track heaven...Kokanee Glacier in rear.

Coach Jen Segger greeting me at Slocan Chief Museum Cabin.

Day 5: 28kms on the Seven Summits,  my bucket list trail, in Rossland.  It was a well maintained, buff climbing trail beginning at 1575metres and winding upward through black spruce forests and dusty powder.  We reached the ridge and the route ahead was a single track addicts endless sandy ribbon laid out ahead with wide reaching valley views on either side-  Rossland to the east Old Glory to the west. We turned off the main trail after about 10kms and 600metres of elevation gain, to tackle Old Glory Mountain. The final climb up to 2350m and the summit was well worth the effort.  Show stopping views from the easy to gain summit and a windy lunch at the top with new friends.  Old Glory is higher than the tallest peak on Van Isle and we were able to run right to the top.  No ice axes or ropes were required, unlike most of the tallest peaks (aka the Island Alps) on Van Isle!  A fantastic 14km flowy descent via the Seven Summits and Old Glory trails wrapped up an awesome 5 hour day on the trail.
Crew photographer, Hanna Dewey, acting all bad ass during her turn behind the lens.  We paused for a few poses at Sunrise cabin on the way up Seven Summits Trail.
Lishe running free amongst the wildflowers on an endless ribbon of creamy single track.

Girls rockin Old Smokey Mountain at 2350m via Seven Summits Trail.

Hanna, returning home from the summit.

Next stop, Manning Park Lodge, 400kms on the road.  En route, the van got a little rowdy with van fever in full force.  An 80's rock hits CD turned up in the van after a gas station stop and the air guitar and head banging got out of hand in the van between Osoyoos and Keremeos.  We grabbed Thai take out in Keremeos but decided to sit and eat our grub in the sunshine.  We flopped down right on the pavement in the parking lot to a Thai feast...a move that would have made any tree planter proud.

Day 6: Manning Park, 28kms, Windy Joe and Frosty Mountain Loop Trails.  5.5 hours on the trail  including a summit of Mount Frosty at 2400m.  We cruised along an easy warm up trail then tackled the first big climb up a steady forest road.  After running for hours through wildflowers, beautiful old burns, and epic mountain views, we hit the final ridge and scree stepped it to the summit of Frosty.  We had lunch in the wind break, PB and honey and savoured the moment...  We finished the adventure with a lovely 12k cruisy descent all the way back to the van at Lightening Lakes for a quick dirtbag bath.
Hands on thighs, Sarah, earning her views en route to the summit of Mount Frosty.
Sarah and Chanace trekking in paradise.
Sarah, using extreme caution en route to the summit.

Chanance celebrating on the summit of Mount Frosty, 2408m.
Heading home after reaching the summit of Mount Frosty.  Bucket List peaks lined up in the distance...
The final leg of our journey was a long one...driving from Manning Park all the way back to Squamish and then home to the Comox Valley had us on the road from 1pm to 11:30pm when I fell into my soft, sweet bed.  Epic is a very overused word...but it is the perfect descriptor for this past weeks combination of alpine running, mountain women and miles on the road.  My favourite kind of week, but one I will need a week to recover from lol:).

This whole week was a trip down a dirty memory lane and my many years spent travelling the province as a tree planter and forest fire fighter with Rapattack.  It was sweet deja vu to relive my forest service years around every bend and in every small town we travelled through.  And it was so awesome to see the girls embrace the dirt bag trail runner spirit.  Sitting in that Keremeos parking lot together, while eating coconut curry and spring rolls in the late afternoon sun made my heart swell.  The girls were wearing five day old running gear (Icebreaker rocks!) sporting grubby hair and dark dirt lines around their ankles, but they all had big grins on their faces and were loving every minute of it.  These are my kind of girls.  They are dirtskirts, just like me.

Run BC: An unforgettable road trip, shared with amazing mountain women on some of the Province's most spectacular alpine single track.  Stories shared, hearts opened, dreams revealed and future adventures crafted. It was a sweet a rhythm of dirty sneakers, beautiful giggles, mind blowing mountains, endless roads and funky coffee shops in the best little towns of BC. 

Keep pole dancing on summits, ladies.  We need more women on top...of those mountains;)


Unknown said...

Sounds like a truly amazing adventure!! Inspiration all around <3

Holly said...

What an amazing adventure! Great photos too!

Christine said...

I would love to join this next year if you open it to a general audience! :)