Please, let’s stop feeding the bears

The BC wilderness is phenomenal. Every time I turn around, it seems like there are more and more people who want to be out there enjoying it.

Which is awesome.

But please, please, learn how to be responsible in the wilderness. The wilderness is a dangerous place. (Personally, I think it is less dangerous than the city, but it is a different kind of danger).

If you get injured, there is no 911 call (there probably isn’t even cell phone service). We have amazing volunteer search and rescue teams, but don’t expect them to be there to pluck you off the mountain as soon as trouble comes your way.

Be very, very careful with fires. Make sure they are out completely (that means being able to put your hand in the ash), don’t light one during a fire ban, and please dispose of your cigarette butts carefully! We don’t wan’t a repeat of the 2015 Elaho and Pemberton fires.

And please stop feeding the bears!

Bears are foragers that will eat pretty much anything. That apple core you tossed because, “oh well, it will decompose” smells like a delicious snack – from a mile away. Your cooler that you hid in the bushes? An all you can eat buffet! If a bear can tear open a vehicle, what makes you think that a cooler (or a tent) will provide any more protection?

Bears are smart. If a bear finds food in a campground, it’s going to come back again looking for more. After all, who turns down a free meal?

Not this bear. He was shot because he found a wonderful source of food at the Garibaldi Lake campground and lost his natural fear of humans.

Not these bears. Not only did they figure out that people means food, they figured out that if they charge you you will drop it!

Once upon a time, I was worried about bear encounters in remote areas. Not anymore. Bears in remote areas are typically reclusive. What I’m afraid of is hiking and camping in areas where lots of people hang out (like our beautiful provincial parks – or even our neighbourhood parks) because invariably there will be at least a few people who don’t know (or don’t care) about putting their food and garbage away securely.

Comfortably Numb

 

I crawled out of bed at 6am on a dreary morning and drove through a rainstorm on my way to Whistler. And although he rain let up before I got there, it was a chilly morning, so I took advantage of the early start. That dreary start turned into perfect running weather. Overcast, cool, but dry. Amazing!

I had also discovered the night before that instead of an absolute 800m gain like I thought it was, it was actually a cumulative 800m elevation gain. The absolute gain was only 400m. Boohyah!

The trail starts out on some old logging road, but quickly ducks into the forest. It pops out again on another stretch of logging road with warning “grade exceeds 18%”. That hill was worth walking – and it was pretty much the only time I walked during the entire race!

So far so good.

The real quickly jumped back into beautiful forest – the other women I was running with commented on how good the pine needles felt underfoot. I had to agree. Soft, spongy, forgiving. It was absolutely delightful.

Well… Somewhere around the 10k mark, we popped out above the treelike on what appears to be an old volcanic flow. The trail became solid rock. It wasn’t too bad, and I quickly reached the emergency aid stations at the mid-point, and helped myself to a few shot blocks. Physically I felt strong, but mentally I just wasn’t feeling it.

I was beginning to wonder why I race? I don’t like getting up early. I don’t like running in shitty weather (although that wasn’t the case this time round). I don’t really like running alone – and I was beginning to miss having a friend to talk to. But the thing with a point to point race is you can’t just bail half way through. So onwards I went.

I was buoyed by the thought that the trail would soon drop back down into the forest.

Several kilometers later, I was beginning to wonder if I was running in circles, because I was still up on this ridiculous volcanic rock. Turns out I should have taken a better look at the map. The course actually does make a big circuit around the top of the mountain before going back down again.

Finally we began to descend. Unfortunately, it never did turn back into he beautiful soft trail we came up. Instead there was rock. Bedrock and loose rock. And more rock. I was SO glad I decided to wear my old shoes with the rock plates, but my feet were still getting pretty beat up. And of course my quads were getting trashed having to carefully pick my way down the rocky slopes.

How anyone can run down them I don’t know. It’s certainly not part of my running skill set.

Down, down, down. It seemed endless. But eventually there was a sign: 1km to go.

Hurrah!

The finish line was a sweet, sweet sight.

So was my sofa when I go home 😉

I think I spent the rest of the day napping and eating. I definitely woke up with some sore muscles the next day. Quads for sure, but hips, back, calves, feet… pretty much everything. After all the miles and elevation I put in in training, my only explanation on why I hurt so much was the amount of rock. All my training has been on dirt trails, so I guess it makes a difference?

 

Adventure Runs

Ever have a run where you don’t quite know where you are? Or maybe one where you aren’t quite sure where you are headed?

That’s been me lately.

For whatever reason, every time I go up the mountain of Phlegm , I always get turned around. I always seem to come down the wrong trail and end up in a different place than I planned to. I’m never (quite) lost, but double-black mountain bike trails are not really conducive to strong training runs. Neither is checking my phone repeatedly to make sure I’m really going to pop out where I expect.

Or a storm cell moves in just as I’m about to meet up with a friend for a 10k. Well, a technical 10k in the rain isn’t exactly my cup of tea. So we decide to run a different route, making it up as we go. Of course it’s in a section of forest neither of us has ever run before…

Or today, when I left the house with absolutely no plan as to where I was going to run. My first though was the Bluffs and beyond, but somehow I found myself here:

Staring up at some 500m of vertical granite. I think I understand why it’s called the “Grand Wall.” As today’s run veered towards the Chief, I decided to explore some of the climbers access trails. Of course, they weren’t that runnable, but then again, I didn’t really feel like running all that much. So exploring it was – and wow!

Mmmm, Vegetables!

I’ve been craving fresh vegetables for a while now – and the produce in our grocery stores here in Squamish is, um, uninspiring, shall we say? Needless to say, I’m rather excited about getting our first CSA box of the season today!

Thank you Nutrient Dense Farms for this early season bounty!

Comfortably Numb Training Plan

10 weeks.

The countdown to Comfortably Numb is on! Comfortably Numb is a 23k trail run, that is really just one giant hill – climb 800m over the first 12 km, then descend to the finish line. Talk about a quad-thrasher!

Here’s the plan:

  • Tuesdays – run hills, working up to an hour of hill repeats by the end of April, then adding some intensity.
  • Thursdays – shorter, faster runs of 6-10km, throwing in some fartlek intervals for variety.
  • Weekends – long runs of 2+ hours (15+km), adding in more hills as time goes on. 3 and 5 weeks out for the race I’m planning some particularly hard runs with some extended climbs and descents.

Yup. Just 3 runs a week. Of course, one it (finally) stops raining, I might be inspired to throw in a few shorter recovery runs. But who am I kidding? I’m pretty sure that I would rather spend that time hiking or climbing instead.

The only other training I’m doing is a super-minimalist conditioning routine. It’s just 4 exercises:

  • Pushups,
  • Split squats,
  • One leg hip lifts, and
  • One leg calf raises.

I started two weeks ago with 1 set of 10 reps, and I’ve been adding 1 rep per workout. Once I get to 15 reps, it will be time to start over with 2 sets of 10 reps, and add one rep to each set until I get to 2×15. Then it’s time to move on to 3 sets. I figure I will be doing something like 3×20 or 3×30 by race day 🙂

 

SAD

I’ve been dealing with a nasty case of Seasonal Affective Disorder lately. If you’ve never heard of it, SAD is basically seasonal depression, and it come with all the baggage of depression: difficulty getting up in the morning and finding the energy (or motivation) to do anything. And cravings for carbs. Lots and lots of yummy carbs.

SAD is something that I deal with every year, but this year seems particularly bad. Maybe it has something to do with the massive amount of rain we’ve had this year. We had a record-setting number of rainy days back in October and November (I think it rained something like 57/61 days). December and January offered a brief reprieve, with a mix of snow and sun, but then the rain came back in February (along with a nasty flu), and so far it has rained 27/29 days in March!

All I can say is that I’m really looking forward to seeing the sun again!

But despite all that, I’ve actually managed to get out and do a fair amount 🙂

  • I took a climbing techniques course, and I just on-sighted (on TR) a 5.10+ at the gym. Hardest send yet!
  • I took a lead climbing course at the gym, and so far I’m confident leading 5.8. The 5.9 overhanging lead was a bit of a mind game, and even though I finished, I can’t say I was confident about it!
  • I got out for one two days of outdoor climbing. I almost forgot about the second because I was pretty much a belay bitch since I’d spent a few hours at the gym waiting for the sun to come out.
  • I got out for several ski-tours: Round Mountain (x2), Hollyburn Peak (x2), Mt. Strachan, and Hanging Lake
  • I ran super-consistently in January, not so much in Feb (stupid flu), and I’m getting back to a regular routine now that the count down to Comfortably Numb is on (and the trails are finally beginning to emerge from their blanket of snow and ice).
  • I’ve hiked up the Sea to Sky gondola
  • And I earned to skate ski!

Of course, getting outside and being active are pretty essential to managing SAD – the daylight (even if it is through a cloud) and physical activity are absolute the best things I can do for my mood.

Hollyburn

Today marked my first ski ascent of Hollyburn. I’ve snowsh0ed to the end of the nordic ski area before, but I don’t think that I’ve ever climbed the last few pitches to the viewpoints (it was snowing that time, so no view anyways…)

end-of-the-nordic-areaIf it’s a clear day, the view is spectacular and well worth the effort to climb those last few steep sections. And if your snowshoeing, remember the garbage bag for sliding down! I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many adults giggling away like school kids 🙂

view-from-hollyburn view-from-hollyburn-2

The final pitch to Hollyburn peak is steep! My friends and I weren’t sure if our skins would make it up, and dodging snowshoers on our way down didn’t seem like our kind of fun, so we headed off into the “meadow” in search of a gentler route up.

hollyburn-meadows

We never did find a gentler route, but we did have a friendly little visitor when we stopped for food.

grey-jay

Despite our best efforts, we never did get to the peak. No matter which route we explored, it kept getting quite steep! It was interesting to look at the trees and see evidence of old avalanches. I know that most of Hollyburn is relatively low risk, but it definitely gets steep enough to slide is places. Busy doesn’t mean safe! I was super-glad that the avalanche forecast was “low” for the tree-line today, as that meant we were able to explore a bit more. Of course, I didn’t want to explore too far and find myself down the wrong side of the mountain!

But going back to the question of safety for a moment, even though the risk of an avy was pretty low today, that doesn’t mean there weren’t other dangers. Tree wells are always lying in wait, ready to trap an unsuspecting skier (or snowshoer). I think though, that today’s biggest danger were the ice bombs the trees kept dropping! As the temps climbed above freezing, all the snow and ice climbing to the branches was sliding off. By noon, there were ice bombs every minute or so! All those chunks of ice didn’t make for fantastic skiing (nor did the heavy melt-freeze snow), so we decided to call it a day and head back.

view-from-hollyburn-3

Remember, if you’re travelling in the back country in winter, know the avalanche forecast, carry a beacon, probe and shovel (and know how to use them!), be prepared for an unexpected night outdoors, and always tell someone where you are going!

Full moon over Callaghan

$5 Wednesdays at Ski Callaghan might just become a staple of my week 🙂

img_1219

I’m definitely starting to get the hang of skate skiing. My friend and I even started exploring, and found our way onto some fun black (difficult) runs. Ok, well going down was fun. Going up was rather slow 🙂

Ski Callaghan

And of course the full moon lighting up the mountains was stunning.

Bambi on ice

Ski Callaghan

I tried skate skiing for the first time in over 20 years on Wednesday night. I’d love to say that I took off gliding gracefully over the snow, but really, I felt a little more like Bambi on ice. I quickly figured out how to keep my feet under me, and by the evening I felt more or less confident that I would be able to stay upright and glide in (more or less) the direction I wanted to go.

I think $5 wednesdays just became a weekly staple in my routine 🙂

 

 

 

2017: the list

Creating an annual bucket list has become a thing for me. Of course, I my lists are always too big to actually accomplish in a season – there are just way to many amazing things to d0! For everything I do check off, there always seems to be another three I discover. Which means that a large portion of this year’s planned adventures are leftovers from 2016. Sigh. But hey! Here’s to another year with lots of playing outside 🙂

Running

  • Comfortably Numb (23km)
  • And maybe another race in the fall?

Hiking & Scrambling

  • Sky Pilot & Co-Pilot
  • Goat Ridge
  • Tricouni Peak
  • Mamquam Lake, the Gargoyles & Opal Cone
  • Brandywine Peak
  • Sproatt Mountain
  • Rainbow & Beverly Lakes
  • Ring Lake
  • Russet Lake & Singing Pass
  • Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk & Mount Price
  • The Lions
  • Howe Sound Crest Trail
  • Baden Powell Trail
  • Locomotive Mountain
  • Chipmunk Peak
  • Downtown Creek Peak 8700
  • Sunshine Coast Trail

Climbing

  • Summit Mt. Habrich
  • Joe’s Dyke (5.7, sport)
  • Skywalker (5.7, 5p, trad)
  • Deirdre (5.8, 6p, trad)
  • World’s Toughest Milkman (5.9, trad)
  • Star Chek (5.9, 3p, sport)
  • Zoe (5.10a, sport)

Skiing

  • Extremely Canadian Steeps Skiing Clinic
  • Paul Ridge/Elfin Lakes
  • Journeyman Peak
  • Mt. Brew
  • Mt. Sproatt
  • Brandywine Mountain
  • Ski in Japan

Other

  • Whistler Via Feratta
  • Whistler Treetop Adventure Tour
  • Camp in a hammock
  • Camp under a tarp
  • Keystone/Pebble Creek Hotsprings
  • Meagre Creek Hotsprings
  • Sloquet Hotsprings
  • Porteau Cove