Saturday, October 29, 2011


Last Tuesday was an epically nice day! I knew that THIS DAY was a special one and had to be taken advantage of. Peter and I try and get out hiking on the Howe Sound Crest Trail (HSCT) every year for our anniversary, however, we failed to do it last year and I was eager to get it in before the snowfall. We normally run/hike the HSCT from Start (Cypress) to finish (Porteau Cove) however, this year we decided to switch things up bit.

(This was cool, the tree had grown over the that's what I call secure!)

(hiking the trail en route to the summit of Harvey)

(On the summit of Mt. Harvey)

We began our adventure in Lions Bay with a steep ascent up towards Mt. Harvey. This was a crazy steep trail, in fact, if the trail were any steeper we'd be climbing! We hiked steadily for 2.5 hours before we reached the summit. Trust me when I say that the uphill challenge was worth it. The view of Howe Sound and the surrounding area was magnificant. I never seem to bore of this landscape.

(The highest peak is the one we did, the smaller one is called Harvey's Pup!)

From there, we descended steeply towards the HSCT. It was a bit chilly up top and the footing was a little frosty, thus we were midful of every step, as falling would not be ideal (if you know what I mean). From there we stopped for a snack at the Magnesia Meadows Hut, which was built in 2008 by a group of West Van High Secondary school students. There was a Journal inside and we wrote a little blurb about our day and read over some of the others from days/months previous.

They day was so stunning that it was hard not to want to linger in the sunshine. However, I had somewhere to be at 6:30pm so we kept walking gingerly along. Normally, we run these trails (where running is an option), however, today, we hiked and simply enjoyed and soaked in the surroundings. We then descended down towards Deeks Lake. The colour of the lakes were not as turquoise as they are in the summer but still beautiful nonetheless. The last time we ran this trail we were with a group of friends (september 09') and we all stopped to jump in the lake to cool off. But today, the lakes were covered with a layer of thin ice and I was content just imagining what it would have felt like.

Before long we were on the long, wet, and slippery descent down towards Porteau Cove. We arrived there 8 hours after we began (a whole work day!). It felt so awesome to be outside for the entire day. And the kicker was that it snowed up there the next day!!!!! For some reason, that made my decision to seize the day even sweeter.

(There was still lot's of snow left over from last winter!)

I was pretty bagged after that hike, but I lead a Tuesday night Speed work session for the Mountain Madness trail clinic. Good thing I am the coach and I can make-up whatever workout I want. That day we did 10 x 1 min intervals. Short and sweet but effective! I was surprised how much pep I had left in my step after being on my feet all day.

(Funny faces!)

I have had so many great memories on the HSCT and look forward to many more to come! If you love mountain running and enjoy great adventures, this is a trail not to be missed. Allow 6 (fast)- 8+ hours to run/hike it. Prime months to run this trail is August, Sept, and/or October.

Next race up is either the Whistler 50 mile and/or Deception Pass 50km.

See you in the trails!

(All Photos were taken by Peter Watson)

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I wanted to run to Squamish today (from north van). I have wanted to all year. However, this morning I woke up and wasn't really feeling it but ignored that feeling and went anyways. I ran all the way along the highway before reaching Nelson Creek parking lot (aka. the start of the knee knacker). I stopped here and all I could think about was how badly I wish I had trail runners on and some more supplies, so I could go for a nice hike/run in the mountains. So, I turned around and ran to Dundarave and had an amazing turkey cranberry sandwich from the Bakehouse with no regrets of changing my plans.

Sometimes, you have to listen to that voice in your head that's telling you that your just not up for your planned adventure today. However, I have made plans to run the first half of Knee Knacker tomorrow!!!

PS- highway running is not the most inspiring! But I will get this goal done sooner or later.

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!

Friday, October 21, 2011


I received a text message from a good friend of mine today, explaining that he was thinking of NOT doing a race he had in mind this coming Sunday. This race is 21.2km and last weekend we blazed 17km of the course.

I asked him simply, why? He answered with, "Don't feel ready. Didn't run all week".

I replied, stating that he was more than ready, considering how well he did at he 17km training run last weekend. Not to mention, he clearly has had one awesome taper! He agreed, but was afraid he wouldn't beat his last time.

Now, this line is all to familiar to me. I often get a little nervous and scared by the thoughts of not being fit enough to beat my previous times. And I don't always look forward to the anticipated amount of "hurt" it will require to put forth such an effort to beat said time. But, this year especially, I have read enough blogs/quotes to understand that this is all just faulty thinking.

Some years, we are going to be in wicked shape, and some we're not. Our fitness will ebb and flow throughout life depending on what is going on. We can't expect to beat our times every year. But, I can guarantee that every race experience will be different, new and exciting, no matter how many times you have competed at the same event.

So, here is to just GOING FOR IT! You never know, you might surprise yourself.

See you in the trails!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


(Dad taking photos on summit of Crown)

One of the things I have come to look forward to every Summer/Spring, are hikes with my Dad. He seems to have a list of hikes he'd like to tick off in the upcoming years and this year, summiting Crown Mountain was high up on the list.

We had organized ourselves to do this hike a month or so ago but the weather turned out to be significantly overcast that day and thus we bailed. However, I could tell the heartache that came over my dad that day because I am not sure if he thought it was ever going to happen.

Last weekend was epic in terms of weather and the forecast on Sunday was calling for a bluebird day. Peter made the suggestion to call up my dad and to go head up Crown. 'Great idea', I thought and bada bing bada boom, it was confirmed. We decided to take the Gondola up and then hike from there. It sort of felt like cheating but I got over that pretty quickly. We headed up and summited Dam Mountain before dropping into the top of Hanes Pass. From there you quickly link onto the trail which takes you up towards Crown. It took us roughly 45 minutes to get near the summit and before we did, we detoured around it and scrambled down towards the Camel.

We were the only one's (except for 2 climbers who were making their way up) at the base of the Camel. The sun was shining perfectly on us and it made for a great spot to lay down and close the eyes. After a while we made our way back up and summited Crown. There were approx. 6-7 people at the summit, one being an 80 year old man (he showed my dad his I.D as proof!) who was fit as a whistle. Of course, he was wearing jeans and didnt carry any water with him, but he has hiked the Lions 37 times!

After some snacks and some photos we made our way back towards Grouse. There wasn't any snow on the trail but it was frosty and there were patches of ice in sections. I guess it is that time of year! We stopped in at Altitudes Bistro for a beer and some fondue fries (yum!) before making our way back to the car. The wait however for the gondola was over 2 hours so we decided to hike down. This must be why my quads and calves are still sore 3 days later!

(Drinks at Altitudes Bistro)

Epic day, amazing company, and an awesome way to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon. This hike is super fun and spectacularly beautiful and it comes highly recommended.

See you in the trails!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I have been a 'chilly peppers' (Red Hot Chili Peppers) fan since since the tender age of 15/16. It was their 'Californication' album that came out in 2000 that really got me hooked. I don't know exactly what it is about the chili's that I am drawn to, but I think in the end, it must be a combination of their super funk style, creativeness, and sound. At that time I became pretty obsessed with the band and had a major crush on the lead singer, Anthony Kiedis.

I watched (and taped) all their interviews on Much Music and I went out and baught almost every single one of their albums. I have also since, seem them 4 times in concert, have even stood front row, and own 2 pairs of Red Hot Chili Pepper underwear I baught at the first show I attended. I would just like to ad that I no longer own them, too bad.

Again, I don't know what it is about them that draws me in, but whenever I listen to their music, while in the car or on the run, I am willed to move.

They recently came out with a new album called "I'm with you" and I love it. I am sure Peter is starting to get sick of it since I play it in the car all the time but so far he's been a good sport about it. It makes for awesome running music and I highly recommend it to everyone!

I will leave you with their newest song and video release, called The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie. Just click on the title.

So now I must ask you...

What music moves you on the run?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Smith Rock and City of Rocks

At some point, earlier this year, Peter and I decided to go on a fall vacation for roughly 10-14 days. However, the location(s) of said trip had changed numerous times. At the beginning, we had flirted with fast packing the John Muir trail but that idea was quickly forgotten. Eventually, this trip turned into a climbing extravaganza. The weather in all the places we wanted to go were looking good, but only for days at a time and thus we were left to just head out and chase the sun.

Our first stop was the always beautiful Smith Rock, which located 30 miles north of Bend, OR. If you have never been here, you NEED to put it on the list. Not only is it a world class climbing destination, the running here is awesome. This is our 4th trip here in 4 years, 3 of which were in 2011. Every time I am here, life just feels right. Words can’t describe how amazing this place is. CHECK IT OUT!

On our second time in Smith, at the end of a long climbing day, we ran into 3 guys who were finishing up a run. I started chatting with them about their chosen route for the day as it was clear they had been on a longer run. I was pretty unfamiliar with the place at this point and could not remember what they had said but what I learned from them was that there was more running to be had than what I originally had thought. On our next few trips I have kept my eyes out for possible running routes and have always noticed this rocky undulating ridge (see pic below) to the right of the park, on the north side of the river. Peter and I finally pulled out a map and figured out the link up and ran it the next day.

We finished off the afternoon with a stellar multi-pitch, called Sky Ridge, which gave us all the exposure and views we were looking for. After repelling down 3 pitches of climbing, we stood, simply hanging out at the base of the rappel. There was another couple rapping down and as we stood there chatting, one of them yelled something, which just sounded like noise. It wasn’t until we heard a big loud thump right next to us that we realized they were yelling “ROCK!” That incident really made me think about the risks of this sport (we were wearing helmets!). Had that rock been a little bit more to the right or left, some serious damage could have been inflicted. It’s good to have friendly reminders like that to keep you in check and remind us that were not invincible.

After waking up this morning we decided to head over to City of Rocks, which is near Twin Falls Idaho. The drive along HWY 26, has been beautiful and I wish we could just live like this for a while. So simple.

After many hours of driving, I needed to get out for a run! I needed to shake out the legs from sitting for so long. We parked the car at Boise State University and went for a nice run along the river. I guess a football game had just finished because there were hundreds of people wearing their Blue and Orange Bronco's shirts. It was nice to be outside and I even found myself in the midst of a little race with a local girl. I had passed her early on (on the way out) without too much effort and within minutes I could hear the heavy breath of someone behind me (it was her!). Not wanting to relinquish my position, I increased the pace, wanting to make her work a little harder if she wanted to keep up. This made the rest of the run a little exciting because I now had something to focus on. After a while, the sound of her breathing had seized and I suppose she had fallen back a bit. I had to turn around because I was just doing an out and back and as I went by her in the opposing direction, I gave a wave and a smile and she did the same, thanking me for the push.

We spent the night at the Twin Falls Motel 6 and had a lovely dinner at Applebees. I wasn't expecting much from the menu that had way too many choices for this indecisive soul but I managed to find something that tasted great! The next morning we set off for City of Rocks and a few hours later we were in one of the coolest places I have stepped foot in. Seriously, it's as though someone dropped blobs of rock from the sky into the middle of nowhere for us all to enjoy.

We spent that day climbing at one particular crag. There were heaps of cattle close by and all you could hear were the groans and moans of cows. I found it quite humerus because here we were, in what seemed like the most calm, peaceful, deserted place and the sound of the cows was so powerful. Luckily, not every crag was near cattle and you in fact could climb in peace, however, I embrace all sounds of nature!

We were pretty bang on arriving on a Sunday because all the weekend traffic vanished. Crag's that were littered with people earlier in the day were now without a soul. It was simply splendid. After dinner that night we went and climbed some more at a crag that was no more than a 5 minute walk from our campsite. The approaches to most of the crag's are short.

We climbed a half day the next day as our muscles were a tad sore. We went into town to grab some food, but the selection in the small shops was pretty bleak. If you go there, make sure to grab your own produce before hand because most of the shops just carry the essentials. We also had a great lunch at the local Bar and Grill (forget the name) where pints were only $2.45! The weather was looking pretty ugly and we only made it out for one last climb that day. The wind was pretty intense at times and raindrops were coming and going as Peter lead the way up. At one point, the wind was so strong that it blew off his favourite hat, which he got in a case of Bowen Island beer (I already emailed them, they have no more).

Sadly, it rained all night long and with the weather turning, we headed back to North Van early. I can't wait to come back to this place. I have never seen anything like it. There is something about the simple camping, road trip lifestyle that just works for me. I hate commuting it's true, but when I get to explore and see new roads, cities, and states, it get's me excited and time just seems to fly by. I eat simple foods, which is a nice change because there are so many options when living in the city. While camping, I seem to be able to eat PB&J for lunch everyday and it's delicious every time. But back home, I feel the need to be more creative just because I can. And lastly, the quality time you get to spend with your loved one (or friends) is so valuable. Whether it's simply sitting by a fire or playing a game of travel scrabble, the time spent together is so memorable.

See you in the trails!