I’m away from Red Deer for a few weeks, so I promised my regular running partner Dirk that I would post my runs on this blog so he could see that I’m keeping to our half marathon training plan.
22 May: ran 14 km (two hours) out-and-back with Randy Nichols on the Hoodoo Trail along the Bow River, starting at the Banff Centre. We encountered a bit of rain, but nothing too bad. A nicely routed trail, well signposted and mostly running through open trees. Randy set a very good pace and I don’t know if I would have one as far alone. Sorry, no photos.
25 May: ran from our BnB in Naramata east, crossing the Kettle River Trail and then up decommissioned forestry roads. 10 km, out-and-back.
The trail was all uphill on the way out, gaining 500m to my turnaround point. 50 minutes up, 45 minutes down.I stopped at 1000m elev., well before my targeted 1430m high point. Maybe tomorrow.
27 May: ran 12.3 km in 2:07, vertical gain 500 m, starting from the Kettle Valley Railroad trailhead. Then, as on the 25th, I followed forestry roads uphill to my highpoint. A bit of rain and mist hanging over the trees.
28 May: a bit of a rest day, so I borrowed a mountain bike from our BnB and headed up to the Kettle Valley Railway trail for a 14 km ride. The KVR is a popular recreational trail for touring cyclists, due to its easy grades, spectacular scenery, and easy access. Local, however, want to ensure the trail remains open to motorized vehicle access since they frequently use it as a shortcut – somewhat inexplicably, since the posted KVR speed limit is 30 km/h, compared to 60 on the Naramate Road that it parallels.
Here’s a bit of drystone masonry built my Italian masons over 100 years ago, forming the roadbed for the old railway.
Storm clouds blanketing the Okanagan Valley. Surprisingly enough, rain clouds over Summerland (on the west side of the lake) often didn’t make it over to the Naramata side.
29 May: ran 6.6 km on trails at the China Ridge cross-country ski area near Princeton. Drizzle quickly turned into determined rain and I decided to cut my run short in favour of a hot shower and dinner. I’m impressed by the quality of the trails and trail markers. The fact that a small community like Princeton can support such a great facility speaks volumes about the importance of dedicated volunteers.
I was grateful I tossed the Houdini into my bullet pack. Even though it’s not waterproof, it does make a difference when running in rain.
Open meadows and rain on the Similkameen Valley. I was pretty happy to see the end of the trail.
And a reminder that driving an SUV doesn’t guarantee you’ll get home safely.
31 May: We’re now in Vancouver with Ryan, so I took the opportunity to attempt the Grouse Grind. This, the “Stairmaster from Hell”, is a legendary trail and must-do in coastal circles. But I really didn’t expect the reality to live up to the hype. How could the rep of an urban trail match the challenge of the Rockies mountain trails I’ve suffered on?
On arrival, the first thing you notice right at the trailhead is the charging stations for electric cars. Just to remind you you’re still in Vancouver. From the trailhead check-in, the trail starts off steep, gaining 800m or so over 2.8 km and it doesn’t relent. It’s also incredibly well-built, sporting split-log steps, cribbed loose-stone steps, concrete steps, mortared stone steps, and in places, handrails. This is the sort of beautiful trail building we only see in the Rockies for 10 metres from the trailhead.
The trail was packed. Even though it was a weekday, I must have passed over a hundred people, including a bride-to-be and her bridesmaids, all in bridal wear.
I reached the top 55 minutes later. Not bad for a senior citizen, considering averages ascents are in the range of 1:30, but nowhere close to the trail record of 23:48.
Ten dollars bought me a ticket for the descending cable car, and I was happy not to descend 800 m on wet rock. Plus descent of the trail is prohibited, due to crowding and the danger of rockfall. Another hiker told me here are lots of other better trails in the Vancouver area that don’t see nearly as much traffic. But the Grind’s reputation is well-earned. I think I can shave another 10 minutes off my time whenever I’m back in town.