Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Week in Banff

We arrived in Banff National Park last Thursday. The drive from Calgary was amazing, with the late afternoon sun turning the entire landscape golden. As we headed west, the abrupt line of mountains rose higher with every passing minute. Soon we were swallowed up by them; more mountains than you could count. We had arrived in paradise.

Even though we were tired and hungry from the day of travel, we couldn't wait to go for a short run. We found a trail near our hotel and got our first taste of the Rockies on some meandering trails near our hotel.

The next day, we drove up to Lake Louise and ran the Agnes Tea House trail and then up to Little Beehive. Unfortunately, the road to Moraine Lake was closed for the season, though at least that helped us narrow down our endless choices. This entire area is usually very busy, but this late in the season, and with the trail being icy, we had it almost to ourselves. Our Kahtoola Microspikes allowed us to run without any problems at all. Little Beehive was 7,300', so I'm not sure if it was my lack of fitness, the altitude, or the incline, but it was a challenging run. As always, totally worth it with the feeling of accomplishment and the views. It was gorgeous looking out over Bow Valley, at the mountain ranges, and down to the brilliantly-coloured Lake Louise.

That night we were invited to have dinner with Leslie and Keith at their amazing place right on the edge of town, partway up a mountain. They made us the most amazing meal and we had a fun night of hearing their stories of adventures in the park. We learned a ton and it helped us get inspired and prepared for the rest of our time.

Saturday took us to the Johnson Canyon trail and out to the Inkpots. It was a nice valley with some beautiful views even though the day was mostly overcast. I could breathe the crisp mountain air right down to my toes. Even with less oxygen, at this height anyway I'd happily trade it for the humidity of home.

We drove over to Canmore that night to meet up with our friends Gene and Sue. Their place is amazing, nestled up a mountain with the greatest views in every direction.

Sunday, we drove further north, past Lake Louise and up the Icefields Parkway. It was a bright sunny morning, and we were gaping at the unreal views the whole way. We stopped at Peyto Lake on the way up, then reluctantly turned around at the Saskatachewan River Crossing. I wanted so badly to keep going, but that will be for another trip. On the way back we stopped at Bow Lake for a run. It was cloudy now, but it suited the barren landscape we ran into. It felt like another planet.

We checked into the Banff Centre, where my CIRPA conference started on Sunday night with one of the three great keynote speakers they brought in. Monday morning I got my presentation on GIS over with early, then was able to relax for the other speakers.

Tuesday was a full day of talks, but over lunch time I ran up Tunnel Mountain which was just five mintues from the conference hotel. I loved this little run, as it had many switchbacks and easy footing to make it just a nice workout up and runnable down without too much pounding. Derrick met up with Magi in Canmore for a run in the snow at the Nordic Centre. That night we went to dinner at Melissa's in Banff with Gene and Sue, where a few mountains of nachos and beer went down over many laughs and stories.

Our last run on Wednesday was Lake Minnewanka, where we did an out-and-back to near the end of the lake. Some mountain goats met us in the parking lot and enjoyed cleaning our car while we were gone. What a gorgeous run, and we had a nice sunny day for a lot of it. The views were spectacular, and the footing a little more technical than most of the other runs we had done out here. It had a few rolling hills, but was mostly flat.
We toured around Canmore for a bit of shopping, and were happy to run into Liza for a quick hello. On our way back to the airport in Calgary, we had one more visit on our calendar - dinner with cousin Wes and his wife Ally in Cochrane. Another great visit and delicious home cooking.

All in all, not a bad week of running considering we were both a bit injured. My hip and hammy held up okay I think/hope. Having started some rehab going into the week probably saved me, though I took it beyond the limit of what I should have, ideally. Ah well, we were in the Rockies, what can you do. To top it off, at the end of Sunday's run at Bow Lake I fell hard on a patch of ice just a few steps from the car (stupid parking lot hazzard!) and landed on my sore hip. Nice!

I'll post my favourite photos in a separate post.


EJ said...

Well luckily the weather has improved since you got back so I hope that helps you deal with having to leave such an amazing place. The sky tonight was so beautiful, did you have any nice sunset/sunrise moments in Banff. You looked so happy in your picture, I am so glad you had such a great experience.

KarenM said...

You look so happy again to be playing in the snow! Like a Snow Princess just minus the snow shoes! Happy to hear you had some runs and fun-fantastic photos!