Monday, August 19, 2013

Solo Mission in remote Assiniboine

Magog Lake

Since the beginning of the summer, I have been thinking about heading to this very unique zone. It seems like summer is unfolding very quickly and seeing the window of opportunity becoming narrower as the weekend come and go, I decided not to let the lack of partner stop me from feeding my hunger to discover a new territory. The original plan was to run from Mt Shark to Sunshine but since the flood, the Sunshine road is still close so I came up with an alternative plan which was a great compromise.

I started the journey at Mt Shark Parking lot on the Mountain Bike with as small as of overnight pack as I could.  I left my bike in the forest 6 kms later at the limit of the Provincial Park then proceeded to run all the way to Assiniboine Pass and to Magog Lake Campground. In just over 3 hours, I was already in this very outstanding landscape. I quickly set up a very minimalist base camp and took a light running pack to pursuit the exploration. I ran up to Sunburst Lake and continued down to Elizabeth Lake. From there, I climbed up the Nublet and had to keep going to Nub Peak to get a 360 degrees view of the area... pretty breathtaking I have to admit.
Back down, I headed to the lodge just to meet the welcoming lodge manager Claude and Annick and visit the amazing facility.
Back at the campsite to my less luxurious shelter for the night, a crazy thunder storm rolled in. 15 minutes of down pouring rain later, I was hoping my stuff had stayed somewhat dry. People's tent were flipping, leaking... but amazingly, Integral Design keeps everything nice and dry!

When the morning came, the sunrise over the mountain was quite a wonderful and unique sight to start the day. After breaky and packing everything, I dropped my heavier bag at the Naiset Huts and went for a nice run to Og Lake and the Valley of Rocks. Backtracking staring right at Mt Assiniboine in an open Alpine Meadow made for a really enjoyable adventure. Back at Naiset, a quick lunch and off I was up Wonder Pass. The view down to Marvel Lake from that point just keeps on getting better and better and you approach the lake. The trail on a side hill just above the lake just kept on going and going all the way to Bryan Creek Trail. From there, it was 7 km of character building and weight training back to my lovely bicycle which I was very happy to find. The journey was not over yet as there was couple of steep steady climbs to gain the starting point but it was all part of the adventure.
What a mission and what a great feeling to cover  just over 75 km in such a beautiful setup. The distance does not register when you mind in just busy sinking in the beauty. This is certainly not the last trip up there!
Start of the journey... shaving weight
First sight, Assiniboine Pass
Sunburst Lake
Sunburst Lake
Magog Lake from Nub Peak

 Weather Rolling in from Nub Peak
Summit Views

That's what happen when you go light...
Good morning, Magog Lake

Og Lake coming from Valley of Rocks
Home of Grizzlies, Wonder Pass
Assiniboine from Wonder Pass
Marvel Lake
Marvel Lake backdrop

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Yoho Running Traverse

Burgess Pass & Emerald Lake

So many time I drove through Yoho National Park and wanted to stop and discover it's beauty but never had the chance to. Finally this weekend, Andrew McNab and I did a run traverse that was very scenic and enjoyable through this breathtaking National beauty!

We started the adventure just outside of Field on the Burgess Trail. 52 switchbacks and 900m later, we started to see why this plan was a fantastic idea. Actually the climb was not so bad with flat sections between each zig-zag, the gain of elevation was quite manageable and the flats gave us time to find our breath back!  From the top of Burgess Trail, we started to run towards Yoho lake on a gradual descending trail which was ways above beautiful Emerald Lake. The side hill alpine rolling terrain made for fast travel in the alpine. The surrounding landscape all the way to Yoho Lake was simply stunning. A quick dip in the lake and off we were to climb to Yoho pass and gain the Iceline Trail. This amazing trail brought us just under amazing glacier and above the alpine vegetation with views of the spectacular Takakkaw Falls.
We ran all the way to Little Yoho and the Stanley Mitchel Hut. From there it was down all the way to Laughing falls and a flat 2 kms along the Yoho River.
Back at Takakkaw Falls Parking lot, I changed gear and jumped on my road bike (previously dropped) and rode the 16 km back to the car to complete the loop. It was such a great way to finish the day and not a bad way to allow the for the legs to recover from this 33km run traverse.  Pictures are worth 1000 words!

Burgess Pass down to Yoho Lake

Yoho Lake

Andrew on the Iceline

Run towards Little Yoho

Not done yet...!
Switch Gear down the Yoho Valley Rd

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A week of Test: Salomon S-lab Sense Ultra

In action, 1st day out

A week after opening the box of these super light weight minimalist shoes I am taking a small rest and smiling about the good times had in the alpine. I have been interested on trying the Salomon S-lab for some time now but it was a bit difficult to find a small size in Canada. Thx Phil Villeneuve and Fast Trax in Edmonton (, the Red Rockets finally arrived last tuesday!
Following is what I have been up to in order to put these crazy shoes to the test!

-20 km Alpine Run: Really buff trail, some rocks and roots, flowy climbs and compacted dirt
- 25 km Speed Mountain Climb: Steep trail going to undulating meadows, slippery rocks, glacier and scramble
- 24 km Alpine Run: Very buff alpine trail on compacted dirt
- 12 km Run on XC bike trail: Rainy run on slippery roots and rocks
- 20 km Alpine run to Scramble: Buff at time technical trail and scramble on loose rocks

Pictures come first then a quick review...!

Frisbee XC Alpine Trail

Summit of Mt Begbie for Breaky

Blanket from Mt Begbie
Keystone Standard Basin
Keystone Alpine Flowers
Keystone Standard Basin
View of Mt Williamson, Jade Lake

Mt Revelstoke, Jade Lake Ridge Run

Sunset on Mt Begbie

I'm not a pro runner or anything but I really enjoy the sport for cross training and so I end up doing a lot of it. A few years back, after running a but with different Salomon running shoes I felt like trying something different seems they all seemed to be too wide for my foot. I also felt like the boa system was never snug enough or it never really felt right for some reason. I also found that the durability was so so... Moving from the Brooks Cascadia to lower profile shoe with the Mizuno Wave, the Salomon S-lab is a whole other kinda shoe and I'm glad I went back to Salomon. First off, it fits really snug but not to the point of discomfort. Even if really light weight, the shoe is pretty stable on technical terrain. On glacier/ snow (granted it was not a steep glacier) they give pretty good grip. While scrambling they seems to also offer good support and traction. I was also impress on how comfortable the shoes are. No blisters, no pain no nothing... even after 100km. The only concern is the durability of the shoe. The light fabric and nature of the material makes then dry very quickly but I believe also more fragile then your typical will make for expensive runs if they only last for 10 adventures! So far I have to say that they are an amazing shoe on all terrain and conditions. They are worth every penny. If you like minimalist trail shoe and are not sure if it's worth the extra money, in my mind, you won't be disappointed.
The only way to find out the durability topic I guess is to keep on running!