Archive for category Hiking

Dave, Jackie, Richard, and Ferg hike the CPR Trail from Cameron Lake up Mt. Arrowsmith.

Cold nose and feet...

Our first view point, just as the sun was emerging. Our big dog, Xhosa, was left at home today as she’s been limping and she needed some rest.

It’s been very dark and wet in Port Alberni so when our friend Richard called and suggested hiking up Mt. Arrowsmith we jumped at it!  And a nice rare clear day too!

IMG_20160201_124845 copy This is a 1000 metre climb, and since Jackie is in training for an upcoming race, she opted to go with her full water bottle vest she is trialling. As you can see, the trail is not easy to find when everything is covered in snow.

Ferg has cold nose and feet!

Ferg has cold nose and feet!

The scenery was very nice being snow covered once we got high enough.  We saw fresh cougar tracks crossing our trail about half way up.

Richard Ronyecz knows this area well .

Richard Ronyecz knows this area well. Good thing, because you couldn’t see much of the trail.

There was no snow at the Cameron Lake trailhead, but after a couple of hundred metre elevation gain the snow started and got deeper and deeper until it was about a metre deep with higher drifts.

Scenic up high.

Scenic up high.

Ferguson loves the snow!

Fergus loves the snow! He was really tough for such a little guy – we were out there for nearly five hours.

We ended up, at the far side of the loop, not being able to clearly find the track. So we took the safe option, rather than risk wasting 15 minutes at a time, over and over again trying to find the trail, and just retraced our tracks back down. A very fun and beautiful day.

And if you have a couple of minutes and want a laugh, check out this video of Fergus (Yorkie-Chihuahua cross), with icebergs hanging off his fur, after four hours of hiking through the snow, still full of energy and having a good play:


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Klipgat Trail hike, Gansbaai to DeKelders, South Africa

LIMG_0935Well, we had spent a lot of time in the car this past week. And on planes for a few days before that. Not great training for our Kalahari race, which was now only days away. We had loved Stellenbosch so much on our way through, that we decided we would stop here again on our way back to Cape Town. But we would stop and do a coastal hike from the village of Gansbaai first, before heading inland. A good chance for us to get some exercise, as well as to test our gear.

This was a real eye-opener of a hike – a great chance to see what towns back home like Tofino and Port Alberni could do with waterfront lands if they planned ahead a bit. The whole 7 km hike is along a narrow strip of shoreline, nearly all of it with residential land backing it. But the shoreline itself – the beaches and the rocky headlands and the cliffs – is all public land, and the trail that passes over here is beautiful.


The day was quite warm – nothing like what we were expecting in the Kalahari, but still a lot hotter than what we were used to back home – so this was a pretty good training hike with our loaded packs. I was quite surprised to feel hot spots developing on my heels – precursors to blisters – which I guess was due to the hot weather and my sweaty feet. I had worn these same socks and shoes, with the loaded pack, many times at home with no problems at all. A good little warning, for being proactive about taping those areas before the race started.


Tortoises. They actually move pretty fast!

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. This was a lovely hike, and there were whales just behind the break nearly the whole way. Dave and I really appreciated the chance to get a few hours of activity in, before getting back in the car to hurry off – our time in the Cape Town region was rapidly running out, and we wanted to get to at least one more winery in Stellenbosch today, before they closed.


Beautiful views of sea and coastal scrub the whole way.


We stopped for a quick core workout at one of the bays.


Mostly a coastal path, with infrastructure such as stairways where needed.


Just a thin strip of public land – but what a boon for the community!


One optional descent along the way to some sea caves.


We went down by a stairway, but our route back up was a bit rough!


And this was the view pretty much the whole way… with whales feeding close to shore, just off the kelp beds. Great hike!

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Heading to the Golden Ultra, mountains of British Columbia, in a few days: How I trained

Photo: Dave Best/Golden Ultra

Photo: Dave Best/Golden Ultra

I’m leaving in two days for the Golden Ultra. Multi-day staged races are definitely my favourite ultramarathon format, and this one intrigued me as soon as I heard about it. Most multi-day ultrarunning events are kind of the same from day to day – usually between 20 and 50 km of hilly running per day for five or six days (and sometimes with a 70 or 80 km overnight stage thrown in). But the three-day Golden Ultra (aka Blood, Sweat and Tears) is different:

Day 1 (the Blood) – 5 km, but with 1000 m vertical gain

Day 2 (the Sweat) – classic 55 km mountain ultramarathon (2500 m vertical gain and loss along the way)

Day 3 (the Tears) – a 20 km trail run on rolling, relatively flat, trails (total 400 m vertical gain and drop)

So this is more like three completely different races, each one suited to different types of runners: hill-climbers OR ultrarunners OR half-marathoners. Few people are all three! (And there is the option of entering for just one of the days… but of course it is the full three-day event that captivates me).

So, for me, my main goals are:

  1. Don’t blow my legs out on the first big-uphill day, because there is still a long way to go.
  2. Don’t let my feet swell after the 55 km ultramarathon day – or I won’t be able to run the final day.
  3. Try to train well at running so I won’t be embarassingly slow on that third, supposedly very runnable day.
  4. Don’t get injured – because I am racing the 7 day Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon, in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert, only 4 weeks later!

So, now, how have I gone with my training to achieve those goals?

The big uphill: 300 vertical metres of this. And we did it twice!

Hiking the Inlet Trail with Nikki last year. I’m on this trail nearly every week.

1. Well, I’ve done a real lot of hill-climbing (as well as a little bit of leg weights) so I think I am in the best climbing shape I have ever been. In the last two or so months I’ve done Della Falls (still waiting for Dave to do that blog post), Mt. Arrowsmith, Mt. Adder, Mt.Klitsa, Mt. Albert Edward in Strathcona, the Castle Crag/Mt.Frink/Albert Edward loop in Strathcona and – the highlight of the summer (blog post not uploaded yet, sorry!) – the Buttle Lake to Mt. Washington Augerpoint Traverse! These hikes all have elevation gains of 1000 m or more. And I have also trained on our usual “back yard” uphill hikes a lot too, like the CPR trail, and up the start of the Alberni Inlet Trail (same hike I did with Nikki Scott last year, when we were prepping for the Squamish 50k. Coincidentally, Nikki is one of the organizers of the Golden Ultra!).

2. I’ve trained as well as I can so my feet won’t be “shocked” by the effort and swell. I’ve done a lot of really long days – in particular, those three big Strathcona days three consecutive Tuesdays: 8.5 hrs then 9.5 hrs then 13.5 hrs. I’ve also done a lot of back-to-back days – either two big hikes in a row, or a big hike followed by a hilly run. So my body is pretty accustomed to that kind of thing: the amount of hours and the fatigued muscles. And I will have electrolyte pills along (and use them) for the race. And I’ve just ordered new Injinji compression socks for running and recovery too. Those are the things you can do to try to minimize foot swelling. Beyond that, there still is a little bit of a luck-of-the-draw component there. But I think I am set up pretty well.

You get up on a beautiful plateau with lots of little tarns. You can see theMt.Albert Edward ridgeline behind me here - I'll be going up it around the right side of the photo, thentraversing it to the left. You can't see the peak of the mountain yet from here - it's behind the ridge.

Heading up Mt. Albert Edward in July. I did lots of big mountain hikes and runs this year.

3. Well… I am still not a fast runner. I was really good with my long hikes training… but probably could have done a bit more with the long fast runs. I did get going on some HIIT (high intensity interval training) which supposedly helps with speed… also have been taking iron supplements these last two months. Low iron is a very common issue with female runners, and I definitely have problems with that.

4. And then I will just have to go safe and smart. I am probably in the best shape I have ever been in my life (at age 51!!) – maybe not my fastest ever, but definitely my strongest, and recovering really well and quickly after big days. So I am in good shape in that department. I’lljust have to be careful, and make sure I don’t get hurt.

So there you go. I leave here Thursday, flying into Calgary and then driving out to Golden. The race starts with that first short but steep leg on Friday afternoon, so I will have some time up my sleeve to relax and get a good sleep there the night before. I’ll be staying at the official host hotel, Kicking Horse Lodging’s Glacier Mountaineer Lodge (which has a hot tub and sauna!) – so many thanks to the race organizers and the host hotels for arranging this! What a treat, to have such luxurious accommodation while running such a wild and rugged multi-day ultramarathon. Wish me luck!


Another big day in the mountains of Strathcona: Castle Crag Mtn., Mt. Frink and Mt. Albert Edward

View back from the south flank of Mount ALbert Edward - I came around from the left, across the back of Castle Crag (the mountain on the extreme left), then summited Mt. Frink, then took the ridgeline down and to the left of it and back to Albert Ed.

View back from the south flank of Mount Albert Edward – I came around from the left, across the back of Castle Crag (the mountain on the extreme left), then summited Mt. Frink (centre), then took the ridgeline down and to the left of it and back to Albert Ed.

Well, the previous week I’d run/hiked to the top of Mt. Albert Edward and back – a total distance of around 32 km. I had considered adding on the side-loop that would go over Castle Crag Mountain and Mount Frink as well – but after receiving some advice that the navigation was pretty tough on this loop, I decided to bypyass it. That day. But this week, I was back!

Other than this first shot, all the pix were taken on my phone, so they are not that great. And then my phone died before I made my first summit. Stupid thing. Anyway, Read the rest of this entry »

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Jackie’s solo hike-run to summit Mt. Albert Edward, Strathcona Provincial Park – 32 km with >1km elevation gain

LDSCN2079pWow, now this was fun! It has been a very hot and dry summer – not great for the garden or the salmon, but very good for getting up in the mountains, with little or no snowpack. (Dave and I did that Della Falls/Love Lake run back in June, and there was no snow at all up there – whereas when we did that same Della Falls route in September, late summer, a few years earlier there was not only snow up there, but Love Lake was still totally frozen!) So, while Dave was away in Iceland, I decided to head up to Strathcona Provincial Park (less than a 1.5 hr drive from here) and do a run/jog up to the peak of Mt. Albert Edward. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dave and Val hike the Laugavegurinn trail from Landmannalaugar to Porsmork, Iceland!

Valerie and I decided for our yearly summer expedition to hike the wilds of Iceland!  We took a special bus with large wheels that could cross rivers from Reykjavik to the central interior area called Landmannalaugar to hike the Laugavegupinn trail.

We are off! Landmannalaugar to Porsmork hike.

We are off! Landmannalaugar to Porsmork hike.

Val and I flew Vancouver to Reykjavik, watched the weather while collecting our remaining food and gear, and booked a bus to the start in the central Iceland interior.

Heading up, up and up into the mountains.

Heading up, up and up into the mountains.

Still heading up...

Still heading up…

Mountains! I didn't sign up for this! - Val.

Mountains! I didn’t sign up for this! – Val.

After about four hours there was more snow and ice than rock.


The trail was defined with stakes with red on top, and others had left a trail through the snow.

Dave's selfie...

Dave’s selfie…

Val enjoying the day.

Val enjoying the day.

Heading for Alftavatn lake in the distance.

Heading for Alftavatn lake in the distance.

Spectacular views in every direction! Cold winds in the late afternoon.

Val having a hot drink at camp.

Val having a hot drink at camp.

Since the sun was  up 22 hours in early July, we hiked until 8:30 pm and covered 24 km of high mountain trails. No complaints from Val.  We had packed very light so we could move fast and pull long days.

Coming down out of the snow fields.

Coming down out of the snow fields.

Windswept volcanic plains.

Windswept volcanic plains.

The mountains gave way to vast volcanic plains, with winds carrying black dust.  We moved fast as we didn’t want to be here if any wind storms arose.

Dave selfie with Val in the distance...

Dave selfie with Val in the distance…

Playing crib in our crib...

Playing crib in our crib…

Cold.  We both slept with all clothes on, hat, gloves, and head under the sleeping bag.  My MEC down bag to 0 degrees C was not near enough.

Ever changing landscapes.

Ever changing landscapes.

Getting lower.

Getting lower.

A steep bit.

A steep bit.

Then on to Porsmork at near sea-level for a bus ride back to Reykjavik for the best hike ever! 55 km, three days.


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Hiking the Arrowsmith CPR Regional Trail, lookout and loop – in a dress!

LDSCN2056Oops. Well I did not mean to do this hike in a dress. I had dropped Dave and his daughter, Valerie at the Nanaimo ferry that morning (they were flying to Iceland for a week of hiking!) and figured I would hike the Arrowsmith CPR Trail loop on the way home, since I would be driving right past the trailhead. That would make for perfect training for my upcoming three-day ultramarathon, The Golden Ultra, which I would be running in less that two months – lots of Read the rest of this entry »

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