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Fall Hike up Pocaterra Ridge

Route map and elevation profile.

With a glorious long fall in Alberta, we attacked Pocaterra Ridge.  I had to make a run to Canmore to pick up my trekking poles first (glad I did), so after that and a fill-up I drove out to the trailhead at Highwood Pass.  We had eight people in our group – a pretty large group!  The advantage here is that we had enough cars to do this as a point-to-point hike; we weren’t forced into an out-and-back.  I ate a Subway while I waited for the other folks to show up and set up the shuttle, and then off we went.

A beautiful hike through meadows that were full of wildflowers not a month ago led to the base of the ridge.  The smell of fall was everywhere, with the damp, moderately pungent but still refreshing odour of disappearing vegetation omnipresent.  The ridge itself climbs out of the meadows with a bit of a trudge, but when you reach the top you’re rewarded with a valley view on the left and hwy 40 on your right.  A technical – but spectacular – traverse of the ridge leads you to a steep and long downhill through trees to the north end of the trail, where we’d stashed a car for shuttling.  This descent is really made easier with trekking poles.  On the south end before the ridge, the Larch trees were still full of yellow needles, while on the north end they were bare.  Just awesome.

It’s fair to say that when I was on top of the ridge I was in exactly the place on the planet I wanted to be at exactly the time I wanted to be there.  That should be evident from my grinning like an idiot in the video, below.  I’ll get some photos up of this eventually, but here’s what Garmin and Strava had to say about the hike.  Even the drive in and out was spectacular and relaxing – given the lateness of the season, there was very little traffic; not a motor-home to be seen on highway 40, which can be a bit of a slow drive in the peak season!

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We rode the Big Dipper.

Our 12-Mile Coulee mashup. Because of construction, the “scoop” of our route turned into a “well now where do we go?” mashup.

Okay, that title makes absolutely no sense, but check out the plot of this ride that Russ and I did yesterday.  I’ve seen some impressive GPS plot routes in my time (Space Invaders ftw!), but those are intentional from what I’ve seen.  If they’re not, that’s a series of miracles of coincidence and all parties involved should likely buy lottery tickets.  Ours was accidental.  It’s mirrored, as you can see, but it’s pretty darn close.  Ursa Major mirrored on Earth!  One minor difference is that in our dipper, the ladle has some steaming soup in it.  Nice.

Or it’s a steaming pile of something else, because what that ladle represents on our ride is a big pile of fail.  We wanted to do a fast mountain bike ride, and what easier target than the Coulee?  Heck, we’ve even ridden it in the pitch black in winter.  Summer should be an easy rip, right?  Well, with the City finishing off their ring road by removing the light at Nose Hill Dr. and Stoney Trail, they’ve completely blown up the nice meadow and tree-covered brook that used to make up the bottom of the trail in the park.  In fact, we had to trespass across the construction site to even get to the base of the trail to climb up (it was an up and down trek).

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Old Fernie Footage 1

I was talking to a friend about riding a couple of days ago, and then that night while I was doing some work on my home computer I kind of stumbled upon some old footage I took at Fernie in 2010.  I’m not that talented a downhill rider, but I love mountain biking and I had fun watching some of this!!  The footage takes up a lot of disk space for not ever being seen, so I decided to work some of it up to post so I could ditch the raw footage (there’s a lot of standing around before runs).

Here’s post #1, which I think is Bin Loggin’.  Phil and I are following a guide who we hung out with for a bit and who gave us some pointers on how not to suck so much.  Phil took those pointers to heart, but they didn’t really sink in for me.  I guess that means:  rematch!!  Stay tuned for more old footage from this trip.

Trail Run on the Coulee

After not being able to run on Saturday with the other monkeys (Graham, sick, asked very sweetly to play with blocks with him and I couldn’t say no), I made it a mission to get out for a trail run on Sunday.  I know the monkeys went down and up the same trail, but I just decided to make a loop out of it from my house.  The weather was fantastic, at about 0 degrees, still cold enough that the creek was frozen enough to run on.

I decided to take out my Salomon trail runners as opposed to the regular Brooks running shoes.  They were awesome on the trail, but the second half of my loop was on pavement and they were really not good for that.  I ended up with sore knees and feet by the time I got home.  I know part of that might be my gait, and I continue to try to work on that.  I also used Yaktrax on this run, which made it much easier to keep my feet on the trail.  Still, I was surprised how much sliding out I still did on some of the really side-cut parts of the trail; definitely not safe to ride a couple parts of this right now!

Here is the loop and the run profile.  It ended up being 78ish meters of climbing  over what looks like about 2km, based on the proportion of the loop that was in the ravine.  I was too lazy to just measure the distance in the GPS software.  I loved running the coulee, but the loop back through my neighborhood was so boring.  I have a nice running loop through Silver Springs that is somehow much more satisfying.  I don’t know what it is about running around Scenic Acres, but it just sucks the will to live right out of me.  I digress, the loop:

Loop on the map, 7.2km

Run profile

Video after the break.

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My 20km Commute

So I live pretty close to work, but I quite often take a detour on my way home to give a bit of a longer ride.  I credit the longer commutes with helping me to lose 10 pounds over the last couple of months.  I really enjoy the route, but it’s a hard thing to describe to people as parts of it can end up being a through fields and parking lots and holes in fences type-thing.  The easiest way to describe it is to show it, so I recorded my commute last Thursday to show the route.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to sit through the full 50 minutes of the commute, it’s time-lapsed with comments here and there.

I chose an excellent tune by Orbital called “Time Flies” for the soundtrack because that’s kind of what the video represents!

I can stretch the route out even further by going all the way downtown before heading back to the west, but I find that’s a bit of a time trade-off, and it’s better to stick to the 20k and stay under an hour to get home and see the family.  I’ll still go all the way downtown once in a while, but not too often.

Wicked ski day

View from the top of Lookout Mountain

This was last weekend, but it was an awesome day.  This post is for Migo and Russ’ benefit:  look what you missed!! Considering the weather the day before (check the previous post), we were amazed when we woke up and there was not a bloody cloud in the sky.  You never know at Sunshine though (the name “Sunshine” is sometimes a bit of a misnomer), so we kept our fingers crossed as we drove out.  Well, let me tell you.  20 fresh cm of winter snow (this was not the spring butter), and not a cloud in the sky at Sunshine either.  Excellent ski day, my legs were bloody sore by lunch time.

Video of a few runs after the break!

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Snow-Coulee; March 24, 2011

Me pointing my own helmet-cam at myself

We rode the 12 Mile Coulee (downhill from Tuscany, in Calgary) in the dead of winter (errr, March).  You see, the goal was to get out with the studded tires and shred the frozen creek.  The miscalculation we made was that it got warm at the beginning of the week, then snowed for the rest of the week, then got cold.  So, what we ended up was just a great big bloody trudge!  I showed up with knee pads and elbow pads, expecting to crash on solid ice, but I never got to try it out.  You can tell from the picture how pleased I am, however, so you know it wasn’t a loss.

Video after the break.

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