Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shuffling the Rockwall

After toodling around on the bike in Washington I drove to Calgary through Idaho and SE BC.

I was planning to run the Rockwall trail which is a 55k trail that takes you along this huge ..wait for it ...... rockwall in Kootenay national park.

I pulled in to the Marble Canyon camp site at 10pm after seeing a wolf on the side of the road. Yah - I thought i was hallucinating too until about 2 minutes after seeing it I drove by a big flashing park sign saying "Caution - Wolf on highway. No stopping"! Pretty cool .... i'm pretty sure that's my first wild wolf sighting. Not too hopeful for many more because they have been pretty much decimated by traffic inside park boundaries, and by poachers and ranchers outside the boundaries.

I couldn't be bothered to put my tent up in the dark (remember - I'm lazy) so I just put the seats down in the subaru and settled into my sleeping bag for a good snooze.

In the morning light my better sense prevailed and I knew that a 55k run along a trail that the hiking book rates as a 5-6 day hike was a big chew. Don't get me wrong ... it's a totally do-able trail run to polish it off in 10 or 11 hours (I think the record might be 8) ... but in my present shape, not having run longer than a couple of hours since my trip to the grand canyon in march, i decided to enjoy myself rather than kill myself. So I opted to run up to Floe lake then on to Numa pass and down Numa creek to the highway - a run of about 28k and around 4000ft of elev. From there I would hop on my mtn bike that I had stashed in the woods and ride the 8km back along the highway to my starting point.

The run up to Floe lake takes you through a burnt out forest along a smooth and mostly runnable trail. Most of the elev comes over the last K or so as you climb the headwall to the lake.

I gotta say it was a pretty easy run up to the lake. Much more fun than toting a huge pack. Floe lake is pretty nice. Your typical rockies lake - turquoise blue - snugged up against a towering wall of rock. You get the idea from the next couple of pics. It must be amazing up here in the fall when the larches turn yellow and the first dusting of snow clings to the rockwall.

From the lake it was a nice run up through larch trees to Numa pass, although, at around 7300ft I was wheezing a bit.

Once on the pass it there was little sense sitting around as it was windy and cool. With all the hard work done the rest was pretty much all downhill from here. And what a downhill! The trail drops steeply down into the Numa creek valley and I had a blast zooming down the smooth trail seeing the envious faces of heavily burdened backpackers toiling up the same trail on their second day out .... meanwhile I'd only been out for about 3 hours and covered the same distance! :p
It was nice to get a longer run on my legs and see some new scenery. I'd love to be able to run the whole 55k in the fall when the larches turn and I'm hopefully a little more svelt :P

The Salomon S Labs were perfect for this terrain. Light and low profile I could skim along on my toes and know that if i got lost Search and Rescue would have no trouble finding me with those bright red signal flares on my feet!


Tom Craik said...

You've been busy captain Coo. I'm impressed and I must say, intimidated. You should be in some fine shape this weekend at Whistler. At least to compared to the black, Beijing lungs I'm bringing out. Should be entertaining.

Great job on Floe Lake. I like your style.

mrC said...

Thanks Teamster! Welcome back. Looking forward to our wobble around whistler this weekend.

Phil said...

Hey mrC! Glad you got out on the RW...What a trail eh? As you mentioned, the fall is the best time to run this puppy, the golden larches, the cool air and little traffic make it one of the best runs in this neck of the woods. Next time you're passing through give a shout, I'm only 45min away...

mrC said...

Thanks Phil! Yes -- i think it must be amazing up there on a crisp fall day. Love to have some company next time I'm up that way visiting the folks.

Congrats again on your TR 4th place finish. I'm jealous ... and itching to get myself down there next year.


Bob Walker said...

Ran across your blog... no pun intended. I just finished a book on Mountain Running with ton's more trails that you need to check out when your back in the rockies. Check out the site

p.s Don't go running with Phil unless you want to get lost in the woods... :) Just kidding.

mrC said...

Thanks Bob for the tip Bob. I'll keep that in mind re: Phil =D ... but i'm ok with a map (done lots of orienteering) and I lived in Calgary for quite a few years and did lots of hiking in the Rockies so i should be able to keep him on track :p

Fantastic pics on your website. Makes me want to get out there and run. If i'm out there in running season again it would be great to run with a few of you folks and have some company. Good luck with the book. I just might pick that up!


mrC said...

actually.. if i remember i'll give that website a plug in my next posting which should be pretty soon..