Friday, December 30, 2011

Well done Alberta!

The reason for the title of the post is because the government of Alberta recently opened its newest Provincial Park. This provincial park also happens to be 10 minutes from my house. With lots of trails. For running...

Run data can be found here.

A nice map tells you where you can and cannot go. I think it's much easier to stick to the trails.

The first part of the run involves a relatively steep descent through trees. Because it is winter, there is lots of ice and such, so I had to tread carefully. I ran this last week in my mukluks, and they had much better grip than my NB Minimus shoes.

It was a nice run along the bottom of the trail. I knew that I had descended, and that to get back to the car, I would have to ascend. I'm also pretending I had not run this loop yet.

So, that comment about running back up to the car at the end of my run. Well, there are two big elevation changes on this run, and I had to go up to the high point. Twice. This would account for the 168m elevation gain in 7.2 km.

Up and and up and up. It was very windy, much to the normality of living in the Bow Valley. This hill happened to be headed west, so I was uphill and into a headwind. Insert sob music here.

A hill. The last big one, but I had to walk. My goal is to be able to run this hill.

At the west-most point of the run, there is a fantastic view of the town I call home. Cochrane, yeah yeah, in all of it's windblown and brown glory. (It's not that bad, actually).
This is looking south-east (ish) along the Bow river. It's very nice, methinks.
I really like the way this photo turned out. I may have to print and frame it.

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is an actual ranch, and it also used to have a village on it. So throughout the run, there are remnants of the old village that used to be there, as well as signs of obvious modern day ranching, such as cows and poo on the side of the path.

It appears I dropped my camera and it took some photos of me running away. Perhaps my camera has heard that I am looking to replace it soon. And yes, it is December 30th and I am wearing shorts.

The is the final long ascent back to the parking lot. I passed a dude who was carrying his full camera gear and he simply smiled at me and said good-day. I liked that.

The best part of the run is knowing I've completed it and that I will do it again soon.

Ok, one more moment to enjoy this sensation.

That is Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. A very nice park in a very nice part of the world. A place I can call home. It would not make a good place for snowshoeing as it is a working ranch and everyone is asked to remain on the trails. There are plenty of trails, some 28km, or so I've been told. I've only explored 7.2km total, so there is much more left to discover. Right out my back door.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Out West Training, Now Open For Business

Ok, first things first, I've started my own training company. Well, personal training business, if you will. I've been studying for the last few years, and I've earned a certification that allows me to train, which is actually very nice because it really complements my education.

Out West Training is my dream, really. I've been chasing this dream for some time, so now it is very exciting to see it come to fruition. I designed this logo myself with a sharpie, refined it at bit and made it work (I think).

My catch, for my personal training, is that all of it is done outside. Everything in every type of weather. If you read my blog, you'll see that I love the outdoors. So I thought to bring the training outdoors and cater to those who would rather remain outside than go back in.

So often I see the ads in the paper saying get back inside for winter and keep exercising. Well, I say stay outside, and make the most of our 6 months of winter. And why not? You can do just as much outside as you can indoors! I am here to help you train outdoors, prepare for the elements, and encourage you to enjoy the best fresh air you can find.

With the start of a business comes the purchase of some basic equipment. I don't want to go crazy with buying, but I do need some stuff. So I found a local retailer of Kettlebells and bought four of them. These are so awesome they even came on their own skid!

The cool thing is, all of the kettlbells are the same size, regardless of weight. So here we have 8kg, 16kg, 24kg and 32kg. Can you guess which is which?

All of these kettlebells are awesome, and they are locally available at Bells of Steel.

I don't have a website for my training yet, but I do have a Facebook page. Look up Out West Training on Facebook and I can help you get moving towards your goals!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pizza Party!

Recently, well, within the last year, I’ve finally figured out how to make homemade pizza. It wasn’t that hard, really, but apparently for years I was doing one thing wrong; the baking process. I’ve always baked pizza at 350 for 20-30 minutes to cook it. Well I didn’t realize that a key step was to bake it at full power for a short period of time. Anyway, here are the results.

2011-09-27 (2)The usual pizza we make has a basic basil/tomato sauce with two types of spicy salami, onion, mushroom and pizza cheese. It goes together in about 5 minutes and it baked in another 5. So very very easy!

2011-09-27 (3)See how good it is? I couldn’t even get a photo of the pizza without half of it being gone! The key to baking it is the pizza stone, and to prepare the dough and toppings on a hot stone (quickly) and then baking it again. It’s really fun and seems to always be a hit with guests.

Dang, now I want some pizza.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy November Everyone!

Halloween is over as of yesterday, and so is the month of October. This means that winter is upon on us, and what is more exciting for me to wake up on the last day of the month and find this:

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Snow! And lots of it! I love it. That means that soon I can use these.


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Cross country skis! As procured from Kijiji! Yeah yeah, picked em up last week! What a deal too! I am always surprised when I find used gear that fits me cause I’m so tall and not many people are my size. So a deal has led to yet another winter passion! Winter sports! And because of…


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…this, I can use…


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…these, or maybe I could use…


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…these, but somedays I will probably use…


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…these! Maybe I could ski to work in these. After all, I used…


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…these last year to snowshoe to work (21km, 4.5 hours) because there was lots of…


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…this and…


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I love winter. Bring on the snow! Smile

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Devil’s Head Alberta

It is what I would call an iconic landmark of the South-Central Rockies in Alberta. The Devil’s Head stands out like a giant knob when looking West from Calgary. Once you see it, you always see it. And once I saw it, I wanted to conquer it.

The plan was simple. Leave Saturday morning, drive out to the Ghost Valley, hike in and set up camp. Attempt a summit that day if light and weather permitted and then return to camp. The following day on the way out, we would attempt Black Rock Mountain on the way out. It sounds ambitious, and that’s just what it was. Here is how it went.

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The drive on highway 40 through Benchlands and Waiparous was beautiful as always.

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Once we passed through the hamlet of Waiparous, we drove a few kilometers west until Highway 40 took a sharp turn north. Immediately to the left once you go north, there is an unimproved road that goes West towards the Ghost. It is best if you have a 4x4 to use this road as it was very very rough.

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The road offers some terrific vista views, and I kept my eyes tight on the mountain that has inspired me so. Luckily I wasn’t driving, so I was able to get plenty of photos for the drive in.

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Just having some fun with the camera.

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As the Mountain drew nearer and nearer, the road became rougher and rougher.

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Black Rock Mountain as seen from the Ghost riverbed. We had to drive along this riverbed, over the bridge until we came to a creek crossing.

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Driving up to the Ghost River bridge. You can see the tip of Devil’s Head in the far distance.

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There were seven of us. Probably a good idea to bring many people because it makes it just more fun.

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From where we parked, we hiked about 1km to the first stream crossing. You can see Mt Aylmer in the far distance of the Ghost Valley. Many ice climbers flock to this valley in winter to do their thing. It was obvious why. There were so many apparently good spots for ice climbing.

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First stream crossing. There were a total of 4.

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The trail along the Valley floor is very flat and easily identifiable. It would take a lot of skill to get lost. There are markers the entire way as well as a very obvious set of tracks.

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One of the many trail markers along the way.

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The Devil’s Head loomed closer and closer. I continually imagined myself standing on it’s summit.

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Along the north side of the Ghost River, there are some obvious valleys. We decided that the 4th valley to the north would be our ascent. It would take us up the non-vertical side of the Devil’s Head (from the West). So we set up camp at the mouth of the 4th valley and got ready for our initial ascent.

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The 4th valley, which I thought was Valley of the Birds (I was wrong), follows a creek bed to the base of the west side of the mountain. It rises gently over the two kilometers where we would attempt our ascent.

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Looking north up the wrong valley. Our ascent would be to ascend and traverse the slopes to the right, with Devil’s Head being on the other side.

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The first day we started ascending, but called it off due to the fact that we would be running out of daylight by the time we made it to the top. We were in no position to downclimb in the dark, so we explored the Wrong Valley for alternate ascent routes. The valley breaks into two, and the east branch followed a stream into some Lord of the Rings looking places.

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We discovered some few-day-old bear tracks, which just happened to be just outside of our camp.

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The next morning, we set out again to make a summit attempt. We returned up Wrong Valley and found an easily identifiable trail up one of the drainage ditches. It was marked by a cairn, so obviously this wasn’t the wrong approach. GPS data can be found here.

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Only four of us made for the summit that day. The remaining three stayed behind to rest and enjoy the wild. From this photo, you can see Wrong Valley and where it leads to the Ghost River. We camped right at that junction of the two valleys.

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We continued up our mountain and came upon a ridge. From here, well above the treeline, we could see the west side of Devil’s Head. Suddenly, it didn’t look as simple as initially thought. Two hikers called it a day and I and one other continued on.

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We followed the ridge across the top of a giant scree bowl. There was an obvious path, so again, our confidence that we would make it was restored. Still, the West slopes of Devil’s Head loomed high above us.

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We continued up the ridge, right up to the base of the cliffs. From here, it would get technical, dangerous and difficult. We had lunch and got ourselves ready for the summit.

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Looking east towards the city of Calgary. After lunch, we started using our hands to climb. We continued climbing and climbing. My altimeter ready 2600m, 2650m, 2700m. Then we ran out of ability. We came to a point that was too dangerous to climb. It was a sheer drop-off on one side, and vertical climbing on the other. We had reach the end. 100m from the top, we had to turn back. I snagged a summit rock and stuffed it into my pack.

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Looking southeast from the west side of Devil’s Head. One valley over is Lake Minnewanka and Devil’s Gap. The view was incredible. I felt defeated that we couldn’t make the summit, but it didn’t matter, I was still there.

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After returning down the mountain and collecting all of our camp goods, we took the 6km hike back out of the Ghost. I kept glancing towards the mountain which had defeated me, but also had given me so much experience. Then a sudden realization dawned upon me. The West side of Devil’s Head is two peak, divided by a rocky gully. We were climbing the west peak, not the East peak! We had taken the wrong approach.

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This is Black Rock Mountain on the way out. You can see, if you look closely, the fire hut located on the peak.

As we returned to the vehicles, tired and hungry, I looked back one more time at the mountain I have wanted to climb since arriving in the Calgary area. I looked at the summit rock in my pack, knowing full well it wasn’t actually a true summit rock, and tossed it down. I didn’t earn it, but I knew one day I would. I would do it again and stand tall on the Devil’s Head.