Category Archives: Jasper

Winter weekend in Jasper

Kelly and I had last weekend’s getaway on our calendars for quite a while, and it did not disappoint.

Although Jasper is lacking snow, the beauty of the town made up for it! I can’t decide if my favourite part of the weekend was the peaceful cross-country ski, winter hike, day of downhill skiing, Moonlight Madness shopping, or delicious food and après ski drinks and laughs.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

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Our XC ski on the Jacques Lake Trail was indescribable: no tracks, not a soul around, surrounded by giants (both trees and mountains). The silence was almost deafening.

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Our hike felt more like spring with the rushing river!

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Marmot Basin ski resort is celebrating its 50th season. I didn’t get out downhill skiing last year, and I forgot how much I love it.

Do you ski? What’s your favourite mountain to ski?

A happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow) to all my American friends and readers! I hope you spend time with family or good friends and eat a lot of tasty food!

What are you thankful for?

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New Orleans, Jasper and a big birthday

I was in New Orleans for a few days last week. I loved the culture, vibrancy, and history of the city!

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I walked endless miles through the French Quarter and Garden District, went on a ghost tour, drank a couple Hurricanes on Bourbon Street, and had my tarot cards read.

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I think I ate my weight in baked goods. It’s a good thing I returned to running there!

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I’m definitely making Kelly come back with me one day. That southern city charmed me!

Jasper and Kelly’s 30!

I got home from NO on Thursday and within an hour of getting home we were out the door to Jasper for a long weekend. It was Kelly’s 30th birthday and he wanted to celebrate with a quiet weekend in Jasper with Harold and me.

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We hiked 17km (over 10 miles) and climbed 1,200m (almost 4,000 ft). My glutes and calves paid for it!

The views from the top were amazing, and it looked even nicer since we worked hard to see it!

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The next day we went on a trail run/walk depending on what Harry could manage. Sometimes that was sprinting and other times it was plodding!

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It was so hot they actually reached record temperatures on Friday.

After 20+ miles of walking, running, and climbing in heat for two days Harold was done for. Inevitably he needed to be carried and totally passed out! People in town thought he was pretty cute.

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I loved celebrating Kelly’s 30th outside, in Jasper, doing what we love!

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How do you celebrate birthdays: big parties or something smaller? 

Ever been to New Orleans? What’s your favourite thing about the city?

Second camping trip of the season

We had another fantastic weekend in Jasper. I got in a memorable bike ride and trail run. More importantly, I had a wonderful weekend hanging out with my husband and pup in a place we all love.

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We got to our campsite on Thursday evening and sat around the fire before calling it a night.

On Friday morning, I hopped on my bike to tackle Maligne Lake Road. (It’s one of my favourite rides along with one we did earlier this year.)

This road is stunning, surrounded by giant mountains and passing by beautiful Medicine Lake. It’s also uphill most of the way to the lake, climbing over 1,000 metres or 3,300 feet! It was a tough ride but the breathtaking beauty cancelled it out.

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Maligne Lake is one of the most popular tourist spots in Jasper, so it’s always fun to stand around and listen to the various accents from international travellers!

Once I made it to the lake, I stopped for a photo and some food before enjoying the descent. I saw a bear on the way down and was brave enough to stop for a minute. I debated pulling out my camera but rethought the idea and got out of there!

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Kelly and Harold hiked near Maligne Lake so they could check on me on the way up. They went on a beautiful hike and saw two moose swimming and playing in the water!

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Once we all got back to camp, we went into Jasper town to go on another hike. We did part of the Saturday Night Lake Loop.

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We walked by two beautiful lakes, through some forest, and were rewarded with views of the valley.

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By this time, my legs were toast and I was soaked in sweat so we went back to camp for supper where we relaxed and read by the fire for the rest of the night.

On Saturday, it was Kelly’s turn for a day of biking so he headed out nice and early on his mountain bike to hit the trails hard with a friend.

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Harold and I enjoyed a relaxing morning reading by the river and hanging out at camp. He was absolutely exhausted after his big day on Friday!

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I even found some time to stretch my tired body in the perfect yoga location of a little clearing surrounded by trees.

Kelly came back and we wanted to hike again, but Harold wouldn’t have it. So instead we walked around Jasper popping into shops.  It was hot, so we ate supper by the river. I was tired and asleep early only to be awoken by the most calming sound of rain. Camping sleeps are always great, but add raindrops falling and they’re even better!

On Sunday morning we planned on going for a family trail run but decided it would be too hard on Harold. So I laced up my sneakers and hit the trails for almost 10 miles of bliss. Most of my run was alongside the river with views of the mountains all around.

On the way back, I saw Kelly and Harold who were out for a little walk. Kelly took some ‘rave run’ photos of me on my favourite trails!

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It was a fantastic way to cap off an amazing weekend of outdoor fun. I can’t wait until we go back!

Where is your favourite hike? What do you like better: road cycling, mountain biking, or trail running?

The drafter became the draftee

You know how I feel about the bike: I love to ride my bicycle and love most training rides but it’s my weakest link in triathlon and nearly seven hours on my beautiful machine can be torture!

My confidence was down after a long Coeur d’Alene bike and then a tough training ride last weekend. This weekend I put myself to the test by riding185km/115 miles.

Earlier in the week we signed up for the Tour de l’Alberta. (We rode it last year when it was 175km.) It was a great ride last year and is an awesome way to get in a supported long ride.

Kelly decided last minute not to do it and instead took Harold to Jasper for a day of hiking! They did the gorgeous Whistlers Mountain hike, which has incredible views from the top. There is also a tram that goes up there so anybody can enjoy the scenery!

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Back to the ride…

The 185km tour started at 7am, so I was there by 6am to sign in. My parents (who assure me they love to watch our events!) made it before the start to cheer for me. I also saw them numerous times throughout the day!

It started without a hitch and I tried to settle into a pace. By 30km I was riding by myself, which I actually really enjoy. I always say that an Ironman is completely a solo effort with zero drafting allowed so it’s good to ride by myself. (However if I’m riding with Kelly and it’s windy out, I definitely try to draft off him!)

They had police or volunteers at busy crossings, which is the best part of the supported ride! They also had awesome rest stops. I stopped at one about 50km in to fuel up before a long stretch of highway riding into a slight headwind.

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I ate a few delicious cookies then hopped on my bike and started pedaling away. After a while I heard some noise and looked behind me to see a man tucked right in so I was blocking all his wind!

After a while, another guy (guy #2) came up and said thanks for pulling him. I kind of laughed to myself since I’m always desperate to draft off Kelly! I was there to ride my own ride, so we kept going like that. Guy #2 took the lead for a couple kilometres before I took over again.

I stopped prior to the next rest stop because I had some fans to talk to! My grandma lives in the town the lunch rest stop was situated, so my mom picked her up and they were cheering on a corner! I chatted with them for a few minutes before getting food from the lunch stop. They had so much there! I grabbed a bag of Doritos (so delicious and salty!), Gatorade, and some candy then hit the bathroom and started pedaling again.

Guy #2 was leaving at the same time so we rode together chatting away. He tucked in behind again and we rode like that for some time, chatting and then me leading.

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I felt strong and was just so grateful to have someone to talk to for a bit! The next time I turned around, he wasn’t with me anymore. I only had about 40km to go and was feeling pretty good about the ride.

I tried to push it a little and ended up finishing around 6:43 (moving time, as I stopped my watch at the longer stops).

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I am so happy I did the ride, as it gave me some of my confidence back. I know I won’t be fast in Whistler, but at least I know my legs and mind can do it.

The Tour d’Alberta is a fantastic ride. The rest stops are well-manned and there is a nice variety of food and beverages. There are enough bathrooms that you don’t have to try and find somewhere discreet to pull off like on most of our long rides! They have many distances to choose from, which is great to see so many people of different abilities out there. Most importantly, I feel safe when I’m riding with so many other people and support vehicles and motorcycles patrolling the route.

Have you ever participated in a supported ride?

What would you prefer: bathrooms, food, or people around you?

Change the pace – trail running safety

Did you know that Edmonton boasts over 150km of trails in the North Saskatchewan River Valley?

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It’s the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America at 7,400 hectares. We are fortunate to have easy access to this trail system for running, walking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

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Although I love to trail run, I don’t do it nearly enough.  I love to walk, hike, and run them when we’re in Jasper. And I try to get out in Edmonton once in a while.

They’re easier on the joints with soft ground, they’re a nice change from mundane city running, and you connect with nature.

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I’m definitely no expert on the sport. However, I think I do a decent job of safety when I run.

With so many kilometres of trails, some of them are pretty empty. Add in other factors like day of the week, time of day, and weather, and they can be downright deserted. I realize the quiet is part of the beauty of trails. But, in the middle of the city, it can also be a danger.

A young woman running alone through a densely treed area without traffic, and sometimes no foot traffic, can be a target.

Here are a few things I do to, hopefully, keep me safe when I run the trails alone:

  1. ALWAYS tell someone where you are going, and how long you expect to be gone. If nobody is home, leave a note or call a friend.
  2. Change it up. Don’t take the same route at the same time on the same day each time you go. You don’t want to be predictable in case someone notices your routine.
  3. Take a phone. If you run into trouble, you can hopefully make a call. Or, if you’re uncomfortable, call someone before you’re in danger. (If you do answer your phone, text someone, or even stop to take a photo, stay aware.)
  4. Run without music. Be fully aware of your surroundings without blocking noises out. Plus, part of trail running is the sounds of nature!
  5. Make eye contact if/when you pass someone, and say hello. This lets people know you are confident and that you noticed them.
  6. Watch other people. If you pass someone going the opposite direction, turn around after a few seconds to ensure they’re still going the opposite direction of you. Or, if you were going the same direction, turn to make sure they’re a safe distance behind.
  7. Don’t get too zen. My favourite part of trail running is the peace. But, if you zone out too much, you’re less likely to hear footfalls behind you or see someone on a side trail.
  8. Leave something in the tank. Between hills and uneven terrain, trails can take a lot out of you. I like to have a little something in the reserve in case I had to sprint or fight, without depending on adrenaline.

So maybe I sound a little paranoid! But, scary things happen to women all the time when they run alone. These tips definitely apply to running in general. I just find trail running leaves a person more vulnerable without people and/or traffic around.

Have you ever had a scary experience? Do you have any tips to add? 

Other Change the Pace posts:

Perfect ride

Have you had one of those workouts or days where you cheeks hurt from smiling and you don’t want it to end? That was our bike ride on Sunday.

The forecast wasn’t great for home or Jasper. I knew I wanted to ride 180km if we stayed in Edmonton or have a fun ride if we went to Jasper. Jasper wins every time.

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It was only +2 at the start of our ride. Not very warm for my poor fingers! But the views more than made up for the cold!

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After a ride into town and a quick stop at our favourite bakery (Bear’s Paw) for some fuel, we were on our way.

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The sun was shining. Wildlife was out in full force. The lakes were a glorious aquamarine colour. And we got to ride on a newly paved road that was closed to vehicles.

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It was seriously cyclist heaven! The road was 14km uphill, which was an amazing workout for me.

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Kelly would ride ahead a bit and then come back to me. At one point, he said he could see my smile from so far away.

We loved every minute of it.

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On the way back down we ran into a bear and cub! They were off to the side and scuttled up a tree; it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The cub’s face literally looked like a teddy bear!

It was an absolutely incredible day that solidified my love of cycling and made me realize how lucky we are to be healthy enough to enjoy the outdoors that way, together.

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And my cheeks most definitely hurt by the end!

Tell me about your most recent memorable workout or day!