We booked in a beautiful AirBNB in Bragg creek as we were supposed to be running Braggin rights. Unfortunately the race was cancelled due to trail conditions being very poor. Several of us from Edmonton still wanted to go on a mountain adventure so I suggested we circumnavigate Mount Rundle. I had heard about this idea from friends who had just done this route last month.
Jacques, Joelle and I carpooled down Friday afternoon and decided to do a Prairie mountain summit before heading to the AirBNB. What a wonderful way to start our adventure weekend. It was the perfect weather and the 3 of us were just excited to be out on a mountain. There was still quite a bit of snow on the top so we had to use spikes and poles, especially on the way down. After prairie we headed back to the room, got everything ready for the morning and charted our course to circumnavigate Mount Rundle.
Saturday morning my alarm went off at 5:30am which is only about an hour after I fell asleep. I knew I was in for a long day on almost no sleep. perfect Sinister training, right?
It’s an hour drive from Bragg Creek to Canmore so we had to get on the road early to meet the rest of the crew at the Canmore Nordic center. We set out from the Nordic centre just before 8am ready for several hours of unsupported running in the mountains. Since there were only 7 of us we vowed to ‘party pace it’ and stay together.
We headed out through Grassi lakes getting most of the climbing out of the way early. Within 30 minutes or so of climbing we had reached our first waterfall of the day. (The beauty of spring in spring the mountains is lots of waterfalls) after climbing all the way up, we ran down the road leading to the Haling and EEOR parking lot. The sky was so blue and the bit of wind kept us from getting too hot. We followed the double wide trail for about 18km crossing streams and rivers via wooden or log bridges and admiring the beauty all around us.
As we ran downhill looking up to the snow capped mountains and down to the river running below. We took our time through the first half as it was the first hot day this spring, we needed lots of pee breaks and some of us were having tummy issues( which makes a long run even harder).
After 25km we had reached the Banff Springs Hotel ( which looks like a castle), saw a horse back riding tour and quickly realized how out of place this group of dirty, smelly trail runners was at this fancy resort., so we decided not to hang out too long lol. We stopped at the store there to refuel, refill water and use the flush toilets as a luxury.
I was so excited when I saw a slurpee machine but quickly realized they were mochacchinos not coke slurpees 😔 FINE no slurpee for me. Joelle decided at this point not to continue on with the run (believe me she wanted to but her tummy said otherwise). She caught the bus back to Canmore and would meet us at the end.
Sadly We left Joelle and headed down to Bow falls, which was very pretty. I wish we could have hung out there a bit more but we had many more miles to go so we couldn’t stay this time. We left the falls and headed down a paved road along the golf course. periodically finding trails adjacent to the road. We came across a park ranger holding an air rifle talking to some golfers and wonder if there is something we should know about before we head back into the wilderness. He assured us that there were no bear warnings so we carried on.
After a few kilometres of pavement around the golf course we finally reached the trails again.
This time the trails were single track with roots, rocks and even some mud. Running along the riverside trail we found a spot close to the shore to stop and cool off. Dunking our caps in the cool river was so refreshing.
As we stood there enjoying the refreshment Carrie hears a loud noise, Nikki looks up and says “check that out” we all look back as a waterfall opens up on the side of the mountain. You can hear the magnitude of force behind the rush of the water. We all stand there in awe for several minutes as the waterfall slowly fades and dies out. This insanely beautiful moment in nature just for us.
Although we wanted to stay all day and watch for another waterfall we needed to press on and finish off our adventure. We continued on through forests with winding trail and lush green moss floors. Finally reaching the edge of Banff National park and back into Kananaskis country we pushed on for the final few kilometres back to the Nordic centre. Some of that trail was familiar to me as they are used in the Grizzly Ultra but look much different when they aren’t covered in snow.
7 hours after we had started we were back at the Nordic center We made had made it!! 45km, over 800m of elevation gain and memories to last a lifetime. I am so thankful to have crazy friends who do these things with me, a family that supports my wild adventures, for my health and ability to be able to experience such wonders in nature. Until the next adventure!