Summer 2016 Happenings

Time to break up the radio silence that’s been ongoing this August on Peanut Butter Kait! It’s been an incredibly active and busy summer, and I can’t believe the September long weekend is right around the corner.  So, what have Dana and I been up to?


Crossfit

It’s hard to believe my blog used to consist of daytoday workout journaling. I haven’t done a post like that in forever!  None-the-less, my love for crossfit is still ongoing and as strong as ever.  I’ve been hitting up class throughout the summer at my home box, CrossFit Sunalta, about four times a week and seeing good gainz.  Things I used to loathe like double unders are slightly less sucky now, so that’s fun.  If I could just master kipping pull-ups, there would be nothing left to dread (#kiddingnotkidding).


I conned my dear friends and fellow Sunaltans, Anna and Meg, into doing a 3-person ladies team competition on October 1 here in Calgary. The WODs have not been released yet, but I’m confident we’ll have a blast!  I’m hoping we can start squeezing some training in for the competition soon, as it’s really only a month away.

Penny

Although we’ve only had Penny since November, it truly feels like she’s been part of our little family forever. She’s not the most affectionate animal generally, but that probably comes from living on the streets of Mexico for seven years.  With that said, she ADORES Dana with her whole tiny heart and worships the ground he walks on.


We’ve had a ton of fun taking her hiking this summer – everyone is always amazed when they see her out on the mountain, but her cardio conditioning is second-to-none.  My own dog makes me look bad.


I love her to death.  Other than when she does things like eat my earplugs or other miscellaneous household items.

Hiking

… which is the theme of summer 2016. I’ve done several hikes since we got back from backpacking the West Coast Trail.

July 23rd I hiked up to Taylor Lake with a group of ladies.  Our boyfriends/husbands were out on a bachelor party backpacking weekend so we thought we should also get out to the mountains.  Taylor Lake is pretty, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone as it’s 95% hiking in the bush with no views.  The lake itself is lovely.  Worth 12 kilometers of forest hiking?  No.  Maybe trail running would have been more suited to the trail?

We spent August 12-14 out at Nipika Resort near Golden, BC for our friends’ wedding. Highly recommend checking the resort out!  Dana and I tried out trail running on the Saturday on the cross-country ski/snowshoe trails and had an absolute blast.  Somehow the 5 km we intended to do turned into a sweaty 10 km.  Now a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3s are on my Christmas list…

On August 20th, Dana, Penny, and I headed out to the Banff area to hike up to Harvey Pass.  It’s a very popular hike, but unlike Taylor Lake, I completely understand why.  The elevation gain up to Harvey Pass is about 1000 metres, but totally worth every gasping breath and burning glute on the way up.


We had a beautiful 28 degree day, but luckily the forest and then the gusting wind on top kept us reasonably cool.  We ate lunch at Bourgeau Lake and then carried on up to Harvey Pass.  The views up there are some of the best I’ve seen in Banff National Park!  All three of us were pretty exhausted driving back to Calgary after with about 20 km round trip under our belt.  Five star hike!

Camping

Just this last weekend, we headed down south to Waterton National Park with our friends Meg and Wade, and my sister Haley, for a car camping trip. We had warm weather on both Friday and Saturday, but it was pretty dang cool on Sunday morning as we packed up.  11 degrees!  We camped at Crooked Creek Campground which is a little bit too commercialized and noisy for me, but alternatively, I did appreciate having hot running water to wash dishes every night.


Hands down, Waterton is my favorite National Park in Alberta. The mountains are incredible there!  On Saturday, we had planned to hike Crypt Lake which is a super iconic Waterton hike.  Unfortunately due to a grizzly bear in the area, no dogs were allowed on the trail.  Since we had Penny along, we couldn’t do Crypt.  Our second choice was Carthew-Alderson, but due to construction on the Akamina Parkway we couldn’t access the trailhead without a shuttle, which we couldn’t take because of Penny.  Sigh.

We ended up hiking the popular Bertha Lake trail. Our hiking book rated the hiked 2/4, which I think is an insult to a beautiful trail.  Yes, Bertha Lake is very popular.  Yes, part of the hike is in the forest.  But Bertha Lake itself is absolutely gorgeous!  We hiked up to the lake, and then did the lake loop and headed back down to the bridge to eat lunch.

About 16 kilometers, 650 m elevation gain.  Up at the lake, we saw two black bears from a distance, and got very close to a buck with a large rack.  There were lots of berries around the lake, so you can understand why Waterton is known for bears.  On the way back to the campground after, Meg and Wade saw a grizzly from the car!  It turned out to be a great day of hiking, despite the disappointment of missing out on Crypt Lake.


Vancouver

To wrap up the epic summer, my mom last-minute planned a girls’ trip to Vancouver for the September long weekend.  My mom, sister, grandma, and I are heading to Vancouver to have a little getaway and see my mom’s childhood best friend.  On Friday, Haley and I are flying in early in the day so we can tourist around downtown Vancouver, and then we’ll meet up with the family in the evening when they fly in.  Any Vancouver recommendations?  Leave me a comment!  The weather forecast looks horribly rainy, but nothing a little shopping, eating, and drinking excellent coffee can’t cure.


How has your summer been?

Hikes: Old Baldy Ridge (x2) & Plain of Six Glaciers

As usual, Dana and I have been hiking up a storm as we get conditioned for the West Coast Trail (we leave on the 29th!).  Really, it’s like comparing apples to zucchinis because hiking up a mountain in Kananaskis has nothing in common with beach hiking on an island, but I suppose cardio is cardio?

Back on May 14th, we attempted to summit Old Baldy Ridge in Kananaskis.  It was a gorgeous blue bird day out in K-Country and as Dana drove us out to the mountains, I read the hiking book and figured out our game plan.  Based on online hike reviews, bloggers had noted that the trailhead for Old Baldy is a little hard to distinguish.  I can now confirm this is accurate.

We parked in the Evan-Thomas Creek parking lot and headed off down the old forestry road (I threw the hiking book in my pack for good measure but left the map in the car. Smart.)  We were meant to look for a small cairn which would mark where the trail for Old Baldy started.  Unfortunately, my eyes did not distinguish the small cairn and we blew past it, eventually ending at a very rocky creek bed where the road picked up on the other side.



Of course there was some arguing about which way to go, since the tiny illustrated map in the hiking book didn’t help us much. We worked our way up the rocky creek bed a bit, but I was convinced it was the wrong way, so then we went up the forestry road a few kilometers as it got more and more overgrown.  When we stumbled upon a big bear footprint and some scat, we elected to turn back and call it a day.


Oddly, I was the one convincing Dana that we should keep trying to find the trailhead, so we crossed back over the rocky creek and started bushwacking our way up the mountainside through an area where there had been a preventative burn. It was there I saw the largest bear scat I’ve ever seen in my life. No picture because, well, no one needs to see that much poop.


Still, not deterred, we struggled on in the heat of the day to summit the so-called mountain. It got steeper and steeper, and finally Dana took pity on Penny and carried her.  We finally called it a day when it became completely obvious that we were not getting any closer to our goal.

We bushwacked back down the mountain and found the forestry road, then followed it back to the car (passing the cairn on the way, marked with a tiny cute pink ribbon. #sarcasm)

Once back at the car, Dana checked the map and determined we were on an entirely different mountain bushwacking so it was probably a good thing we turned back when we did. Although it was an Old Baldy fail, at least we got some exercise and it was a beautiful day out in the mountains.

Distance hiked: 13 km / 525 m elevation gain
Two weeks later, on the 28th, we attempted Old Baldy Ridge again with our friends Laura and Adrian.  They are avid hikers/backpackers and I was nervous about keeping up with them.  Luckily, with all Dana and I’s hiking lately, I managed to keep up with the gang just fine.


Dana and I were both wiser about the cairn this time, and once we turned there, the trail up Old Baldy was much more obvious. Old Baldy is a lung burner for sure!  Thankfully I had Penny to pull me up the mountain.  She may be a small cocker spaniel, but her tiny legs and lungs are powerhouses!

There’s a section where the trail disappears and a rockslide takes over. Penny and I were less fond of this section.  Navigating through the slide and boulders took quite a bit of time going up.


We enjoyed lunch looking out over the valley, and got a bit of sunshine too.


After eating, we carried on with the hike and worked our way up a bit of scree, then found ourselves up at the top of Old Baldy.  It was incredibly windy and started lightly snowing, so we decided to skip the ridge walk and head back down.


The rockslide was even more challenging going down, but Laura and I managed okay and Dana carried Penny for a bit. From then on, it was a relatively easy trip back to the car.

All in all, a fun shoulder-season hike and a great day with friends!

Distance hiked: 13 km / 925 m elevation gain

This past weekend, the so-called “Three Best Friends” were united for another hiking adventure. Haley is back from her post-graduation trip now, so she is available for weekend hikes now!

We knew it was going to be a hot day, so we intended to get out to the mountains a little earlier than normal. Unfortunately, due to a late start and construction near Banff, we didn’t get out to Lake Louise until close to noon.  We had thought about doing Lake Annette/Paradise Valley (again), but due to the shortened day, we thought a less lengthy hike might be better.


This might sound strange, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been up to Lake Louise before. Turns out, it’s gorgeous!  #newsflash It’s also incredibly popular with tourists.  Surprise, surprise.

The parking lot was nuts and Dana almost left in a mad rage, but we parked on the side of the road down near Deer Lodge and got started. There were a lot of slow-moving tourists to get past, but once we got down to the far side of the lake, it was a bit quieter.  We were all in awe of the amazing blue color of the lake, contrasted nicely with the red canoes out on the water.


We elected to hike up to the Plain of Six Glaciers and the accompanying teahouse as the hiking book we have highly recommended them. It gave 0/4 stars to the Lake Agnes teahouse so we skipped it.  On a less hot day, we might have considered taking the Highline trail back to the Lake Agnes teahouse and circling back that way, but we were all tuckered out by the end of the day.


We all got a good workout in, and sweat plenty with the very warm weather. The strangest hiking apparel we saw on the trail was a woman wearing a full-length black Canada Goose parka, and a man wearing Birkenstock sandals.  Ah, tourists…

Despite the crowds, Plain of Six Glaciers was one of the prettiest hikes I’ve ever done and I’d recommend it! As for the teahouse, Dana sampled some chocolate cake and highly enjoyed the sugar rush.

Distance hiked: 17 km / 500 m elevation gain


Amazingly, we’re skipping our usual weekend hike this upcoming weekend in lieu of a bridal shower on Saturday. But we’re going on a one-night backpack on the 18th/19th so I can remember what having weight on my back feels like again.  Then no more hiking (likely) until the West Coast Trail on June 29th!  I’m looking forward to our trip so much!

What hikes have you done lately?  Any Kananaskis/Banff/Lake Louise area hikes you’d recommend?

 

Hikes: Grotto Canyon & Lake Minnewanka

Note: Hi Mom and Donna – happy Mother’s Day to you both!  Thank you for all that you do!

Last weekend, my folks were down from Grande Prairie for a visit (and to move Haley out of her rental and into our house.)  Since Dana and I have been talking so much lately about all the hiking we’ve been doing, Mom mentioned she’d like to get out for a hike too.

Typically the only hiking we do when Mom visits Calgary is at The Bay.  To change things up a little, we took Mom and Dad out to Grotto Canyon for a little hike.  Grotto was a great pick for a warm day as the canyon walls kept us cool, and there isn’t too much elevation change.

Our only issue was getting started as we turned right too soon off the main trail and ended up bushwhacking a ways until we met up with the trail again.  Hey, just adds to the adventure.

We ate lunch part way up to the grotto at a little waterfall, near some (perhaps recently drawn) pictographs.  There are other more authentic pictographs on the hike up the canyon.

Mom and Dad were troopers and (I think?) mostly enjoyed the hike.

We turned around at the grotto, which some younger kiddos were attempting to scale.  Dana and I did not attempt the rather steep, slippery climb. Dana’s GPS watch clocked the distance from the parking lot up to the grotto at 4 km, with an elevation gain of roughly 250 m.  

Yesterday, we hiked at Lake Minnewanka with Penny.  It was a bit of an adventure driving out to Banff as traffic on Highway 1 was bumper-to-bumper and painfully slow due to construction, plus we didn’t have a Parks pass so had to wait in an enormous line at the Park gates to purchase one.  You can imagine Dana was in fine spirits driving out.  Instead of the normal hour drive out to Banff, it took us two hours yesterday.

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When we finally got out to Lake Minnewanka, we were both pleasantly surprised by all the facilities offered at the park.  There are lots of picnic tables, plus a boat launch, and even a snack shack in the summer.

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As it was about 1 o’clock by the time we got rolling, we tried to make a mile.  Luckily, Penny walks ridiculously fast for a little dog, so we kept a great pace.

The highlight of the hike for me was when Dana took Penny down to the lake’s edge for a drink.  She had been panting a lot and we agreed she needed a cool down.  She surprised us both by running right in to the water, barking at the waves in the strangest bark we’d ever heard, meanwhile wagging her tail uncontrollably with glee.  She loved the lake!  This, from the dog who hates baths.

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It was a balmy 25 degrees (at least!) and we appreciated the mostly flat trail that follows the edge of the lake.  We hiked as far as Alymer Pass Junction campground.  The trail is well-used by mountain bikers, but we ran in to lots of other hikers and a few backpackers.

Backpackers?  Yup, in the first week of May in Banff National Park.  Crazier yet, when we stopped to have a snack at the campground, people were in the lake.  One guy was swimming!  This warm weather is so, so strange (not that I’m not enjoying it!).

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We headed back to the car around 3:30.  It was about 9 km both ways, so combined with the heat of the day, we were both pretty tired on the hike back to the car.  Penny was awesome though – her energy was high the entire way back.  She and Dana hike at a pretty quick clip, so when they walked over a little garter snake and startled it, I was the one who let out a big scream.

The whole hike, Dana was scheming about getting back out to Lake Minnewanka ASAP for an early season backpack trip, but all I could think about was what felt like huge bloody blisters on multiple spots on my feet.  My heels in particular.  I was pretty (pleasantly) surprised when I pulled my socks off at the vehicle and there were actually no blisters.  Just hot spots, I guess.  Hoping to stop this reoccurring fake blister pain before the West Coast Trail, as day-in day-out pain from blisters (or even fake ones) would be awful.

I drove Dana and I home and we both basically collapsed into the couch after.  Turns out 18 kilometers in the heat is a lot.  We were both so glad we hadn’t loaded our packs with extra weight.

Today we hosted Mother’s Day lunch for Dana’s mom with the whole fam at our place.  Yes, my niece and nephew are utterly adorable.

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The babies started getting a little cranky around 3, and everyone cleared out comically fast after that.  Now Dana and I are enjoying a bit of downtime before the week begins.

Happy Sunday and happy Mother’s Day!