This one was my idea. We were looking to run something new, that didn’t involve summits or ridgelines (it was forecast to be windy), that didn’t involve convoluted car shuffles, and was ideally under 35km.
With this run from Highway 93 through to Sunshine Village we managed the first two criteria ok, got around the third one with a drop-off at the start, and decided that seeing as the last 9km were mostly downhill they nearly didn’t count – which would mean we were only covering 31km.
First up was Vista Lake, with the sun peering out we were still feeling pretty hopeful that the weather might improve.
But that early patch of blue sky was just a sucker hole (is that the right term?), and we were stuck with gloomy grey skies, wind, occasional rain and intermittent snow for the rest of the day.
As we stopped by the second of the Twin Lakes, we watched a little pack of Whisky Jacks harass a poor small sleepy owl. The owl ended up deserting its perch and flying away, which seemed to please the Whisky Jacks.
Climbing up to Gibbon Pass, the weather wasn’t showing off the landscape to its best, but it was still glorious terrain to run through. And note to self – return to Gibbon Pass during larch season! That place is absolutely slathered with larches.
From there we descended past Shadow Lake Lodge, ran by Shadow Lake, and headed into the muddier terrain towards Whistling Valley. Everything was a bit slick thanks to the recent precipitation (we ran into hikers who swore they’d had wet feet for days), but this section was the muddiest. Light pack and trail runners made it easy to jump puddles and skitter across boggy sections like an elf over snow. Well that was the plan anyway; it still occasionally ended with a good dollop of mud sneaking into my shoe.
Whistling Valley is amazing, as is Haiduk Lake. Further note to self – must return and camp here at some point with the family, and maybe get some side trips done.
From there it was a climb up Whistling Pass, which came with whistling marmots, lots of rocks, and a few mountain goats.
At the summit Lincoln held aloft the Banana of Victory, before consuming it to give himself +3 to fortitude.
The terrain between Whistling Pass and Egypt Lake is pretty interesting, and was a definite change to the usual Banff/Kananaskis trail fare. Well, there’s at least one section that was a bit intriguing, with some awesome rocks. And it was after that we hit rock bottom *sob* and had to start the climb up to Healy Pass. I opted to march up it, saving my running legs for the final 9km. Which although it was mostly downhill, was still 9km on tired legs.
And we did reach the Pass of Wonder, and wondered why the weather never cleared up like it was supposed to. Then came the Descent of Foreverness to the car, which actually wasn’t so bad, as it’s on a beautiful trail. Except for that last section, when you hit the second last bridge and say to yourself “Oh, we’re nearly there now, the final bridge is just around the corner, then we’re basically done”. But the final bridge is actually quite a long way from the second bridge, and this just led to a few kilometres of self torture “Surely it’s just around this corner… wait… wait… nope… WHERE IS THAT BRIDGE!”
The post-run soak was attempted, but Healy Creek is flowing so cold at the moment that my brain rebelled when I tried to stick body parts in it for more than 30 seconds. Definitely recommend the run though!
Elevation gain: ~2000m