Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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For the Love of Winter

winter running

Just out running in the snow

I have realized I am totally in love with winter. I don’t think love is too harsh a word either. Perhaps this is the first stage of vitamin D deficiency or some other cold weather induced chemical reaction in the brain that has yet to be diagnosed and only occurs in people living close to the 60th parallel. Perhaps not.

running in the snow

Just one of those amazing snow and sunshine runs

Perhaps winter is just in my DNA as I am a mix of solid European farmer types. It’s definitely in Kobi’s DNA. That girl was made for the snow so I’m going to assume I am too. Except for my hands, they get terribly cold.

dogs love snow

Doggy snow roll

Winter is just so much fun (providing it is warmer than -30C). There is so much do to during this amazing season. I can cross-country ski, skate ski, skijor (ok, I’m new to that), snowshoe run or just snowshoe (only a Canadian would have 3 different types of snowshoes). Or I can just plain old run in a nice spiky set of Snowcross runners. It just doesn’t get any better.

skijor

First skijor. It was way too icy. We’ll try again.

To top off this amazing season, I don’t have to worry about bears or bugs, just packs of wolves and protective cow moose and the odd small herd of white tail deer which can also be quite protective of their young. Regardless, it’s still a great season.

wolf tracks

Biggest wolf tracks I’ve seen!

I think I’m so stoked about this season because we have had a pretty decent winter this year.  We weren’t hammered like the east coast with storm after storm and the temperatures have been pretty manageable.  I also took a small tropical break. Nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder.

skydiving

Guess what I did while on vacation?

Can you guess where I was on vacation?  Ever go skydiving?  Am I weird to love winter so much?  

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Setting sun


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Welcome to 2015

Setting sun

This was the last sunset of 2014

It’s been almost a week into 2015 and life in the north has not disappointed.  Here are some exciting highlights…

We had a Chinook on New Year’s day, evening actually.  There was a really warm wind and within a few hours it went from -15C to +7C .  The drastic temperature increase resulted in a drastic snow melt and then 10 hours later it dropped back down to -15C and turned everything to ice.  Have no fear because then it started to snow, a lot, just so all the treacherous ice was well hidden.

winter running

New Year’s day run, Kobi is behind the bigger dog. The Chinook happened after this.

After the impressive snowfall, I had to go for a snowshoe with my wing-girl Kobi.  We took off on the trails behind our place (middle of nowhere) which are all uphill for what seems like forever.  Not 10 minutes in I noticed Kobi lock onto something with her doggy radar.  It was a small herd of elk.  They ran into the woods once they heard me getting Kobi back under control (i.e. yelling at her).  Fortunately I had her under control before she could be a real terror.  That was exciting.

We carried on and then Kobi locked onto 2 grouse.  She loves grouse.  What dog wouldn’t love giant chickens that fly and travel in large flocks?  When one flies away there are more to choose from.  Don’t worry, no grouse were harmed, much to Kobi’s disappointment.

Eventually we arrived at the home stretch which is all downhill.  Nothing feels as good as running downhill after walk-jogging for 2km uphill in fresh snow with snowshoes strapped to your feet.  I have never felt so fast in my life.  I’m sure I wasn’t fast, but I felt like Meb.

snowshoe running

Me running like Meb, notice Kobi is standing still waiting for me

Then there was the full moon on the weekend which was amazing, but then it got really cold.  Like -27C (-17F) not counting the windchill as who counts the windchill (probably smart people).

full moon

Full moon = cold weather

I had to go cross-country skiing the next day because it was just so bright and shiny out.  If it was -30C or colder I may have reconsidered, but heck, it was only -27C (-32C with the windchill, but I’m not a smart person).

A word of caution here, do consider the windchill and don’t try to take too many photos documenting your adventures when it’s -27C out.  It’s hard on fingers and gadget batteries.  Although, recall I have prototyped a pretty awesome smart phone warmer (read here).  I also keep the hand-warmer business in business as my hands are chronically cold from October to May.

dog in the forest

This was the -27C ski day. Kobi is sporting her new pink jacket.

The icing on the cake was the northern lights on Sunday night (and prior to 11PM).  However, by the time I got all my cold weather gear on (snowsuit, toque, headlight, gloves, mittens and neck warmer) and camera tripod ready to go, they had settled down so no spectacular photos.  Maybe next time.

northern lights

Some brief northern lights

How about you, do you consider windchill before venturing outside?  Ever feel Meb fast?  Does your dog like chasing things they’re not supposed to like large ungulates and flying chickens?


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Still Running

Well, it’s still very much winter up here and I’d say I’m into the routine.

runner and dog

Me and Kobi out for a weekend run

My routine is more or less the same except with some additional activities like swimming a few days a week.

For the most part my day looks like this:  I get up in the dark, walk Kobi, eat breakfast, catch up on Instagram (remember to check out Kobi’s page – @outdoorrunning), go to work, walk Kobi, go back to work, finish work and run or snowshoe or ski with Kobi – in the dark, go home, see what damage the cats have done to the house, clean up the damage, prepare my lunch for the next day, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up some more, go to bed.  Start over…

white cat and black cat

The kittens causing trouble in the tub

night skiing

Attempting a selfie with Kobi, but she wasn’t interested

That’s more or less it.  Weekends are pretty much the same, except I can run or snowshoe or ski in daylight.

snowshoeing

Me and Kobi in snowshoes, well she’s not wearing any

My predictable routine made me think about that movie Groundhog Day (recall the Bill Murray movie where he keeps living the same day over and over).  Is my life like Groundhog Day?

I pretty much know what I’m going to do on any given day and some days are pretty much repeats of the previous day, but I also realized that regardless of the same repeated activities, my observations during those activities can be quite unpredictable.

dog and winter runner

Happy Kobi

For example, on those early morning walks with Kobi I may spend half the time staring at the northern lights, something we’re blessed with up in the north, or the stars.  What’s also surreal, is what it sounds like when you’re outside in the dark and it’s snowing really hard, it’s a very different kind of quiet.

human, dog, wolf

My tracks, Kobi and wolf tracks. Big feet!

It’s also pretty indescribable when you see a lynx in the forest when you’re out skiing or see fresh wolf tracks on your early morning run.  I’m also often left speechless (and not just because I was running uphill) watching a sunrise through the trees that is a colour of pink that has yet to be named.  And of course there is always Kobi who never stops entertaining me.  You should see her trying to catch ravens.

If that’s my Groundhog Day, I’ll take it.

winter trees

what it looks like when the sun comes up

Is it extra dark where you live right now?  Do you have a routine?  Ever run with wolves?  


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More Snow Adventures

 

Summit Mountain

Aren’t mountains pretty?

To change things up a bit and take advantage of the beautiful weather, I went up the highway on Saturday with a friend and her dog (Kobi’s besty).   First stop, a pretty little canyon and a frozen river.

Canyon in Stone Mountain Park

We walked up the river a bit, but it was scary as you could hear water under you and the ice was cracking in places.

After the river photos we headed to a trail that led to a radio tower.

Alpine

Sort of the start of our snowshoe. Pretty hey?

There was still plenty of snow up there (elevation start is 4,250′) so snowshoes were a must.  The snow was packed quite well so we didn’t sink too badly, but we also used poles.  Those really help decrease the number of face-plants you take.

Dog on a mountain

One of the few times Kobi was close enough to see. She was running around like she’s never been outside before.

The weather was stunning!  We didn’t need jackets until we got to the very windy summit.  I have no idea the elevation gain, maybe 1,500′?

Stone Mountain Park

More of the view(s)

We saw a few interesting things along the way.  This was the first.  We’re convinced it was a bear den.  Or someone who just dug a whole in the side of the bank.

Hole in the snow

I’m convinced this was a bear den.

Then we saw some tracks.  Kobi saw them first, or smelled them first.  She started barking, had her hackles up and then ran back to me.  That means it was something she didn’t want to tangle with or had never smelled before.  At first I thought they were canine and then I thought maybe it was a bear that had woken up way too early.

I did some Googling when I got home and I am 98.9% certain they were wolverine tracks (not the Hugh Jackman X-Men character).  I deduced this based on the location – alpine, Kobi’s reaction – fear, and how they looked – cross between a canine and a bear = wolverine.  Not a critter I want to run into.  Actually, it is one of the scariest critters to run into.  They are fearless, strong, carnivorous, and did I mention fearless?  I’ve heard they go after bears.

 

alpine

More views along the way. I was too scared to take photos of the beast tracks

We continued onwards and upwards, quite literally.  We could see our destination, the tower, way off in the distance.  After what felt like forever, we finally made it to the top.  Of course we startled some caribou also hanging out up there.  I always hate when I startle cute wildlife.  No photo as I was frantically calling Kobi to get her leashed up so as not to chase the poor critters.

Summit Tower

The tower way off in the distance.

Alpine

The tower way off in the distance, but this time on our way back. Our tracks go on forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

girl and dog

Me and my wingman (girl) at the top. We took our snowshoes off for the last 200m as the snow was all blown away.

Mountain portrait

My friend and Kobi’s besty Dino.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I checked the map when I got home and we snowshoed 12km!  That explains why I was so tired.  Kobi is still sleeping today.  She ran like an absolute maniac the entire time we were out there, you would think she had never been outside before.  Seems to be how she rolls.

What’s cool is this is only an hour and half drive (less actually) from where I live.  There also wasn’t anyone else out there – kind of cool and kind of spooky.

Do you think that was a bear den?  Do you think I deduced correctly in identifying the wolverine?  Ever felt like you’ve been running, walking, hiking, snowshoeing forever and it’s only been 15 minutes?

 

 


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A Change of Season – Finally

dog watching a squirrel

Kobi on squirrel alert

Last year this time I was already snowshoeing and skiing.  We’ve finally had some snow that might stay, but still  not enough to snowshoe or ski on yet, hopefully soon. 

I’m convinced that I’m not totally cut out to live in a cold climate, but I do like snow sports.  Well, I think I’ve had to learn to like them in order to survive in the north.  I’ve realized that you can focus on the negative stuff and choose to be unhappy where you live or you can suck it up and look around for all the fun stuff you can do.  Hence the reason I’ve learned to love cross-country skiing, skate skiing, snow shoeing and running in the snow in Salomon Snowcross shoes (best snow runners ever!). 

I also love that the bears hibernate during the winter and I only have to contend with packs of wolves.  I am afraid of wolves.  I have never seen a pack of wolves while running (I’ve seen them while driving), but I’ve seen lots of wolf tracks while running.  I wonder if it’s the media and modern culture that has made me afraid of the “big bad wolf”.  I think I’m also scared for Kobi’s sake.  I’ve heard wolves, like coyotes, bait your dog away and then kill it.  That freaks me out. 

Oh, cougars scare me too – any animal that stalks you while in stealth mode is worthy of a danger rating.  I’m just grateful that velociraptors and the dromaeosaurus (thank you C and A for teaching me about that one) didn’t survive the last ice-age.

Tomorrow’s morning run in the dark should be so much fun!  Nothing like a little dose of fear to get you moving.