Bald Hills Hike & Exploring Maligne Lake.

If you missed it, the day before this I hiked Sulphur Skyline and then spent the night at Pocahontas campground, east of Jasper! On Sunday morning I was awake before 6am but lay in my tent until about 6:15am. I tried to be extra quiet as I packed up my tent and hit the road to Jasper to grab breakfast. I headed to my favourite spot – Bear’s Paw Bakery – to grab a veggie egg white breakfast sandwich and coffee. I also picked up a blackberry scone to enjoy on the hike with some fruit! Breakfast in hand, I was back on the road to head to the Maligne Lake area, about 45-60 minutes south of Jasper.

I had never been to Maligne Lake before, only ever have explored Maligne Canyon last summer, so it was cool to adventure to a new-to-me location! I had planned to do Bald Hills as my hike for the morning so I drove to the furthest parking lot and was on the trail by 8:30am. I am always hesitant about doing new hikes by myself. I haven’t practiced a ton of orienteering so the thought of getting lost on a mountain terrifies me. One thing that is the best for reassuring me is using the Canada Trails GPS app. You don’t need service or data or wireless (which is good because I didn’t  have any of those for 80% of the weekend) and it tracks your GPS coordinates along almost ALL trails in Canada! I try not to pull out my phone to use it because for me it’s not about seeing how far I have to go, it’s just nice to double check that I’m on the right path when I second guess myself!

Luckily, this trail is incredibly easy to follow and when you get about 70% of the way there it kind of feels like you hit an adult playground. You can see little zig-zagging trails all the way around you, heading up little summits and along ridges, and it’s like a cool mountain scavenger hunt for adults. You are never on the edge of a cliff and it’s not technical or mountain climbing in anyway, it’s just plain FUN. I headed to the furthest peak I could find and I had the whole summit to myself where I enjoyed my blackberry scone, lots of water, and fruit.

You can see the incredible blue of Maligne Lake below and it’s even more beautiful from above. It is very reminiscent of Lake Louise – a gorgeous mountain lake that attracts lots of tour buses full of people who hang out near the shore, but to get the real experience, you take a quick hike up Bald Hills and are alone with this beauty. It took me about 2 hours to get to this part and along the way I met Damian, a guy from France who is touring around the world for a year and told me I was the fastest girl hiker he had met hahaha!

As you can tell, there was a bit of snow leftover on this hike and I was ankle deep trudging through a bit of the quickly-melting snow near the top, but I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Jasper ended up reaching close to 30C and the sun illuminated the snow capped peaks. It reinvigorated every part of me and when I was sitting at the top I thought, “Yup, this is why I was suppose to be there this weekend.”

This time, unlike Sulphur Skyline the day before, I did run down the mountain. Well, half of it. I took my time descending the upper part of the trail because it’s super steep and there are lots of rocks and tree roots so in an effort not to break my ankle or leg and have to somehow get myself off the mountain solo, I walked. Once I hit the wider trail (I think it used to be a fire road), I ran my little heart out. Two days of hiking and my glutes were firing on all cylinders but it felt good to just run down the mountain!

I was back to my car by noon. About 12km and 2000ft of elevation gain later, and I was ready to saunter around Maligne Lake, then head to Jasper before I hit the road home. After having the entire day to play on the mountain almost by myself, I got easily frustrated with people at the shore of Maligne Lake, so I figured I would save the easy hikes and boat cruise for another day, perhaps when I drag someone along for the journey, and headed to Jasper.

Considering I completely failed at making s’mores while I was camping – I actually didn’t even end up having a fire – I decided to get my s’mores fix another way. Jasper was hot hot hot Sunday afternoon when I rolled in so I headed straight for ice cream. I can’t actually remember the last time I’d had a waffle cone, so it was definitely needed! S’mores ice cream in a chocolate dipped cone. YUM!

Another incredible day in the mountains and it made for one pretty flipping fantastic weekend. There is a completely sense of holistic healing, reinvigorating, and re-energizing that happens when you hike in the mountains. Physically, you are pushing yourself to be stronger and sweat and work hard. Mentally you are proving to yourself you can do hard things and you are putting small issues you’ve been thinking about into a big picture scheme and realizing how little they are. Emotionally, you are becoming clear on what you are feeling and why. Spiritually… um, hello, did you see where I was? If this isn’t the Universe letting you know, “HEY, HOW UNREAL IS THIS WORLD?” then I don’t know what is!

Where do you find your grounding, your whole health?

When is the last time you’ve had ice cream?! What is your favourite flavour?

Who is coming camping with me next? 😉

Sulphur Skyline Hike & Camping at Pocahontas.

FINALLY. I made it back to the mountains and they did not disappoint. This weekend I took a bit of a spontaneous trip to Jasper because I just needed to get out of the city. I was browsing campgrounds at lunch on Wednesday at work and happened to find that this weekend there was one site left for Saturday night in Jasper at Pocahontas. It felt like fate so I grabbed my credit card and immediately reserved it. It was completely and unequivocally what my soul needed.

I had a spin class to teach on Saturday morning but after I wrapped up an hour of sweaty spin I hit the road to Jasper. The nice part about staying near Miette hot springs at Pocahontas campground is that it is on the east side of Jasper and is therefore closer to Edmonton! I reached Miette hot springs around 3pm, where I tossed on my trail shoes and started my hike. I had done Sulphur Skyline (not to be confused with the point-to-point Skyline Trail) last summer so I knew what I was in for and the competitive part of me wanted to beat our 1 hour 30 minute ascent of last August.

Beat the time, I did! I hit the summit exactly an hour after I started, sweaty and gasping for breath, but still, I was there! This hike is incredible. For the short (steep and tough yes, but brief) distance of 4km you reach the summit and are surrounded by 360 degrees of mountain ranges all around you. It is not at all a technical hike, so it’s all about the cardio and a brief slippery rock section near the top. Trail shoes or hiking boots are perfect for that section, it’s really only people who are in their no-grip gym shoes that slip!

You can see the hot springs from the summit and you realize how far you climbed! It’s about 2400ft of elevation gain to the top, so trust me when I say it’s steep in those 4km, but it’s amazing once you get there. I spent a bit of time grabbing photos and maneuvering around the rocks to try and get shots of the mountain sheep munching their way around some shrubs below.

There were a few other people around but as it was late afternoon, I think the majority of groups had been there done that already. I began the descent after about 25-30 minutes at the top. Last time I hiked this trail it was the first mountain I’d ever had a summit beer and then we proceeded to run down the trail. I didn’t quite get into the running this time but it’s hard not to jog a bit sometimes when you feel like gravity is just enticing you to do so!

I made it down and it was close to 6pm so I quickly grabbed my swim suit and towel and headed to the hot springs. That is one other benefit of this hike – how many trails do you know that wind up right in the parking lot of a natural mountain hot spring?! While I was pretty hot already from the hike, it felt nice to just soak in the springs and enjoy being in the sunshine. I felt a complete sense of relaxation as I sat in the warm water and gazed around me at the panoramic mountains. I feel so grateful and lucky every time I casually get to enjoy these experiences and they are practically in my backyard.

My campground was about 15 minutes up the road so I headed out after the quick dip (and lovely shower to wash my sweaty hair) to set up camp. I was starving by the time I got to the site around 7pm but I’m slowly getting better and better at setting up my tent solo so in less than 15 minutes my tent was up, my thermarest blown up, my sleeping bag in, and I was boiling water for dinner. I don’t have a cooler so I went with fridge-less meals during the weekend like fruit, nuts, Lara bars, and for dinner… dehydrated rice and beans. I had a leftover package from a backpacking trip so it was convenient! I think it was the hunger and tiredness, but it was the most delicious thing I could have made.

I was WIPED and by 10pm I was getting cold from the chill of the mountain air after the sun sets and was ready to sleep so I grabbed my book and headed into my tent for the night. When I had reached the campground the Parks staff mentioned there was a mama bear and her two cubs in the campground the day before so I should “stay alert.” I brought my bear spray to bed with me but was so tired I didn’t have the energy to worry about bears. The first time I camped solo I was nervous, but as I rolled into the site yesterday and set up, it just felt SO natural to me that I wondered why I didn’t do it more often. I’m ridiculously excited for this summer because the only way you can get more efficient at camping is to practice. 😉

The next day I packed up camp and headed to new territory for me, the area of Maligne Lake, south of Jasper! More on that tomorrow!

How was your weekend?

Where was the last place you camped?

What are a few camping meal recommendations?

Thinking Out Loud Thursday #111!

I think I have scheduled as much as I possibly can into this week. I like my life busy, and it’s all really great stuff I have going on, but I’m basically bracing myself for a breaking point. 😉 I am looking forward to a spontaneous adventure weekend and spending lots of time outside to re-energize. Let’s dive into Thinking Out Loud Thursday with Amanda at Running with Spoons!

  • One of the reasons I have been super busy at work this week is because as you may know, yesterday, June 21st, was National Aboriginal Day. It has been a crazy week of events around Edmonton that my Indigenous Health team and I have been attending, in addition to all of our regular work. I absolutely love it though and it has been a very grounding, motivational, and inspirational week for my work life.

  • My dad told me that my blog should be called, “Canadian Girl ANYTHING-BUT-RUNS.” It’s true, I haven’t really talked a lot about running lately, though it’s still a part of my life. If you read yesterday’s post about my current leg workout, you’ll understand why my running has slowed down a but because WHO CAN RUN AFTER DOING SPLIT SQUATS? Proof that I’m still running as I hit the treadmill Tuesday night to knock out 5 miles while it was thundering and pouring rain outside.

  • I can’t focus on any one sport or activity when it gets nice outside like this – there is too much that I love to do! I have my kayak now, I love to ride my road bike, I like to hike and run, but I also enjoy weight lifting and hitting the gym for strength training. TOO MUCH. This definitely isn’t something I’m legitimately complaining about, just explaining why my fitness “routine” is exactly the opposite of that right now. I think I’d rather be mediocre at everything than excellent at just one thing though.

  • I spent time after my Tuesday run planning and preparing for my summer spin classes. I only teach once a week during the summer so it’s a lovely break! I have decided to do all themed spin classes during this session as we only have seven classes in July and August! If you’re in the Edmonton area and want to sign up I would LOVE to see you there! I teach Monday nights at Servus Credit Union Place in St. Albert! You can registered HERE!

  • My mom somehow convinced me to go to a Burton Cummings concert with her tonight. It’s funny how many songs of his and The Guess Who I actually know, but never in a million years did I think I’d be going to a Burton Cummings concert. I’m really excited to be the youngest person there.

  • I am in need of a new swim suit and looking for recommendations! I don’t actually think I’ve purchased one in years and have no idea where I last bought one so if you know of a cute line of swimwear this summer – let me know! In addition to all of the other activities I mentioned being into right now, I want to check out the local outdoor pool soon!

  • Last night wrapped up my Wednesday evening 90-minute spin class for the spring as it doesn’t run in the summer. It’s a tough one to teach because it’s usually a pretty small class but the ones who do come are AWESOME. They are super funny and really patient with me trying to have the same obnoxious energy that I do for a full class. 😉 HUGE shout-out to Matt who brought me a gift as a thank-you for the session. Super unnecessary but I am really grateful and I hope we catch each other cycling outside this summer! I have a feeling he has read my blog because magically he brought my FAVOURITE chocolate.

While I have been keeping myself busy with work, fitness, family and friends, and let’s face it, Tinder dates, I have found that I’m getting really good at managing my time. I think as I grow older I am better at recognizing when I need to step back from something that isn’t fulfilling me anymore or when I need to pour more energy into something that is. Getting more in tune with my intuition, as cheesy and ridiculous as it sounds, really has helped every choice in my life become a bit clearer and I’m able to really recognize what resonates with me and what feels right and what simply doesn’t. I’ll be back next week to share my weekend adventures!

Where is a great place to find swim suits?!

What are three (or more!) activities you’re loving this summer?

Tell me one random thing about your week!