Woah, what a weekend. I think if my goal was to procrastinate packing and do as much activity as I could outdoors, I succeeded. I start by driving down to Calgary on Friday evening, spending the night eating thai food and watching The Office reruns before heading to bed for an early start Saturday morning. I set my alarm for 4:45am and headed to bed for what turned out to be no sleep at all. I don’t know what it was but I don’t think I slept more than an hour! I hit the highway early and picked up Jo in Canmore before heading to the trailhead of Paradise Valley.
We met up with about 12 other girls from the group Alberta Adventure Girls. The trailhead is just 2.5km from the start of Moraine Lake Road. We started the hike around 8:30am and took off towards Annette Lake. It is a beautiful little mountain lake that if described in one word, would be peaceful.
After a quick snack break at the lake we continued on to the Giant Steps, which is a huge rock waterfall that looks like literal giant steps. It was gorgeous and the perfect location for a grizzly bear encounter! Luckily, as it turns out, 14 girls make plenty of noise to scare a bear away, and one of the girls set off a bear banger just to be safe.
I was super hot hiking up to the falls, though the bit of wind and sprinkle of rain continued to cool me down, but on the top of those falls I was freezing. We ate lunch and wandered around the falls taking photos and watching for the bear, adding a layer or two before we began to head back towards the parking lot. There is an option to keep going through Sentinel Pass and on to Larch Valley and down to Moraine Lake, but it is a one-way day hike that requires cars at both ends. I have done Larch Valley up to Sentinel Pass, and Paradise Valley up to Sentinel Pass, but never crossed that threshold. It kind of feels like unfinished business.
We made our way down to the parking lot, making another quick stop at Annette Lake on the way down, in a steady mist rain. It was cool enough that I kept my rain layer on and wasn’t overly warm getting back down. The rest of the day I was frozen. The hike is really beautiful. It’s a total of about 21km round trip with about 1000ft of elevation gain. It’s not super strenuous and most is on a well-groomed path with very little climbing. It’s challenging enough that I was definitely breathing hard up the steepest parts but most feels like a walk through lush green forest.
Jo and I were among the first few girls to reach the trailhead so we said our goodbyes and drove back to Canmore. After I dropped Jo off, as per her recommendation, I stopped at Fergie’s in Canmore and grabbed a fresh apple fritter for the drive home.
I debated spending another night in Calgary and driving home the next morning but I was ready to get a good sleep so I hit the highway and made it home by 8:00pm. I made a thin crust artichoke heart and tomato pesto pizza, drank a beer, and then went to bed and slept the most glorious ten hours of my life. I woke up and somehow managed to convince my brother (who is training for a half marathon) to do his Sunday long run on the trails at Elk Island National Park with me. We hit up the Wood Bison Trail.
It was a lovely 16km through the beautiful forests of the park. It was a bit muddy but I love running through mud, and my brother was paranoid about running into a bison but we didn’t even see any from the trail! We had a lovely trail run and the leaves were changing to yellow in some trees so it made for gorgeous scenery. We finished up in less than two hours the drove home to start preparing dinner for some family friends that were in town visiting.
We spent the remainder of our Sunday catching up with friends and enjoying delicious food. In particular I wanted to point out this amazing peach and strawberry flan that I made. #wifematerial
It was a whirlwind weekend, with 21km of hiking, 16km of running, and something like 11 hours of driving. A weekend in nature is never a wasted weekend. I have laundry piling up, lots of clothes and items to pack for my upcoming move (apartment tour to come!), and a list of things I probably “should” have done… but I chose to exhaust myself in nature instead. It was a good choice.
What did you do this weekend?
Have you ever hiked around Moraine Lake?
Do you have a go-to trail running distance? Is it different than your pavement running?