Murray siblings go camping: Part 2.

… and here we go with part two! In case you missed it, yesterday I posted part one of the camping trip I took with my brother Stuart! We started in Jasper, hiking Valley of Five Lakes, then made our way to Kicking Horse Campground and hiked Paget Peak. The next few days contain a lot of waterfalls, smiles, and nostalgia.

Part 2: Canoeing, hiking, and waterfalls.

On Wednesday we had planned (or at least I had planned) to do a long hike from Emerald Lake. As the week wore on and I felt more and more like I needed to enjoy the relaxing part of my vacation more than the active part of my vacation and we opted to do less intense hikes and just enjoy being outside. We parked at Emerald Lake and did the easy 5.3km loop around the lake. We took a ton of photos and stopped at every point we could to either take photos for Instagram or randomly shout “get than ‘gram” at others who were taking photos for Instagram.

Emerald Lake looks and feels very similar to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. There are tons of people, it is certainly a tourist hotspot, but you still have to see it because it is breathtaking. It took us almost an hour and a half to get around the 5km trail and as we walked we saw the many canoes paddling around the lake. I mentioned to Stuart that we should check it out when we get back to the dock area and if there wasn’t too long of a wait we should rent one. It’s overpriced, touristy, and slightly cliche, but seriously, how can you not want to paddle these waters?

As luck would have it, there was no line or wait for canoes when we returned from our hike so we jumped right into the canoe and paddled around the lake for an hour. It was so relaxing and despite the many canoes that leave from the dock, we paddled straight to the end of the lake and didn’t have anyone around us! We saw a momma loon and her two babies and she kept diving down and grabbing food for them then feeding it to them. It was super cute!

After the canoe adventure we ate our lunch at the lakeside picnic tables – the exquisite cuisine of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, apples, and granola bars – then left the busy lake to check out the village of Field, BC. We stopped in at Truffle Pigs Bistro for a pint before we went back to our campsite. We both had the Four Winds saison that was delicious and we sipped it on the patio with fellow campers, hikers, and backpackers. We watched trains go in and out of town and took in the mountain views.

On Thursday we headed up the road from our campground to check out Takkakaw Falls. The road there is crazy windy and at one point the switchbacks are so tight that if you’re driving a motorhome or bus you have to drive backwards because you can’t make the turn! We wandered around Takkakaw Falls, enjoying the refreshing cool mist of the falls, before carrying on with more hiking!

We decided to start with the 4km trek to Laughing Falls. It is the midpoint of a longer hike to Twin Falls and we made it out check point to see if we wanted to continue on or turn around. After a water break and the determination that we were still full of energy, we continued from Laughing Falls to Twin Falls, another 4-5km down the trail. Boy, are we glad we did. Twin falls is amazing. We took lots of photos, refuelled with another lunch of peanut butter and banana sandwiches and apples, and let the mist cool us down on the 32C day!

After the lunch break we headed back down to Takkakaw, for a total of 18km in about four hours. It was an exhausting day but it was only early afternoon so we continued to waterfall adventures by driving past Field to the Wapta Falls trailhead. At the recommendation of our bartender in Field, we hiked the 2.4km to Wapta Falls, the third largest falls by volume in Canada. Waterfalls are never as pretty in photos as they are in real life, but we tried!

We headed back to camp exhausted and ready for our final camp dinner and beer. I finally had a great sleep on the last night in tent but isn’t that always how it goes. We packed up the next morning and left the campground just as there was a line-up of about eight or ten cars trying to get campsites for the weekend. It made me so happy we decided to camp during the week and avoid the weekend in the mountains! Overall, a really cool trip with my brother and we got in the perfect amount of hiking time and relaxing time. There were some bumps in the road and we didn’t end up sleeping much throughout the trip, but I’m super glad we went!

Have you camped this summer? Where did you go?

What is your favourite part of camping?

Murray siblings go camping: Part 1.

Last week was my first week of vacation and I spent the majority of it in Jasper and Yoho National Parks, camping with my brother! We had a really fun trip, did a bunch of hiking, a ton of relaxing, and savoured in the nostalgia of camping together like we did when we were kids and we’d go camping with our parents. Considering we spent five days traveling around Alberta and BC, I had to split this recap up and you’ll be seeing part two tomorrow!

Part 1: Jasper and the first night in BC!

This summer has been absolutely nuts for visiting National Parks and pretty much all campgrounds. I vowed to use my vacation to avoid the mountains on the weekend so that’s just what we did. We left Monday morning and drove to Hinton where we stopped for an inaugural visit at the recently opened Folding Mountain Brewery. We grabbed lunch and each had a flight of beer so we could try them all! The food is really good and the beer was even better. I had the quinoa and roasted vegetable salad, we split the halloomi bruschetta, and Stuart had the beef tacos. The Wild Mountain Hef was my favourite beer, followed by the Three Seasons Honey Wheat Ale!

After the brewery stop we made our way to Jasper where we stopped to pick up some beer for our campsite, filled up with gas, and walked around main street for a few minutes to stretch the legs. We hit the Icefields Parkway to get to our first trailhead – Valley of Five Lakes. It is a super easy (not technical, very little elevation gain) hike around some of the most gorgeous mountain turquoise lakes. There are (shockingly) five of them, all different colours of blue-green based on how deep they are, and it is an easy family-friendly hike.

After this lovely hike we drove to our pre-booked campsite for the night at Wabasso Campground. The campground is just outside Jasper, about 15 minutes away, and is along the 93A highway. It’s a pretty open campground so don’t expect too much privacy in your campsite, but as it was only for one night we weren’t concerned. We set up camp, made dinner, and then hung out and played games until it got dark and we crawled into the tent. Neither of us got a great sleep, and that would be a pattern that would continue for the rest of the trip, but I can’t help but love sleeping in a tent under the stars.

On Tuesday morning we woke up, made breakfast and packed up, then made our way down the Icefields Parkway to Kicking Horse Campground. Kicking Horse is just down the road from Lake Louise, about 2km east of Field, BC. It was so weird to be almost exactly on the Alberta-BC border because our phones and watches would constantly go back and forth an hour and we never really knew exactly what time it was. One of the reasons we stayed in Jasper and took the long route to BC was so that we could drive the spectacular Icefields Parkway which never ceases to amaze me with it’s beauty. Another reason we stayed the night in Jasper was in order to be able to get a first-come first-serve site in Kicking Horse, as they don’t take reservations. We basically needed to get there as early as possible and that’s tough from Edmonton. There were a few sites left when we arrived so we were able to take our pick and grabbed an awesome creek-side site, but just an hour or two later and the campground was full!

After setting up camp, we headed out to our second hike of the trip – Paget Lookout. It’s also called Paget Peak but we stayed at the lookout and didn’t continue on to the scramble to get to the peak. It’s a pretty steep and steady climb, a roundtrip of about 7km but over 1500ft elevation gain. It was hot and slightly smokey which didn’t help matters but when you get to the top it is all worth it. A note on the smoke – because that was one of my reservations with camping in BC – it was definitely noticeable as there was a constant haze that looks like it would be normal for a mountain morning but never really went away all day. You couldn’t smell smoke at all and by mid-week it had begun to clear up more and more, disappearing almost completely by Friday.

We ate some snacks, drained our water, and made friends with some cute squirrels and not so cute horseflies at the lookout. I’ve never had this many horsefly bites until this summer! Paget Peak is actually a diversion off the trail for Sherbrooke Lake so if you’re looking for the trailhead, there are signs for ‘Sherbrooke’ but not Paget. We had to drive back and forth once to catch the parking lot!

There was an accident at the intersection of the TransCanada Highway and Emerald Lake Road which closed the westbound lane of traffic – the direction we needed to go to get to our campground from the trailhead. Traffic was majorly backed up and it took us almost an hour to go the 3km distance. We knew it was certainly a much worse situation for those in the accident so we used the hour in the car to cool off, rehydrate, and have a carpool karaoke battle… wait, is it really a battle if you’re the only one participating?

Post-hike we enjoyed some cold beer and a delicious dinner. When the sun goes behind the mountains just after 7pm it rapidly gets darker and colder so we typically spent the evenings playing Crib and Trouble and an assortment of card games until we were too cold or too tired and wanted to crawl into the tent. It was a great start to our sibling camping trip and the Kicking Horse Campground was PERFECT. Sites surrounded by trees and both a creek and river, close access to Field, Emerald Lake, and Takkakaw Falls, super friendly quiet campers, and hot showers, I highly recommend it!

…Stay tuned for part two!

My Year to TransRockies: It Starts Now.

It started as a 0.2 second thought. Actually there have been a few of those 0.2 second thoughts. First when I heard about the TransRockies Run, then when my friend completed the TRR last year, then when I saw photos of the TRR, and again when I was reading about a few ultramarathoners’ experience with the TRR. The 0.2 seconds goes, ‘Wow… maybe I… no… well… maybe… I could… hm… nah.’ Then I move on. The last time I thought this though, I didn’t move on.

I sat with the idea, slept on it, researched it, and then was presented with an opportunity to make it real. The same friend that ran it in 2016 is heading back in 2018, along with his running coach, and a group of 15 people. Partnering with the TransRockies Run itself, the Race Director, Aerobic Power coaching, and other running affiliates, the idea is to create a team. A team that trains together, suffers together, rises together, and adventures through the mountains together to experience one of the most life changing weeks possible. A group of 15 people that will experience a year of training, through clinics, mountain adventures, coaching, and group runs, and then head south next August to run 120 miles in the TransRockies Run.

I am one of the 15 people.

And yeah, that scares the shit out of me.

In case you’re thinking, “WTF is TRR and stop using all of these acronyms,” I’ll give you a brief run down – pun intended – but you will certainly be hearing more about it over the coming year. TransRockies Run is a 6-day, 120-mile, 20000ft of elevation gain, staged trail run in Colorado. From the race organizers themselves

Runners will take on the Colorado Rockies for a trail running experience like no other. During the six days of the TransRockies Run, runners from all over the world will run, eat and live together as they cover 120 miles of spectacular scenery, fully supported by a dedicated and professional Event Team who will look after all aspects of their food, accommodations and on-course support.

Based upon the wildly successful TransAlpine-Run in Europe and the TransRockies mountain bike race, the TransRockies Run is run on a multi-day point-to-point format which allows athletes to access and traverse wild and fantastic scenery, while building camaraderie, overcoming adversity and sharing a singular adventure.

It’s both comforting and terrifying that I have a year until I hit the start line. For all of the reasons that it is comforting, there is an equal and opposite sense of fear. I have a year to transform from recreational runner and casual hiker to badass trail runner. I have a year to push myself into new territory, to do something that feels impossible and will be anything but easy. I am under no false sense of how challenging this will be. I want to be clear when I say that I will need this entire year to train, to get faster, to climb hills more efficiently, to hit downhills more effectively, to perform better on technical trails, to enhance my recovery routine and strength training to suit increased distance running.

One of the main reasons I am doing this is because I get to do it with other people. I know that motivation fades when it is only you that has to sustain it. What about when it’s more than a dozen people? There is support in a team and I know that while my mom will say, “You’re absolutely insane,” and my dad will look at me with skeptical eyes and ask, “Are you sure?” that I have an incredible family support system behind me as well.

So, here we go. One year from tomorrow, I will be in Colorado to run the TransRockies Run. I think I just threw up a little bit… but I’m also beyond excited. I’m excited to see what I can do, to challenge myself to take on something new and add another layer to being “that girl that hikes and runs and camps a lot.” Let’s go.