Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Running Scared

There's nothing better than running scared...really.

The big news in last week's paper was about this small controversy regarding the new Highline Trail in Canmore - which runs high up the South side of the Bow Valley between Grassi Lakes and Three Sisters. The 'controversy' involves the use of a small 'Bobcat' type machine to build the trail - which was leaving a big scar in its wake. Local trail enthusiasts stopped the machine's use as soon as they realized the damage it was causing and rallied to finish the trail by hand and ultimately build a much more estatic trail that meets our 'single-track' criteria.

After all the fuss in the paper I decided to go exploring...

Off I went last Thursday evening in search of this new Highline Trail, choosing to run up the gap (Grassi) and try to find the trail's access via the Spray Reservoir pipeline. After a bit of 'running' around, I found some flagging tape with I assumed (correctly) was the soon to be trail. So off into the bush I went.

With light getting dimmer by the minute I raced across the side slopes, following the flagging tape from tree to tree in an attempt to connect with the mystery trail monster that loomed over the Peaks of Grassi. I was very aware that being this high above the wildlife corridor, my chances of running into evening critters were high, so as crashed through brush, yelling 'HEY BEAR' every 10 seconds or so, I kept my bear spray close at hand in my water belt -

I love this 'adventure' runs as I call them - Getting off the beaten track is my favourite type of running. I duked, jumped and ran from animal trail to animal trail, blowing off the spider webs every time I sneaked in between trees - it was awesome. Every once in a while I stopped and listened...
and soaked in the twinkling lights of Canmore down below...

View from the soon to be Highline Trail - great views!

Every run-off creek offered a quick glimpse of the trail's potential once completed. It will offer amanzing terrain and scenery.

Then, as I took in a drink, there was loud 'CRACK' about 50m below me...OH SHIT! Whatever it was it sounded like an elephant (although it was most likely a squirrel). Either way, the adreline rush was instant. I crouched down, bearspray in hand, safety off, ready for action. I couldn't see anything moving, so I just stopped, eyes as big as toonies, scanning the terrain. Moments passed. I look around for a rock and threw it down to scare whatever was there. After yelling some more, I decided to get out of there and RUN! Screw the flagging tape, I was on a tear through the bush, going warp speed towards the Peaks of Grassi looking back every 2 seconds expecting a cougar nipping as my ass.

PHEW! That was awesome...

Long story short, I made it out safe and sound, and ran into one of the connectors leading up to the Highline Trail - as expected, it was ugly. As I cruised up the track which looked like an overused quad trail, I ran into Ken Davies, who is leading the charge to build the new single-track. It was certainly nice to see another person off the beaten track - off course, he was being smart and leaving the area as the night approached...I kept going.

Heavy trail damage - not pretty!

The machined connector up from Quarry Lake - night approaching...

I got up to the first intersection and turned right following what looked like an overused animal trail - heading West back towards my freak-out run...this will be part of the new handbuilt trail and honestly, it has the potential to be one of the best! I followed it for a while until it was definitely time to turn back - it was almost dark. On my return to the connector 'highway' I took a sneak peak at the other side which was built by the machine. I was actually surprised at the difference between the rough cut, and the actual finished product - sure it was wider than a usual single track but the builder actually made a great effort to 'landscape' the machine damage and give a more natural look. (I went back the next day and ran its length, worth checking it out).

On the new Highline Trail - the machined section

Bottom line, once completed, this trail will be fantastic. If you're keen to help, there is work party meeting on the weekend at Quary Lake (and every following Sunday) to help finish the trail before winter.


Cyrus said...

Loved that post! Quite the writer you are.

Cyrus said...

And "eyes are big as toonies"?! How do you think of stuff like that?