Sulphur Mountain (from the Cave and Basin)

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View from Sanson’s Peak, looking towards Tunnel Mountain, the Bow River and Lake Minnewanka – on a day that was, weather-wise, nothing like the day that I ran Sulphur Mountain – Photo: Canmore Runner

Sulphur Mountain, 2,451m elevation and, it turns out, a total treat. I hadn’t expected it to be thus. This was never on my ever-burgeoning list of “must-do runs”, partly because of its status as one of Banff’s major tourist attractions. Every summer, thousands of tourists take the 8-minute gondola ride to Sanson’s Peak, or hike there from the Upper Hot Springs along a series of switchbacks that wind their way up beneath the gondola. Of course, there has to be a reason why it’s so popular and it might just be the “breathtaking vistas in every direction” and the “stunning bird’s-eye view of six incredible mountain ranges”. As luck would have it, you can still enjoy those same vistas while mostly avoiding the masses en route by taking an alternative and challenging 8km trail to Sanson’s Peak that begins at the Cave and Basin historic site. Continue reading

Heart Mountain Loop

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Looking north-east towards Mount Fable and Mount Yamnuska from Heart Mountain. Photo: Canmore Runner

Heart Mountain Loop. A steep, unrelenting, hands on scramble, followed by an undulating and spectacular ridge run as you gradually make your way up to and beyond the summit of Heart Mountain. And then a steep, technical, rocky descent that eventually gives way to an equally steep but more forgiving single track through the trees that gradually flattens out as you head back to the trail head. It’s only around 10.4km but that comes with more than 1,000m of elevation. It’s quite the workout. Continue reading

Yamnuska Loop

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Taking in the view en route to the summit. Photo: Kimberley Al

Thank you Yamnuska. It was epic. It’s only about a 10km loop but you pack of lot into those 10km: a challenging but largely run-able climb that gains around 994m in elevation; easy-going forest trails that deliver you to the exposed and more technical backside of the mountain before reaching the summit with its breathtaking panoramic views. From there, a scorching, scree-skiing descent leads you around the frontside of the mountain and back into the trees before returning to the trailhead. It’s a blast. Continue reading

New year, new route: Prairie View – Jewel Pass Loop

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View from the trailhead – A frozen Barrier Lake looking towards “Mary Barclay’s Mountain” and Grant MacEwan Peak  Photo: Canmore Runner

I’m not really one for new year resolutions. However, in keeping with an earlier post, looking back to look forward, I have resolved to focus more this year on running in pursuit of adventure and discovery rather than racing, intervals and hill repeats. This is not to say that I won’t train and race. On the contrary, Ms. Canmore Runner and I have signed up for the Broken Goat 50K in July and i’m very excited at the prospect of hitting the trails in Rossland BC. However, I don’t want racing to be all that I focus on this year. I want some adventure.

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Tunnel Mountain aka Sleeping Buffalo

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Mount Rundle and the Bow Valley from Tunnel Mountain  (Photo: Canmore Runner)

Happy International Mountain Day!

To mark the occasion, it seemed rather fitting to post a trail running route that celebrates one of the “shorter” mountains in the Bow Valley: Tunnel Mountain. Elevation 1,692m and runnable (up and down) in around 32 minutes (and i’m no speed demon)! But don’t be deceived. What Tunnel Mountain lacks in elevation and technical difficulty is compensated for with stunning summit views of Banff and the Bow Valley.

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Mount Bourgeau – Truly Epic

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Summit bound…

Mount Bourgeau. Altitude 2,931m, named by James Hector in 1860 after Eugène Bourgeau, a botanist with the Palliser Expedition. First climbed in 1890.

125 years and countless hikers and runners later, Canmore Runner puffed his way to the summit in the great company of Mike Fitzpatrick, coordinator of Canmore Trail Culture and Mount Bourgeau alumni. Continue reading

The Cory and Edith Pass Loop: Pure Awesome

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Fitzy, showing the way.

Last week I had what easily ranks as one of my most epic running experiences to date – the Cory and Edith Pass Trail Loop, just outside Banff. What’s more, I ran in the great company of Mike Fitzpatrick – “Fitzy” – the founder of Canmore Trail Culture (find it on Facebook!), the local trail running group and the subject of a future post. Continue reading

Montane Traverse

The Montane Traverse Trail, on the east side of the Bow Valley, is another spectacular run. Starting at the Cougar Creek trailhead, it climbs steadily and steeply in parts in the first 2 kilometres. But after that, the trail stretches out into a rollercoaster of a ride along largely technical single track with tree roots, twists and turns, and the occasional rocky creek bed to navigate. Continue reading