Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Flower Ridge

Every year I dream of spending my summer exploring new trails and peaks in Strathcona Provincial Park...and every year I seem to fill up all of my weekends with work, races and other adventures before summer even begins.  And list continues to grows\ longer and longer...

This July I have been on a mission.  I cleared my weekend calendar and wrote a list of my SPP dream hikes on the back page of my Island Hikes 3 book (hikers bible fyi!).  Over the past few years I have managed to explore a few faves: Kings Peak, Washington-Forbidden Traverse (multiple times now) and last summer Mount Septimus via Bedwell and Cream Lakes (amazing btw!).  Just a tiny drop in the SPP bucket.

Strathcona Park is an absolute gem.  The first Provincial Park in BC, Strathcona has held it's status since 1911.  Stretching over 250,000 hectares, the Park protects a massive wilderness area in the centre of the Island.  Home to the highest peak on the Island, the Golden Hinde (2200m) and countless other spectacular mountains, the terrain is rugged, wild and absolutely breathtaking.  Snowcapped peaks, endless aqua-marine alpine lakes and streams, and watersheds filled with massive ancient trees are just the norm in this supernatural part of the world.  

And it is all right in our backyard.  It is hard to believe it is all contained on our little Island.  Peeps come from all over the globe to explore the ridges, peaks and lakes at the heart of the Park.  I felt it was time that I make time to do the same.  Unfortunately the first couple of July weekends were rained out so I have had to do some cramming:)

Last weekend Kim and I both had a 'big day on feet' scheduled on our 'training plans'.  We were both looking for 9-10 hours of trekking and running and good elevation so we looked for a new adventure in the Park.  The last time we had done a big hike in the Park was Kings Peak...which we were shocked to realize had been 8 years ago!  Time to make some new memories!  

Flower Ridge.  
Wow.  Wow Wow.  Let me put it this have to go and see it for yourself;) OK...let me try and create a picture for you...

We were on the road by 4am and on the trail by 6am.  Best to start early when you are heading into new terrain and planning on a big day.  Running in the mountains and off the grid requires different types of preparation, equipment and skills than heading out to your local trailhead.  You can never be too cautious and it is always best to prepare for the worst case scenario- because you never know.  The weather can change quickly and dramatically when you are in the alpine- regardless of the weather report you read before you left home.  There is no cell coverage after you leave Campbell River- that is about an hour from the trailheads in the Park...and who knows how many hours from there.  A bad fall, sprained ankle or allergic reaction are a different story when you are 6 hours from assistance.  Best to be prepared IMO!  Here is how I typically pack for a long day hike or trail run off the grid:

Pack: 2 litres of water/water purification tabs, snacks PLUS extra for the day, clothing 'in case you had to stay the night' such as a toque, gloves, extra longsleeve, shell/windbreaker, longjohns, space blanket, headlamp (on really big adventures a bivvy sack)...first aid kit, allergy meds, knife, fire starter/lighter, duct tape, compass, map, whistle, GPS.  I use Motion X on my iPhone and a portable battery pack that keeps it charged for 10 hours.  Motion X allows you to use GPS functions and see our location on a map - without cell service or data.  You just need to download the map files to your phone before heading out and voila!  There you are on the map!  It is awesome - my favourite ap for sure.  I recently purchased an inReach unit as well - which I will post a review on shortly.  Basically, it allows you to communicate your location, send messages and initial an SOS in case of emergency.  You may be off the grid and in the middle of no where- but you will be able to communicate and SAR will be able to find you in a worse case scenario.  Well worth the investment for the peace of mind.

Once we hit the trail it was straight up on the 'highway to heaven' of calf searing vertical terrain.  Bloody steep out of the gates, we gained 1200m in 5kms up to the Ridge.  On the way up we were in the shelter of an old forest, with big trees and a shag moss carpet to guide us.  After 2 hours of steady marching we arrived on the North Ridge and enjoyed a 180 degree view of the mountains across Buttle Lake.  Other than the big mine scar, the view was spectacular.  We were just under the clouds and would be hiking up into the mist after this view.

After a few minutes on the Ridge we came across some tents and snoring campers, with their boots laid out to freshen up:).  We snuck quietly by and continued on the trail as it turned upward through a fantastic alpine meadow.  We were blown away by the explosion of colour!  Our timing must have been absolutely perfect because we were given the most amazing show of flowers!  The wild heather was in full bloom and a carpet of flourescent pink was laid out as far as the eye could see.  Magnificant!

We stopped to take photo's thinking this was the show.  But no.  It was just the beginning.  Over every new knoll there was a new mountain meadow and another painting of wild flowers awaiting us.  Alpine lakes (even a heart shaped one shown above!) dotted the Ridge and the ribbon of rocky singletrack stretched out before us...over the next knoll...into the next meadow...and so on and so on.  It was a never ending scene and we were happy to be stuck in it for 10kms on the Ridge.  Fantastic!

After about 16kms and 5 hours we reached the South Peak of the Ridge...the terrain flows straight down to Cream Lake from there and we could see Mt Septimus straight across the Valley.  It was awesome to put the pieces together and orient myself with the area.  The clouds kept us cool and we were damp with mist for most of the hike.  But every now and then the clouds would float by and the view would open right up for us- revealing the hidden peaks and vista's that surrounded us!  360 degrees of spectacular scenery!  At one point the mist cleared and we realized that we were close to a serious cliff edge- where the ridge dropped off dramatically to the valley bottom over 1000m below.  Woah.  Don't want to put your tent there.  FYI: don't go too close to the East edge if the weather socks you in...

We enjoyed a few minutes at the South Peak, but the mist and wind started to chill us quickly.  So, we turned back to follow our path home...running on the more flowy sections of trail and all of the downhills.  Once we hit the steep descent we were able to open things up and run downhill on the loamy forest path.  It was a lovely 4 hour run back to the car...  After 9 hours on trail and some wicked vertical, our feet were in need of some love and we became obsessed with reaching the creek at the traihead.  Ahhhhhhhh....glacial cold but soooo good!  We sat on the rocks in the sunshine, with our feet hanging numb in the creek and enjoyed some stub and grub while letting that post adventure bliss settle in.  A perfect day:).  Thanks Kim:)

Happy Trails,

Friday, July 25, 2014

Videos: FRIDAY! Film Fest!

Happy Happy Mid Summer Friday people!

I hope that you have a weekend of fun adventures planned like I do;).  Here are some fun video's to help you get in the mood for FUN!
Happy Trails,

Cyanide & Happiness : The Rope.  OK let's start with a little naughty humor shall we?  You may have seen this a while back, but it is always good for another laugh;0.  Warning: contains some, um, colourful language...but it IS funny!!!  Thanks to The Adventure Blog for sharing this one.

BC Bike Race 2014 Crew Video: Happy!  Awesome wrap up video to get your toe tapping and your hands clapping:)

Pet's interupting Yoga.  I've saved the best for last...From Huffington Post Funny.  I am not one who sits through animal videos...but this one is actually awesome.  Watch it and just try NOT to smile! 

In Good Hands acupuncture Friday afternoon... Nothing mellows my body and mind like 50 long, thin needles tapped into my body.  Hee Hee.  You won't get it until you try it;).

 On the north peak of Flower Ridge!  1200m straight up!

Over the past month, I have spent more time in my sneakers than anywhere else, it seems.  I have been building my tolerance for endurance on my feet once again.  Adding time, kilometres and elevation with each run and every week.  Hoping my body would agree to a summer ultramarathon, I put the Squamish 50 (miles that is) on my calendar in pencil and let my preconceptions go...and it is looking like it might actually happen. 

 Flower Ridge on fire with meadows of wild heather.

My body is, however, completely in charge of the plan.  I fired my mind a long time ago.  Many years ago I learned that injury and illness can initiate lasting shifts in perspective.  When you are told you will never run again, you cry with joy when you can walk.   I see the world through my own set of glasses...running, health, adventure and the human body are all gifts...and none of them garaunteed for life.  And so, I run, ride, repeat, but the path and speed limit are not, ultimately, determined by me.

 South Peak of Flower Ridge

That being said...
Athletes must contiually walk the thin line between overload and overtraining to try and create the most effective stimulus and response cycle possible.  Pushing edges is not just part of the is the only way the human body knows how to progress.

And so...
Let's just say that I have had some cranky calves;0.  They have been talking at me since June, with knots and hot spots popping up here there and everywhere.  Nothing sinister or rated high enough (over 4/10) to stop the train.  But I knew I had to support my body if I wanted to keep building, pushing and progressing.  And then I fell through a wooden bridge and nearly broke both of my ankles.  Bad timing!  Did I mention I used to have bilateraly compartment syndrome in my lower legs?  The pressure was building, the tissues were swollen and they had nowhere to go...time to call in my team!

 1000m down!  Don't stand up!

I am in good hands.  Many good hands.  In the past few weeks I have been to see nearly all of my favourite people:
  • Marita Sanchez at Harbourview Massage - to release the pressure
  • Debbie Wright at Bayview Chiropractic- to put my spine back in place after the impact of such a hard fall.
  • Marian Patterson - Reflexology magic that erased my symptoms and made me feel like I didn't actually run 80k last weekend.  Wow.  
  • Michelle Hughes- DCTM and Acupuncture to support my body so it can do the healing it needs to do.  To calm my mind and make me remember that 'it is all good, man'.;)
  • Kim & Kendra at Ascent Physio...luckily I haven't had to see them in a while but I know they are always ready and willing to take me on!

We have a team to help us in our 'regular lives' change the oil, fix the brakes, cut our bangs, crunch our numbers...yadda yadda yadda... I'd say having a team that supports the old body is just as important- if not WAY more.  

Are you supporting your body?  Who is on your team?  Would love to hear what works for you!
Cheers and happy trails,

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: i/Omagic Charger

Wowza.  4:44.  That was a long run.  

I like to track my adventures with the Motion X gps ap (which is rad FYI so watch for a review coming soon!) but my iPhone battery would be dead or close to it after a run this long.  So I was tickled pink to see the battery still at 100% after 4.5hours plus today!  How? 

iOmagic saved the day!  A friend gave me this little portable charger and it passed the test run with flying colours- I'm sold.  Thanks Kim!

The little unit comes with a wall charger so you can load it up with juice beforehand.  It shows how full the battery is with a set of indication lights and has an output port that connects to your iPhone.  It weighs nothing and takes up very little space-1 by 1 by 3 inches.

100% after 4 plus hours.  Awesome.  Go get one.
Looks like $29.99 on the iOmagic site...well worth it!

Do you have a favourite ap or piece of techy run gear that you love right now?  Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Scream You Scream We All Scream for Ice Cream!!

It is something HOT in the Valley.  Mmmmmmm...I love it:).  Time to whip up a few cool treats!  Read on for my faves...

Too often 'cool treat' synchs with crazy sweet frozen treats loaded with additives, preservatives, colouring and multiple words we can't even pronounce.  There IS a better way to cool off!!   Break the cycle.  Get creative.  Think outside the icebox;).  Create your own healthy cool treat menu and say goodbye to the crazy non-food 'treats' more often...

Here are some of my faves to get your wheels turning!

Best Ice Cream Ever .  (No joke)

Sunday Afternoon Goodies (Including frozen banana pops and coconut lime ice cream - oh my!)

What natural cool treats do you and you family enjoy when the temperature climbs?  Comment below!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Videos: Weekend Film Fest

Happy Happy Happy Happy Friday!
It's going to be an amazing sunshiney weekend on the Island!  Time to ride/run/hike to your favourite swimming hole;)  Or, why not do all three together like the boys in 'The Picnic' film, below?  Get ready, this weeks film fest might just be my favourite threesome of videos to inspire adventure...have a great weekend!


100 Miles High - Darcy Piceu Africa and the 2013 Hardrock Ultra Marathon.  If you want a taste of the 'rock' without the pain of the altitude, sit back and enjoy it from that comfy chair of yours...and just imagine...


Seven: The BC Bike Race Movie.   It has come and gone once again...the best week on a mountain bike...the BC Bike Race!  If you missed out or are dreaming of doing it 'one day'... this video should help convince you to sign up next year...stop 'one day'ing it and go for it!  This video was filmed in 2013, the year that I was lucky enough to experience the race and I managed to get about 1.5 seconds of fame...see if you can spot the blue ELM jersey...good luck;)

Seven: The BC Bike Race Movie from BC Bike Race on Vimeo.


The Picnic: a Teton Triathlon.  OMG I LOVE this little video.  A group of buddies create an epic Triathlon that combines cycling, swimming and summiting Grand Teton.  Real dudes on a real adventure...Inspiring me to create my own Valley 'Picnic'...I have some

The Picnic: a Teton Triathlon from KGB Productions on Vimeo.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Review: SOLO Bars

 "Energy that sustains"  
"Low Glycemic & Gluten Free"
"Energy & Nutrition Bars"

Have you heard of  SOLO bars yet?  If not, watch for it, they are about to make a big move onto a grocery store shelf near you, very soon.  A few weeks ago I received a sample kit from SOLO, who asked me to review their 5 different flavours of energy bars.   Here goes:

"Another energy bar?" you say!  

Well, the folks at SOLO have come up with something very unique and it definitely sets them apart from the rest. They have created a bar that is 'clinically validated' to have a Low GI.

GI.  Glycemic Index.  You've heard the term before.  But what does it really mean?

The glycemic index is a scientific system of classifying foods according to how quickly they are digested and absorbed into the body. It was invented by scientists at the Canadian University of Toronto many years ago.  The GI rates foods based on how quickly their carbohydrates are converted to glucose (sugar) and released into the body.   Foods with a higher GI value are released faster and have a greater impact on blood glucose levels. Pure glucose receives a GI value of 100 and pretzels come in at 83, for example.   Foods with a lower GI value are released slower and have a more gradual impact on blood glucose levels. Foods like peanut butter and yogurt receive lower GI values of 14 and 33 respectively.  Foods that are higher in protein, fat and fibre tend to have lower GI values and therefor release glucose into the bloodstream at a slower rate.

"So what?" you say!

Low GI foods provide a slower release of sugar into the system which is believed to provide more sustained energy and increased satiety (feeling of fullness).  You know when you eat those pretzels you're going to be hungry again in 30 minutes right?  How about when you are running, biking or paddling hard?  You know when you eat that gel you are going to need another one in 30 minutes right?  Super energy spike and then crash.

In addition to the 'slow release' energy benefits for athletes and the general public, SOLO bars fit within the recommendations for a very specific population... people living with diabetes.  The SOLO bars are being marketed directly to this group. According to SOLO, their GI Bars address the 'Key Recommendations' of the Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guildelines Expert Committee:
  • "Replacing high-glycemic index carbohydrates with low-glycemic index carbohydrates in mixed meals has a clinically significant effect on glycemic control in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes."
That is the BIG angle that SOLO bars are taking to stand apart from the rest of the energy bars on the market.  They have been clinically validated to have a GI of 23-30 (low).  And they weren't just tested anywhere.  SOLO bars have been validated by the actual inventors of the Glycemic Index at the University of Toronto and used in multiple clinical studies. 

So...I asked a friend with type 1 diabetes, who is also a runner, to help me with my research;).   He woke up, ate one bar and went for a 6 km run.  When he returned, he tested his blood sugar and reported a reading of 7.  This was the magic number that he said he would have hoped for after exercise.  He noted that his post run blood sugar reading would normally be higher, up to 8 or 9, after having a banana beforehand.  His testimonial was very positive: "SOLD." he said.  "Where can I get them?" 

"What's IN them?"  you ask!

Good question!  The other side angle SOLO bars have going for them is their ingredients list.  Many energy bars AND diabetic snacks contain a nasty long list of wild and crazy chemically altered, indigestible ingredients that you cannot likely pronounce.  Now, nearly anything living in a shiney package on a store shelf has been added to or subtracted from in some way.  But on the scale of nasty-packaged-non-foods, the SOLO bar is at the VERY good end of the spectrum compared to the majority of energy bars on the market today.  Sure, it isn't just nuts and fruit like my number 1 choice, Lara Bars.  But it has many of the other bars beat for what IS and ISN'T on the ingredients list.  Specifically:
  •  190-200 calories per bar
  • 24-27 grams of carbohydrates
  • 7-8 grams of fat
  • 10-13 g protein- that's higher than most 'energy bars' but mid range for 'protein bars' IMO. They use a whey protein source.  Highly usable by the body- but yes, processed, protein source. 
  • 3-4 g fibre- small but significant enough to effect GI
  • No artificial sweeteners- I like that!
  • No high fructose corn syrup-I like that too!
  • No sugar alcohols- good!
  • No Trans Fats - phew!
  • No artificial preservatives- yes! 
  • In addition the SOLO bars are GLUTEN FREE- key for many living with celiac disease.

"OK OK! But how do they taste?!" you want to know!

Depending on who you are, what your taste buds are into and what other energy bars you are used to eating you will likely rate them as ... Pretty YUM.  

Chocolate Charger was the big winner.  I'd say YUM actually.  It was chocolate on the inside and chocolate on the outside and all that chocolate hid any non-food flavours I might have otherwise detected.  The Dark Chocolate Mandarin was a close second...there is a trend here.  The texture was lovely- light and chewy.  Different texture and flavour coating on the outside and a firm but soft centre.  Not too heavy- lighter for the caloric count,  of approximately 190 calories, than I anticipated.

The Peanut Butter and fruity flavors of Lemon Lift and Pineapple Coconut were tasty...but we got off to a bad start.  I ate these on a hot day.  Their 'coatings' had melted into a liquid pool within the wrapper.  It wasn't a good first date for us.  Never order messy food on a first date.  The solid, chewy centre of the bar was not nearly as appealing once it's 'coating' had melted away and I can't say I enjoyed eating these bars because they were messy and not as tasty.  Reminded me of the old protein bars...and I was hoping to move on from that old relationship.  I will have to try these flavours again, on a cold day;)

The moral of the SOLO bar review is this:
  • Good choice.  I will definitely pick this bar if I need something in a shiney package and there aren't any Lara Bars around;). 
  • Note: I do not know the GI of a Lara Bar...but guess they would be close with the mix of nuts (fats/protein/fibre) and dates that are the main ingredients.  That in itself might be enough of a reason for persons with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to actually choose the SOLO bar over another bar, including Lara Bars, even though they may have a more natural ingredients list.
  • Awesome choice for diabetics and those who NEED to know the GI of the foods they are eating so they can regulate the effect on their blood sugar.
  • Bad choice for hot days in the car or workouts in the sun! They melt.  Be warned.

Have you tried the SOLO bars?  Let me know what you think!