Inspired by Faron’s sneaky midweek half I decided to see how far my legs would take me. Nine km straight uphill meant more walking than running, but it felt amazing to carry a small pack (tied with bungee cord around my waist to keep it from bouncing when I ran) and pass folks laden down with trekking gear and fishing poles. When it got tough I kept repeating my new mantra having something to do with cultivating my inner goat powers aka chanting “mountain goat mountain goat” rhythmically to myself on all the hard parts to keep my cadence up. This, while silly, seems to be working so I am going to go with it for now. Anyway. The trail started in lush old growth, and moved quickly into the late spring forest of trillium and pink hued orchids.
I spotted a lovely set of oyster mushrooms, and a piece of white coral fungus, which bodes so well for the best season of all; fall mushroom extravaganza time. I passed so many streams and waterfalls that seemed to come straight out of the hillside that I didn’t have to carry water at all. By the time I reached 8 kms the forest was beginning to thin and the air smelled thick and pungent from the newly liberated from-snow-soil. I wound up a tough set of switchbacks, and all of a sudden I was loose in an alpine meadow. I wove through Taylor meadows which has a lovely campsite, and ran the side trail towards black tusk junction. It started getting steep again as the trail moves up to what looks like an amazing little peak, so I doubled back and headed towards the lake. Everywhere I looked stands of green shoots were about to burst into lilies and the heather was beginning to unfurl. Its always so liberating how you can transgress seasonal patterns by heading up a large hill-28 degrees at valley bottom and chilly at the top. I finally hit the lake at km 12 and was completely blown away.
What a surprise to see a giant lake and a huge glacier with no road or fairmont hotel leading hundreds to its shores. I sat for a minute and shared my bag of cherries with a couple of chefs from Squamish, ate a cliff bar, drank water from a stream, and headed back towards the sun and warmth of the valley bottom. Next time I will bring a tent and explore.
The way home was ecstatic flying. The loop route took me past two small alpine lakes, tons of purple lupines, and a cluster of ptarmigans before heading down the steep path. I have been having trouble finding flow in my runs lately. Instead of running chi my mind has been so focused on cadence, posture, feet placement, and speed-work. And panting. So much panting. What a treat to just run, and lose myself in the beauty and solidity of the forest.
After I headed for Whistler completely sugar-crashed and disoriented. Friends, avoid whistler unless you have a good stash of snacks and are prepared for city people enrobed in satin and high heeled espadrilles. I try not to offer much life advice, but take my word for it. Don’t leave home without food. Everything even remotely delicious or healthy started at fifteen dollars. For a taco! Ah! But, I was lucky to both avoid starbucks and find a fruit smoothie even though it cost too much. Once my hangry brain chatter settled I had a little picnic on the grass with lox, sprouts, rye bread, and cream cheese and watched people dance to ska tunes at the olympic plaza and chase their mountain dogs around (everyone up here seems to accessorize with a dog and a toddler).
21 kms in just over three hours. 800 meters up. Loneliness abated in the pleasure of speed, plants, and solitude. I guess this is why people run.