Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Snowshoeing Porter Mountain

The Adirondacks is not only great for hiking, it is superb in the winter for snowshoeing. Its steep up hills make it a great workout, but with fresh powder covering the mountain and trees it makes for a beautiful and comforting atmosphere.

A fairly easier mountain(s) to snowshoe is Porter and Cascade. You can snowshoe up to Porter (4050’) and traverse over to Cascade Mountain (4098’). On a clear day you can enjoy a nice view of the snowy mountain range, especially from the fire tower. So bring a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee and enjoy the views. Total distance is about 13km for both Porter and Cascade. It took us a total of 4hrs to do without breaks.


Trailhead: Route 73 near Cascade Pass/Pitch off
Time: 4hours
Distance: 13km
Elevation Gain: ~ 3000’

Friday, October 8, 2010

Whiteface Mountain

Whiteface is the fifth highest of the 46ers at an elevation of 4,867' and was where the 1980 winter Olympics were held. The front side (east) of the mountain is a ski hill and tourists can drive up a toll road almost to the top and then take the stairs or get this an elevator the last 300 feet to the top of the mountain. Or you can hike it from the back side and enjoy the great rugged topography, crossing streams, maneuvering through creek beds and climbing hand over hand up steep rock face hills and peering over ridged cliff edges. Regardless of which way you choose the view from the summit is great (well the weather that day did not offer as great of views as I was hoping for it still was impressive to see the stone fortress like weather station at the top. Apparently this is the only peak in the Adirondacks where distinct evidence of alpine glaciers can be found.

Start of Hike
We parked near Connery Pond and started hiking from there. Total hike from here is about 6 miles with ascends of 3,232 feet. The first portion 2-3miles is rather flat. With the amount of rain the ADK had seen the past week, it was wet and muddy and I was thankful to have remembered my gaiters. At about 3miles in you have to cross a rather deep and wide creek. However, thankful to the hikers ahead of us who built a dam like bridge to cross we managed to hike across without being wet. We met a few hikers that had to wade across unaware of this bridge that was upstream a bit. After crossing the creek you will find a lean-to a few meters ahead - a great place to set up for the night. We met the guys who built the bridge and were able to thank them.

Once past the lean-to the trail begins to get narrower and steeper. Again noting the amount of rain that area received there was lots of runoff coming down the mountain making those steep rock slab portions of the climb slippery and difficult (more so on the descent).

Once above tree line you are not far from the peak. We decided we’d ditch our poles and packs to make the ascent lighter. The peak which would offer stunning views on a clear day was cloud and mist covered with a piercing cold wind. There was ice on the tops of the pine trees and ice and snow covering the weather station. Although we missed out on seeing the fall colors in the mountain ranges (we will be back again) the weather at the peak instilled a real mountain-like experience. If it was not for the tourists in there clean clothing, dress shoes, perfect hair and make-up the weather and atmosphere would make you feel as if you were 5,000’ higher and isolated.

Beautiful view of Autumn foliage
Sitting at False Summit to enjoy some much needed hot coffee
and lunch (pita, hummus, cheese, kielbasa)!!

More views from the False Summit

After taking some photos we descended to a false peak just above tree line. Here we were below the clouds and could see some of the lakes around Lake Placid, and the red and yellow hues of the autumn leaves. The wind still being wickedly cold we hid behind a rock and ate our lunch – coffee, pita, hummus, Kielbasa, and cheese. Once fuelled up we started our descent back the car. We then hit the brew pub in Lake Placid ( to pick up a jug of Ubu Ale and then headed back to the cabin for a hot shower and dinner. Dinner was vegetarian lasagna, beef pasta, garlic bread, Caesar salad and red wine. We then hung out by a cozy fire with friends. These friends hiked Giant that day and had a completely different weather experience – one of sun and great views. It goes to show you that you have to be ready for any type of weather in the Adirondacks.


(on a clear day it offers great views of the high peak mountain ranges)

Weather Station at Summit

The following day our friends decided to do a short hike in South Meadows, however because my Achilles was a bit tender Marc and I decided to head to Lake Placid to check out the Big Mountain Deli that our friends had introduced us to. This gourmet deli offers up a menu of 46 sandwiches named after the 46ers. As a group we decided that it would be fun to enjoy a 46er sandwich after summiting a 46er. We were definitely on board with that idea. Having summated Whiteface, we thought perhaps we’d have Whiteface sandwich, but we have also summated 19 other peaks before Whiteface and therefore decided to pick one of those. I had the Mount Marcy (Roast turkey, cranberry horseradish sauce, cheddar, apple on Whole wheat) and Marc enjoyed the Algonquin (Roast turkey, apple wood smoked bacon, avocado, sprouts and Russian dressing on seeded Rye Bread). Check out this link for photos of our 46er Sandwiches.

We cannot wait to go back to try more sandwiches and all there different breads. Check out


Start: Connery Pond off route 73
Elevation Gain: 3,232’
Height: 4,868’
Total Distance: 12miles or 20km
Total Hiking Time: 6hours (total hours 7hrs)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Half-Marathon Training

Well I am currently in my last few weeks of training for my fourth half-marathon. In May I ran the National Capital Half Marathon and after a few weeks of rest I had the bug to start running long distances again.

I have logged my training for both 1/2 marathons and have provides some posts about mileage progression, speed training, hill training, nutrition, motivation, strength training etc...

My first half marathon did not meet my personal goal, clocking over 2 hours. This was due mainly to a lack of proper training (no hill or speed training) and I was struggling with painful abdominal adhesions and hip bursitis. Thanks to Active Release Techniques (ART) treatment from a great massage therapist and chiropractor, and a lot of patience, I overcame those injuries.

The second year I was thankfully injury free and trained extremely hard and followed a regimented training program. I performed intense hill and speed work in order to reach my target goat. I ended up with a 1:50 time which I was pretty ecstatic about. This year at the National Capital I reached a new Personal Best (PB) 1:44:53. I am aiming to repeat the same time, but there is always that determination and internal competitiveness in me that wants to strive to do better. However, realistically I have found training back to back for the half and having to endure extreme heatwaves difficult. So I will be pleased just to be part of a great race - The Army Run.

My training plan is based on running four days per week, however I usually either add an extra short run in or some cross-training (rowing, biking, swimming), or just do something active that (skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, sports, walking).

Half Marathong Training Plan
National Capital Half Marathon 2010 Race Day

Friday, July 23, 2010

El Misti Volcano, Arequipa, Peru

El Misti, Arequipa, Peru - 5822m (19,101 feet)
Start of the trek up El Misti

Seeking the only shade around.

Enjoying a banana
Hiking up sand.

Sunset at base camp was beautiful.

While travelling Peru in 2005, we visited Arequipa. It is hear we decided to hike the well known volcano El Misti. The summit elevation is 5822m (19,101 feet). Because we were not traveling with a tent and were not sure how safe the local area was we found a guide to take us up the mountain, however it was a sketchy little operation that we would not recommend. In fact we ran into many other tours that said the same thing about their tour guide.

The problem is these tour guides try to make the ascent way to fast which resulted in more than 50% of the trekkers experiencing serious altitude sickness problems from headaches to gastrointestinal problems. Many hikers had to turn back due to these increasing symptoms. These tour operators wanted hikers to summit the peak in less than a day when a 2 day minimum is required, and a three day is highly recommended, which is a 25 km circuit plus climb. This requires you to tent for 2 nights (as opposed to the inefficient 1 day). The hike up is not hard, but the height gain is so fast that it does not give any time for acclimatization.

There are two main routes on the volcano. The more used Pastores route which starts nere the city of Arequipa at 3,300m and camp is made at 4,500m at Nido de Auguilas. The second route starts at Aguada Blanca route which starts at 4000m near the Aguada Blanca reservoir and base camp is made at 4800m at Monte Blanco (the name of this camp comes from the fact that it is at the same height as the summit Mont Blanc).

We started the trek at an elevation of 2380m and trekked to base camp at a height of about 4,800m. We set our tents up and then were to wake up the next morning at dark and push for the summit.

The view from base camp was pretty impressive, especially the sunset over the mountains. While at base camp we were told to give our water to our guide, which was never part of the details provided to us. We were not impressed as this left us with little water for another day to the peak and back down. When asked for more we declined as we had to look out for our own safety. The following morning before dawn we were to summit, but the group I was with had severe altitude sickness and I was thinking that this guide and trip was all too sketch for me to go any further despite having no symptoms.

Overall, I would recommend the trek, but would search for a more reputable company to trek with and to make sure it is done in a reasonable time frame.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Half Marathon: Race Day

Pre-race photos

Race day morning I awoke around 5:00am, although the plan was to sleep until 6:00am, I could not sleep any longer. I had a large cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese and tomatoes. Typically peanut butter and banana would offer more energy, but I wasn’t sure it was going to digest well with me that morning so I opted for something lighter.

The weather was perfect for running, 17C and overcast and no humidity. I lined up with 10,000 other ½ marathon participants. Noting my goal time was between 1:45 and 1:50 I lined up slightly ahead between the 1:40 and 1:45 pace bunny. When the gun went off we slowly made our way over the start line and then the pace quickly picked up as we ran down Wellington and over the Portage Bridge into Gatineau.
The course of the Quebec side consists of a lot of downs and a few ups with many switchbacks. When on top of the hills you can look ahead and see the sea of runners down below, it is an unbelievable sight. You finally cross over the MacDonald Cartier Bridge and head down Sussex into Ottawa.

This is the stretch of the course that really motivates me. The sides of the course and the overhead bridges are lined with thousands of spectators cheering and encouraging the runners on, an amazing feeling. The course then continues down Colonel By Drive, wraps around Bronson and then down Queen Elizabeth Drive towards the downtown finish line.

It is at the 3km mark that the crowds begin to thicken and the cheering becomes deafening. I still had so much energy left in me which was awesome; however I could feel the cramping starting in my knees and was trying to push out more speed. Finally by the 300m mark I began to sprint to the finish line and was more than elated to reach my new personal best (PB) of 1:44:56. My husband sprinted by me at the last stretch and hit is new PB of 1:44:53.

I think one of the best parts of the race was not only achieving a new PB, having so much spectator support, but it was seeing my husband ahead of me at the finish line and finishing the race almost together. We’d both run the ½ before, but never together, to see him during the race and at the end was a great feeling. It certainly showed that our dedication, hard training and support for each other during the training phase paid off immensely. As they say a couple that runs together stays together.

During the race I used a number of mantras that I had mentioned in a previous post. However, iRun magazine also had a list of why iRun, which really motivated me and kept my mind focused during the race. Here are some of the iRun magazine reasons why iRun:

iRun for the ones I love who can’t
iRun to stay in shape
iRun because my kids need a healthy mom
iRun for fun
iRun for endorphins
iRun because I want to learn what I am capable of
iRun because this addiction is better than my last
iRun so I can eat chocolate
iRun to start a better day
iRun for my family
iRun to quiet my mind
iRun because it gives me a feeling of accomplishment
iRun because it’s an addiction

If we recover well from this one we are hoping to race again in the fall.

Happy with my new PB 1:44:56
New PB of 1:44:53

Friday, May 28, 2010

Race Weekend

Well after 16 weeks of training the National Capital Race Weekend is finally here. It seemed to come faster than past years. Last night I picked up my race kit. It is always fun to get the kit and walk around with thousands of other runners from the family doing the 2k run together to the elite marathoners trying to qualify for Boston. The atmosphere is exciting and is a good way to get pumped for the race.

Overall I feel I have had an excellent training regime. Of course as luck would have it my runs never go without some adversity in terms of injuries. One week ago an old injury spontaneously resurrected causing me immense abdominal discomfort and pain. I am hoping that I will be able to overcome that throughout the race.

All I can do at this point is stretch the adhesions as much as possible and have a few ART treatments to see if that will reduce the pain and loosen up the tightness. Other than that I guess I will just have to wait and see what comes of it come race day.

However, I think I am mentally prepared to have to deal with what ever it is I have to deal with during the race. Be it the pain, the crazy humidity we’ve had the past week and any other barrier that comes my way. It might be more of a mental game than a physical one for me.

This month’s issue of iRun had a list of mantra’s used by athlete’s to get through their runs. I have used my own mantras over the past years and they certainly helped keep me going. Sometimes they are as simple as just saying to yourself “just keep running” and sometimes you have to dig a bit deeper and tell yourself just that “dig deeper, give it more” or “you have more in you, suck it up and run.” The one I liked from the iRun magazine was “suck it up princess” and “don’t think, just run”

I have many more mental games to keep me going and motivated such as thinking about those athletes that inspire me or those that have overcome immense adversity only to strive to come back the sport they love, with intensity and vigour. I find such inspiration from these types of people.

For my pre-race meal I typically have oatmeal. This year I have not been doing many morning runs and have not had oatmeal pre-run. Therefore it would be a bad idea to have oatmeal on race day. I think I am going to stick with a whole wheat bagel with either light cream cheese or light peanut butter and ½ a banana, a cup of coffee and water. Although the bagel will not last as long in my system as oatmeal will, I will likely have a power gel half way through the race if I feel my energy stores depleting.