After a very successful training camp in Arizona in late June, the team returned to Flagstaff in mid-September for round two. This time however the team was a bit bigger, with the addition of two development skiers and a few extra staff. The training camp provided a unique opportunity for the development skiers to immerse themselves within the atmosphere of the training camp. The focus of the camp was volume training at altitude and roller skiing technique. Most of the training was done on roller skis, skiing on the roads near Flagstaff, Arizona. The favorite roller skiing area was along the start of Lake Mary Road and branching out to the communities on ever side of this road. Running was the alternative to roller skiing during the camp. We have about an hour long loop on Lake Mary Rd, out and back. And you could spend close to an hour in each neighbourhood. In no time, a 4hr roller ski was over. What amazes me is how friendly most of the drivers on the road or residents of the communities are. As cars and trucks drove by, the drivers are always honking followed by a thumbs up or waving, smiling or nodding. People are cheering us on whether it’s pouring rain or bright sunshine. For the most part the vehicles on the road give us lots of space as they go by. For running, the trails around Flagstaff are incredible. As well there are a lot of trails out there to explore.
Overall the camp was great, but had you asked after day two or even day three; I might have said it was only good. The first workout in Flagstaff was dampened by some rain. A lot of rain! Within a few minutes of starting there was not a dry piece of clothing left on me. The fortunate part was that it wasn’t cold; the rain was fairly warm and no breeze. Everything combined it was not great but not unpleasant either. The down side of it all was that the boots did take a few days to dry out. On day one there was a brief period where the rain stopped and it seemed to be lightening up but alas it began to pour moments later. Day two was a split between raining and just overcast. Day three improved slightly again with a dry workout until the final 30 minutes. A bit of a rough start to the camp but the forecast looked good from then on. And so it turned out to be. I can’t really complain either, on day four after a morning workout, the team heading south to Phoenix and enjoyed the sunshine and temperatures hovering around 40◦c. The rest of the camp was mostly blue skies and warm temperatures.
On the final long distance day Erik, Graham and I went for a run/hike. The way we took was a 30+km route with an elevation gain of over 1400m. We started at the bottom of the Schultz Pass Rd, ran along the Schultz Creek trail up to the Schultz Tank. This took us just under an hour. Then we jumped onto the Weatherford Trail and went along the 17km trail until we got to the Agassiz Saddle, where the Weatherford intersects with the Humphreys Peak trail. From there we bombed down the final section back to the Humphreys Peak trail head at the Arizona Snow Bowl. The Weatherford Trail tops out at a respectable 3’667m (just breaking the 12’000ft barrier). It is a spectacular trail making its way through some astonishing terrain. As you near the top you look down into what I think is called the Inner Basin and its breathtaking how beautiful it is. The Weatherford Trail was originally built by a Mr. Weatherford, who drove up the trail, then a road, in his Ford Model T, taking tourists up so that they could easily access the San Francisco Peaks. It was a long day but the changes in the landscape made for an unbelievable day in the mountains.
Without much warning the camp was done and I was headed north. Leaving the mid to high twenties temperatures in Flagstaff for the early teens of Canmore (and near freezing lows at night). The mountain peaks had received the first fresh dusting of snow a few days before I returned. Winter is coming and with it the cool mornings and beautiful days of Fall. I have a three week stint in Canmore before the Flagstaff Trilogy comes to a conclusion and the snow really starts to accumulate.


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