Two weeks ago, the weather in Canmore was full-on summer with no end in sight. The temperatures in Canmore were as hot as ever, and not a raindrop had fallen in months. Quite the contrast to what the weather had been in New Zealand at the previous training camp. The team only had a short time in Canmore between New Zealand and our next training camp in Mammoth Lakes, California. As the team piled into the van on our departure from Canmore headed to the airport for that training camp, there was a sprinkling of rain. Over the next week, it went from the high 20s to snowing. Got to love mountain weather! Being away from Canmore you could say we missed it all; think again. The team woke to the final day of training in Mammoth Lakes with a couple of inches of fresh, very wet, snow on the ground.
I didn’t have a lot of time in Canmore between camps, though it was nice to get in a few days of summer before it was over. The downside was that the smoke still hung in the valley from a forest fire just West of Banff. Most mornings I thought it was fine and didn’t have any issues training in it. I know others were having much greater issues with the smoke. So to arrive in Mammoth Lakes and take a deep breath of fresh, clean air was a great feeling. Mammoth Lakes being at an altitude of 2470m there wasn’t much oxygen in that breath!
The next few days, reminded me how wonderful it is to be back in this part of California. I believe it has some of the best training possible, whether you want to be roller skiing or running. Then we headed down to the town of Bishop for the next few days. Bishop is home to some remarkable things. First, Erick Schat’s Bakery; we ate every lunch there. A European style bakery with the best sandwiches you can get. (There is a family connection as my grandmother was a Schat and related to the Erick Schat who moved to the US and opened this bakery.) Next, Bishop is renowned for its climbing; the Buttermilks, the Happy & the Sad Boulders just to name a few. I ran amongst the Buttermilks one afternoon and began exploring, trying to find a run/hike/climb route over the summit. That didn’t work out! It was an awesome time climbing, jumping, running and crawling over (and under) the boulders but in the end, I kept coming to the edge of a cliff with no way down. Thanks to the guys for trying to find a ‘one hand’ solution for climbing out of there. But no luck. Running out of daylight, had to return the way I had come in and head home. Thirdly, in my opinion, Bishop has one of the greatest roller skiing roads ever! A quiet, gently rolling countryside road that is truly a pleasure to ski. As a cherry on top, there is this one section (though short) that is a different pavement; I don’t know how to describe it, it is that good.
On the penultimate day of this year’s Mammoth camp, four of us headed up to the ridges that surround the town. Starting at Lake George, we charged up the Mammoth Crest Trail. A trail that offers a double summit before ending at Deer Lakes. It was incredibly windy once we were above the tree line. As a cold front was moving in and the potential for snow that evening; the wind had a frosty bite to it. We made it to Deer Lakes, where the adventuring begins. According to the maps, we had, the Mammoth Crest Trail ends at the Deer Lakes. There is a popular route that continues up over a pass and into the next valley, leading down to Duck Lake. Though it was only a short distance, getting to Duck Lake was an adventure! At times I was picking the route by finding dirt on the rocks. As strange as it sounds, to me if there was dirt on the rocks (in this particular area) the only way it could get there was from falling off someone’s shoes. Therefore, someone had hiked that particular path. Knowing it was a popular trail I assumed there would be signage, nope, sure glad I had my phone. Some of the trails were difficult to find. In the end, I was running so that the blue dot was ‘moving’ in the direction I wanted to go. In combination with sticking to the high ground for a better vantage point, we finally found the major trail intersection at the North end of Duck Lake. Once we were on the return trail, it was fairly straightforward (except for one sight deviation, then a quick back-tracking). It was a beautiful trail back down the valley. Slithering along several lakes on our way to Lake Mary.
After some memorable adventures in the thin air, it was time to fly North, back to Canmore. With the change in the weather, Canmore is showing off its majestic side. Snow-capped peaks, valleys of golden yellow Aspens and cool, crisp mountain air. Autumn is a magical time in the Rockies that is why I love this season. Most don’t want to hear it, but the other reason why I like Autumn is that the mornings hold a chilling promise that soon winter will be upon us.