Someone built a snowman at the Hoodoo Lookout near Fairmont Hot Springs. Photo by Crystal Rhyno/Advocate staff
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Someone built a snowman at the Hoodoo Lookout near Fairmont Hot Springs. Photo by Crystal Rhyno/Advocate staff

Running with Rhyno: Getting lost on holiday

Eat. Sleep. Run. Repeat.

For two glorious weeks in November, I relished in a simple routine.

I packed up my Versa and headed across the border to British Columbia. I informally called it my “mini running camp” because I planned to run everyday while exploring new places on foot.

It was perfect driving weather on Highway 93 where I was witness to the glorious snow-covered mountains. Most people I know would take a winter getaway to some place warm like Mexico but I am not like most people.

My first stop was the Village of Radium in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia. I scored a great deal on a condo for a few nights. I am one of the few people in Alberta who has never been to Radium. I was completely enamoured by the Bighorn sheep, who were stopping traffic or hanging out on every corner. Wild turkeys also crossed my path a few times.

Winding along the Columbia River, the historic Old Coach Trail (16 km return) was one of my highlights on this part of my trip. This out-and-back trail offered spectacular views of the wetlands and the valley. The winding downhills kept my pace honest and a smile on my face. Who doesn’t love free speed? I had the trail to myself. It was magical, peaceful and rejuvenating.

After a couple of days of running round Radium, I drove 45 minutes south to a little red cabin on Columbia Lake, north of Canal Flats and south of Fairmont Hot Springs. It was snowing heavily on that 45 minute drive so I didn’t scout out places to run. I was more concerned with not ending up in the ditch.

Hands down the most memorable/hard fought run was the one that almost didn’t happen.

The plan was to check out the Hoodoo Lookout, which is an easy 3 km hike. I would warm up on the hike before I ran later in the day. Early that morning I drove to the lookout’s parking area. The sign was slightly confusing – I didn’t know if the trail started here or whether it was further up the road. I scanned the area for a possible trail.

Seeing none, I decided to keep driving. Big mistake. Less than one kilometre later, the Versa refused to budge. She would not/could not climb the steep, narrow winding road. She kept sliding.

Trying not to panic, I took a deep breath and took stock of the situation.

I had three options: 1. I could continue to spin my wheels, close my eyes and hope for the best. 2. I could attempt to turn around and cross my fingers that a truck doesn’t come speeding down the road or 3. I could reverse the Versa down the road until I got to a wide enough section for me to turn around.

Wasting no time in making up my mind, I leaped into action. My heart was racing as I reversed the Versa for about about half a kilometre. Thankfully it was early morning, and I did not meet any traffic.

I parked the Versa and did what I should have done in the first place – run up the damn road!

Unfortunately that’s not where my story ends. Judging by my interpretation of the sign, the lookout was only 6.1 km away (12.2 km return). I ran 8 km up road with no sign of the hoodoos. I took a picture of the sign on my iPhone, and I checked in with it a few times.

What was I missing? Finally, I checked my GPS. I was running AWAY from the lookout.

So where were those darn hoodoos?

Nowhere in sight. I finally found the lookout after driving back to the main road to get directions from a friendly shopkeeper.

Turns out I wasn’t even close to the hoodoos. I had driven about 6 km past the correct parking lot.

I just had to laugh at my dumb luck. Leave it to me, to screw up something as simple as finding a popular tourist destination. At least my legs got in a good workout with the climb and descent.

I looked on the bright side. I was on holiday. I was in a beautiful part of Canada.

Nothing would mess with my vibe.

***

Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter. Send your column ideas, photos and stories to crhyno@reddeeradvocate.com

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