Before I was a runner, I was a hiker.
I’m in my element when I am surrounded by wide open spaces and nothing but the sound of silence.
Call me a treehugger and I will gladly take the moniker.
In the trail running world, “time on feet” is the key to training success. It doesn’t matter if you only cover 10 km in three hours, the time spent running or hiking adds to your endurance foundation. Hiking especially on those big climbs, helps build endurance and strength in my legs, and my core strength.
I love summers in Alberta, especially in Red Deer, because I am well-positioned to conquer mountains in the David Thompson area and Kananaskis Country. So many mountains, so little time.
And this past Sunday, I challenged one of the most demanding and impressive day hikes in Kananaskis Country – Mt. Allan and Centennial Ridge (2,819 m/9,249 ft.).
Diane Hayduk from Lacombe joined in the fun for some elevation before she tackles the Death Race next weekend.
We started the hike at the Ribbon Creek parking lot and took the Hidden Trail to the Centennial Trail trailhead.
Almost immediately, we were climbing and I don’t think it really ended until we reached the summit.
We hiked through Aspen lined-trails before reaching beautiful slopes that boasted never-ending switchbacks. I found this section to be the most challenging, but it is was constant climb to the grassy Mt. Allan summit. We continued on and passed these cool solar-powered weather monitors. It was so windy here that I could barely hold onto my hat.
We were both grinning ear-to-ear as the views became even more glorious with every step.
Just before we entered the famed rock garden, we encountered a furry creature – a marmot! (I’ve never seen a marmot.)
After introducing ourselves, we continued.
The rock garden – a cluster of conglomerate rocks including pinnacles on the edge – was simply breathtaking. We took some photos, but we were nearly blown over by the sheer force of the wind.
From the rock garden, we began our final ascent to the Olympic Summit. We had to do some rock climbing but it was well worth the scrapped knees and bee stings.
The final 700-metre ascent was the most gruelling.
But we made it.
Boy was the hard efforts worth the views.
Here’s some Centennial Ridge history: The Rocky Mountain Ramblers Hiking Club marked “Canada’s centennial by building a trail that traversed Mount Allan climbing from the Kananaskis Valley along the long southeast ridge, crossing the summit, and descending the equally long north ridge to the Bow Valley near Deadman’s Flat.” (Source: Peakfinder.com)
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