Whyte Lake – trail running or mountaineering?

Maddy and Liam often go for a midweek trail run and I try to squeeze a few in for cross training and the company. In Vancouver we are also spoilt with the mountains of North Vancouver so close and its endless network of trails to explore.

While I don’t report on every run one trip in particular this summer is worthy of a mention, Whyte Trail up to Whyte Lake and on to the Baden Powell Trail.

From the parking lot Liam took us up the (downhill) mountain bike route. This was brutal as it’s meant to be cycled down not run up and on numerous occasions we were reduced to a walk. Not an ideal warm up but there were plenty of giggles, heavy breathing and parkour attempts up the steepest sections.

Running doesn’t have to be serious!!!

The trail finally levelled out allowing us to catch our breath before descending via some switch backs. I wasn’t convinced by Liam’s route planning as we could have just gone up a gradual trail to the same spot but it was definitely an adventure. From here we agreed to run at our own pace and try to regroup every 5 minutes or so.

Post the downhill switch backs, which are better than uphill switch backs, the trail continued on a gradual uphill towards the lake.

Trail running is very different to road running and I am not a natural. Normally I like to run on flat smooth paths, get in the zone and switch off. However, with trail running you have to constantly adjust the effort level to the terrain and carefully watch your step, lots of little nasties out there trying to trip you up. I enjoy it but as a variation not something I want to do all the time.

I reached the lake first so doubled back to join the others and we arrived at the lake together. It’s a beautiful little spot and would be a great little hike with a picnic. It was also really warm so the water was very inviting but we had more running to do so unfortunately had to pass.

The trail continued round the lake and turned in to the Baden Powell Trail as it started to climb, bringing us back to a walk. I still wanted to go quite a bit further so we agreed on how long we would each run before turning around.

The trail continued climb, get narrower and more tricky. The boulders and trees got more frequent and harder to evade to the point that I was effectively crawling. By this point I hadslowed to below walking pace but kept climbing as I wanted the time.

Eventually I was pretty lost in the trees on some rough steep terrain and decided I should turn back. I had been a little cheeky and gone a little longer than planned so the others might be waiting but figured I would make up time on the way down.

I had barely started the descent when I went down on a rolled ankle and instantly realised this could be trouble. No signal and 40 mins from home. It took a minute before I could put any weight on it but it slowly it recovered so I could proceed down. I set off again more cautiously but also aware I needed to push as I was behind schedule. Not an ideal combination on this terrain!

I ran as fast as I dared despite the fact I frequently tripped on rocks, branches and roots and most annoyingly kept stubbing my big toes. A bit battered, bruised and relieved I finally came off the Baden Powell Trail on to the Whyte Lake Trail and the easier terrain.

From here it was a clear and a gentle downhill gradient, staying clear of the mountain bike trail, so I could really pick up the pace. I arrived back at the car exactly the time I wanted, but to a slightly impatient Liam and Maddy.

They wasted no time in throwing me in the car and racing to the next stop; Eagle Harbour for beach beers and refreshing post run dip. Almost certainly the highlight of the run…

A lovely way to finish an evening trail running and a reminder of the joys of Vancouver, this is an after work activity! However, the questions remains was this trail running or mountaineering…..

Categories Hiking

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