In the weeks after Comfortably Numb, I kept running in the ole trusty backyard trails – and I was feeling good. I went on a few 3+ hour runs that just felt fun and mellow – the kind where you get home feeling fantastic and thinking, “Gosh – I could have kept going forever!”
Then I went on vacation for a couple of weeks. I didn’t run any trails, but I did squeeze a handful of beach runs and hot, muggy, humid paved bike trail runs. The former were more for pleasure, while the latter were about testing my speed (while surviving the heat). Notably absent: elevation of any sort.
After catching up on some post-travel sleep, I ventured out on my first trail run. It went… okay. I did a usual loop for me (Covenant –> Jack’s –> 50 Shades –> Credit Line –> Home) and I felt alright, but pretty sluggish towards the end. I definitely did not have that “I could have kept going forever!” sentiment.
I took the next day as a gym day, then the following day, things got real: I decided to try the Legacy trail out by Quest. I’ve done the first little bit of this up trail a couple of times (it’s called Stl’lhalem Sintl’ lower down), but I’d heard they expanded it and that it now totaled 12 k of steady but runnable uphill. Bring it on.
I hit the trail mid-week at 7:30 AM, with the goal of avoiding too many mountain bike encounters. It was a successful mission: aside from the parking lot, I didn’t encounter ANY humans on my run (somewhat unheard of, as these are popular trails).
The first part of the trail was as I remembered – nice, not-too-technical trails that slowly wind upward with just enough flat bits to keep the momentum going. The trail takes you through treed areas as well as into meadowy zones, with a few pretty look outs along the way.
The smoke from forest fires elsewhere in the province had started blowing in, so even though it was a sunny day, the views were somewhat murky. The wildflowers were in full bloom, so it was all very pretty.
I’d been running slow but steady for the majority of the trail when I finally hit a poster board announcing the new addition on the trail. It read, “The following five kilometers…” – hold the phone, I’m only just over halfway up?
Though another 5k of non-stop up sounded a little intimidating – particularly after taking a bit of time off from hilly stuff – I hadn’t come here to turn around halfway. I sucked it up and carried on, though I’ll admit I walked some of the steeper sections (which, in actuality, aren’t all that steep – but these legs were tired).
I tried to run as much as I could, reminding myself that the more I ran, the faster I’d knock off the distance. Occasionally, I’d bump into signs announcing the elevation and comparing it to local landmarks. It was most satisfying to learn I’d reached the elevation of the second peak of the Chief and the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola.
When I finally got to the top – about 700 m of elevation later – it was a little anticlimactic. My options were left or right: left would be shorter but steeper and more technical (read: slower), while right would be longer but easier (featuring another brand spankin’ new trail that was recently developed). I went left and tip toed my way down loose rubbly stuff on a trail called Upper Power Smart.
Things got a little more mellow and fun on Skookum, which eventually brought me to Fred (also enjoyable) and Tinder (new favourite – no wonder everyone likes this one so much!). Tinder had a few uphill bits, which made me eager to wrap up the entire run. I finished off with Flat Alley and Pseudo-Tsuga.
I was happy to see my car. My legs were tired, and apparently so was my brain. I placed my cell phone on the roof of my car, stretched a bit, then drove off – phone still on car. Some good Samaritans saw it slide off and followed my car for a good five minutes until I figured out that those small honks they were doing were directed at ME. D’oh.
In short: Legacy/Stl’lhalem Sintl’ is a lovely, fun trail and a good way to gain confidence on climbs. I hope to squeeze it in a few more times before the Squamish 50 23k – which is only ONE MONTH away.
PS: The Squamish Chief just published an article about the trail. I’m going to try to the blue trail down on my next visit.