Tuesday, January 04, 2011

PLPP 100km Challenge - EPIC!

When I read on skihere.ca that 5 guys skied "all" the trails in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (PLPP) in Kananaskis Jan 2, 2010... I so much wished I was there. I caught wind of the 2nd annual outing for Jan 2, 2011, and I was adamant to join them.
skiers from the 1st PLPP challenge - photo skihere.ca

12 skiers started out at 7 a.m. from Pocaterra trailhead in the dark, donning headlamps. It was -18C which was surprising as it was -4C when I drove in from Calgary that morning. I had to put a couple layers of colder wax on top of my predicted warmer wax. My super bright Lupine light with a new battery decided it was too cold and quickly faltered. It was pretty exciting to ski behind skiers with headlamps and tread lightly in the dark. The tracks were fast and we clipped along. Within an hour, daylight came.

We basically planned to ski the 42-km Cookie race course twice with additional mileage at the end. With Packers trail not in good shape, we threw in Blueberry Hill instead and backtracked from the base of Packers. The last 13-km of tracks that had been fast were now sloppy. I found the rolly hills with uneven tracks super tiring.
Loop 1 was 51-km 3:57 hr.

Taking a food break at Pocaterra hut was welcome. Getting chilled was not. I immediately threw on a whole new set of dry shirts and jacket, and switched gloves. I didn't expect to have to switch up clothing and was lucky to have brought a selection for different temperatures. Even while eating and rewaxing my skis, my body warmth was just ok while wearing my down jacket. After just over an hour break, we were off for Loop 2.

Wow, my body was noticeably tired. Within a few km, the muscles got back into active mode. Despite the -14C temperature, it felt warm in the sun. Realistically, we were barely in the sun as we were sheltered in the trees. The tracks were not fast like in the morning. Many daytime skiers had already trampled by. We re-grouped a couple times. It was easy to get chilled waiting, so the onus was to continue on at each own's pace. From the top of WhiskeyJack, I skied solo the rest of the way only seeing the guys on the out & back trail of Blueberry Hill.

2nd time up Blueberry, was now at a slower pace. The descent was still super fast and fun. My decision was to go up Whiskeyjack a 3rd time instead of backtracking the sloppy trails. Just into the climb, a couple fingers were very frozen in a scary way. Dark was approaching. I was just barely dressed appropriately without any spare clothing. I still had 13-km to the finish.

I had to stop. Tossed my damp cold gloves into the crotch of my tights. Threw both hands against body warmth inside as well. I huddled and just counted, and deep-breathed. Not the best feeling to be out in the cold alone at that moment. Within a couple minutes, I was happy my fingers unthawed. My gloves even had warmth to them. Suited up, off I went. Surprising, the rest of the 4-km climb went by in no time. It was ultra welcome to have the descent down Pocaterra trail to the finish though I really had to focus on the last double-pole section.

101-km, ~8:10hr, 6700' elevation gain --> pretty awesome!!

I ran to the car and threw on whatever dry clothes I had left. I was hooped for abit with my body shuddering from the close call of hypothermia. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was returning. I eventually found out the hut was still open. It was good to sit by the fire and chat about our epic ski before heading home.

Thanks to Tony Smith for being main instigator. It was an awesome group of skiers to meet & ski with. Good representation from Canmore, Calgary, Edmonton & Golden! I look forward to the 3rd Annual!

Check out Blaine Penny's awesome video from the 1st PLPP 100km challenge


JAC said...

great too see your still out there Marg!

Marg Fedyna said...

someday, I'll venture your way for an epic ski!