Needle Peak & Flatiron

August 4, 2017 (2ish weeks to Squamish!!!)

“It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination.                                                                                                                                 – John Bingham

And what a journey it has been! This week especially has been about embracing the journey, loving the run, taking time, and just embracing every minute of the adventure!

When Jenny asked if I wanted a running adventure on the Coquihalla up Needle Peak and maybe more, one last good training run before taper time for Squamish 50… I was pretty thrilled to have one last great adventure before the biggest run of my life! Often our runs are either a few of the small or not so small local mountains like Elk, Thurston, Thom, Vedder, Sumas, mountains off the Chilliwack River Valley Road such as Lindeman, Flora, Mt Ford, etc… or else out towards Vancouver/Squamish, but I’d never explored any of the mountains in the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area – only about an hr drive from home.

Click the link below for a list of all the awesome South Fraser Trails…

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/chilliwack_lk/trail-report.pdf?v=1509010254612

Smoke still blankets much of our province with a thick dusty layer and this day was a particularly brownish-greyish day… but looking back, it was by far, one of the most amazing runs we did that summer, probably made more unique due to the smoke!

Our plan was to hit Needle Peak first and maybe Flatiron, and then just see where the mountains took us from there.

The initial climb up was STEEP! (They always seem to be steep and hard effort initially… but this one really was!) We gained a lot of elevation in only a couple km over a lot of steep rocky and rooted technical stuff, before hitting a bit of a granite ridge that carried us up to the fork in the trail for Needle Peak and Flatiron.

I love ridge running more than anything!!! Even if it’s not a steep drop off on the side of the ridge… there’s something really unique and exhilarating about running along the spine of a mountain! Ages ago (when I first discovered who Killian Journet is) I saw a video of him running a ridgeline somewhere in the world (a much steeper and more dangerous one than this) but it was so inspiring and I want to have the confidence and fearlessness to run with such ease a ridgeline like he did there. But for now… loving this one!

We decided to attempt Needle Peak first. It wasn’t so bad initially, but eventually we got into a bit of scrambly kinda climbing over giant boulders, and it wasn’t so obvious where the trail went anymore. We’d heard rumors that there were multiple ways to get to the top, some safer than others. With absolutely no desire to injure ourselves only weeks before Squamish, we decided that we didn’t feel safe at all on the route we’d taken, and as we didn’t see any alternative route to the top, we decided to call that rock we paused on our mountain top, and headed back down Needle Peak. The views from up there were phenomenal though!!!!

The trail up to Flatiron meandered through some beautiful alpine areas… we encountered a gorgeous stream that bubbled around some giant rocks and eventually trickled down a huge flat rock that had been smoothed by ancient glaciers.

A little further on we came to a beautiful alpine lake… kind of split in 2 by a little piece of land. The mountain vistas and glaciers in the background were incredible!

Scrambling up over a few more rocks and little ledges, we found ourselves on the flat top of Flatiron… It looked and felt like we were way up on mars or something. There was a weird little pahlic looking object standing on top of the mountain and a little hut, but otherwise it was flat smooth rock with a little scrub and grass but no trees…

The smoke blurred the edges of everything and we couldn’t see much in the distance so it kind of looked like the world dropped away in a haze of smoke…

We ran around on top of that mountain for a bit just exploring it… it was SO cool! Many of the mountains we usually run don’t have this much open exposed space and we spend much of the time in the treeline… and all the granite rocks and ridges on this trail… it was spectacular, even with all the smoke. I’m excited to run it again next year when it’s not smokey and to see the different views and change in perspective!

Oh also, Needle Peak in the background… what a backdrop for some epic running photos!!!

The run back down was pretty quick… over the spine of the mountain again… a little ridge running, before we dropped back into the treeline and down the steep rocky and rooted path back to the trailhead.

What a glorious day. Always LOVE getting out with my trail sisters and going for a good run and Jenny always inspires me and pushes me! She has been running for so many more years than I have and is so strong and inspiration – I know she often says shes not, but she really is! And having the opportunity to run with fast, strong, talented runners like Jenny is huge motivation for me and really boosts my training! So I appreciate it a lot!!!

Today was my last long-ish run before Squamish 50 and I’m mind blown when I think of all the incredibly gorgeous places I’ve run, the friends I’ve made along the way, and the things I’ve learned about myself and what I’m capable of! It’s been life changing!

So in 2 weeks, how fast and how far I run will matter… but today, I’m just loving the journey!

And now… commence tapering!

Back to you in 2 weeks with a race report on the Squamish 50 (or several months more realistically!)

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