Saturday, January 23, 2010

A glimpse of spring, Jocelyn Peak at Gowland Tod Park

Winter relaxed it's frosty grip today and teased the island with a slight glimpse into the impending spring. The weather was brilliant and temps were in the 50's the sun was blazing and if I didn't know it was January I would swear that it was some time in March or April. Hundreds of bikers and jogger's (fair weather wimps) were out in droves. I seized the opportunity to try a new trail out that I have been wanting to run for some time. This is a trail that begins near McKenzie Bight on the Saanich Peninsula and quickly climbs into the Gowland Tod Range that make up the eastern shore of the Finlayson Arm. I discovered this area last Summer with Vye and the kids and knew it would be perfect to run because of the challenging terrain and steep single track trails stretching along the hilltops and overlooking the inlet. It is surprising that I had not ran it yet up to this point. I finally decided to try it today. I chose a destination that would make about a 15 km out and back and would summit a high point know as Jocelyn Peak.

I started out flying down a steep ravine on a wide but muddy trail that hit the ocean at the Bight, I crossed a bridge and quickly climbed up a series of steep stairs, rocks and single track. The trail really didn't level out for almost 35 minutes of running and I found myself pushing with everything I had to run and power hike my way from sea level to over 1450 feet with cumulative elevation near 2000 feet. The trail was well drained and rocky and so mud was not an issue. It was surprisingly lonely on the trail. Once I made the ridge of the Timberman Trail it was smooth sailing to the last climb up Jocelyn peak. I had only passed one small trio hiking back to the Bight along this entire stretch. I felt so secluded I even purposely made noise to ward off any bears that might be out and about. Perhaps it was the jitters that come with running by yourself in the bush with nothing but the clothes on your back and your runners. I am always a little more cautious about animals in the early spring and thought any bear would love the warm weather as much as I was so I wasn't taking chances. The overlook above the Finlayson arm at both Jocelyn Peak and several other lookouts along the way were breathtaking. I wish I had a light camera to run with because today was unreal as far as crisp air and vivid colors are concerned. Once I summited I took 10-15 minutes and enjoyed the seclusion and view.

I don't know when I became such a hermit. Anyone who knew me in my late teens and early twenties knows I was anything but an introvert, but in the last 5 years I find I tend to prefer solitary and almost lonely circumstances to social environments, I don't even necessarily prefer to have company while running. I even feel a bit awkward like I don't quite fit in, in any situation that involves more than two people. My passions and intensity in which I pursue them tends to be way out there and that may be why I often find myself alone. I have often thought that perhaps as you make your way further along the educational progression line you begin to find it harder to make the same meaningful connections that were so easy earlier on in life. Perhaps it is just me, and my ideas on education have little to do with it. I know my dad was quite solitary keeping to himself and I often found him lying in the dark listening to music or in his chair reading, and he always hiked by himself. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Perhaps because I have his genes and observed him when younger, his introverted behavior has taken root in myself. This may be why I find endurance trail running so appealing. It gives me an opportunity to be alone with my often fragmented thoughts and to focus and clarify them while having meaningful and even epic experiences in amazing places. I enjoy the sound of my feet on earth and rock and I have done some of my best research and writing while flying over miles of trails on Vancouver island. All of the extra oxygen associated with respiration and release of various chemicals in the body may help to nurture the thought process as well. Just some thoughts about my case of "Hermititis" I had while on the lonely trails today.

One thing I didn't plan on is dehydration. I quickly became parched in the drier and warmer weather than I was used to. After I had been running for over an hour my thirst level went through the roof. I could tell that I had lost some electrolytes as I began to have some small aches and pains that I usually link with dehydration. The entire run back to the car I was really wishing I had carried 32 ounces of water. The return run was all down hill and so it went fast enough that I ended up being fine, but if I was hydrated and had some fuel I would have ran much quicker on the way back. I will keep this in mind for my future runs in the park.

It was a delightful run and I will definitely incorporate this new trail into my training regime. This type of trail and terrain is perfect for improving my endurance and building my legs and lungs for the future endurance goals I have. This trail is also part of an unofficial race know as the Full Monte and "Half Monte" (50Km and 25 Km respectively). I think I will give one of them a try this year.

Below is a video I made of the same run but a little after I wrote this article enjoy!


Tim said...

You know what is funny about your hermatitis (spelling???) Is I feel somewhat the same way as well. I do have times where I would like to call someone to go do something. However, on most occassions I just prefer to chill and spend time with just the fam, or by myself. That looked like an absolutely BEAUTIFUL run and I could see how doing the trail running especially in areas like that would make it very enjoyable.

Sibylle said...

Very nice write-up of your run. I hope to make Club Fat Ass's Monty this year, too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve. I'd really like to use your amazing picture of Gowlland Tod in our campaign. We're trying to connect GT to Thetis via Mary Lake.

Would you be willing to share the high res pic with us? If so, pls forward to my attention at

Many thanks,

Greg Nuk

Mary Lake Conservancy