Jasper Training Camp Extravanagza,
aka I LOVE JASPER!!!
Our fall Jasper camp was everything you could have dreamed for in a volume camp… and more. I have always loved Jasper National Park, and this camp gave me even more reasons to love it. From magnificent mountain roads to exploring the trails around town, Jasper has so much to offer that you would need much more than a week to experience it all.
The emphasis of our camp was rollerskiing, with a specific focus on one-skate and uphill techniques. Thankfully, as it was the shoulder season, there was not a lot of traffic on the roads. Most of the traffic we did encounter were very supportive, albeit curious, and we were made to feel like celebrities due to the amount of amateur video that was being shot out of passenger windows. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the popularity of rollerskiing increase worldwide, or at least a few more uploads of “guess what I saw these weird people doing on my holiday in Jasper” on YouTube.
Day One found us rollerskiing along the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Bow Summit (approximately 45km), as we made our way towards Jasper. That rollerski was, in a word, amazing! We had beautiful blue bird skies, wonderful mountain vistas, really warm temperatures, and amazing support along the way. The hardest thing for me was to watch where I was going, as the scenery is just gorgeous along that highway.
On Day Two, we rollerskied right from our door up to the Marmot Basin downhill resort.
As the rain turned to snow partway up the mountain, I wondered why I hadn’t brought my rock skis… A core strength session in the afternoon was enjoyed by all, including hotel guests and locals that wondered what in the world we were doing.
Day Three found us doing intensity on the road to Edith Cavell. This was a super fun road, full of switchbacks and beautiful new pavement. Luckily most of us were wearing fluorescent clothing, as the fog had really socked in on us.
The next day, the biathletes headed to Hinton for some easy combo. While driving up to the site, we had the feeling that we were driving up into a cloud. This feeling was confirmed when we were unable to see anything through the scope, and only knew that Luke was downrange because we could hear him stapling up the paper targets. That was an interesting shooting day, to say the least. It was great practice for those races that you end up shooting in extreme weather and reminds me why I always close my snow covers.
In the afternoon we rollerskied on Highway 93 heading south, and ran back to town starting at the Valley of the Five Lakes. If I haven’t already said it, Jasper is so beautiful! This trail made its way around and beside, you guessed it, five lakes and then went along beside the Athabasca River before crossing it and leading us back into the townsite.
On the fifth day, we did an epic rollerski from Jasper to Mailgne Lake (approximately 44km). Besides one sketchy downhill, the uphill rolling terrain was perfect. Along the ski, we were able to see the odd rocky mountain sheep, the mysterious disappearing Medicine Lake, and John blowing bubbles out his truck window as encouragement to make it those last few kilometres. It really did help, John. Thank you!
The next day was a bit of an easier “challenge-by-choice” day that found the biathletes heading to Hinton in the morning for some easy combo, with much better visibility this time. I went for a nice run on the trails back in Jasper in the afternoon, during which I was struck with the revelation that I really would love to live in Jasper someday!
On our seventh day, there was an option to run or mountain bike around the Saturday Night Lake Loop. As the Edmonton Oilers had evidently rented out all of the mountain bikes in town (they were also in Jasper for a training camp), and because I love running now (thanks to Maggie), I decided to run the trail. Highlights from our run included checking out the amazing terrain and really cool forests, seeing a huge bull and cow moose come out of the bushes and then run along the same trail we were on, and almost beating a group of the mountain bikers around the 30km loop. Highlights from the mountain biking crews included seeing Michael and Beau take flying leaps with their bicycles off bridges into the beautifully muddy puddles that were underneath them.
Our final day found us rollerskiing up Bow Summit (some of us repeatedly) from the other direction, as we headed south towards Lake Louise. We were rewarded with a nice hot lunch at Laggans and then it was time to head back home.
Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of our camp was dinner time. Every day, Marilyn and Les Poffenroth devoted themselves to cooking a wonderful multi-course meal for all of the athletes, coaches and parents. This was amazing, and I can’t thank Marilyn and Les enough for doing this. It was great to share a meal with the whole team every night, and it made training and recovering that much easier. Not to mention how delicious every meal was – from fresh scones to baked salmon to the build-your-own-Sundae bar, the food was as tasty as it was sustaining on those long workouts.
Our accommodation at the Best Western Jasper Inn and Suites couldn’t have been more perfect. Our family style lodgings had immediate access to town and the trails, a great pool and hottub, and to make things complete, a one-antlered elk in the parking lot.
I would like to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who made this camp possible: to John and Luke for putting in so much time and effort in coaching us, to Marilyn and Les for providing us with those amazing dinners, to Lori, Sherri, Hank and Jennifer to shuttling us and keeping us safe on the roads, and to Jo for lending us her family van.
And if you haven’t already picked up on this, I LOVE JASPER!!!