Running the Jasper Skyline Trail
September 5 2017 // Jasper National Park, Alberta
Allison has had day-tripping the Jasper Skyline Trail on her list of to-do’s for quite some time—she’s hiked it 3 times previous. Thanks to a conversation with Jen Elliott at a post-race runner brunch after the Edmonton Marathon, a spark was lit, and we are off to Jasper National Park.
The Skyline Trail in Jasper National park is 45km long with 1337m vertical climbing (Strava). Running it in a day is totally doable for any accomplished long distance runner. Me being a novice long distance runner, wanting to keep up to a seasoned veteran, while carrying a Canon 5D MKIV w/24mm f/1.4 lense attached (3.6lbs), might be ambitious.
It’s super ambitious, but I feel like I am up for it. Get it, up for it. Running over three passes. Up. At elevation. I’m terrible.
The logistics are pretty straight forward. Park your car in the Signal Mountain Fire Road parking lot, and take the shuttle to the south trailhead at Maligne Lake. Then run the 45kms to your car. Simple. We skipped the shuttle and had a friend dump us at Maligne so we could get started sooner than the shuttle would allow…you know…just in case this guy needs the extra sunlight.
Armed with water packs, snacks, a couple sandwiches, and a whole mess of Nuun tablets, we are off.
We stop for a quick snack 5k in just before the Evelyn Creek Campground. I decided to go with my Altra Impulses for footwear since I don’t actually own trail shoes. Turns out, with a bone dry trail, they were the perfect choice.
09:26:21 am on 02.09.2017
This is where things get interesting. All along this ridgeline the wind is pummeling. Rocks and sand pelting us the entire time. Hands on hats. I actually put my camera in my bag so I have both hands available in the event that a gust knocks me off my feet and I find myself flying off the ridge. Safety at least 2nd or 3rd.
01:20:12 pm on 02.09.2017
We aren’t the only ones on the trail today. Throughout the day we pass many groups hiking and one other person running the trail—we don’t get passed by anyone all day…we win! Our pace seems to coincidentally increase when a pack is spotted off in the distance. Allison isn’t competitive at all.
01:28:00 pm on 02.09.2017
I haven’t really talked about gear much, but I rocked my Lululemon Surge Run Backpack. I love this bag in the city, and can attest to it being perfect out here as well. A long sleeve, a shell, bear spray, medical kit, food, and a 1.5L bladder along with my camera all fit perfectly in this little bag. It’s ideal for this run. Not too big, but big enough, and capable of carrying a load while letting me run in comfort.
01:46:33 pm on 02.09.2017
We stopped amongst the larger rocks along the ridgeline for shelter from the wind and another food break. Then it’s time to head back down on some rather technical switchbacks. Shortly after taking this photo of Allison, I blitz the downhill with a shit eating grin I still have on my face. I may or may not have fallen in love with technical trail running. So. Much. Fun.
02:00:59 pm on 02.09.2017
Okay, so not only was I rocking the Surge Run Backpack, but also a Lululemon Metal Vent singlet, and Surge Shorts. Yeah, all my running gear is Lululemon. What of it? I wear a Ciele FSTCap and Run BK Achilles Socks…so at least I’m not Lululemon head to toe like some fanboy. When you shoot for Lululemon, you just get used to the gear, so you buy it. Sue me.
03:33:54 pm on 02.09.2017
The final run up to the Signal Fire Road is as lovely as the rest of the trail. At the top, the last of any climbing, we reach the road, and it is all downhill from there. I take no photos, and open my legs up a bit. I won’t lie though, the 9k downhill while seemingly would be nice, hurts the knees after a long 36k day.
03:41:56 pm on 02.09.2017
The Altra Impulses hold up so well. I have never ran more than 22k, I’ve never summited a mountain, and I’ve never been back country before. Needless to say, the Impulses did me well today checking all of those boxes off in style…but letting these rank feet breathe did feel good. I can’t lie.
05:23:15 pm on 02.09.2017
46k total as I got a few extra steps in running around to get photos…apparently a full kilometer extra. Our elapsed time was 8 hours and 16 minutes from the time we started at Maligne Lake, until we reached our car at the north trailhead. Not bad for a little rip through the backcountry. Peep my Strava here. Like I said, who’s in for this run next year? I’m bringing bigger glass though.