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Workout of the Week: Working vacation: Staying fit while driving across the country
By: Edward McCarthy (2007/09/11)
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Workout Type: Recovery
Exertion Level: Easy
Skier Level: Any
Technique: Running
Season: Off-season
Terrain: Varied

Suggested Trails: Wherever you stop

Equipment: Running shoes, a car, and a LOT of gas

Description:

Gavin and I just drove across the country together, in company with Gavin's brother Alan and Danny, our co-worker from MEC. While this didn't give me much chance to experiment with new types of workouts, it certainly brought us by a LOT of different terrain.

Figuring that we'd be spending a lot of time driving and not much training, we planned our drive around a couple of stops that we both wanted to see and run. (Our non-skier friends make fun of this). The stops were Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, near Thunder Bay, and Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, on the border of Saskatchewan and Alberta (thats right - Cypress HILLS, Saskatchewan). We got in a trail run at each, and each turned out to be even cooler than projected.


Comments:

Sleeping Giant, a point jutting out into Superior, is a favourite of Thunder Bay denizens, and one of the landmarks they like to use to justify the continued existence of human habitation in Northern Ontario. The focal point of their stories is a place called the Chimney, a cleft in the rock cliffs that drops right down to Superior. Having heard so much about it, we just had to see this place. Unfortunately the trail that used to go up the Chimney is closed due to falling rock, but an alternate trail called the Top of the Giant was developed which comes up the back.



To be honest, the trails at the start of the run were not terribly inspiring. Happily, I'm three time zones away from all the people clamouring to lynch me after that comment. They're pretty broad and flat, with little bits of talus all over. It was made up for as soon as we did in fact climb the Top of the Giant, though. The trail went along the top, opening up amazing vistas of the lake. We thought it was pretty neat, and were happy with our run - and then we got to the Chimney. Wow. Outside of pictures, there's not much to say, except that it's definitely worth the trip to Thunder Bay - especially if you stop for pancakes at the Hoito.



Cypress Hills came recommended by Karl and Megan from a stop there on their trip out to Canmore. We made it what ended up as our only camping stop of the trip, getting in far after dark, too late to see the scenery. The run we decided to do was called the Hidden Conglomerates trail. The Hidden Conglomerates - as distinct from the Conglomerates, which are apparently similar - are a set of cliffs which look out on the prairies. According to the guy at the Saskatchewan visitor information stop, you can see all the way to Moose Jaw (about 300km) from them.



Regardless, the Hidden Conglomerates were apparently pretty well hidden, as we never found them. The run still more than lived up to its billing, though, with steep climbs followed by a run across flat, scrubby hilltops, and views of the rest of the hills. I highly recommend Cypress Hills as a destination, with two caveats; it's very difficult to find information before you get there, and watch out for the free-range cattle.

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