Run The Rockies
Trail Runner|July/August 2019

During the summer of 2018, a keen group ticked off what they deem some of the most classic trail runs in the Canadian Rockies.

Greg Hill

Running is so simple; all we leave behind are footprints. The ego in me hopes that a set of my feet imprinted in mud will remain, the effects of my passage evident forever. Ironically, it is my carbon footprint that will echo far longer than my foot stepping in the mud. It’s not the running that is carbon intensive but the way we approach trailheads and our lifestyle choices.

This is a crazy conundrum since adventurers are the ones who appreciate and love nature the most. Last year, after completing an online carbon calculator, it became obvious that I needed to dramatically alter my lifestyle. My first, easiest step was to decrease my meat intake, so I became a weekday vegetarian, which is a great balance, some meat, just not always. As a professional athlete, the number of flights I went on each year was out of control. So I stopped all flights for personal adventures. I also sold my F-350 and purchased an electric car.

Having procured this conscience-clearing transportation, I and my friend Bruno Long, 39, of Revelstoke, British Columbia, figured it was time to embark on a project we had been scheming: to run several of the most classic, in our estimation, trail runs in the Canadian Rockies. Initially, we thought we would try to run them all back to back, but we knew in our hearts that we were not that skilled at running. We decided to run them over the summer of 2018.

Bruno is a super-talented photographer from the ski and mountain-bike worlds, with many magazine covers to his credit. Now 42, I am a professional skier, who has climbed and skied mountains passionately for years. We are not core runners by any means. Yet over the past four years, each of us has spent countless hours running our local trails around Revelstoke. My first few years running were all about rehabbing a broken leg and trying to keep the fat from building around my aging body. As the trail hours grew, so did my running dreams. We became obsessed with finding the ultimate runs in western Canada.

The deeper we looked through, the more worried I became. A few of the real gems were longer than either of us had ever run— not by a little bit but by almost double.

Topping the list was the Rockwall in Yoho National Park—36 miles (58 kilometers) and almost 9,000 feet of climbing. Since we didn’t want the longest and hardest of our runs looming over us, we decided to crush it out first, along with a crew of our mountain athlete friends.

The Rockwall Trail

Kootenay National Park

LENGTH: 36 miles

VERTICAL GAIN: 9,000 feet

DIFFICULTY: Difficult

SUMMARY: This trail runs over three passes and cruises under its namesake, a massive limestone cliff. It can be run in either direction between Paint Pots and Flow Lake trailheads.

INFO: www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/kootenay/activ/arrierepays-backcountry .

WARNING: All these runs are in the remote wilderness. Runners must be prepared for changing the weather, self-navigation, self-rescue, bear encounters, and all other mountain hazards. There is no cell service on 95 percent of these runs. Bring first-aid kits, sunscreen, bear spray, rain gear, and warm layers and, most importantly, a GPS communication device.

On July 12th, I picked up the crew in my Chevrolet Bolt and headed toward the trailhead near Radium, British Columbia. When I picked up Bruno, I could sense his nervousness.

“I just can’t help overthinking it,” he said, “and am wondering if starting with our longest run is the right decision.”

“We can do this, Bruno, just slow and steady, and we shouldn’t have a problem,” I said, trying to calm him down.

Next, we picked up the rest of the gang. Justin Nicholas, 29, a local runner who had just returned from the mountain-running world championships and was training for the Fat Dog, a tough 200-kilometer race in the Cascade Mountains of British Columbia. Matt Smider, 29, a respected Nordic skiing coach for our Revelstoke club, and Rory Luxmoore, 52, an ultrarunner who was also training for the Fat Dog.

In the cold early morning of July 13, at the Paint Pots trailhead, we donned our vests and walked the first half mile to warm up. We ran singletrack through a dark evergreen forest, crossing suspension bridges over small creeks. After an hour and a half, we stopped to enjoy some ginger-and-maple-syrup energy goo from Rory.

After 9.3 miles, we hit the end of the valley, where a giant cirque of looming rock cliffs hemmed us in, with mountaintops floating above them.

A massive waterfall, Helmet Falls, split the cliffs, its white water crashing a thousand feet to the valley floor.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM TRAIL RUNNERView All

You Cannot Erase us

Over the years and through thousands of miles of running, I have thought about the words that marked the beginning of colonialism on the land and the end of Indigenous sovereignty.

2 mins read
Trail Runner
Fall 2021

Inside The Adaptable Mind

How Courtney Dauwalter uses adaptability to stay cool, calm and collected when the going gets tough.

4 mins read
Trail Runner
Fall 2021

Take it Easy

How to stay at aerobic pace when you live in the hills

4 mins read
Trail Runner
Fall 2021

Here Comes the Sun

Where pessimism meets its match

3 mins read
Trail Runner
Fall 2021

Connecting the Dots

How Laura Cortez uses her passion for trails to build community.

4 mins read
Trail Runner
Fall 2021

Carbohydrate Confusion

When it comes to food and nutrition, we tend to overcomplicate things. Eat this, not that. Run fasted, restrict sugar. Unfortunately, much of the controversy stems from observations and sensationalized media headlines vs. actual data, leaving the consumer more confused from their Google search than they were before.

2 mins read
Trail Runner
Fall 2021

This Wild Life

ONE MAN’S 92-MILE RUN OF GRIEF AND SELF-DISCOVERY.

5 mins read
Trail Runner
Fall 2021

Our Town

Trail running is all about the community it fosters and the beauty and diversity within the community. Here’s a look at seven places, and the faces that call them home.

10+ mins read
Trail Runner
Fall 2021

Fueling for Females

Here’s how female runners can use recent research findings for performance breakthroughs

4 mins read
Trail Runner
Summer 2021

Lose Weight with a Shake

Being a health and nutrition correspondent means that companies frequently send me their products, and ask for my stamp of approval.

3 mins read
Trail Runner
Summer 2021
RELATED STORIES

Really Fun Runs

Treadmill classes can net you the calorie burn of running with the fun of a group class.

5 mins read
Pilates Style
January - February 2020

Cumpliendo retos

Seis personas con historias y capacidades diferentes, así como distintas formas de ver el mundo, se unieron para ponerse a prueba y enfrentar sus miedos de la mano de Philadelphia. Entre ellas están Fernanda de la Mora y Mónica Gómez, dos mujeres fuertes y dedicadas al deporte que gracias a su esfuerzo se han convertido en verdaderas inspiraciones para todos sus seguidores. Platicamos con ellas para descubrir cuáles han sido los obstáculos más grandes que han enfrentado, y cómo correr les ha cambiado la vida. La lección más importante: el éxito en el mundo de las carreras (y fuera de él) no es sólo cuestión de ir más rápido, sino de disfrutar el proceso.

8 mins read
Women's Health en Español
Diciembre 2019

Athleisure List: Flatiron NYC Studio + Equinox Gyms - Precision Run

When the weather is warm or even when there's just a hint of a chill in the area, it's obvious to think about running outside.

2 mins read
Athleisure Mag
October 2019

Freshmen Shine At Festival Of Champions

BELFAST—Almost 1,600 male and female high school runners from across the state competed at the 2019 Festival of Champions on Saturday, October 5, with a handful of George Stevens Academy runners taking top-10 finishes in their respective races.

1 min read
The Weekly Packet
10/10/2019

Listo para competir

Descansar los días previos a una carrera es importante, pero también conviene mantener la mente y el cuerpo a punto. Te revelamos los secretos del denominado “tapering”.

4 mins read
Runner's World México
Septiembre 2019

Stop Working Out To Lose Weight

While maintaining a healthy weight is one of the biggest draws to exercise, it shouldn’t be the only one. Here are just 8 of the benefits of a regular sweat session that have nothing to do with your waistline and everything to do with your health.

5 mins read
Clean Eating
September - October 2019

Running For Relief

Melissa Kahn remembers looking in the mirror six years ago and not recognizing the woman gazing back at her.

2 mins read
Arthritis Today
September/October 2019

Baltimore está increíblemente segregado. Incluso se puede ver desde Strava

Estos corredores quieren cambiar eso

10+ mins read
Runner's World México
Agosto 2019

Colorado Rockies - The Run Of Your Life

It’s not fast, and it may be foolhardy, but this might just be the most fantastic way to experience the Colorado Rockies.

9 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
July 15, 2019

De asfalto a trail

Si no eres un corredor asiduo, probablemente te pareza lo mismo correr sobre una superficie u otra. Correr es correr, ¿cierto? no importa si es en la calle, en una caminadora o en el bosque. Aquellos que se dedican de lleno al running te dirán que no es tan sencillo como eso.

4 mins read
Men's Health en Español
Junio 2019