Nov 29, 2011

Camping in Wulong

stop along the way picture by chinese student!

This weekend I left the hubby at home in Yongchuan while I went away with a chinese outdoor group to explore the Wulong County for some hiking and camping adventures. Myself and two other Canadian teachers joined a group of 9 on the long journey east. We had to take a 2 hour bus, then a 2.5 hour train ride. We had to stop/make camp in Wulong City as we arrived at midnight and the buses stopped running. Once we arrived into Wulong City we hiked along the road and down towards the river. We found a nice flat spot among farmer's land and set up camp down by the river. We woke up to farmers picking their vegetables and grooming their land. Some folks bathed in the river(not sure if that made them any cleaner?!?).
Wulong City Camping, picture by chinese student

We slowly packed up, had breakfast in town and then got a mini bus to take us about one hour into the mountains of Wulong County. We passed by some huge gorges where we stopped to take some photos and eventually found ourselves at a lake. After too many pictures we hiked for about 45min/1 hour over some hills and around the lake and found ourselves in a pretty valley. Here we had lunch and would be where we would camp for the night. It was a family owned guesthouse/camping site. Who knew?!? After lunch we headed off into the mountains. I wish I knew what the area was called but I don't. There were other camping groups staying the night there as well, some hiked in and some drove in!

the lake, picture by chinese student

   After lunch, we hiked into the mountains, there were some nicely groomed single track trails for us to walk along. Elaine and I were out front and we decided to head straight up and see if we could get to the top of this ridge. Unfortunately, the trails slowly disappeared on us and we found ourselves bushwacking through bamboo. The others caught up and hung out by the kiwi trees, shaking down and gathering kiwis to bring home while we continued to bushwack until the wacking just got too much. We arrived back into camp about 5pm. I decided that I needed a little more sweat in order to call it a day and went for an hour run around the lower trails. Dinner was mutton lamb cooked over an open oven... Looked nice but I stuck to the veggies!

Sunday I woke before the others and went for a fast 40min run and later joined Elaine for another 20 min run before breakfast. After a slow beakfast of egg/tomatoe noodles and left overs we hiked back out just too find out we had to wait an hour for the van to get us. I had  seen a lower trail around the lake as we hiked out so Elaine, another man and I decided to check it out while we waited, we found a mini waterfall and some more nice scenery plus got in some more exercise! It was perfect, we arrived back and the van came by not too long afterwards. We began our long journey back to Yongchuan. We arrived home about 7:30pm. A nice weekend away in nature!

Other exciting news:
 Our Yukon River SUP Expetidion Video will be shown at the Cumberland Mountain (Amateur) Film Festival, January 12, 2012 at the Riding Fool Hostel in Cumberland. Tickets are $15 and  they go towards raising funds for the Cumberland Community Forest Society. If you are around that area go check it out!

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!

Nov 23, 2011

A different kind of trail run

This past weekend we decided to explore a somewhat nearby town called Chengdu. It was going to be a weekend to explore the city and its somewhat close surroundings. We managed to arrive late friday night via bus. 4 hours bus ride form Yongchuan. We got ourselves set up at the Traffic In Hostel and then cruised along the river, past the night clubs, enjoyed some fine fried noodle street food, hung out at the local pub by our hostel and called it a night.

Saturday morning Andrew and I went for an hour run along the river. It was a beautiful fall morning and many chinese people were already out and about. We found out later that we were fittingly running on the fitness trail! We then walked ALL DAY to temples (Wenshu and Green Ram Palace), shops, parks, and coffee shops. We found a great little alleyway with tons of coffee/tea shops, little funky bars, restaurants and a couple of outdoor shops, we loved it! After a full day of walking and seeing the city we spent the evening on Jin Li street, a touristy food and shop street full of lights and people. Not really our thing but a fun experience to check out regardless.

Sunday morning, we went out to check out the Panda Breeding Centre. I really wanted to check it out as Chengdu is really known for this centre and the pandas. We had gone with the hostel bus to make it simple and ensure that we would make it back in time for the hash run. The breeding centre is large with lots of walking paths, and happy cute pandas. We walked around, took photos, and hung with the pandas all morning.

I've been craving some trail running ever since we landed in china. We have found some dirt roads and short trails among the bamboo in Yongchuan, but nothing that has satisfied my craving for some good trails. A couple weeks back, I found out that Chengdu had a hash harriers running group every second Sunday. After some emails, I found out we were able to get to Chengdu for one of their runs and made a trip of it. We made it to the meeting spot no problems. I had never been on a true hash run so was excited to see what it was all about. We enjoyed a cold beverage while we waited for more people, buses, and t shirts. About 60 people showed up for the run, a good mixture of expat and chinese. They drove us about 1.5 hours out of the city to a small farm village. After some explaining, beer drinking and bathroom needs were finished they let us free to follow the flour markers and yell ON ON. It was good fun running through farmer trails, animal trails, and there was even some "bushwacking". It was just over an hour run with lots of sprinting for us as we stayed out front. We got a good workout as we ran through various intersections trying to find the correct trail to continue while others strategies were to wait at the intersection until one of us keenrs yelled out the correct route... Unfortunately, our statistics of choosing the correct trail was about 1% so we had lots of extra sprinting to do in order to get back in the front group. After the run there are some charges to be dealt which involved chugging beers and getting flour thrown on you. The whole experience was fabulous and we loved meeting new people, running on trails, and getting out into the farm land but we needed to get back to Yongchuan for work the next morning and it was getting close to night time by the time we left the spot.


We luckily managed to catch the night train home (long story) and we will be back to this great city and back to participate in the hash run.

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!

Nov 13, 2011

Playing in the bamboo forest

Saturday we had a fun day playing in the great outdoors. We managed to get out before the rain came down. It was fun crispy fall day.

We rode our bikes up to the Bamboo forest on the dirt road along the ridge. This is actually quite a descent climb up on dirt road. It is about one hour to the top from our house with some fairly steep sections and washed out dirt.  If we get out and ride this every week it will hopefully keep us fit and ready to tackle the NorthShore Mountains when we return to Vancouver (hopefully) without too much extra pain!

We stopped at some trails we found a few weeks ago and rode some single track on our hard tails...

We then continued to the top where the dirt road meets the paved road. We locked our bikes and went for an exploration hike through the bamboo. We found some paths both concrete and dirt, an old house, some wells, ponds, ridges etc. Once we started to get hungry we jumped back on our bikes and started to head down. Back to the lower section of bamboos we set up the slackline and played around on the line for a bit... We tried walking the line with running shoes as there were many sharp bamboo ends around the ground.. It proved to be a little tougher than I imagined at first,... but after a while we got the hang of it! Once our tummies couldn't handle being empty any longer we packed everything up and heading back to town on our bikes!

Today we walked around old town and found some excellent random chinese things.... it was such a nice fall day that I really wanted to out of town on our bikes so we rode up cucumber hill found a new road that gave us a great 1.5 hour ride on bikes.

I am proud of our continued effort to explore our surroundings... it keeps us on our toes!

live, love, laugh,...DREAM!

Nov 8, 2011

Hangzhou International Marathon in a nutshell

While in China for only 3 months I have already been itching to find some races. To be truthful, in my spare time I perouse through international race sites dreaming up plans of racing here, there, and everywhere. Sometimes, back in reality world I inquire into races that might actually be possible to enter rather than just dream of every possible race I would like to do on earth...
About 3 weeks ago during one of my 'perousing the internet for races in my spare time' moments I stumbled upon the Hangzhou International Marathon. With a thrifty entrance fee of $15  and a possibility of prize money I just couldn't not sign up for it. I somehow managed to convince Andrew to run a marathon in three weeks  with no training or preparation?!? I quickly found some flights and figured out how to pay the entrance fee on time (Thank you Elaine, a friend with an online chinese bank account) and we were set. The only problem was... we had not been training for a marathon at all and were about to WING IT BIG TIME.

In the back of my mind I thought I was still a young 24 year old who could just pull off any type of sporting accomplished I wanted with grand success... well, last weekend I found out that I am no longer 24,  I am 31 and I guess some things become a little more difficult with age.

What happened out there on the race course was not exactly what I had dreamed up in my head a few weeks back when I signed up for the race. The first half of the race was nice. We ran around the famous West Lake and then up through some mountains, farmlands, small villages, temples and pagodas. After about 21km we hit the river. We had an awfully long there and back on straight road and then it was a horrid 19km or so of straight flat unscenic(because you couldn't even see the river) run along the river. It was awful. I was bored and really had to push hard in my head to just keep running. My legs started to get sore from the constant pounding of similar terrain and I was pondering the reasons I wanted to sign up for this race so badly. I worked hard through the mountain stage to pass three girls and then lost the positions on the flats. FRUSTRATIONS... They clearly were better road runners than I. I tried all of my mental techniques to get me through to the end. I tried to disassociation by thinking about past memories and future plans. I tried to focus on my breathing and stride and associate myself with the present by focusing on what my body was doing and what was happening. I tried a lot of self talk, telling myself I have run longer and that this was easy. I broke down the run into segments and visualized how easy 5km of running is. I tried all of these methods many times throughout the marathon race. I didn't walk, I didn't give up, I smiled (and grunted), and I pushed myself through pain and I also crossed the line with the slowest marathon time to date for me... BOO..While I didn't get my goal of 8th place female(prize money cut off) I did managed to get in as the 13th female. Not too shabby for my first marathon since 2006 and without any training for it either... maybe there is still hope for my running career?

Two days following the race.. I still can't walk properly and I cringe every time I need to get off my butt and move but mentally I am ready and pumped to get my train on...and as always I seem to only remember the exciting and nice parts of the race. Funny how the brain seems to block out the bad and embrace the good!

Bring on the Great Wall Marathon in May...

Hangzhou is a pretty city with tons of temples, pagodas, buddhist caves and of course a big lake on which you can explore. We spent Saturday hiking through the hills by the lake (not relaxing like maybe we should have done?!?). It was a maze of stone stairs, caves, and temples. Pretty cool little place in which it is very easy to get yourself turned around and lost. Lucky for us we brought our handy dandy GPS. Got to love technology (sometimes). We also ate some food, cruised around some local shops, and found a fun little coffee shop where we did manage to sit and relax with some mighty fine americanos!
All in all a fun little weekend away!


live, love, laugh,..DREAM!