Pat grew up in Nova Scotia - Canada then moved to Ontario for university and started working before moving to British Columbia. This is where he discovered a wealth of terrain and an explosion of outdoor possibilities. The North Shore trail running scene opened up; “it is an amazing community and I felt lucky to make a circle of friends with whom I could share a few adventures”. When we spoke to Pat in May 2020, he mentioned that he started to feel the impact of COVID-19 two months earlier when the US border shut down as he used to travel there a lot. At the time he didn’t have any spring or early summer races planned so was fortunate in that sense however some family travels were postponed.
As the second wave of COVID-19 hit British Columbia, Canada and many other locations, we were eager to head down memory lane for a moment and hear more about what the most memorable adventures were from 2019 as well as what Pat has been up to since May and what is ahead.
What was your most memorable adventure last year? And what were your main learnings?
- 2019 was a year of travel and learning to appreciate “failing” in the outdoors more. I explored Wadi Rum in Jordan (put it on your to-do-list for the future!) - an otherworldly desert landscape with sandstone mountains, canyons, dunes and arches. I hired a local mountain guide to take me up some lesser travelled scrambling routes and we ended up bagging several iconic peaks in a day. The terrain and lighting were amazing. Even though my guide was not a runner we managed to hammer some downhills together while the guide was wearing traditional bedouin garb (he did have a pair of La Sportiva approach shoes though!). Main learnings… these days, I’m drawn to long days in the mountains with a good possibility of not making an objective. There are a few peaks which have taken me several attempts, which of course makes eventually finishing them that much sweeter. I think failure is an important way to better understand how you and your partners react to adverse conditions, navigation problems, difficult terrain etc. I think having a reasonable chance of failing safely is a good thing!
What have you been up to since May? I know you were longing for Seymour and Cypress to open again when we spoke in March - and now we have snow!
- I usually spend time on the trails on Vancouver's North Shore but this summer, I developed an appreciation for off-trail bushwhacking to look for new routes. A friend and I managed a circumnavigation of all the high peaks around Elsay Lake, which included an interesting bushwhack to a seldom visited peak called Bishop Bump in the Fannin Range - Coast Mountains of British Columbia. I also did a 30 hour solo circumnavigation of peaks around the Nahmint Valley west of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Stunning terrain and challenging route finding. The bush is definitely denser on the island!
Have you been able to keep your workout routine? Added a new routine?
- My routine has stayed fairly consistent (trail running - I am a weekend warrior) augmented by recent forays into bushwhacking. When the North Shore Parks closed earlier this year due to COVID-19 (now open again) it made me realise the significant role they play in my regular routine. I think the entire COVID-19 experience has made me even more appreciative of British Columbia's wild spaces. Looking back at the period between March to May, a lot of my time has been spent outdoors with my six year old son exploring new areas. We discovered some great trails together in Coquitlam and were surprised by the quality (checkout “The Dentist”). These past months has been a good opportunity to expose him to a few new forests. Our local park, Pacific Spirit, fortunately remained open during the pandemic restrictions when many others closed. I usually run there while my son rides his bike and it's become a favourite place to recharge. We are at the delicate point where I can still match his pace – not for long!
What are your plans for the period left of this year?
- Now that we are in the shoulder season, I will probably stay at low to mid elevations until a good snow base has formed up high. I would like to spend the next couple months planning for the coming winter and next summer. Like so many, I'm excited for the day when we can start travelling abroad again safely - the wheels are turning!
“My last outing with a Hillsound product was along the Elk-Thurston Ridge near Chilliwack. I wore my Hillsound FlexSteps which proved to be rock solid as always, especially in that sometimes tricky transition zone between partially and fully snow-covered conditions”