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She Runs North - Day 2&3 - Slow Snow Slog

After getting into camp after dark and spending some time getting settled for the night, the alarm for the morning seemed to come right after we closed our eyes.


5 am comes early.


While it's normally not too hard to get out of bed, it is so much harder to wiggle out of a warm sleeping bag into the dark and cold to start melting snow. After about an hour and a half of morning chores, Jessica set off on Day 2 - with the hopes to make it to Maqua Lake Day Use area for camp - about 50km away.


Willi and I may have laid back down for a quick cat nap before packing up our kit......

After we packed up our tents, had our breakfast and loaded up the sled; we caught up to Jessica back out on the trails. The densely treed trails from the morning gave way to some spralling open sparsely dotted with scraggly pines.


But with the temperature rising, and the sun beating down on the open spaces, the snow started to get really slow. The pace started to slow and the sled became more challenging to pull as it dug into the soft snow. Picture it like running through sand, with the added weight of four days' worth of gear pulling you back!


As we watched her head back into the trees we checked the weather forecast and we knew the snow was probably only going to get worse.

Jessica Leska (She Runs North) continues her 200km solo winter adventure near Stoney Mountain, Alberta
Jessica Leska (She Runs North) continues her 200km solo winter adventure near Stoney Mountain, Alberta

When people in Fort McMurray think about hiking or going for a walk in the trails, many people think about the Birchwood Trails in the heart of the city. The trails the rest of the morning felt very similar - with fewer pines and rolling hills.


But the snow only got worse turning the run into a hike and then just a downright slog.


And that started to take its toll both mentally and physically on Jessica. Some serious cramps and hip pains plagued her into calling for an unplanned lunch stop to regroup.


After a call to her hubby who provided some words of encouragement, we devised a new plan - cut the day short and make camp at Drifter Lake, cutting 13km of the distance for the day.


There was little running for the rest of the day, just one foot in front of the other.



Sweet Relief!


After a very long day under grey skies in the afternoon, the sun came out as we pulled into camp and you could see the relief on Jessica's face. But there wasn't much time to waste in order to get camp set up before the dipped below the horizon!

Jessica Leska (She Runs North) sets up camp on her 200km adventure near Stoney Mountain, Alberta
Jessica Leska (She Runs North) sets up camp on her 200km adventure near Stoney Mountain, Alberta
Jessica Leska (She Runs North) sets up camp on her 200km adventure near Stoney Mountain, Alberta

We woke up the following morning again at 5am, this time prepared for a really slow day in the snow. The weather was supposed to be the same as the day before - so we planned accordingly - only planning to make it back to the same spot we camped the night before - 37km.


Sundays trails passed by Maqua Lake Provincial Park and were truly beautiful as we wound our way around Stoney Mountain. I didn't end up taking many pictures this day - we were hyper-focused on collecting video content with the perfect weather and beautiful surroundings. It was the first day that we could really get some great shots from the drones we were packing along with us too.

Jessica Leska (She Runs North) runs on the trails on her 200km adventure near Stoney Mountain, Alberta
Jessica Leska (She Runs North) runs on the trails on her 200km adventure near Stoney Mountain, Alberta
Jessica Leska (She Runs North) eats her Backpackers Pantry for supper on her 200km adventure near Stoney Mountain, Alberta

With the shorter distance, complete we rolled into camp with lots of daylight left and a sense of normalcy since we had stayed here two nights before. The pressure to get all of the chores done before dark was relaxed and we enjoyed some time by the fire and set up our tents in the light.


However, the shorter distances from the last two days meant we had a big last push to make it back to Fort McMurray - the same distance from Friday that took hours longer than expected.


There was one major difference for Jessica - it was going to be cold, finally! And that means hard, icy snow that the sled would glide over with ease!


So, we went to bed, alarms set for 5 am


Check out the Recap of Jessica's runs below:



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