Mount Swansea

My latest job schedule has me tucked away in the small west Kootenay town of Invermere. With Shannon and the girls back at home I am always looking for things to keep be busy and get outdoors after work. Finishing early one day a co-worker and I decided to head up to the local hotspot of Mount Swansea. After 6kms of tarmac and 5kms of a rather aggressively rutted dirt road we reach the upper parking lot of the Mount Swansea lookout trail.

This peak stands at 1727m but is dramatically shadowed by the surrounding peaks of the Canadian Rockies to the east. Once leaving the parking lot, on foot you climb the final 700m up a rather steep 100m elevation gain to the summit. On top you are greeted with a handful of man made structures but also one of the most spectacular views you can find in the valley. This peak is a popular hang gliding and paragliding launch for people all around, not to mention the countless sailplanes you can spot catching the thermals and spiralling upwards like an eagle. No matter which direction you look you will be amazed with what you see. To the north you follow the meandering Columbia Wetlands that winds its way between the Rockies to the east and the Purcells to the west. To the south you get lost in the magnificent colours of Lake Windermere, the warmest lake in the Kootenays.

After 45 minutes of taking in the views we headed back down to the truck for the little hidden gem in the area, an abandoned mine. Mount Swansea mine was originally opened in the late 1800’s and 5.5 Tonnes of copper ore was removed from the 600′ of underground tunnels in the lifespan of the mine. But nowadays the shaft remains open to the public and have been deemed safe for family adventures. The only issue is trying to find it. After over an hour of wandering the area, trampling through the brush and scrambling up obscure rock piles we were left empty handed. We found one area that could have strongly resembled a collapsed mine shaft. I am not saying that the mine is no longer available for exploring or that that is has been closed off to the outside world forever, but I will say that it is a bit more challenging to find than we originally anticipated. You might just have to hunt it down for yourself, be sure to let me know how you do!

Back at the parking lot I decide to pass the keys along to my colleague as I had intention of running the 11km back down to the hotel. With a quick change of clothes I headed off. The 5kms of dirt track descends over 700m of elevation at a dramatic rate. After about 4.5kms I came across the second biggest fear of a trail runner, unstable footing (first being wild animals). As my right foot planted down onto either loose gravel, a rock or uneven slope I could feel my ankle folding over. I found myself rolling onto my right shoulder, across my back and left shoulder then skidding on my left side until I came to a halt in a cloud of dust. The pain settled in instantly. I got back on my feet and started to walk it off a bit. After a hand full of meters the pain seemed to subdue and I had a slight jog back in my stride. Once I reached the lower parking lot and paved road I was feeling pretty good so I pushed on. I was still 6km from the comfort of my hotel room however. I ended up alternating between jogging and walking for the final stretch. By the final 2 kms the pain was really starting to set in. I noticed that the pain was intensified while supporting the weight, obviously. While jogging you have a lengthened stride thus concluding less steps then walking to get me to my final destination. Strange justification indeed. An hour after the spill I hobbled up to my 3rd floor room, the swelling was really starting to show by now. I removed my shoes and washed the dirt off in the shower before examining the damage. For now, MICER was on my agenda; Minimal mobility, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Rest. I should make it through the night but the rest of the work week could be a bit interesting.

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