I’ve been enchanted by tropical tales from my snowbird friends but when we have the chance for a mid-winter getaway my husband and I travel right into the belly of the beast and head to the Rocky Mountains. We’ve been doing this since we were young pups and one of our favourite spots to enjoy winter’s splendour is Jasper, Alberta where we recently spent some time.
There’s a lot of action despite the soft silencing of heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures. The mountains have their own winter culture and activities. When we were first going out together, about 100 years ago, Frank and I were ski obsessed. That’s what we all did back in the our late teens and twenty something years. Those kind of excursions waned over time as everyone’s lives blossomed in different ways. In the last 4 or 5 years we’ve revived our Jasper love affair with a trip almost every winter, sans skis mind you, but there’s still lots to do.
By coincidence we were able to catch the start of the “Jasper in January” festival this year and spent a day at Pyramid Lake. There were a myriad of activities going on including dog sled and sleigh rides. Snowshoers and cross country skiers wove tracks across the frozen lake and our future Canadian curling team practiced with birch stones. The plowed oval invited skaters and strollers. It was a beautiful day in so many ways it gave me a lump in my throat at one point.
I’m never more keenly aware of my body’s fitness(or lack there of) than when I’m in the mountains, especially in the winter. I think a big part of mountain culture is about fitness, activity and doing it all in a spectacular natural setting. It begs you to take the challenge and join the fun.
It hit me on this trip as I saw skiers jaunting around town in their brightly coloured tech gear, how much I miss the intense physicality of skiing and experiencing the mountains on a downhill run. I felt myself longing for it and a nice Canada Goose parka!
It also occurred to me I’ve been living like a head in a jar lately. That is to say, detached from my body in a sense because I’ve been so deeply focused on other things. In some ways new challenges have become my mountains to explore and master. It’s gratifying for sure but it doesn’t doesn’t do much for leg strength when you’re hiking up an incline.
I guess it’s about balance and perhaps I’ve lost it in this area of my life lately. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and finding the balance between giving my “all” to something and taking care of my physical fitness is sometimes a struggle for me. I do a lot of work to stretch my mind but am I doing enough to stretch my body. The burning and fatigue in my thighs tells me apparently not.
When winter comes I don’t dream of palm trees. I dream of a view of the mountains and being in them. They connect me more deeply to nature and remind me that I am nature like the elk and crows. It’s a magical experience. It’s also great inspiration to keep my body moving. Who knows maybe by this time next year I might even find my ski legs.