It’s funny how the higher you go on a mountain, the closer you feel to the ground. Connected to the earth, well balanced, focused. It’s like all of the struggles and emotions connected to daily life stay at the bottom as you walk up, step by step. I think the silence of getting yourself up a mountain is one of the strongest silences I have ever known. The steady effort it takes to trudge through the snow, the focus on where you’re going, the management of your ever changing body temperature (layer on, layer off, layer on), the kick-turns, and finally, that view. All of these little things overtake almost every other sensation that preoccupies our overly distracted minds. There is really no reason for you, in this time, to be thinking of what happened today at the office, or comparing yourself with that account on instagram.
And this is probably why we go.
Because second to how glorious it feels to ride down, I think we all crave the silence; that time that we get to be with just ourselves, without our thoughts. To experience, even for just a few hours the purest form of who we are, which can only be met in the quiet. This is where we recharge as human beings. At least, it is for me.
There was nothing particularly special about this day. The conditions weren’t supposed to be great, wind slabs were present, and the forecast wasn’t sunny… but we woke up with our 5:30am alarms anyways. Got dressed, packed a thermos of tea, loaded up the van, and made our way down the Icefield Parkway on Highway 93. Ending off about 40km north from the TransCanada Highway to Bow Summit. This is probably the most popular backcountry skiing area of all the 230km park lining Lake Louise and the town of Jasper to the north. As we pulled into the parking lot on this mellow Tuesday, there were a couple other people gearing up, and this was the only time that we saw them for the trip.
I’m new to splitboarding. This is my second winter playing in the backcountry, so if you’ve never done it before, I highly suggest that you get after it. Not only are there no line-ups, no $100+ tickets, and no kids to run into on the way down the hill, but you get to check off the cardio box to your day, and you really get to learn the mountain. Assessing the conditions, increasing your avalanche awareness, discovering why things happen. I’ve found that I enjoy the walking up, just as much as going down. I think making this small shift in our awareness, that it is a positive thing to have the opportunity to slow down, is critical to happiness. Especially in today’s fast-paced, highly competitive social environment that we live in. It’s not about how many laps you can get in. More is not better. In fact, the less laps we do, the more we really get to see. To take in our surroundings, keep our minds in that clean, slower state. To be present.
It’s amazing how much we can learn from this big rock we live on. Everything from the mountain can be relayed over to our day-to-day lives as the most authentic lessons we have. And it’s all just right outside our door, everything we need to know.
Slow down, clear your mind, surrender, appreciate the process, use your capable body, realize that less really is more, and be healthy in return. All this from a not so particularly special Tuesday.
This is why we go.
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