Back Country Skiing

Back Country Skiing

Have any of you ever done any back country skiing? You know the kind where you plutz (is that actually a word?) around in the car park sorting all your gear out, putting skins on the bottom of your skis so you can hike up a mountain with your skis on (apparently safer than walking as you at least have a chance to out run an avalanche?!) whilst there is a perfectly good ski resort with lifts that carry you to the top so you can ski down a perfectly groomed slope just near by? Even if you haven’t done it, you get the picture.

 I love adventure and love getting in touch with nature as it fuels my soul, you may have noticed, but I will admit, the shovel, avalanche probe, beacon, extra clothing just in case and first aid kit did make me question if whatever we were about to embark on was going to be worth it. With two back country guides with us, one of whom was the father of two of the kids we took with us, I figured we were in pretty good hands. We hiked UP for the next 4 hours. As I observed how the journey looked for others I noticed for everyone it was different. For some it was about arriving at the top, for others it was about the 20 mins of fresh powder on the down hill ski, for some it was the challenge of gear that wasn’t working, for some it was the cold, for some it was the ‘are we there yet?’, for some it was emotionally overwhelming, for some it was about time to focus, time to connect, time to just be. For me.. what I realised is that the real joys in life are in the moments when we feel life is up hill. That life is presenting a challenge, or as is often the case, many challenges. These are the moments that make us. In my uphill journey in the back country of White Water, BC I tapped into a series of life’s multiple aspects. At first I was hesitant as I didn’t know what to expect, feeling a little ridiculous as I tried to move in an effective and efficient manner, but once the actual journey began I realised it was just one foot in front of the other. There was no short cut to the top. To make progress meant moving forward, despite the occasional fall. I was observing my thoughts moving from not being good at the sliding walk that seemed all so elegant for the others who have been back country skiing for years, to noticing how magnificent the forest around us was, and how engaging the conversation was both with myself in the moments of silence as with others in the moments of conversation. I was totally present and totally focused. 

I noticed the guide was cutting new lead tracks…sometimes steeper up the mountain in a more direct route, and sometimes a little more gentle and on less of a climb angle. At the end of the day, that’s it, our journey is never a straight line, it is a zig zag, sometimes it’s steeper than others, but the journey in itself is the joy, and regardless of which track you follow… you will get to where you were destined to be. Of course at the top we celebrated with an offering to the spirits to thank them for protecting us, and a piece of secretly hidden chocolate to celebrate the resilience and resistance our kids had in arriving. Acknowledgment and celebration are essential actions that we rarely do enough of… especially for our own achievements. We often focus on what’s not right rather than celebrating even the small wins. After our brief celebrations, we turned to go down the hill in the powder, slipped the skins off the bottom of the skis, pointed out skis downhill and a few minutes later it was all over (or was it?!). The next day our muscles ached from fatigue and that was not from the down hill part. The muscles we work in the uphill. Remember to be grateful for the entire journey, not just the ‘good’ bits. It’s working those muscles that improved our life quality every single day. #adventurouslifeproject#journeytoabetteryou

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