I think I was a reptile in a past-life. Usually in a constant state of seeking to nudge up the house thermostat in a bid for a warmer temperature and a place to defrost my hands and feet, I can normally be found nestled under several layers of clothing, with thermal socks and gloves that only a heat-seeking missile would be attracted to. Ironic then, that I find myself living in a Winter City where temperatures are sub-zero for at least 3 to 4 months of the year.
There’s only two ways to go in such a climate – either embrace the frozen north, or hibernate; only to reappear when the snow has subsided and we start to climb into the positive temperature range around April/May time. You may be reading this assuming I’m the latter ….. but no. Despite my cold-blooded tendencies, I do enjoy the winter activities and especially, a spot of skiing – either downhill or cross-country. Both are readily available in Edmonton, and working in my favour for the cross-country is the fact that Alberta is a prairie-state and literally, as flat as a pancake. It certainly makes for a less arduous (and by definition, much more fun) way to experience the sport with the avoidance of any hills or steep terrain which would have me hyperventilating with effort and collapsing with sheer exhaustion. But I do miss my mountain fix. It’s one of the scenic aspects I miss most about living in the UK. That said, Jasper, and the Canadian Rockies are a mere 3.5 hrs drive to the West and are mountainously majestic on a monumental scale. We’re lucky that we can take a quick trip there for a weekend, get my mountain fix, and attempt the downhill skiing of the Marmot Basin. With 86 runs, the longest high speed quad-chair in the Canadian Rockies, and views to die for, it’s a spectacular place to ski. And this past weekend, we did just that.All the family have their own equipment, and during the past two Winters we’ve lived in Canada, everyone has gradually picked up the skills and technique to get them from the top of a slope, down to the bottom – hopefully, without any mishaps en route. Even my youngest kid who is now 7, will happily throw herself down the more gradual terrains – which means the whole family can ski together. My middle kid is the risk-taker, and will seek out every treacherous route in a bid to experience moments of sheer terror with shrieks of hysteria. Living on the edge is definitely one of her life philosophies ….
Beset with a few challenges including my husband having the navigational prowess of a lemon, my middle kid demonstrating a strong magnetic draw to any dare-devil activity, and my youngest kid being solely focused on remaining upright; I adopt the role of chief navigator and assume responsibility for making sure that whatever chair lift we go up, there’s a route back down that doesn’t require the mastery level of a black diamond. With the trail-blazing abilities of a bloodhound, I’m relied upon to traverse the various routes down the mountain, identifying a variant path each time from the one before, until we all safely arrive with aching limbs and tired muscles to the awaiting chairlifts at the bottom – only to be whisked into the heavens such that the cycle can repeat itself yet again.After a few hours, confidence was high and I decided to inject some novelty, proposing we take a chairlift towards the top of the mountain rather than focusing on the middle and lower terrains. As we ascended, the views were spectacular and the scenery stunning. With my attention somewhat distracted, I had failed to notice the need for a rapid exit at the top of the lift as the chairs quickly gained height before flipping around a spindle and returning back to the bottom. Graciously hesitating at the top to let my kids off first, was my undoing. I missed the optimum point of departure – and only when the chair started to pick up speed and the ground quickly fell away did I realise a hastier exit was required. The prosaic lines of the immortal song, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go Now’, reverberated through my head – and a nanosecond split decision saw me adopting an ‘Eddie the Eagle’ approach to descent as I ‘launched’ myself off the chair.A ‘Clash’ it certainly was. Imagining it to be more graciously executed than the reality, I felt I had it perfectly controlled until the landing. Maybe it was the knees, or even my posture that let me down, but my husband later recounted the moment when he witnessed the ‘splat’ as I hit the ground and arrived unceremoniously in a heap at his skis. Even the best of us, have our odd moments of misadventure and I’m still chuckling about the incident a week later – whilst nursing a rather large bruise that has managed to feature all the colours of the rainbow. The bruise has managed to generate enough heat to keep my reptile-like tendencies at bay, retaining warmth in my hands and feet. I can’t help but think it’s far easier just to notch up the thermostat …. 🙂