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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

32 Years and Forever Young

Yesterday was a reminder why I live life spontaneously.

It happened to be my birthday, but it felt like any other day (in fact, I forgot it was my birthday until I checked my FB messages). And like any other day since arriving in the Rockies, I was just happy to be alive, surrounded by the most awe inspiring nature Canada has to offer. Also that morning the most perfect snow I've ever seen was falling - big as gumballs but light as feathers.
Nothing but the sound of my own lively heartbeat
My legs sent a sore reminder of my amazing cross country ski the previous day. At one point on the trail, I suddenly stopped and was instantly overcome by the dead silence of the moment, the trees stark still and staring at me. The only sound that entered my consciousness then was the pounding of my heart... *th*thump* *th*thump*...

And I felt alive. Truly alive.
I ate lunch in front of an audience of snowcaps known as the Valley of Ten Peaks, home to my favourite summer spot, Moraine Lake. I then did the 10 km return leg at a torrid pace, adrenaline fueled by my music, reaching the finish line on a euphoric high. My energy somehow kept up on the 5 minute drive home, as I blasted the music and bounced in my seat, fist pumping along the way.

My sore legs didn't stop me from carving up the hills at Lake Louise Resort, also a 5 minute drive from home in the other direction. It was my fifth time on the hill since arriving here, and I can now proudly conquer the steep, scary black diamond runs, stopping now and then to visit my roommate Brianne at the mid-mountain lodge where she works, or to stare across the valley towards the lake, the grand chateau, and my home.
This is the life
My home would be near the bottom of the picture. And the big white spot? Lake Louise!
While it has been hard finding like-minded people to share activities with, I'm certainly not feeling isolated here. My birthday was filled with the presence of people I care about near and far.

Two friends from Calgary had just stayed overnight, and gave birthday wishes before taking off. I Skyped with family back in Ontario. I unexpectedly got a package in the mail from a dear friend who I adore more than is good for her to know. Wonderful timing, since she didn't even know it was my birthday. And that night, Brianne took me to a gathering of her friends - part of my growing community here - where one of them made sushi for all of us, and then we hit the sauna!

Not a bad birthday for one without a plan, eh?

It's pretty great having a friend in town with an outdoor sauna like this!
Quite steamy on the inside!
Yesterday I turned 32. The Rocky Mountains are comparably older, at 80 million years old. Yet among these steady giants I feel forever young. These mountains have shielded me from the sadness of leaving Vancouver, insulated me from the vagaries of an uncertain future. They have allowed me to remain in the present, reassuring me with their immovable presence, yet surprising me everyday by putting on a slightly different but refreshing face.

Perhaps the most validating feeling of all coming out to Lake Louise has been embracing winter. I have always found it ironic that most Canadians dread winter, yet I counted myself among this bunch (even escaping overseas the past few winters). It's completely understandable as an urban dweller, because winter forces you indoors, reduces streets to big slush puddles, and aggravates already stressful commutes.

Coming out here, I have finally turned the tables on winter. Everyday I wake up staring out at my backyard, looking forward to my next adventure, and wishing the snow won't go away so soon.
Ski touring for the first time - so much powder! If only I knew how to ski in it

Valley of the Ten Peaks, a frozen Moraine Lake lurks at the base of these giants, waiting for Spring

1 comment:

  1. Hey Andrew, happy belated birthday!!!! I am ever so happy you are following where your heart and soul direct your 2 bare feet. Just enjoy what mother nature has to offer. Happy journey! Uncle A