Into the Wilderness

Jasper

A couple days in a row now, Elaine and I have expanded our skiing adventures to get way back up in the mountains. Places we normally only venture to in the summer. Two observations:

1. In my opinion, the mountains are more intimidating in the winter. Everything is more dramatic – the snow billowing off the peaks, the stark greys and whites, , the cold wind ripping in from the west, the sheer rawness of it all.

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2. There is a quiet and sublime beauty in the mountains in the winter. The snow dampens sound. The rivers are frozen. The tracks of animals abound, telling stories of silent dramas but more often the everyday pattern of life. It is soothing.

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If I were to have a third observation, it would be simply that it's way harder to get back there in the winter. Three hours to Jasper? Indeed, if you're breaking trail the whole way. 

If yesterday was a sun-baked adventure into the deep (followed by a giddy night ski with friends through Sondre Nordheim style woods), today was a more familiar concept…skinning up to make turns back down. To the mountain of the Meadow, the place where it all kind of started for Elaine and I way back when. Such good memories there, and more of them today.

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Deep as I've ever seen it, maybe as deep as I've ever skied in Colorado. It was that good. As it's now March, the aspect game is coming into play. No problem…change the aspect and the lower crust layer is replaced by mid-winter snow. It was good, and we had it all to ourselves, save one ptarmigan who was munching on willow trees. So much more elegant than us, the perfect creature for the harshness.

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There is a big festival in town – Frozen Dead Guy Days – which was the perfect excuse to stock up so we don't have to venture into town. Elaine made a homemade bolognese sauce, we have a weeks worth of pellets, the car is parked nicely off the snow-covered roads and we have lots and lots of bacon and tea.

Tomorrow, it's west again on another adventure. The people are to the east, the wilderness is to the west. I can't wait to see what we see! 

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