My final dispatch from January’s trip to Jasper, Alberta, high in the Canadian Rockies. As I watch the rain mixed with snow turn my neighborhood into a slick mess, I long for the deep cold and fresh powder of Jasper.
Enjoy! Photos to come later…..
One activity I assumed fibromyalgia had forever eliminated for me was skiing. Too hard on the knees and joints, too exhausting for a body already living with chronic fatigue. Not that I was an avid skier before fibro. I only went a couple times with friends and never really learned how to ski well. A shame really, growing up so close to Mt. Hood.
The last couple years, as I’ve slowly explored what physical activities I can and cannot handle, my body a bruised and battered guinea pig (hiking good, horseback riding and kayaking bad), I’ve contemplated giving skiing another go. I just never had the guts to try it beyond the wishful thinking of how wonderful it would feel to fly once more down the mountain.
My weekend in Jasper has been a chance to face my doubts and the mountain once more.
This morning, well before the blue curtain of dawn, I hopped the shuttle up to Marmot Basin, the ski resort in the Canadian Rockies of Jasper National Park. This is a day-only ski mountain, multiple lifts soaring high up to the rugged summit, boasting a wide spectrum of bunny hills to double black diamond plunges. A simple lodge overlooks a vista of never-ending mountains and the base swarms with families, young couples, daredevil snowboarders, and expert instructors donning bright red coats. The lifts shut down at 4pm, the last shuttle leaves at 5:45pm, and by dinnertime, everyone is back in Jasper. It is laidback and no-nonsense. No flash. No egos. No pricey chalets. Just my style. A ski resort for the pure thrill of the powder at affordable prices.
Perfect for getting back on a pair of skis after a decade.
I wanted to ease in, so I signed up for a group lesson, tailored specifically for adults who’ve skied once or twice before. “Group lesson” turned out to be a misnomer, as it was just two of us and our instructor, an affable gentleman spending his retirement teaching others to ski. He focused on our control of edges and our turns, patiently taking us step by step as we layered on each element. Recovering from an embarrassing fall as I got off the lift (it has to happen once, right?), I dived into the drills, laughing off any wobbles or spills, savoring the inescapable fact that hit me almost to tears as I sailed down the slope.
I am skiing. With fibromyalgia. And it’s more exhilarating than I even remember.
Inevitably, of course, fibro has the last say. After four hours on skis, my knees complained too loudly to ignore. My legs began to lose control on turns, becoming heavier and heavier. My body was exhausted.
I checked my watch. Only 2:00pm. So much of the afternoon left to ski! To stop now would be a waste of my lift ticket and rentals, right?
No. I squashed that right away. I had hit my wall. I was done for the day.
As I bounced back down the mountain on the school bus shuttle, I became teary again. Maybe it was just the sheer exhaustion. I do get over emotional when I’m tired. But I think it’s what today represents. I faced another demon, another hurdle, another marker of all I have lost with fibro.
Faced it and flew, with the powder in my face and a wilderness of unforgiving mountains beyond.
Now I’m off to soak my battered muscles in the hotel hot tub. There’s always a price to insolence!