“I sit on a rock, a small figure amid the empowering walls.
I breathe in the air, embraced by the beauty that surrounds me.
I lean into the wind, feeling the freedom of this timeless theatre
And open myself to the majesty of the mountains,
never to forget their eternal truth."
~ Perched on a rock above Bow Hut, October 2000
I’ve always been inspired in the mountains. After I did my first backcountry hike to Floe Lake in Kootenay National park when I was nineteen, I was hooked. I knew I would return to spend nights in this wild playground. Over twenty years later, I’ve watched numerous alpine sunrises, basking in earth’s orange glow, I’ve skied in winter’s silence surrounded by mountains covered in angelic white, I’ve spent countless nights cradled in cols under starry sky’s, and each time I’ve returned feeling a little more whole.
Continually drawn to the mountains, I’ve often wondered about the strong desire to climb, hike, and be among these great giants. George Mallory, one of the earlier climbers, when asked why he attempted the ascent of Everest, simply replied “because it’s there.” And to that I add, why not. Why not explore, wander, and let the soul be awed by nature’s masterpieces. And if we were simply to gain nothing but the experience of being among beauty and feeling a sense of wildness, than that is reason enough.
This was one of the reasons I went to the mountains on the weekend. It has been an extremely challenging week after learning a family I love dearly just discovered for the third time another brain tumour on their nine year old son, this time inoperable. I felt heavy and more than ever craved to be among the mountains.
So despite rainy forecasts and temperatures in the single digits, I jumped in the car and took my girls to Kananaskis country. On Saturday, we walked in the rain to Troll Falls, we felt the wind move through our body, and for a moment, experiencing the freedom of this ancient cathedral of rock and snow, I felt completely unweighted, my heart wide open, my spirit at ease.
I have long since realized the reason I am called to the mountains is not just for escape or adventure, but for a reconnection. As one mountaineer stated “the mountain is not something externally sublime… it is the ladder of the soul…when we reach the mountain summits we leave behind us all the things that weigh heavily down below on our body and spirit. We leave behind all the sense of weakness and depression, we feel new freedom, great exhilaration, and exhalation of the body no less than the spirit.”
And so I stood, rooted firmly in the earth, experiencing deeply this transient nature of our time here on earth, a part of me feeling immense sorrow, another awash in ecstasy, and I looked up to the peaks extending into sky, bestowed by their magnificent presence and with the knowing we are all majestic and made of the same substance; we are a mere container of that which is vast and timeless.