It’s almost here
With ski season around the corner, it’s time to start blogging again. I’ve already received a few emails from people, excited about the upcoming winter, asking for advice on new gear. I hope everyone had a nice summer and got to spend lots of time in the mountains. I had a better summer than usual since work wasn’t as busy, but I still managed to put on 6 pounds. Hopefully a month of steady skiing will get rid of that. I warned my friend Peter Neumann that I was going to stop eating cake over the summer, and finally beat him in a race this winter. You can relax, Peter. The iron willpower of my youth has deserted me. Or is that “desserted?”
A very special memory
With any luck, we could be skiing in another six weeks, possibly earlier if the snow gods are happy. Lake Louise is the usual early-season destination. When I drive out there for the first time this year, I’ll be thinking about my first ever trip to LL. I will be overjoyed at the thought of skiing again, but in the back of my mind will be a special memory:
The FIRST TIME I went to Lake Louise to ski, Nov 20, 1998, I didn’t know much about the rules and regulations governing ski trails in the National Parks. In fact, it was the FIRST TIME I had ever skied in Banff National Park. I took that photo of Abbey, who was three years old at the time, on Tramline, not knowing dogs were not allowed on the ski trails. As a side-note, Abbey was not my dog but she belonged to my girlfriend’s parents, but I took her to dog obedience when she was a puppy and totally bonded with her.
Anyway, being the first outing of the season, and only my second year of skiing, I fell on my backside immediately upon putting on my skis at the Chateau parking lot. Luckily, there was lots of new soft snow to cushion the blow!
As we skied down Tramline, I coudn’t believe how wonderful it was to be back on skis! Eventually(1.6K) we arrived at Moraine Lake road and continued skiing. “Dogs aren’t allowed on here” was the response from one of the skiers I met. So I returned to the trailhead and made Abbey stay in the car. I couldn’t ski for very long knowing that she was in the car. I turned around and went to the lake to have lunch with Abbey. As we were enjoying the wonderful view, a throng of Japanese tourists came by and wanted to take our picture.
I handed my camera to one of them, and the above photo is one of my all-time favourites, of the thousands I have over my years of skiing. We eventually found trails where it was acceptable to take dogs such as West Bragg, Ribbon Creek, Mt Shark, and even a few at Lake Louise such as Pipestone.
Abbey died in my arms this summer at the age of 15. I held her as she drew her last breath, and felt her heart go silent. She brought an incredible amount of joy to my life. I’ll be thinking about her and all the fun we had as I ski the trails this winter where she once frolicked and played.
Your comments are always welcome. If you have a question about skiing, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And pray for early snow.
Thanks for the nice comment, Pierre.
Bob,I was touched by your beautiful memory of your ski buddy Abbey. I lived the same sadness when my dog, Maggie, died in my arms at the same age here in St.Paul last November. My son and I buried her with heavy hearts in a nice spot on our ski trail north of St.Paul where I like to think she most felt free and alive. I was consolled by an early season ski trip with my ski friend Wayne to good old Lake Louise to get on the snow and train for the Canadian Birkie. Thanks to your blog we found beautiful skiing at Pipestone Creek, Moraine Lake Road, Great Divide, and Elk Pass in Peter Lougheed Park. I would like to take a group from St.Paul for a road trip to Kananaskis/Banff this winter. Maybe the Lake Louise Loppet would be a fun, beautiful place for some of our folks to fall in love with our sport. Keep up the great work on your blog. It is a must for anyone looking for the scoop on nordic skiing in Kananaskis/Banff.
Pierre Lamoureux, president, Lakeland Cross Country Ski Club, St.Paul, Alberta