Who wouldn’t want to go slush-boarding in the sunshine?
Old friends from school days flew in from the UK last week, keen to have a little winter fun, and ski and ride some epic Western Canadian mountains. Well, the best laid plans…
The June weather was spectacular and – wait a minute! June highs in late March and early April? Hmm. Clinging to glasses half full, we hit the slopes at Louise and were rewarded with some big laughs and trying conditions – as in, have you ever tried to snowboard through melting ice cream? I know many skiers and riders enjoy spring conditions, and there is often a close to perfect window where air temperatures and snow conditions combine for a magical experience. It was a particularly small window that day, and it had been closed firmly by the time we were on the hill. Never mind.
So the downhill wasn’t great, but we did meet some interesting people. Spring skiers are different. I like to wear short pants, at the beach, amongst strangers, or when cameras aren’t working. But not so much on skis or a snowboard. Each to their own. Same applies for going topless – be my guest, but perhaps not on the slopes?
We had a lovely conversation with a rider who shared a chairlift with us on Saturday afternoon. As always, we were happy to share the chair, but less interested in his generous offer to share what he was smoking. The elevation at Louise is pretty impressive, but I’d wager few got higher than our chairlift companion that afternoon:
Dave: I’m Dave from Edmonton. Look! Trees, hehehe. You drive up today? Want some?
Us: Hi Dave, we’re PlaidCampers, drove up from Calgary yesterday. Thanks, but no thanks.
Dave: I’m Dave. Look! The mountains, they’re big, hehehe. Like mountains. Want some? I’m in construction. How about you? You from Edmonton?
Us: No, thanks, it’s all yours. Calgary, we drove up from Calgary, yesterday.
Dave: Yeah, I like Edmonton, and working outdoors. I’m in construction. Hehehe. Look! It’s sunny today. Bright. Hehehe. Want some?
Variations on this theme all the way up.
Us: Very kind, but we’re good. You ready to get off here? We’re lifting the safety bar (please don’t fall off…) Been great chatting, Dave, and you take care now.
Dave: That’s me! Dave! From Edmonton. Saving the rest of this for later…look at these mountains, hehehe. Have a good, um, good, um…
Dave: (slide-drifting from the chair) Yeah! Day, hehehe!
I hope Dave had a friend helping him get back to Edmonton. Hehehe.
Earlier in the day, we were heading down an easy green when we realized it was too easy, too flat, and the waves of slush we were throwing up were getting smaller and smaller as our slush-boarding got slower and slower. No problem! No thinking from me either. Quick as a flash (that’s not true, more like with the last gasp of forward momentum) I turned right and tipped over the edge into a promising looking black chute, fearless in possession of all that local knowledge. Oh yes.
The chute was fine for 30 metres or so, then as the trees thinned, so did the snow. Large rocks leapt out in front of me, patches of mud and grey grass suddenly appeared, and the snow banks collapsed and twisted every which way. I was a PlaidCamper pinball, at the mercy of gravity and my own dim wits. No high score on that play, but I was grinning at the stupidity and the ride as I emerged unscathed. I had yet to meet Dave, but looking back, I think he’d have wanted some.
We spent a chunk of time stopping for coffee, having lunch on the deck at Temple “beach”, soaking up the warm sun, marvelling at how none of us were injured this year, and fending off a very determined Clark’s Nutcracker. Do they even like vegetable soup?
We surfed – by mid afternoon it wasn’t even ice cream, more the remnants of a slushy cup – down to the parking lot and took a pleasant spring afternoon drive back to our lodgings in Canmore.
Dinner and drinks out in Canmore rounded off a great day. Glasses far more than half full, the arrival of spring, splendid scenery, great company, and all of us intact after a middling season on the hill. Not too bad. High on slush-boarding, hehehe…
Thanks for reading, and, as always, please feel free to comment or share a story!
(Most of the photos this week are from earlier trips to Louise – not fair to take photos of Dave, short pants skiers, or topless bods, I didn’t bother with the slush, or the soup, and there was absolutely no chance I could hold a camera and be a human pinball…)