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Canadian bliss

Joel Stonington

I was snapped up into a time vortex last week when I suddenly found myself on a plane headed to Calgary. The next day, I was on a helicopter with my brother, dad, various aunts, uncles and friends going up to Mistaya Lodge, nestled in a wide high basin of glaciers between Banff and Jasper national parks in Canada. We landed and watched the poor suckers who had been up there the week before us as they scrambled onto the chopper and disappeared into silence.Roughly an hour later we had our skins on. From there the days kind of melded together into an amalgamation of cruising up the mountains in the glare of bluebird days, dipping the knee on my teles while tasting the joy of snorkel face shots, sitting in the sauna, building an igloo, eating fresh-baked bread and apple pie, reading junk novels, playing liar’s dice with everyone, bagging a peak or two and, um, oh yeah, face shots.We earned our turns, but we didn’t really earn anything else up there. Sure, we hiked. But there was this blissfully good cook who threw down the likes of orange poppy seed pancakes in the morning and baked salmon at night, topped off by something as yummy as thick chocolate cake drizzled with fresh strawberry sauce. And every morning we got up, tired from the hiking on the day before but ready to strap on the skis. And every day we got less tired looking at the oceans of powder laid out in front of us: dry, fluffy, endless. When we would finally get to the top of something and see two or three thousand vertical feet waiting to be marked with snakes all the way down, it sometimes just made us giggle. Especially the last run, which was probably one of the best of my life. It wasn’t all that steep or technical or crazy. It was just plain beautiful. The sun was poking through what had been an overcast sky, and we had 3,000 vertical feet below us on Ophidian Glacier. I’d like to be back there now. Soon enough, however, we were suddenly tasting the bitterness of watching some group of losers climbing off the helicopter with goofy grins on their faces. And us, we were going home happy.


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