My mother used to say “some days are diamonds, some days are stones.” Actually, John Denver used to say it, or rather sing it, but she loved him and so his words became her own.
Today was, in her words, a diamond day. A prime example of how skiing can truly be an active meditation experience.
Without making you hate me, though you probably will, I spent today inhaling snow while skiing thigh deep powder through well spaced trees, on pillow runs, in open chutes, on rolling pitches, steeper elements and oh, well, I forget the rest.
Yes, every run was untracked, yes the snow was light and dry, yes there may have been a helicopter involved and it may have been at CMH Bugaboos Lodge. But that’s not my boasting point, or perhaps it is, the point is what happened in every one of those turns when I was in a flow state bouncing and floating in the open powder, seeing and skiing my pristine line through the forests.
Nothing. Nothing happened. No head chatter. None.
I wasn’t thinking about financial debt, work deadlines, the size of my thighs, the thousand emails in my inbox. I was, simply, thinking about skiing. Some turns I didn’t even think about that. I’d see my line, ski it, find myself in a flow of perfect hero snow skiing and just be.
Other moments I’d notice a body angle out of line and try to correct it in the next turn, or I’d assess as I moved whether I could ski between those trees, or if that rollover would pop. All while still skiing and not thinking about anything other than what was happening in that moment.
My skis revealed if the snow was super light and dry or if it was a little heavy or whether anyone had skied here before. All the while, communicating to my feet and my legs and my head where the better snow, better line, better flow moment would be. My mind and body acting as one.
When you get in the ski flow you get into an active meditation.
The act of focusing on the movement at hand and staying on your game while seeking the perfect snow means your head is cleared of all else.
It doesn’t always happen. Stress exists even in a privileged world of helicopters, get the wrong group dynamic and you may find yourself cursing the skier constantly poaching your turns or hogging your lines. Get the wrong skis and you may find yourself constantly struggling with tight trees. Anxiety may hit due to conditions, equipment, people and more.
But the stars aligned today, good snow conditions, fun heli ski guide, great group dynamics with a bunch of Europeans, one American, one Greek and one Aussie, all with like minded attitudes and a personal care for each other’s well being while in the wild elements of backcountry skiing, working together to retrieve any lost skis, pull people up out of the deep powder and negotiate the chopper.
I have had some challenging weeks of late with the kind of stressors that send you to the sugar aisle. But today I felt none of them, not one, and now, after a full day of skiing, followed by a soak in the tub I am too knackered to feel any of them either. It’s a good kind of body pain, the kind you get after skiing powder before you head to the lodge dining room to inhale well earned sustenance.
I sing when I ski and am happy. When I was deep in ski learning I used to sing U2’s “It’s a Beautiful Day” and I would time my long turns then short turns in time with the changing beat. Today I found myself singing “These are the best days of our lives”. The irony wasn’t lost on me.
Because, they are the best days, while you are still able bodied and fit enough and mobile enough to click into skis and point them down a mountain. While we still have winters.
You don’t have to be in a CMH helicopter to do it (though that does help), you don’t even have to be on a chairlift, just skiing in the backcountry or hiking up and skiing down is enough to take you away from the incessant chatter and back to your soul self.
On those days snow isn’t powder, it’s diamond dust.
Rachael is a guest of Canadian Mountain Holidays and Destination British Columbia