More wonders of wildlife: An addendum to Crazy Thing #22.

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When I started this year’s ski season I had many goals –distance skied, covering all the trails in both directions, and photographing wildlife. My photography goals included photographing a moose, lynx, and owl. On Christmas Eve I got the most awesome Moose pictures I could imagine. I kept seeing lynx tracks, and other people were getting photos of them, but I kept missing out. As the season was drawing to a close and conditions (at the time) were not spectacular, I wasn’t holding out much hope.

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“Are you coming?”

On Sunday, March 6th, I was coming home in the morning from enjoying a great night with some friends in Logan Lake. I had been up until 2 am and I was seriously tired. I stopped at Stake Lake for a short ski. It was a bit slushy and it had been too warm to get the big groomer out so the tracks weren’t great and it was a little slippery. Still, any ski is better than no ski. I headed out on the green trails and felt myself following instinct again. I had no plan. I started on Ponderosa and thought I would turn right on Hoss but after making it about 10m on the trail I changed my mind – I almost NEVER do that. I decided to go back and finish the loop on Ponderosa. It was nice but uneventful. When I came to the other end of Hoss I headed onto it for real this time. This is not my regular way of doing these trails and I’m a creature of habit so I don’t often vary my routine. I passed some snowshoers crossing Hoss, and right after them I met an elderly man skiing toward me. I said hi and kept skiing. Right around the corner I nearly crashed – there was a lynx walking away from me on the trail, about 20m ahead of me. I could hardly breathe. I looked around and there was nobody else coming. I grabbed my big camera in my right hand and both of my poles in my left and started skiing on the slippery track. Suddenly I was less afraid of going fast or falling – I wanted those pictures! The lynx stopped and looked back at me, almost as if it was saying, “Are you coming?”

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The lynx walked on the skate lane in the middle of the trail up a hill and around a bend. I skied after as fast as I could. I got pictures from behind but I really wanted pictures from the front. The corner is a blind corner and the cat disappeared at the top of the hill. Seconds later a guy skate skiing came flying around the corner toward me  in the middle of the trail and nearly fell because he saw the lynx just off the top. I caught up and both of us watched as the lynx walked about 5m from us. If that skier had been a minute or so earlier he would have run right over that cat! That would have made for an awesome picture!

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My glasses were fogged up so I just kept taking pictures hoping they would work out.  I kept taking pictures at the top and, while I didn’t get ahead of it, I did get along side of it and took some awesome pictures. It disappeared in the trees right after that.

Again I proved to myself that magic really does happen when I let go of control and follow my instincts. I was finally on the right trail at the right time and I was given an amazing reward!

 

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50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year – Recap

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With Dawn Nelson at the Polar Bear Swim – blame her, she started all of this!

The dust is starting to settle after my birthday and the completion of 50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year. I’ve heard congratulations from many of my friends, and even people I don’t know. I’ve heard of how my adventures have inspired others to try new things, and even some people planning their own list of crazy things before a significant birthday. It’s amazing how we can have an affect on people just by being ourselves, and sharing our lives.

In the past year I faced some of my fears head on. Think dating… and trapeze school! I may not have conquered them, but I stared them down and made them just a little smaller, and a little less powerful. Each time I try something that fear monster will keep getting smaller – I definitely confirmed that in the past year.

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The Scream

I did things in the past year that were just silly, or spontaneous like driving to Kelowna to do an escape room, or getting my nose pierced with Krista, Monica, and Jody – I definitely didn’t see that coming. These are the things we hear about and think, “Gee, that sounds like fun…” but then we get to busy and never do them. I’m happy to say I did them… and more! What I discovered is looking at the world in a certain way becomes a habit. If I saw the opportunity for adventure I usually took it, and I put it out there for others to join me. The cool thing is, they often jumped at it, and then we were all a little more spontaneous or silly.

When I went back to Meadow Lake, SK, in the summer with my mom I went back to the place where I was born. It doesn’t sound like a big deal. It’s not like I was born somewhere exotic. But I’d thought about it for so many years and found all kinds of lazy reasons not to do it. We went, and it was a good thing for both of us, facing the past and the future. I’m so glad we took the time to go.

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I did some things alone, and they were magical. I hiked the Berg Lake Trail, having never done an overnight backpack before. I spent time with myself and discovered not only a beautiful outer landscape but a special inner one as well.

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On the Berg Lake Trail – my first glacier

Friends and family jumped at the chance to get crazy with me, and several jumped multiple times. I had enthusiastic bridesmaids for the Rock n’ Roll 10K, a group of crazy people did the Conair plane crash hike with me. Amanda flew to Florida with me, ran her first half marathon (actually ran her first anything), and rode rides with me while risking the fact that I could very well throw up on her. Krista, Monica, and Jody (all repeat Crazy Thing participants) even ate bugs with me… that is true friendship! And I can’t even count how many people generously supported me by helping me raise an insane amount of money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand while they enjoyed “dressing the fairy”. Dawn Nelson, the crazy woman who suggested my 50 Crazy Things in my 50th year, even did the Polar Bear Swim with me and together we encountered magic we truly weren’t expecting. There were also countless people who supported me in the best way they could – by cheering me on, reading the blog posts, and enjoying my frequent episodes of discomfort. Support comes in many forms and I recognize and appreciate all the support I have in my life.

I want to thank all of the people who helped me, participated with me, and cheered me on. I love all of you.

The biggest thing I learned, or maybe remembered, is that life rarely happens when you’re sitting on the couch looking out the window. It happens out there. Habits are meant to be broken, and rebuilt as new habits. Bars are meant to be raised. Fears are meant to be faced.

What next?

I plan to continue my crazy things – just not with a deadline. I plan to live a crazy life. There were a lot of things I couldn’t fit into my year. The list is still there and it is growing. I will keep blogging about it because people seem to enjoy reading about my discomfort.

My whole reason for starting this journey was to stop the trends I saw solidifying in my life. My life was getting smaller… I’m stopping that. I was saying no more than yes… I’m stopping that too. I want a life that is richer, and one that is filled with more great adventure and more great people. My next 50 years are going to be very busy!

Oh, and to answer that question AGAIN… I am still not jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or tying an elastic around my ankles and jumping off a cliff! Crazy… not stupid!

The list

So here it is, the complete list of my 50 Crazy Things with links to each of the blog posts. Thank you all for sharing this with me. It’s been a wild ride and I’m only getting started! Who’s in?

#1 – Run the Disney Princess Half Marathon
#2 – Ride a roller coaster without throwing up
#3 – Fund raise for a charity
#4 – Run a 10K and a Half Marathon back to back
#5 – Run half marathons on each coast in the same year
#6 – Join the circus (Trapeze School)
#7 – Embrace Obstacles (Foam Fest)
#8 – Walk above the water (Suspension bridge)
#9 – The Berg Lake Trail
#10 – Return to the place where I was born
#11 – 10X up the steps to the lighthouse in Cochin, SK
#12 – Let my cousin drag me around a lake while she tries to kill me
#13 – Hike to the Conair plane crash site
#14 – Go on a date
#15 – Beat the Blerch – Get out of control
#16 – Ride on a motorcycle
#17 – Wear a wedding dress
#18 – The Moustache Miler – spontaneous mingling
#19 – Drive home in my pajamas
#20 – Night skiing away from civilization
#21 – Do a virtual run
#22 – Follow intuition and rediscover magic
#23 – Go out for New Year’s
#24 – Polar Bear Swim
#25 – Make a snow angel
#26 – Give blood again
#27 – Eat a bug on purpose
#28 – Ski the hills without putting the brakes on
#29 – Learn to paint
#30 – Climb a tree
#31 – Go ice skating
#32 – Go rock climbing
#33 – Get passionate (Passion Party)
#34 – Snowshoe race
#35 – Improve at a sport (Cross Country Ski Lesson)
#36 – Downhill Skiing
#37 – Have headshots taken by a professional photographer
#38 – Let a photographer do a portrait
#39 – Get a tattoo
#40 – Visit an Escape Room
#41 – Run a half marathon without training – just because
#42 – Volunteer somewhere scary
#43 – Ladies’ choice (get my nose pierced)
#44 – Ski a half marathon
#45 – Write a screenplay
#46 – Street photography
#47 – Photograph star trails
#48 – Take a selfie every day
#49 – Self portrait
#50 – Turn 50 with a smile on my face

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #44 – Ski a Half Marathon

20160220_132659On the same day I put a new hole in my head I decided to complete another crazy thing. I had been trying to schedule it for a while but it just never worked out. That Saturday afternoon I decided I had to make it work out.

The idea for this year long project, if you recall, came when I was drinking wine and surfing Pinterest. I started seeing Disney running costumes and suddenly came up with the idea of doing the Disney Princess Half Marathon, in costume, in Florida, two days before my 49th birthday. That was crazy thing #1. Since then I ran the Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon in California, I hiked 21K (the distance for a half marathon) out on the Berg Lake Trail wearing a heavy pack (and nearly died), and I ran a half marathon without training with Jody. I figured the only way to complete the set was to ski a half marathon.

In the past, the longest I’ve skied in one day was 17K (I think) with two friends a couple of years ago. I remember being completely dead after. I expected the same this time. I am a very slow skier. Senior citizens still kick snow in my face, politely of course… most of the time!

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I don’t like skiing when the guys aren’t in the ticket booth – it just makes me feel a bit insecure, but I knew Lee would be there until about 4 pm and I knew my crazy thing would take me over three hours. Instead of heading out on a long trail and being far away from the ticket booth and a way to bail out if it wasn’t going well, I decided to do a shorter route near the parking area and just do laps. Lee and Leah were there for the first three laps and the last lap was a short one so I knew I’d be fine.

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I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually do because I wanted to get this done before it got dark. I did four laps, two were longer and two were shorter, and it worked out almost exactly to 21K. I ended up helping some lost snowshoers get turned around… how they got lost in that area baffles me! I had to reassure them that I knew what I was talking about and they were not where they thought they were. I did lots of thinking about the year and everything I’d done. I even tried to put what I learned in my cross country ski lesson with Lisa into play – for the first three laps. For the last lap I was just going and not thinking too much. I’m proud to say that I finished, it was still light, and I had a great time. I now know I can do longer distances without completely collapsing. And as a bonus, I could still walk the next morning! How cool is that!

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Note the bandaid on my nose – I didn’t want to get sweat in the new hole in my head!

Why was this crazy?

It was the longest I’d skied by quite a bit in one day. This year the longest I’ve done is 14K at once.

Would I do it again?

Now that I know I can do it – sure! There is something ultimately satisfying about setting a goal and reaching it.

 

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #35 – Cross Country Ski Lesson

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Me, Jody, Gerry, and Lisa (front) – all survived my first official ski lesson.

I have been skiing for a few years but I would never say I’m a good skier. Senior citizens regularly pass me and kick snow in my face when I’m skiing. They’re always very polite about it of course, but none the less, I see them shaking their heads sadly at me. It’s really quite pathetic!

A few years ago I was a bit more daring on skis but then I had a couple of epic falls and it’s like my body has a memory that associates going faster with crashing. When it fell we were night skiing and it was about -20C – way too cold. My glasses weren’t just fogged up, they were frozen and I couldn’t see. Since then I have become a very fearful skier when it comes to speed and my technique is pretty much self taught. I’d wanted to do lessons for a few years – to improve my skills and techniques, maybe speed up a little bit so seniors didn’t kick snow in my face any more. I also wanted to get better, and feel safer, doing hills (see crazy thing #28). Each year, though, the timing doesn’t work, etc. I didn’t make the effort. This year Jody and Gerry wanted to do it too. I figured a private lesson for the three of us would be as good as 4 lessons in a large group and way easier to schedule.

We enlisted the services of Lisa Pahelchuk – the outstanding instructor with the Overlander Ski Club. I had no idea how great this was going to be. The first thing she did was teach us about hills as we slowly made our way out to Hoss – one of the trails I do all the time. Almost the first thing we did was a slow gentle downhill. It’s one I almost always put my foot out of the track to use as a brake on. I was determined. A lot of the going downhill instruction focused on balance, centre of gravity, and body position. I was stiff as a board but I made it down the hill… already I had progress! We worked on glide as well – she took away our poles, made us ski with one ski at a time and we went back and forth on a tiny stretch of flat trail for quite awhile. It was super hard work but it was amazing. Then we tackled more hills – my biggest fear, and I concentrated on body position. Mentally and physically the whole lesson was very tiring. As we made our way along the trail and back to the day lodge we kept working on footing, glide, and balance and the entire lesson ended up taking two hours. It was amazing and I can’t believe I didn’t do it before. Jody and I agree we’re going to work on the stuff Lisa taught us and then take another lesson next year to keep improving.

Why was this crazy?

I’ve wanted to do it for years but never got around to joining a class. This time I said what I wanted and made it happen in a way that worked for me instead of trying to fit in with someone else’s schedule. In the past I let things like this stop me all the time. The whole time I was fighting the memory of falling when I started going fast. It’s a gradual process, letting go of a memory like that, which seems unfair since the memory itself was made in almost a single moment.

Would I do it again?

I would definitely put out the effort to get better at something, particularly if it is important to me.  Skiing is very important to me and I don’t want to be tense or scared when I’m doing it. I am definitely having more lessons. I think it’s a good thing to do in just about any endeavor.

 

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #28 – Take control of hills

Perhaps you’ve heard that I have a bit of a thing about going down hill, speed, being out of control, falling etc. It’s been a recurring theme for many of my crazy things. It was driving me nuts that I’m so paranoid about falling when I cross country ski that I automatically take my ski out of the track and turn it into a break at the merest sight of a downhill – whether the hill warrants it or not. I wanted this automatic response to stop.

A few years ago I was night skiing and I had some really bad falls. It was really icy, the temperature was ridiculously cold (in the -20C range) and my glasses didn’t just fog up, they froze so I couldn’t see anything. I fell hard and my body has this locked in memory that I can’t let go of.

My fear started getting worse. Senior citizens would kick snow in my face as they skied past me going down hill. I developed a killer snow plow. It got so bad a few years ago my friend Wendy wanted to take me up to Sun Peaks to the top of a black diamond cross country trail and push me down to desensitize me from the sensation of going fast. She assumed that by the time I stopped screaming I’d have this fear thing handled. I never let her ski behind me on a hill after that.

They day was January 17th. Jody and I were going for a short, happy ski in fresh snow. For most skiers the snow would have been annoying because it was slower. For us it was perfect!

We did a route of easy green trails for about 6Km. There are some nice rolling hills and I knew I had to put some effort into getting over this fear. I told Jody that for that day I had to keep my ski in the track on all hills. She laughed and agreed, and got out her phone to video it. I was determined.

As we did each hill I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart was in my throat and I was shaking by the time I got to the bottom. There were times when my foot just jumped out of the track by itself. When that happened I had to stop, go back up the hill and try again. Frequently, when it happened, I may have said some bad words… I know… if you know me you’re probably shocked! (but not really).

We did Ponderosa, Hoss, and Little Joe – all fun green trails near the day lodge at Stake Lake. On one particular hill on Hoss I had to start at the top three times before I finally made it.

The snow was fresh and slow, perfect conditions. I told Jody I had to do it and she was willing to stop while I battled my fears. My leg jumps out of the tracks to act as a break – it’s like an instinct I have a hard time stopping. It just shoots out the second I start to pick up speed.

So, with the Wendy Lehar desensitizing plan firmly locked in my head I vowed to do our entire route without sticking my foot out. It was really hard and when my foot shot out part way down a hill there may have been some F-bombs as I stopped, climbed the hill, and started again.Good thing Jody lost the video she took with all the f-bombs in it… no proof!

Eventually I made it through the route doing all the hills. I was exhausted! No pictures for this one but Jody is my witness – I did it!20160117_101910.jpg

Why was this crazy?

Oh, the usual, fear of falling, fear of going fast, fear of being out of control.

Would I do it again?

If the conditions are right I am trying to do it as much as I can – my own desensitization at my own pace.

 

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #23 – Go Out for New Year’s

Again, this might not seem crazy to most people, but to me it’s big.

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The day lodge at Stake Lake – so pretty at night.

New Year’s Eve is pretty much a holiday I ignore. I’m an introvert. I’m not big on parties, and I’m really not big on getting dressed up. I have also been described as being ‘possessive about my sleep’ so late nights aren’t really part of my bag of tricks. When I was little I shocked more than one set of parents when I kicked visiting kids out of my bedroom and put myself to bed. I also fell asleep at my own 16th birthday party. New Year’s Eve? Apparently things happen at midnight that I see on the news the next day.

So, to slightly expand my options I decided to accept the open invitation to go to the Overlander Ski Club’s New Year’s Eve potluck and ski. I’ve avoided these events before because I don’t know anybody but when doing crazy things – point yourself toward what you avoid. Now, this potluck only went to about 9pm, but still … the point is I went.

It was ridiculously cold that night. Even with extra layers my legs and arms were burning. I skied for a bit on my own, and then went in and discovered that despite all my crazy activities this year, I was still an introvert. Sigh. Like a true introvert I hovered on the outside of a packed room filled with skiers who have all known each other for decades. I had fun though, I met a few people there who were new and didn’t know anyone else either, and I hung out in the corner with Jordan (a young guy who works at the ticket booth) and his girlfriend. Club President, Alan, who is not an introvert, merrily worked the room and sat with for awhile chatting the corner before moving on.

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Nothing says New Year’s like a disco ball hanging above a wood stove at New Year’s

I had fun, the food was great, the skiing was cold, I didn’t have to dress up. I still, however, didn’t make it to midnight…. maybe next year!

Why was this crazy?

Introvert? Know almost nobody? Go out on New Year’s – take your pick!

Would I do it again?

Sure, I can hold down the corner of a room like nobody’s business! More seriously, though. I do need to do this more often so it gets a bit easier each time. I actively avoid parties and that has to stop. Life rarely happens at home and even if I’m happily nestled in the corner, at least I got off the couch and out the door. From my corner I always admire people who mingle easily. Maybe someday, with practice, it will come.

 

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #22 – Follow intuition and rediscover magic

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Hello gorgeous! One goal accomplished but it was so much more than just taking pictures of a moose.

At the beginning of each ski season I set some goals – how many km I want to ski, how many times I want to ski, and what wildlife I wanted to see and photograph. I usually reach the km and visit goals, but never the wildlife ones. This year my goals are to ski 700 Km, go skiing 55 times, and photograph the front end of a moose, a lynx, and an owl.

Christmas Eve, 2015 – Like many of my other crazy things, this just started as a normal day.

First, some background. After I graduated from university I moved to Dublin for six months of doing nothing. I had already spent two months backpacking around Britain and Ireland.  It seemed like a stupid and frivolous thing to do, go back with no plan, but it was easily one of the most important things I’ve ever done.

I was exhausted from school. After graduating with a science degree all I wanted to do was be a writer. I felt, at times, like I had wasted four years of my life. I hadn’t it turns out. That science degree is always valuable when I least expect it. More importantly I felt like I had lost my way. The strong, intuitive part of me had been ignored and devalued. Moving to Dublin gave me an opportunity to reclaim that part of myself. I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I knew I would. It took me a few months to figure it out, but eventually I was able to let go of lists of things to do, obligations to others, and expectations of others. It’s probably the only time I’ve lived completely for myself.

I was alone, intentionally, and it was an incredibly important time in my life. I learned that when I followed my instincts I could create magic. Amazing things happened. Coming home, and in the years since, the challenge has always been to find a way to live that honestly with myself, and at the same time live in a world where I had lists of things to do, obligations outside of myself, and people I loved who had expectations of me.

This year on Christmas Eve I had to work a half day in Logan Lake at the Library. It was a good day – fun and festive. Two friends brought me pizza for lunch because I had complained that staff who worked Christmas Eve at the bigger branches in town were given pizza. In the smaller branches we got nothing. My homemade pizza and a can of coke arrived and it was delivered by two people I adore. It was yummy! Pretty awesome day so far. In the past few years I have surrounded myself with amazing people and they even bring snacks!

I planned to go for a long ski at Stake Lake after work and then get into the festive spirit when I got home. When I got to Stake it was almost 2 pm and I realized I didn’t have as much time as I thought and a long ski was out of the question. I’m a creature of habit so I thought I’d just do one of my other regular routes, a shorter one that would only take me an hour or so. As I was setting out, I realized that for some reason I wasn’t going to take that route and I really didn’t know where I was going. I felt that instinct sensation, a homing device in my spine, and I knew I just had to follow along and go wherever I felt like I should. I ended up in an area I don’t usually gravitate to because it’s full of steep trails that are often icy.

I believe that wildlife, or any kind of wonder in the world, allows you to find it, and you can only find it when you’re ready to receive it. You can’t go chasing it. You have to be open to it and it will let you in. It’s like riding a wave – if you catch the wave it’s amazing and you have that mythical feeling of being one with it. Sounds corny, but I think it’s true. If you try and force it – well that’s just painful and rarely gets you the results you’re looking for. I usually know when I follow my instincts and ride that wave, something special will happen. This time I wasn’t disappointed. I came around the corner and found myself face to face with a moose calf – one of the moose that regularly hang out around the ski trails. This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen a moose, or her in particular, but it was the first time I’ve been this close (and not in a car), and the first time I’ve had the time and the space to get some really good pictures.

As I came around the corner she looked up at me from where she was standing and eating. She acknowledged me, and then continued looking for food. We had at least 20 minutes where I slowly moved closer and took more pictures. I didn’t see one skier, and it was a busy day at the trails, the whole time I was with her. I was about 20 ft from her and I’m pretty sure I took over 100 pictures. Finally I knew I was done. I skied past her, maybe 10 ft away. She looked up at me, and then walked off into the bush. It was like she was waiting for me. It was the best Christmas present ever.

Why was this a crazy thing?

I had to slow down, and remember to follow a feeling that used to be so familiar to me. It used to be second nature. Now I have to remember it and relearn how to access and sustain it. Instinct is powerful and it’s like a muscle – it has to be worked and trained.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely. I have to keep working that instinct muscle and I’m committed to stopping and taking the time to appreciate beauty when I see it. I have to be prepared to catch the wave and enjoy the bounty at the end. I still have the owl and lynx to go this winter and I may or may not get lucky, but that’s OK. I had the moment and that is better than anything. I’ve seen this lady a couple of times since, never in good enough conditions to get good pictures. I always smile at her, nod in acknowledgement. Maybe she’s smiling too.

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My moose selfie! I wasn’t brave enough to turn my back on her when I was really close so I waited till was further away.

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #20 – Night skiing away from civilization

The date was December 10, 2015. This did not start out as a crazy thing.

I stopped at Stake Lake on the way home to go for a night ski. It was my first night ski of the season and it was snowing pretty heavily but the skiing was still pretty good.

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At the beginning of my ski… I was still smiling!

Normally when I ski at night I stick to some green, or easier trails, that are close to the ticket booth and the lodge. I’m usually alone and it just always felt like the thing to do. It might be that I just wasn’t thinking, or it might be that I had lost my mind, but on one of the darkest nights of the year I chose a 9km route that took me far away from the ticket booth on a two hour ski in pitch black darkness. Half way through I knew I was sinking seriously deep into crazy territory.

I realized, all of a sudden, that I had never done that before. Even when I skied with someone else at night we stuck to the trails that were closer to the parking lot and staff at the ticket booth. That night I didn’t see one other skier until I got back to the lit trail at the lake.

It was dark, snowing hard, and there were no stars or moon visible. All I could see was the dim circle around me created by my headlamp. I saw fresh animal tracks all around me and I kept picturing the mythical Gruffalo, from one of my favourite children’s books by Julia Donaldson, walking behind me. My overactive imagination didn’t help. I know there is a cougar out there, and some lynx, some wolves, and bunnies that are probably pretty vicious too. I was imagining all of them, watching me, in the woods, just out of the light where I couldn’t see them. Sure, laugh now, but if a fluffle of bunnies ganged up you when you had skis stuck to your feet you might not fare so well either. And yes, a group of rabbits or bunnies is called a ‘fluffle’ – there, now you’ve learned something new today. Sometimes they are referred to as traveling in a herd or colony as well. Either way they’re quick and they’ve got big teeth, and those feet…!

The whole time I was out there my imagination pretty much ran as wild as the wildlife all around me. “If you go out in the woods tonight…” at first I had this stuck in my head, over and over and over.

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For some reason my shadow didn’t seem scared.

Then I moved on to rewriting the Gruffalo, one of my favourite kids books ever, to feature a librarian instead of a mouse. I did it all in my head… over and over and over!

A mouse (librarian) went for a ski in the deep dark woods,

a (cougar/ lynx / moose / fox / wolf / chainsaw wielding serial killer) saw the mouse (librarian) and the mouse (librarian) looked good!

Where are you going to, little brown mouse (librarian)? come and have lunch in my underground house.

It’s terribly kind of you, (Fox/ cougar/ lynx/ moose / wolf / serial killer…), but no—– I’m going to have lunch with a gruffalo.

“A  gruffalo?  What’s a gruffalo?”

“A gruffalo!  Why, didn’t you know?

He has terrible tusks, and terrible claws,

And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.”

“Where are you meeting him?”

“Here, by these rocks,

And his favourite food is roasted fox.”

“Roasted fox!  I’m off!” Fox said.

“Goodbye, little mouse,” and away he sped.

“Silly old Fox!  Doesn’t he know,”

“There’s no such thing as a gruffalo!”

At about the halfway point, with my heart pounding wildly from skiing and the side effects of my wicked imagination. I stopped to catch my breath and I actually considered turning off my headlamp to see just how dark it really was. This year I have faced many of my fears and I’m not one who is usually afraid of the dark, but there was no way I was turning off that headlamp! I practically gave my own head a shake. I was pretty sure that chainsaw wielding serial killer would be standing right in front of me when I turned the light on again. And at the point where I would turn the headlamp on again he would crank up the chain saw and I would absolutely jump out of my skin.

At the end of the 9km loop I reached the lit trail that circles the lake and leads back to the parking lot. I have never been so happy to see the lights of the trail system, civilization! I practically hugged the first skier I saw. That might have been awkward!

Why was this crazy?

Seriously? It was crazy because I managed to scare the crap out of myself without even planning to.

Would I do it again?

Maybe….

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This was actually taken the next night, on those lovely green trails closer to the parking lot and civilization. Me thinks they might be lynx!