For the longest time, I used this as my facebook profile photo:
That’s not the high arctic or the Rockies. That’s Signal Hill on a particularly frigid day in January 2007.
The hill can be treacherous at the best of times, but that day the snow had crusted over thanks to a dose of freezing rain. It turned all the West-facing slopes into bobsled runs: slick, fast, and dangerous.
We could have used crampons and ice picks. Instead, we threw ourselves off the rocks and slid like seals across the expanse of ice, before bringing up solid on the next ridge of rock or a patch of bare, hard ground. (The wind blows so fiercely that the snow drifts into feet-high drifts in places, leaving other patches of frozen grass bare).
There were three of us that day: my sister, myself and an Aussie friend visiting NL for the first time.
Our friend was 31 at the time – a dentist and musician who had taken a year off to travel the globe. As I threw myself across the ice, she was a little more careful with her step. I commented that she was being careful only because she hadn’t grown up around snow and ice.
No, she said. (She was a mad adventurer herself). She was being careful because she was “old.” Since she hit her late 20s, she couldn’t jump off rocks and barrel down hills the way she used to. Oh she could DO it, but she would know about it the next day. So she chooses to step with more care and not subject her body to repeated hard landings on hard ice and rock.
Fair enough, I said. I understood.
But what I actually thought was, “The day I have to slow down and watch my step on snow and ice will be the day I die.”
Turns out, I was an impertinent little 22-year old.
Here I am now, not yet 28, and running back to the house for my hiking boots when I’m only going across the road and down the bank to our beach. My old cycling injury flares up when it rains (seriously). I slipped on the ice in our Alberta driveway and was sooooore the next day.
Is it age? Can my ankles really no longer hold their own over a few loose stones?
Is it fitness? I’m sure as hell not the athlete I once was, although thanks to a few New Year’s Resolutions that is changing.
Or is it maturity, knowing that a twisted or broken ankle now would be a lot more complicated to handle than as a single gal?
A little bit of all three – I can’t do much about the first nor last, but I think I’ll take myself out for a run this afternoon, the gale of wind be damned.
I’m not old yet.