Alta States 

The spice that adds to life


"Once upon a time - in a northern land far, far away - lived a tribe of people who loved to play outside in the snow in wintertime. They called themselves the Snow-Eaters. When the weather turned cold and the winter blizzards hit, most other tribes would hunker deep inside their shelters and pine for spring. But not the Snow-Eaters. For them, playing outdoors in all seasons was fundamental to their character."

How Eagle Saved The Snoweaters - A Fable For Our Times (2006)

I missed Opening Day this year. Don't laugh. It was a traumatic event for me - probably the first time in 30 years that I haven't been near the front of the lift line looking to set early-season tracks on my favourite mountain in the world. But you know how it goes.

I'm doing penance for my past sins. Living the consequences of my old lifestyle. Meaning? My new bionic knee is taking its own sweet time to get acclimatized to its new environment. In other words, the damn thing's not progressing the way I want it to progress. My back has rebelled too. Turns out that while I was trying to ignore my knee issues last season the rest of my body was struggling.

The result: I was recently diagnosed with something called spondylolisthesis, or as they say in Wikipedia, "the anterior displacement of a vertebrae or the vertebral column in relation to the vertebrae below." Ouch. Very Pavlovian too - any time I get too active the ensuing electric jolt from my back to my brain quashes any desire to even lick the envelope - let alone push it. And there's no fast cure in sight.

So there I am. Sitting on the sidelines on the injured reserve list. Gnawing my knuckles with frustration and envy. I can tell ya - while others were getting in touch with our snowy backyard last week, I was squirming like a worm on a hook...

Still, I got the vicarious pleasure of hearing from those who did get to slide on Friday. Remember Greg McDonnell? The subject of last week's Alta States musings, Whistler's own (un-caped) social crusader wouldn't think of missing out on this event. Here's how he described his first day of the ski season:

"I got up at 4:30 a.m.," he told me, "and rode my bike to the village (screw pay parking!). I fashioned a killer ski rack on the back of my bike and will ride all winter. I knew there was a reason we chose to live close to the village...."

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