Climbing a Mountain


The title of today’s post is not a metaphor. I climbed a mountain this weekend. I actually climbed a for-real, steep, slippery mountain. I quickly realized, as I climbed, that if I ever thought that I was not an athlete that I know now that 100% I am definitely not an athlete. I huffed and puffed, had to stop many times to catch my breath and wheezed my way to the top.

But I made it. I did it.

A true climber or hiker would laugh at me. Many would say that what I did this weekend was not mountain climbing. Officially it wasn’t. All I did was walk a fair distance, up a very pitched slope, to watch my kids snowboard down a terrain park.

But I live in southern Ontario, where anything over a few hundred feet high is considered a mountain. And while the gentle sloping logical route would have been the natural choice for a first-timer like me, with the spring-like muddy conditions on the trails, we took the cleaner route: up an icy, slippery, pitched ski run.

And when I say “we,” I mean me and my sister, Darcie. Darcie, unlike me, is a great athlete, who works out daily at a gym or at home and is in great shape. My idea of a workout is power walking through a grocery store, picking up heavy items like a watermelon or bottled water.

Darcie hikes up and down the mountainside at our ski club most weekends, and she even carries my daughter, Nessa, on her back. She owns the right clothes and boots and heads up the mountain each time, never breaking a sweat.

This is how Nessa felt the first time Darcie put her in the carrier to climb up the mountain

So, when she suggested we take the less muddy route, up a ski slope that was a “bit” more steep, I figured, sure, why not.

Did I tell you that I’m not much of an athlete nor am I in great shape?

No photo could properly illustrate just how steep the “hill” was that my sister chose to climb. For the record, when I took the photo of her in the middle of our hike (see photo below), she commented to me, “Do it fast so I don’t fall over and plunge to my death.” Steep, icy, slippery, oh and the wind was gusting to about 70 km/hour too.

Darcie and Nessa on the middle of the steep mountain
A closer-up photo of Darcie and Nessa on the mountain

Darcie moved much faster than I did, as I had to take many breaks to catch my breath and make sure I didn’t fall over and slide back down the mountain. Each time I stopped I questioned my abilities and said, “I can’t do it.” And then I took another breath and said “I can do it.” And I kept moving, up and up the mountain.

After a while I made it to the top of the steep part and had a gentler though hilly path ahead. I hit the bottom of the terrain park where 10-year-old kids flew past me down the hill, often waving (and sometimes chuckling) as they went by. I caught the end of my son’s run, as he yelled to me, “I did a box!”

I made it up just in time to see Matthew fly past me.

I huffed and puffed some more and finally arrived where the crowd of parents and grandparents were cheering the kids on during the annual club slopestyle competition. A mix of rain and warm weather turned the course into a slushy mess, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the kids (or cheering parents and grandparents).

I stood in the crowd, cheering on each snowboarder, with my legs feeling like jelly and lungs feeling like they were about to collapse. After I rested for a few minutes I felt a bit better, put the baby on me, and Darcie, Nessa and I climbed back down the mountain.

Did you know that it’s much easier to go down a mountain that up?

I did it. I climbed up – and down – a mountain this weekend. And I will do it again. I may not be athletic, but I can definitely get myself in better shape so that I huff and puff just a little less next time. And I promise, there will be a next time.