Destinations,  Featured,  Inspiration

Learning my limits in Canada

Travel that transforms comes in many packages, from the surprise trip that triggers a mind-blowing realisation, to the huge stand-out moments in your life. My trip to Canada was the latter.

There was no way a ski trip to Banff wasn’t going to be transformative for me. My boyfriend of 13 years is a superb snowboarder and I tried to join him in the sport back in 2008. I failed spectacularly. This was at a time where my mental and physical strength were lacking and I just couldn’t hack it.

Fast forward to now, on the plane home from a ski trip to Canada feeling as high as this 787 and achier than I ever have been in my entire life.

The thought of going on a snowsports holiday had long been a source of anxiety for me. I’d failed before but desperately wanted to try again. It took me ten whole years to muster the courage to try and it was at a time of stress in my life that caused a massive anxiety relapse.

When I get stressed about little things, I go all out.

I didn’t pinpoint the source of this anxiety until it subsided. The better I got at skiing (specifically two keystone lessons at Snozone in Milton Keynes), the better I felt. I finally came off a short dose of anti-depressants and steeled myself for the trip to Canada.

I don’t think I was really prepared for six days of skiing. I had all these expectations, all these plans and everything was so vastly different.

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Banff was the perfect setting for this trip, we chose it because there’s so much to do in the area if, for whatever reason, I couldn’t ski. I didn’t expect the town to be so beautiful and fulfilling. It’s surrounded by three ski resorts and the first we chose was the largest, Lake Louise.

The steep, tree-lined runs were a baptism by fire that I absolutely do not regret. I understand myself quite well these days and I know throwing myself in the deep end is the best way for me to get over a fear.

It was difficult. I struggled. I panicked. But I did it. It took a long time to complete two runs but I’d skied and I’d enjoyed it. Dinner that night at Grizzly Steakhouse was the best reward I could’ve asked for.

The next two days we spent at the smaller resort of Mount Norquay where we’d heard the runs were shorter and more beginner friendly. This is where I found my ski legs and I had the pleasure of doing it in knee-deep powder.

I found my flow, something that’s so important in all walks of life. I pushed myself well beyond my mental limit and only had one small panic. I enjoyed playing in the snow, refined my technical abilities and pushed past the insane aches and pains from day one.

A calm set in from here because I truly believed I wouldn’t be able to hack more than a few days. I’d completed three days of skiing!

Already I felt proud of myself.

Then came Sunshine Village, the place that changed my life and taught me so much about how god damn strong I am.

Powder, tree-lined runs, difficult terrain, tiny jumps, plenty of falls and lots of gorgeous scenery. Everything that I came up against that I thought I couldn’t handle, I did. I nailed it.

This has honestly changed my life. I’ve done more skiing than I ever thought I’d be able to and probably more than most people expected me to.

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If you get the chance to go to Canada skiing, you should absolutely do it, even if you’re nervous about the whole thing. I would definitely suggest you start at Mount Norquay near Banff and get lessons so you can build your confidence.

I now have hard proof that I am stronger both mentally and physically than I ever thought. Never has there been better motivation for me to push myself.

Jess is an automotive and travel writer who loves to road trip. Find out more at www.jessshanahan.com.

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