Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mountain Systems

The mountains are full of surprises. After finishing our ride on Thursday in 30 degree heat, the weather began to shift. It started with a subtle wind moving through the valley. This quickly escalated to wind warnings on the major highways! After arriving home in the later afternoon, the temperature had gone from 30 degrees celcius to 14 degrees celcius! A cold monsoon-type rain enveloped the evening dropping the temperatures to a hovering 2-3 degrees. Waking up the next morning to snow meant having to change our ride. Our intention was to tackle the Serpent of the Alps: the Col de Madeleine. After freezing our asses off riding through rain in the valley, we realized that the only thing awaiting us at the top of the Madeleine would be sub-zero and snow. The Madeleine would have to wait for another day - thank god for me: the girl who pulls out the wool jersies for any day under 20 degrees celcius!
I remember living in the mountains in the Yukon. The beauty, and the danger of it all is the ever changing environment, the spontenaity of it, the lack of predictability. The mountains have a power about them: a power that, as a vulnerable human, needs to be respected. We tackled the Col de la Madeleine the day following (it was a little warmer - no snow at least)! The Madeleine, or Serpent, took a chunk out of me last year, transforming me from a relatively empowered woman to a wimpering child, gasping for breath. This year was quite different: approaching the Madeleine with the respect that she deserves meant continuing to suffer as she bit at my heels a little, but finishing the climb with a little bit of pride.
Being in the mountains is can be both empowering and humbling. The key to maintaining your pride is understanding that the mountain always wins; occasionally though, on a good day, she will give you a little hope!

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