By Tanya Koob, www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com
It was January, 2011 and I had left my son for the first time since his birth. He was safe at home with Grandma while my husband and I skied into a backcountry lodge for the weekend. It was also the first big trip since I’d become a mom. I was scared on every big hill and confess to leaving my climbing skins on for some of the downhill sections of trail.
What I remember most about the weekend though, isn’t the lodge or the challenging ski trip. What I remember are the girls I met while I was at the lodge – 5 amazing moms who had left their kids and husbands for the weekend, who were vibrant and full of life, and who inspired me to one day follow in their footsteps on my own girl’s getaway. All I needed was to find my own group of girlfriends and super-strong mountain mamas. I had to find a group of women who would be brave enough to leave their kids for a weekend and to venture off the beaten path into the wilds of Banff with me. How hard could that be?
As it turns out, it only took me two years to form a small army of mighty mountain moms. Last weekend marked my first all-girls backcountry ski trip in Banff National Park with 13 amazing women, moms, and friends. We took Holiday on Horseback’s Sundance Lodge by storm with wild laughter and animated conversations as many of us became new best friends and future travel companions.
And what a group I gathered! Our group included a Russian ballet dancer, my son’s beloved preschool teacher from Peru, a lovely Japanese mom from Banff, and my Argentinian friend Patricia who, while yet to have her first child, joins me on all of my big climbing trips and girl’s getaways. The group also included two of the moms I’d met in 2011 after exchanging contact info and trying to keep in touch over the last two years.
When I first got the idea to do a girl’s backcountry ski trip to Sundance Lodge, I wondered how many friends I’d get to come with me. I knew Patricia would come for sure if she was free but wasn’t sure how many of my mom-friends, would leave their kids behind for the trip. Would they be able to afford a posh backcountry lodge and convince husbands to let them leave for a weekend? I was doubtful.
However, when I sent out the first email asking for general interest, I did not get a single negative response. Every girl I invited responded with an emphatic yes that they would come!! The moms from my outdoor playgroup were excited by the opportunity to get to know one another better without having to supervise children during our get-togethers and some of the girls wanted to invite friends or sisters.
It soon became clear that we would be booking the whole lodge and that this trip would go beyond my first girl’s backcountry trip to my first private lodge trip, shared with nobody but my friends. It was a little surreal to believe.
Of the weekend highlights, one of the biggest was the freedom we all felt – freedom to ski as fast as we wanted without having to pull children behind us while listening to complaints, cries and pleas for snacks, more candy, a rest break or to get OUT and walk. We could enjoy pleasant conversations on the trail with friends or we could listen to the birds and enjoy solitude, which as one of our moms said, “was so quiet… sweet, sweet quiet. It was not quiet when I got home.”
I laughed as I saw what I refer to as the “Chariot Moms” flying down the trail screaming because they could practically fly without the extra weight behind them. At the lodge I smiled when I saw moms quietly knitting, playing guitar, or enjoying a glass of wine. Each of us felt freedom in different ways over the weekend but we could all agree on having a renewed sense of energy and peace upon leaving the lodge. One of the ladies puts it best with this quote:
“The best result of this weekend was the total relaxation that always comes when you get away to these special spots so hidden away from the business of urban life. I often refer to it as going to ‘another planet.’ I sat around either looking at the mountains, or enjoying the roaring wood fire for five hours in a row! That kind of relaxing is unthinkable when I am at home.”
Going off the grid for a weekend is always a leap of faith with hopes that no emergency will pop up while you are gone but I have yet to find that the world has ended while I was off in the backcountry. For some of us, this marked the first trip away from the kids. Others left their whole family for the first time. Meanwhile other girls left work and business behind. We all left something or someone at home.
In the end, everybody survived in our absence and the world did not fall apart. A couple of us almost felt we should just keep driving rather than return home or that we should plan one of these trips every month. Wishful thinking, but a nice dream none the less.
A few of us were left with sore muscles, blisters, or bruises but not one of us regret having gone on the trip and we will all be left with a great sense of accomplishment . Whether it was the first trip away from the family, the longest or hardest ski trip done in years or the first visit to a backcountry ski lodge, we all took something special with us from the weekend away.
I can’t wait to begin planning my next girl’s adventure and to make even more new friends as I begin to put plans in action for my first all-girls backpacking trip this summer.
Life is too short to not try new things at least a few times per year. What will your big experience this year be?
For more information on Holiday on Horseback’s Sundance Lodge, please visit their website at http://www.horseback.com/sundance.html
Disclaimer: Holiday on Horseback graciously sponsored my trip. Opinions and endorsements are entirely my own.