Canada: White Place, White Time.


Bump! The chairlift hits the back of my sleepy legs as it had done a thousand times that season, I sit back on the empty chair and let it pull me to the top. I let my gaze wander over the entire face of the mountain, one side of the chairlift is lined with snow-covered pine trees the other, the familiar run home to the bottom of the mountain.

It’s late in the season of 2010/2011 in Canada and I’m on the first chair of the day. Beneath my hanging snowboard is an immaculately groomed run and while the blank slate of freshly groomed snow calls my name, it’s not the reason for my ascent this morning. I’m off to find some untouched snow amongst the trees. I yawn wide, my body locked in behind the safety bar but my mind still in my bed. I’d missed my morning coffee in exchange for the first chair.

I near the peak of the mountain and quickly tighten my front binding, lift the safety bar and prepare to dismount. After cruising down to the top of my run I bend down, tighten both my bindings. I take a deep breath and the cold air awakens my senses. I look around at the surrounding mountains, not a soul in sight. I feel on top of the world. I am on top of the world.

I start the run and make a few turns, spraying up some loose snow on the edge of the trail, I’m loosening up and starting to feel good about todays riding. 50 metres on and I cut left in between the trees and begin winding my may in and out. I’m racing through the trees now, the wind is deafening in my ears, my board is making noisy work of the snow beneath it. Adrenalin pumps through my veins and I feel alive. This is my freedom.

I cut left. I cut right. I cut back once more trying to loose speed. The edge of my board wedges deep in the snow. I go flying and expect to land hard on my back but the fresh snow from last night makes for a softer landing.

I sit up waist deep in snow. The wind has stopped; the board beneath my feet is now silent. Everything is still. Everything is silent, almost meditative. It takes me a few minutes to regain my breath. I sit there for a few minutes checking myself over for any injuries. I suddenly become hyper-aware to the environment around me. It’s crisp and cold, the air burns my nostrils ever so slightly as I breathe in. I glance around. The world around me is completely white. It’s so deafeningly quiet. Never before had I experienced such calmness. I wanted to talk or clap or do something but I didn’t for fear of upsetting the mountain itself. I sat there and embraced the chilly silence, alone with my thoughts. This is my real freedom.

I continue my way down the hill in a euphoric cloud from that blissful fall. I’m yet to break that trance when all of a sudden…Bump! It’s that chairlift again….

About the Author: My name is Nicholas Paton, a nomadic backpacker looking to explore global culture. I travel in order to discover the world and myself on a deeper level. I write to inspire others to do the same. My explorations, insights and adventures can be followed at


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