Finding Familiarity on Skis

I’ll admit it has been awhile since I last did anything really outdoorsy, other than going for walks around town here in Banff. My last big hike was to Healy Pass back in September, and I have been craving some time spent exercising in the great outdoors. Throughout the fall, Mother Nature sent us some ugly weather, making it easier for me to stick to my gym and yoga regime, but making it difficult to get outside.

This past weekend was beautiful, though, and my husband suggested we go for a ski. I was definitely game. All we own is alpine touring gear and because I’m not brave like Caroline George, skiing some considerable vertical the day she gave birth, we needed to find suitable terrain that wasn’t going to be too steep for this first ski of the season. We ended up heading down to the Cascade Fire Road and Lake Minnewanka Loop, just a quick drive from Banff.

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

The differences that come with skiing while 24 weeks pregnant began before I even left the house. Thankfully, a male friend had lent me some technical jackets to wear, but I flip-flopped between different pants for awhile before landing on the pair I normally take for winter runs or cross-country skiing. They were stretchy enough, but still felt quite uncomfortable around my non-existent waist. Later, as we geared up at the car to hit the trail, I huffed and puffed as I leaned over to put on my ski boots, somewhat squashing the belly that sat in the way. Each buckle was accompanied by some serious grunting and panting, as though I was trying to push a Mack Truck up a steep road. I was exhausted when I finished, and sat back in the car seat for a few moments to catch my breath.

Paul and I with our two ‘babies’ – his camera and the belly. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

But then the skiing began. The oh-so-familiar feeling of one leg gliding past the other felt so incredibly good, like picking up an instrument again or meeting up with an old friend. It felt surprisingly natural and, apart from a bit of stiffness, I felt like myself again. Carrying this baby has been an incredible privilege, but I can’t help but yearn for normalcy sometimes. As I pushed my skis through the fresh snow, I got a glimpse of life before this news that we were ‘expecting’ – of my more athletic, nimble self being the way I had always known it to be in the mountains. Not an adventurous woman now wearing a soccer ball inside her ski jacket.

We skied for about two glorious hours until my body gave me the clear signals it was time to finish. We headed home to our little place in Banff, made some dinner, got a fire blazing and spent some downtime watching movies on the couch. As if that wasn’t the perfect conclusion to our day spent outside, the baby started kicking madly and Paul was able to put his ear on my belly and feel it for himself, right on the side of his face.

Before I know it, I’ll be skiing with that little person stuffed inside my jacket, or pulling them behind me on a sled. And it’ll probably beat any day I’ve ventured out on my own.

I’ll be looking to this post on cross-country skiing with kids from Nature For Kids when it’s time to head out with the wee one!

Author: Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Meghan has written several books, as well as produced content for films, anthologies, blogs and some of North America’s top outdoor, fitness and adventure publications. She has a forthcoming travel memoir (Fall 2022), to published by Rocky Mountain Books.

13 thoughts

  1. I’m almost at 24 weeks but I can relate! Doing anything outdoors now means wearing gear that is ill-fitting at best. And it’s not even winter when I have to deal with jackets! Also, it’s amazing how despite being relatively small, that belly can really get in the way of anything requiring leaning over.

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