The other day, Olive asked me if I could run.
She wasn’t asking me to run, mind you. She was asking if I was physically capable of running because, presumably, she’s never seen it.
It’s true that I’m not often found running and jumping and engaging in strenuous activity or competitive sports. Or even mild activity and recreational sports, if we’re being honest. I’ve never been super athletic and my kidney condition means that I’m always hovering on the edge of fatigue just from daily activities. It’s one of the reasons I love yoga so much, it’s a way to stay in shape and maintain some sort of muscle tone without having to sweat buckets of precious electrolytes. But, of course, Olive doesn’t see me in yoga class and while I’m sure I have run in her presence, it’s obviously happened rarely enough that she doesn’t remember it.
I’m sharing this anecdote with you for two reasons. First, to add yet another example of Olive’s trolling skills to the already-long list. And second, so that you will have some context for the following story.
A friend of mine works at Lake Louise and earlier this week he texted me saying that he needed to go up and check out one of the lodges – one that Will and Kate stayed in a few years ago, no less – and did I want to tag along for a few nights for free?
I think it’s a basic rule in life that if someone asks you if you want to spend a few free nights in a luxurious lodge in the Canadian Rockies, especially one frequented by literal royalty, you say yes. Always say yes. And, as luck would have it, I had just finished sorting out arrangements for Olive to head to her dad’s house to spend five days with her grandparents.
So, obviously, I was like, “OMG, amazing” and instantly took him up on his offer.
Immediately I started daydreaming about room service and big stone fireplaces and began rummaging around in my closet for my bathing suit, because everyone knows that the best part about staying at luxurious lodges in the Canadian Rockies is sitting in an outdoor hot tub late at night inhaling the cool, crisp air and looking at the stars.
It wasn’t until I was texting a friend about my weekend plans the next day that I realized how unnecessary that bathing suit would be.
“What lodge is it?” she asked, and I as I opened up the text from my friend to check the name (Skoki Lodge) I realized that I hadn’t even googled it to find out where I’d be staying, so I did.
And oh my god it was everything I thought it would be.
I mean, really. Could anything be more gorgeous?
Excited, I began to read the site’s description. And then slowly, my excitement began to waver. And then I began to sweat a little. Phrases began to jump off the page at me, unfamiliar phrases. Phrases like “rustic” and “no running water” and “no electricity” and “outhouses”.
And then I discovered the real kicker. The lodge is accessible only via an 11-kilometre trail. In summer you can hike there. In winter, you access the lodge by cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
At this point you might be asking yourself, “Does Madeleine know how to cross country ski or snowshoe?” and in lieu of answering that I will simply remind you that my four-year-old daughter cannot even recall seeing me run.
So, no, I don’t know how to snowshoe or cross country fucking ski!
At this point, however, I had committed. And I didn’t want to back out and look like a whiny little bitch, “So, I actually can’t come. I’m incapable of moving my body at moderate speeds for long periods of time and I prefer to poop indoors, thanks.”
So, in quite a panic now, I texted my brother for reassurance. Liam goes ice climbing and camping and is decidedly more outdoorsy than I am, and I was hoping he’d be like “Oh yeahhh, you’ll be fiiine!”
After briefing him on the situation, that was not how the conversation went at all.
So I decided to fess up. I texted my friend like, “Heyyy, Peter! So the thing is, I am not so outdoorsy or sportsy and I’m a teensy bit nervous about the hike in.” He seemed nonplussed and replied that there was absolutely nothing to worry about; why, he had picked up a couple of 75-year-olds coming back from the lodge just that morning and they had managed the trek no problem.
On one hand, this was the sort of reassurance I was hoping for. I mean, he’s seen me. He knows what I’m working with, so I feel like I can trust his assessment of my abilities.
On the other hand, it’s going to make it even more humiliating if I can’t do it. I’m not one to underestimate someone just because of their age – my 96-year-old Granddaddy still plays badminton and mows his own lawn. Ask me the last time I played fucking badminton.
During this conversation, I also asked how one goes about cleansing oneself with no running water and no electricity. He generously replied that he would bring wet wipes. For “the pits”.
So. This brings us to today. I’ve ransacked my favourite Goodwill store (which has a surprisingly large activewear section. Who knew?!) I’ve hunted down some wool socks. I have borrowed hiking boots and stocked up on electrolyte drinks, packed my medication and a book and even rustled up my Padraig slippers to wear indoors, just like the website says.
Tonight I drive to Lake Louise and then bright and early tomorrow morning (after a giant coffee) we’ll put on big backpacks and snowshoes and hike eleven kilometers into the mountains for two days of kerosene lamps and no wifi and wet-wipe showers. Just like Will and Kate!
I’m actually kind of excited!