Life is a mountain, not a beach!


Mountains, like people, come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are large, some thin, some reach as high as the stars, while others stay low to the ground.  They can vary in color, too, from green to gray, white or red, and are even occasionally striped.  Some are covered in trees, others draped in moss. In short, either way, I love them.  All of them.  This is especially why I love living in Canada: mountain country!

This is not a new love, but one that dates.  At barely three years old I went skiing for the first time on a hill in the Laurentides.  Race down as fast as I can?  Yes, please!  Climb back to the top?  No, thank you!  It wasn’t until my 20s, after traveling a bit, that I really began to appreciate the climb…

Now, five years later and countless mountains under my belt, I realize how each mountain chain really has its own personality. Let me take you on a tour of three of my favorites, as seen through my eyes. Let’s go!


In June of 2010, I took a bus from Montreal to Calgary.  Suddenly, after traveling more than 2000km of forests and 1500km of wheat fields, the Rockies made their appearance. Imposing, majestic, they were like a mirage!  The feeling was indescribable, a feeling that stayed with me during that entire short summer.  Even today, almost every time, seeing those epic summits piercing through the clouds evokes the same emotions: feelings of freedom, of awe, like anything is possible.

The Rockies, comprised of 1200km of extraordinary peaks, are like colossal stones overseeing their land of valleys below, dotted with rustic villages, glacial rivers, and boreal forests.  Here, we meet people making a living off of their passions, coexisting with their natural environment and its wildlife (try playing soccer when a 2m tall elk decides to join you on the field!).  The omnipresence and splendor of the wilderness here is simply bewitching.  For me, this mountain chain is like a band of wild stallions: untamable.

canadian rocky mountains


I continued my journey west to British Columbia, one of Canada’s most fearsome environmental combatants.  I went to teach people how to ski.  Though less imposing than their neighbors, they are covered in trees and experience a phenomenal amount of snowfall (15m in Whistler, winter 2010-2011!), and tight knit communities bound by their love of the outdoors: skiing, hiking, fishing, picnicking… all of which is easily accessible from the nearby villages.  From Vancouver’s skyscrapers, you can see the North Shore Mountains, constantly calling you to come outside and play.  I can’t wait to go back!

canadian pacific coast mountains


For us, the Quebecois, it’s here that everything began.  It’s here that our parents brought us for our first hikes, ski lessons, and bike rides.  Extending across Quebec just north of the Saint Lawrence River, these rounded summits appear to gently call out “Hello, come and check us out!”  Like women in evening gowns, they garb their best attire in the fall when their colors change from green to orange and red.  A perfect weekend get-away from the bustling city, you can find a welcome stillness or partake in an exciting activity to forget the daily grind.  If you’re looking for me, you know where to find me!

laurentians mountains

Of course, there are many others!  There are the Appalachians, spreading from southern Quebec down through the eastern United States, their highest points in Gaspésie.  Or the Saint-Elias Mountains in the Yukon and part of Alaska.  And so many more!  With a nation of this magnitude, everyone can find their cup of tea.
Once, in a shop, I saw a t-shirt with the slogan “Life is a mountain, not a beach” scrolled across the front.  I regret not buying it.  Wouldn’t you?

By Caroline Asselin

Translated by Julie Rotharmel

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