We’re weaving our way up, down, and along, narrow alpine roads. Deep green bristling pine trees, and winter-stripped branches, on either side of us are reaching out to an immaculate, pale and paper-thin, cloudless blue sky. The air feels crisp, and new, though springtime lies just around the corner, for now, each breath still bites and crackles in our lungs. Our nights are spent huddled under piles of heavy woollen blankets, and we sip steaming mugs of butternut soup and peppermint tea in our attempts to keep warm.
The horizon is jagged limestone, and crooked angles. Difficult, blazing white, brilliant beauty lined with the silver of a setting sun, and snow-covered. It feels as if my movements are drawn, always, like some magnet, to the mountains. In the mountains I feel intensely alive, untamed and unpredictable landscapes feel like home.
Every now and then, some fierce gust of wind carries with it the picked up powder-snow of some mountain’s peak, precipice, or ridge-line; sweeping patters of snow morphing and twisting in the freezing wind, until they eventually disperse into nothingness hundreds of feet above the ground we’re travelling. The road ahead is all long shadows, tangled light, and glittering ice sparkling on the tarmac.
We’re making our way to La Tania, to meet, for the very first time, our friends Karolina and Pete, of Hobo Adventures.
La Tania is a ski resort located in the Courchevel area of Les Trois Vallees, France. It’s a peaceful and reasonably new development, built in 1992, and home to École du ski Français, the largest ski-school in France. Our friends Karolina and Pete are full time travellers, living and working seasonally. They’re currently working at one of the numerous luxurious ski-chalets that can be found just off of the slopes, coming into La Tania.
We arrive in La Tania and cross paths with Karolina and Pete in a wooden chalet decorated with intricate carvings and covered in pale gold fairy lights. We order hot chocolates, and spend a couple of hours discussing the highs and lows of living life out of a van, and travelling full time. We’ve followed the Hobo Adventures website eagerly, enjoying their adventures around Europe and impressed at their ability to exist out of a van a little smaller than our own.
We agree to re-convene tomorrow, on the slopes. Mike and I will only be skiing for a couple of days, so we plan to make the most of our brief stay. We’ll get up early the next morning, rent our boots, skis, and poles, and head up into the mountains.
It’s 9am, the next day, and we pick up our gear, and start off skiing an easy slope or two, so that we might get used to skiing after not having done so for some number of years. Mike is a natural skier, he’s spent many weeks exploring various ski-resorts across the states and Canada. I’m a little unsteady at first, it’s been six years since I last skied, and my boots are a little tight and my confidence is low. A couple of hours pass, and before too long we’re enjoying red runs, black runs, and a little off-piste. Mid-afternoon, we meet up with Karolina and Pete, who gift us home-made crumbling scones, the perfect treat for a day on the slopes. We’ll see each-other again, tomorrow. We’ve arranged a picnic with friends, which we’ll share right at the very top of the mountain. We’ll then spend a few hours skiing and snowboarding, together.
Karolina and Pete are fantastic cooks. At our picnic, they share with us a rich, spicy, vegan stew, and an incredible lemon drizzle cake. The group of us, around seven or eight in total, all bring snacks to share, and we pick a bench and eat lunch – it’s the most astonishing picnic destination, we look out to a tremendous view, mountains all around us, almost too bright to look at. The air is brisk, but the sun is powerful on our skin. You can tell the season is coming to a close, as we all unbutton our jackets and try to cool a little. Up here, though, the conditions are still perfect.
We spend the next few hours heading down the mountain, trying out as many runs as possible, before calling it a day, our bodies aching. It’s always wonderful, meeting with people who live passionately, who explore and craft out their own path in life. We’ve been fortunate enough to meet an amazing collection of people, all adventurous, all travelling full-time, and each of them has taught us invaluable lessons about life on the road.
You can see the rest of our photographs from our brief stay in La Tania, here.