Ashley McMillan: Ahh....summer in the mountains!

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SO having enjoyed the UK’s glorious June and July summer weather, one was kind of looking forward to a summer at some point. Well we weren’t disappointed, just that we had to travel back to our spot in the Canadian mountainside to find it.

But when we found it, wow – summer took a hold here typically pretty much just as we took of for the UK for a few weeks, but it hasn’t let its grip go for even a single second. Sun, sun, glorious sun.

Warm days in the high 20’s near every day encourages everyone up to us and brings everyone out to play. This is the summer we missed somehow last year and is definitely one of the main reasons for keeping me here year after year.

Now I know the sun tends to place a rather glossy effect on everything and the mood changes, life feels good, it’s easier to be outside and play amongst the local attractions, but you really have to experience Whistler in the sun to appreciate its glow.

Whistler has an abundance of events and plenty to keep you occupied at the best of times, but try sampling weekly free outdoor concerts staged in our Olympic medal plaza, one HUGE mountain biking festival, stunning mountain surroundings, sun drenched patios, beaches and lakes literally coaxing you in and if you wanted more, well don’t forget the atv’s, rafting, zip wires, stunning mountain top trails to walk, run, bike and explore.

Or if that’s all a bit too much, perhaps you’d like to sample the weekly farmers market with all its wondrous smells to tickle your nostrils and fresh goods to tantalise your taste buds – I know it gets my full attention every Sunday morning.

Now, if you’re lucky, you might just get to see our neighbourhood wildlife whilst you’re doing all this (not usually at the market though I should add!).

It’s a little difficult to do justice with a few words and sentences, but for me, this is truly where my heart is. Since our return from the UK and overcoming my injuries that prevented me from running for way too long (any ‘downtime’ is bad time!),

I have spent hours running around the roads and trails around this place in the mountains. At times I have drifted past bears without realising, only to catch myself at the last minute as I’m virtually on top of the beautiful beast – quite a rush I can assure you. I’ve spent the last week either before or after work running around the very peaks of Blackcomb Mountain, largely because it’s simply been too hot to train or run down below.

As I skip from rock to rock, down technical trails and climb into the snowline, I’ve been greeted with nothing but vistas. This week whilst up on high I think I’ve seen more eagles in their full glory, their beautiful wingspan held strong as they drift almost motionless through the skies, than I think I’ve ever seen in my life. Yes, summer here in Whistler has my heart in a very tight grip.

Evidently thousands of others have had similar glimpses into what life could be like in Whistler. The hotels, bars and restaurants have been as busy as ever.

Of course, the weather which continues to hold is perhaps the biggest allure. Sure, our market is made up from far more local travellers than our typical winter customer, but does Whistler really care where its main demographic is or how dynamic its customer is across the seasons?!

So as alluded to earlier, the latest event to come and go in town is the hugely popular Crankworx biking festival.

This is a massive event in North America in the world of both freestyle and downhill biking and although staged in a few different locations across the continental plate, these 9 days staged in Whistler never fails to pull the biggest of named competitors and with them, literally thousands of interested spectators eager to catch a glimpse into this world.

Of course what this does do is fill up the resort hotel beds, but with many a visitor being either sponsored by a company, up on company time or simply on the company dime (as so many workers for the various bike biking sponsors and corporate stages have to be based on the spot), not too much additional money always makes it way back into the restaurants and across the town unfortunately.

The other downside this year that some have noticed is that there evidently has been a few less garbage or environmentally aware or considerate individuals who still think it’s a gas to simply drop the beer cans or bottles wherever and whenever they see fit. Idiots!!

In my considered opinion, the best place to avoid all this – up on high on the mountain peaks. Again, running amongst the gods, the occasional eagle, marmots and all enjoying the slightly cooler and more bearable temperatures. Some people want everything, eh?!