Whistler’s officially in Season…summer that is!

A SUDDEN shift of gears and here it is…summer season is upon us! Just like that, the very long winter season has finally come to a close (except for the upcoming summer glacier ski camps of course!) and the summer Peak to Peak (gondola linking both Whistler and Blackcomb) sightseeing is now resumed it’s operation. The timing couldn’t be better as we briefly returned to 20+ degrees Celsius this past weekend and traffic returned to town.

As if we all needed a reminder that winter was now ‘officially’ over, this past weekend also saw a ‘ramp up’ in activities and events as there was the extremely challenging, but competitive ‘Nimby Fifty’ mountain bike race in the nearby Squamish trails as well as another annual event, the Crud to Mud on Whistler mountain. The latter being challenging enough in so much as everyone skis or boards from the top of Whistler mountain down to ‘mid-station’, jumps out of their bindings and then onto their trusty downhill bike and throws themselves down the bike park. This year having the added challenge in so much that apparently the snow line wasn’t coming down quite as far as ‘mid-station’ where all their bikes were = additional running.

There were also two running and one ‘small’ triathlon event locally as well. The local 10k valley trail run along with the ‘Loop the lakes’ down in Squamish provided two great community based events that encourage many beginner and advanced runners and athletes to try their hand early on in the season (it is still early season for running around here when you consider that most folk don’t or aren’t able to run for large parts of the winter here in Whistler). And so the events season is well and truly under way.

The second running of the stunning Whistler half marathon is this coming weekend. Yours truly is sidelined once again through injury and is becoming a tad bitter and twisted about it (but coping thanks), but intend to cheer on my townsfolk and friends and the following weekend sees the second of the 5Peaks series – a number of running events typically ranging from around 5km and 10-12km in distance and take place around the mountains between Vancouver and here in Whistler.

Of course, there are truly a girth of events I haven’t even touched on, but it’s a full calendar which will hopefully encourage many to involve themselves in this beautiful outdoor environment. It will also do wonders to help the tourism by bringing big numbers up to our resort, not just for the ‘regular’ activities such as the world renown downhill bike park, hundreds of kilometres of some of the best biking single-track, rafting, climbing, hiking, zip wiring, concerts, etc….I could go on.

Now right on cue as Whistler officially launches its summer, it would seem as if our ursine friends also received the same wake up call. Sure, they’ve been spotted around for a good few weeks now, but they’re way more prevalent right now. We’ll see much, much more of them as summer progresses and the weather and climate produces a better food crop, but for now you still know they’re around even if you didn’t spot them. That’s right – they’re usual ‘calling cards’. Funny how you can get offended by dog litter, but bears…well what ya gonna do?! However, there has been another recent sighting of another furry creature I’m quite happy not to have encountered – a cougar on the prowl. We’d probably be a bit ignorant to assume that there were never any around Whistler. Although they are very rarely ever seen (perhaps one or two over the last couple of years or so), its probably fair to assume that there may have been more around, but just hidden and out of sight. It’s one of those things that is ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Sometimes you’re simply better off not knowing, especially as there’s nothing you can do about it.

There’s also another change that comes with the turning of the seasons – the different demographic of traveller that comes into town now that much of the snow is dissipating. I don’t think it would be incorrect of me to note some tourists frequent our parts in significantly higher numbers during the warmer summer months, such as those for example who perhaps herald from or have Indian ancestry, perhaps second or third generation living around these parts perhaps in the maligned Surrey area outside Vancouver. Many of them have little or no desire to be up here in winter, but are very happy visiting us now. Many will not be here to take advantage of the summer adrenalin of such activities as downhill or even just mountain biking, but are quite happy to simply ‘sightsee’. This is fine and is a much desired and needed demographic for the shops, restaurants and hotels. As a rather broad statement, tourism in town of any nature, whilst undisruptive in behaviour, is greatly appreciated at every level.

So as we take our early steps into hopefully a bright, new, warmer world, let’s be grateful for all we have around us – green grass (more by the day as the white stuff clears), amazing wildlife, stunning scenery, any and every excuse under the sun for an opportunity to sample the great outdoors via a wide, wide diverse volume of activities…oh, and jobs with which to feed us all as the tourism drives back into town.

If only summer was just a tad longer……