An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Lazy, hazy days by the lakes... already?

Now I know this will undoubtedly prove to be a little (read: Way too early) premature, but it sure feels as if summer’s here right now.

For most and certainly for myself, this is simply the best time of year to be living around these mountains here in British Columbia.

It’s also a slightly surreal experience in some ways to step outside and feel the warmth and strength of the sun (the sun’s rays tend to be a tad stronger than down at sea level and everyone around here would do well to heed that fact when ignoring the experts advice to wear sunscreen!) and look around you to see the abundance of snow on all the peaks. Is it ski season (yes actually), spring, summer – difficult to tell at times.

Well this past weekend has certainly staked its claim for an early ‘Indian summer. Personally I didn’t think it was super hot, but evidently the scores and scores of young adults sunbathing down by the local lakes thought otherwise. So once again it was a timely reminder of the ‘real’ time of year when spotting everyone at the lake, to see barely dressed individuals, beach games, warm sand …..and big piles of snow between them and the water!!!

It did seem a little out of place, but there it was all the same. Now, there was something that was a little concerning – There were quite a few individuals that had braved the still icy lake and swam out to some of the floating docks.

Yep, they’d been vocal enough to let those around know that the temperature was perhaps a wee bit chilly for a dip, but I wonder if they were aware of the real peril. – Whilst it was great to see summer activities resume, it should be noted that over the past few summers there have been a couple of incidents where individuals have gotten themselves into trouble in the lakes whilst swimming in the early and slightly frigid conditions.

For whatever reason, just eaten, been drinking or even some congenital condition, they’d cramped up, got hypothermic and drowned. It ‘sucks’ (apologies, but a local derogatory way of saying that ‘it’s a shame’) to read and write about such incidents and I’m sure they were accidents and perhaps even unavoidable, but sometimes people need to just be aware of the potential perils of certain scenarios.

So what do we know; luckily of late it’s sunny and warm here, all the snow around the village and valley trails has melted but there is still heaps and heaps of the slightly warm white stuff on all the peaks as you look around.

So with this in mind, it’s also a little surprising to realize that the Whistler downhill bike park opens this Friday in time for what is the traditional rowdy ‘May long weekend’. The volunteers and diggers have been out on the lower bike trails now ever since Whistler Mountain closed its skiing operation around a month back.

Maybe not quite as bad as last year’s troubles as the spring weather has been substantially better so far, but there has still been one heck of an effort made to ensure the lower bike park opens on time for this weekend.

The reason I specifically made reference to the ‘rowdy May long weekend is because this is unfortunately how everyone around Whistler knows and remembers it. Without typecasting or stereotyping anyone or any areas around here, this weekend in particular has something of a reputation of luring hundreds of individuals from around Vancouver and specifically Surrey (a suburb of Vancouver).

They do love to come and party (obviously there’s nowhere to party in their own town or city) and often act up and carry on as if there’s no-one else around, shouting obscenities from their balconies at friends or others in the street and rolling around drunk out of their minds in the middle of the afternoon. Obviously it can’t all be bad as the town is grateful for the business, but sometimes we’re walking a fine line between wanting the business and not being worth all the effort.

Barbeque season is upon us again at last. It’s like the welcoming of summer and then just the sheer tenacity to hang onto the ability to cook outdoors no matter what the weather brings. For now it’s allowed us this past week or so to get back in touch with the great outdoors, or at least the patio in our case. It also means that many a Whistler resident is out in force desperately getting in the last of their half marathon training for the local half in a few weeks.

Fortunately the need for covering up or at least adopting the Aussie ‘slip, slop, slap’ motto for liberally applying sunscreen will abate for many over the coming days as the weather threatens to change a bit, not too bad we hope, but possibly a wee bit cooler for those out running in the heat of the day. At the very least, the slightly weaker sun rays and cloud will allow some of the overly red body parts to repair and give the individuals an opportunity to reflect on ‘where did I go wrong?’

For those who need not worry so much about damaging sun rays, such as those ever emerging furry bear friends of ours, well they’re beginning to show their faces around the valley and at least the early ‘good’ weather (all relative to bad years like last time around) should mean that there’s plenty of good berry and food crop for them to fatten themselves.

This of course, may well then mean that although the snowlines are gradually abating and sneaking back up towards the gods that these guys will start traversing back down toward us more in the meantime whilst there is good food available.

Never a problem to run into or spot these guys that EVERYONE looks forward to seeing, but always a potential consideration when dealing the visiting and perhaps less ‘bear friendly’ or at least knowledgeable tourists that may not be so aware of how to react around them.

So life is good, spirits are high with the temperatures, the bike park is about to open, tourists are soon to begin coming back up in higher numbers and it looks as if we could be in for an awesome summer this year. Fingers crossed everyone, eh! Must be time to get the ‘barbie’ going again!!