An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: St Paddy in the Hills!

Destined to be a noisy, celebratory and rather green looking affair, St Paddy’s day arrived with its usual bang and verve here in Whistler.

Sure, there was plenty of snow (as appears to have become the ‘norm’ around here this March) for everyone to play, but for almost every snowflake, I swear there was a green shamrock wearing, leprechaun looking individual, be it young or old, everyone was out celebrate irrespective of whether the beer was been served green or not.

It was certainly a long day for some with our local Irish bar being rammed to capacity by 1.30pm – now that’s early and set a lot of people up for a long day’s ‘socialising’. I’ve heard from many that there were certainly a good few too many who they fully expected to ‘blow’ or be kicked out before the clock even struck 5pm.

I really must be getting old; I couldn’t even fathom the concept of being that drunk and especially that early! Tell you what though, for those who can remember it, must’ve been on hell of a way to see out the winter and ready themselves for spring. St. Paddy’s certainly got a lot to answer for around the world these days. I wonder just how many work days are lost in his cause?

So spring it is then. You’d never guess it around here if it weren’t for that mark on the calendar. There continues to be a continuous daily deluge of the heavenly white stuff falling from the sky this March and I for one very much doubt if many a local can remember many a past March with a heavier snowfall to-date. Now its one thing for the snow to dust and accumulate on the hills, but it’s continued to fall upon us down in the valley around the village.

What does this mean? Well if nothing else, the safe money would be on seeing an extended cross country season on our local trails – that is unless spring kicks into high gear anytime soon, temperatures rise and the sun comes out to play. Thank god for this weekend’s forecast then – clear sunny skies and temperatures promised to hit a balmy 8-9 degrees Celsius. Running weather I believe! It could be summer before we know it!

I for one can’t wait to see the return of our local furry wildlife. We’re a wee bit early for our ursine friends to re-appear, but possibly in a month or so some of the blighters may make an appearance or two looking for some early food to forage.

Also a little too early for most to be thinking toward venturing out on our bike trails or hiking and running the mountain, but given that we are entering the still somewhat lengthy end of our winter season, there are others who have already started venturing to lower lands to practise the skills previously honed on their bike tyres and trail shoes on somewhat clearer, warmer grounds. No murmurings of any cougar sightings down south for them thus far, so I guess it’s a little too early for those guys as well…mmm, maybe.

So whilst our friends way down in Vancouver city are already boasting of their signs of spring, flowers beginning to bloom and birds a chirping (yet to see this with my own eyes as yet!), realistically we’ve probably still got some way to go up here in the mountains. Tourists are still making bookings based on the huge snow base and recent heavy snowfalls, further evidence that the ski season is still alive and kicking.

Traditionally the ‘TELUS Ski & Snowboard Festival’ in April marks the end of the peak snow season, but the wrap up is not until the end of May and even longer if one wished to attend the glacier skiing and riding camps in July. There’s still plenty to do yet and no excuse not to get a good few turns in.

Conscious that I’m pushing against the grain up here, I’m willing many of the local trails to begin clearing as our long season of running events is nearing us. This promises to be yet another long season of racing and hopefully one with a little less injury than the end of last year brought me.

Having of course found the fountain of eternal youth and managed to stop the sands of time, I naturally don’t need to worry myself with the added challenge of training and recovering with any additional impact of age. Damn those re-occurring birthdays! I’m determined to stay in my youthful prime for a good few years yet.

Time to start believing in the Easter bunny again then if I really am to regress in years, or perhaps just a good excuse to look forward to indulging in copious amounts of chocolate once again. Now there’s something to look forward to!