Whistler, BC (Dec 15/2021) – With the Covid-19 mindset continuing, forests in BC literally ablaze all summer and autumn rivers & streams flooding over …meant digging deep to the challenge that ‘we don’t always get what what we want’. Feeling lost but still wanting to go in the right direction, N&J keep active while exploring new and exciting areas close to home. Spending more time at home rather than ‘on-the-road with Hobbes’ doesn’t mean all is boring…
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Whistler & the surrounding area is blessed with loads of recreational ideas and opportunities. The multitude of endless hiking & biking trails provide an abundant supply of challenges, thus the excuse of ‘nothing to do’ is moot.
A couple years back N&J bought themselves two Specialized ‘Levo’ full-suspension mountain e-bikes w/29″ wheels, carbon-fibre frames, etc… Irregardless of what the ‘e-bike naysayers’ & critics have to say regarding e-bikes, they are fantastic. N&J were no strangers to riding these mountains with regular mountain bikes, but e-bikes really get you further than before, permitting the rider to achieve heights and distances never reached previously. The programmable power levels allow ‘no assist’ to the ‘amount of assist’ (10% to 100%) to be determined by the user, therefore the amount of workout achieved is completely controllable.
Riding the ‘Sea To Sky Trail’, which runs from Squamish to Pemberton opens up a vast landscape to experience. One such ride from Alpine Meadows (N&J’s neighbourhood in Whistler) to Brandywine Falls south of Whistler, encompasses about a 65km round-trip ride on trails that offer all sorts of technical riding challenges. Passing over suspension bridges, through a BC Forest Rec Campsite, along fast moving rivers, a section of an old brick trail, gravel, rocks, deep lush forest, ups & downs…it is all there.
Another bike/hike destination is the abandoned Parkhurst Ghost Townsite which was originally a sawmill community that existed in the early part of the 1900’s. Located north of Whistler along the north-east end of Green Lake and accessible from the Sea to Sky trail, it is difficult to find and many have gotten lost but well worth the ‘off the beaten’ path adventure. Set deep within the forest only remnants of that bustling enterprise remain, old cabins, old trucks, old bed frames…and a few ghost.
When it comes to hiking, ‘skies are the limit’ would be an adept description of what Whistler offers. From mountain tops, to glaciers, river canyons & deep lush forests; the variety of terrain is exceptional. Sometimes it takes a 2 way approach to be able to access some of the far reaching escapes.
A great all-day hike and bike destination would be the Rainbow Glacier. Starting from N&J’s home, just about a block to the trail accessing the Rainbow Mountain trailhead, N&J along with Whistler friends Michael & Vicki (M&V) set out on their bikes. After a 6+ km ride straight up, the bikes are hidden deep in the forest where the ferns, leaves, and trees provide shelter and camouflage for even the brightest bikes. Once securely hidden and helmets replaced with walking sticks the group begins their hike on a trail that undulates between dark, lush, green forest to sun-scorched rock-strewn glacier rubble (called moraines), following 19 Mile Creek to the very top of the mountain where it begins. After what seems like ‘forever’ (4+ hours; and a whole lot of mushrooms picked) this crew finally reach … after a 870m (2850 feet) elevation gain …the ‘whole point’ of the exercise, the Rainbow Mtn peaks & glacier and companion Iceberg Lake!
The panoramic views are breath-taking. Vibration of one’s body through opening of spirit and mind is inescapable in this setting where the earth, rocks, plants and sky feel as one with spirit. To be inspired seeing firsthand how the retreating glacier has left its indelible mark on the landscape, the scoured rock surfaces… the ice-blue ancient ice mass curling over the edge with its tell-tale myriad of freshly-melted water streaming down the mountain faces, forming initially the green-blue Iceberg Lake, then into 19 Mile Creek cascading towards Green Lake …far, far below.
All said… a visual & audible feast for the senses.
M&V are a wealth of experiences and knowledge, introduced N&J to the fascinating world of mushroom foraging… found ‘everywhere’ in the mountains of Whistler.
To say N&J caught the ‘mushroom bug’ would be an understatement. Dreams of mushrooms permeated every wakeful and sleeping moment. Like on a treasure hunt the prize just out of vision until it suddenly appears and the glorious beauty is there to behold, to marvel and wonder, then to plan for the feast ahead!
The first mushroom discovered was the prized Lobster mushroom. Hidden beneath the surface exposed by nothing but a slight crack in the dirt, the eye focuses in, spying a glimpse of the bright orange fungus peering back. With excitement and utter care the earth surrounding the lobster is brushed away and digging deep the root is extracted from the deep recess that acted as the protector of this glorious beauty to come to be.
After a summer of foraging N&J and M&V on one particular fall outing, the mushrooms were cautious and elusive for most of the day when just as the group were planning to call it… J was attracted to something large, dark and mysterious hidden off the path in the damp moss under a tree. The deeply mysterious, black velvet bouquet had an eerie yet beautiful appearance. Utter excitement burst from the group as the realization of what J had discovered hit them. The Black Chanterelle is one of the most prized mushrooms with a glorious gourmet flavour that is rich & smokey and provided a beautiful feast.
What seems to be an endless variety of different ‘shrooms’ to be discovered, it is quite a task to identify what is edible, what is not (poisonous) & what is psychedelic (magic mushrooms). Thankfully M&V are very knowledgeable of the subject, in addition there is an app ‘Picture Mushroom’ that helps to identify the species and avert any danger.
Back at home the mushrooms are cleaned & fried up w/butter for a most glorious dinner and delectable treat…
These simple adventures involving some physical endurance and treasure hunting helped put life in perspective for N&J. Like reaching back to the primal roots of one’s being, the summer experiences help expunge the perceived hardships that ‘The World’ is facing in these times. So with ‘Good Friends’, and oneself, they keep moving and striving for a better place of experiencing and being, while the path reveals its wonders and healing of the spirit, mind, body and soul.
For this N&J are thankful as the earth rotates to it’s new position with the sun.