Winter Journals: Wrapped up in Whistler
It was 46 degrees outside.
The kind of heat that makes you resent sun light (I know, it feels un-Australian to even write it). But we had been more than warm for what felt like months.
As I popped my head into the freezer and began contemplating the meaning of life, an email came through. The team at Geckos Adventures had decided to tailor a winter tour throughout Canada for their travel enthusiasts and needed a hand with on ground experience. Given Geckos is one of the most innovative, environmentally aware travel companies out there right now, I was more than excited to help.
Billabong’s Tanika Hoffman and Pacha Light were easily convinced to join with the mention of limitless snowscapes and the incredible teams at Destination British Columbia and Tourism Alberta helped us map out an itinerary sure to provide the authentic Canadian escape Geckos was looking for.
Certain that thongs and a singlet would be comfortable travel attire, Pacha’s face was the first capture I wish I hadn’t missed as we stepped out of Vancouver airport and into the crisp minus eight-degree day. Her eyes widened substantially, face resembling a mixture of when you accidentally watch a romantic movie around your parents and stepping directly in dog poo on the first day of school. She was horrified.
Franticly rummaging through our suitcases and pulling out numerous jumpers we boarded the Pacific Coach Lines bus and snuggled in.
As the coach carved its way through the snow lined streets of Vancouver and into the coastal mountains of British Columbia, we were lulled to sleep by snow drifting by our windows. Before we knew it the driver was calling Whistler.
Ever woken up in a Disney Movie? We did. Pure white, powder-like snow lined the sidewalks and all memories of overheating in front of a computer screen were forgotten. Attempting to manoeuvre suitcases through fresh snow isn’t exactly as magical as we had hoped - luckily a group of local Canadian boys kindly helped Tanika and Pacha with their luggage as I slid across icy patches on the road, juggling three bags and undoubtedly proving not everything gets better with age. Discovering hot chocolate cures anything, we settled in to our centrally located rooms at the amazing Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel and were welcomed by the wonderful team from Tourism Whistler.
With little to no time for jetlag, we were off to road test Geckos Adventures’ new itinerary. The Adventure Group Whistler had us more than covered for exhilarating activities; a morning of Snowmobiling through Whistler’s backcountry lead us into the most incredibly diverse terrain, with magnificent views only accessible by snowmobile or snow shoe at that time of year. Metres of fresh powder draped the mountain side as we made our way to the Zip Lining launch point on Cougar Mountain. Sound serious? Seriously terrifyingly beautiful. (If you’re scared of heights, push yourself to try this – you’ll still be scared afterwards, but there is honestly no feeling like it.)
Soon it was time to try snowboarding, which no matter what anyone tells you is not as easy as surfing - but is definitely as much fun.
If I fall on my knees in the surf I hit water – In Canada I hit compact powder or ice. Some might say, don’t use your knees as a hand brake, but it really was my go to move when sliding out of control down the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb Mountain and screaming at young children peacefully standing in my way.
We soon agreed as a group it was best I stay behind the camera and the girls took to the slopes, nailing it within all of five minutes. Before we knew it light began to fade from the mountain and it was time to head in.
People say time moves too quickly in the mountains, especially in Whistler which tends to present as a daily smorgasbord of exhilarating activities. But every now and then you will get a moment. Whether it is while you are snowshoeing through a forest or sipping coffee by a crackling fire. There are times when everything slows down and the snow outside muffles any exterior sounds. Your entire body exhales, and you feel a peace I struggle to put into words. Come to Canada, you’ll feel it for yourself.
Next stop on the list. Banff!