After my one proper shift, I get two days off. It’s definitely good timing, because Whistler has been hit by a major heatwave. It’s 30-31 degrees for the next few days, and shows no signs of leaving. Admittedly I end up wasting my first day by sleeping in and meandering around town. Do get around to using my blender for smoothies and hummus though (smoothies are a success, hummus is not) and whip together some bruschetta. All of which is great in this temperature.
My roommate however, has the best bear story as of the evening. She hadn’t seen a bear since she arrived, while just about everyone else has spotted at least one on the chairlift or gondola. Then, as she headed out the exit door of our accommodation to make a phone call, she stops dead when she spotted a black bear just ten metres away in the bushes. Got to give the video caller a look too. Kind of jealous (haven’t seen one that close yet!).
I don’t want to waste the next day, but I also don’t want to spend any cash if I don’t have to, so I decide I’ll do the walk available on Whistler.
Course, by the time I wake up and head down into Whistler Village, its 11:30 on a Saturday, so the gondola is mobbed. I wait in the queue a few minutes before scrapping the idea and walking to Upper Village to get the Wizard chairlift up to Blackcomb. It’s a good choice, because the Wizard is practically empty, and I don’t have to wait at all (plus I see another bear on the way up).
Unlike Whistler, Blackcomb is pretty quiet when I make it up, but the heat is almost as bad here as it was on the ground. It’s insane considering there’s still a significant amount of snow on the ground – you’ve got skiers and snowboarders wearing nothing but shorts and tank tops.
Since the weather’s beautiful, I hop on one of the buses that will take me to the Seventh Heaven chairlift – just recently opened this week – so I can check out the top of Blackcomb.
This is both a ski slope and a sightseeing point. There’s a small café at the top too, known as Horstman Hut – possibly the highest eatery in Whistler. This high up there’s no running water, so it’s drop toilets and a limited menu consisting of a barbeque and pies. Still impressive considering everything up here has to be delivered via chairlift or snowcat.
I decide to try one of the pies, going for a beef one. My employee discount doesn’t apply here, so have to pay the full $9.50 for it, and sit out on the balcony to enjoy it.
It’s really beautiful up here – the sun makes the snow painful to stare at, but you can see for miles. Considering most of the days I’ve been on the mountain fog has wrecked the view, this is pretty spectacular. The sky is insanely blue.
The pie is a little bit disappointing – the inside is fantastic, the beef and veg is really nice, but the pie crust is dry and a little hard to swallow. Maybe it had been out too long, but not something I’ll try again.
I head downwards after that, returning to Blackcomb and heading for the Peak to Peak to try reaching the summit of Whistler too. The weather has allowed Pika’s Traverse – home of the infamous ice walks – to be open, and they’ve also opened the Peak Express this weekend, so I don’t have to walk down as well.
It’s getting ridiculous how out of shape I am. This is not a steep slope, or a particularly hard climb – it’s a basic road that’s been ploughed out by machines, and I’m still struggling to make my way up. The climb is definitely worth it though, not only for the views, but to check out the insane snow banks along the way. It’s called the Ice Walk, and within a few minutes, the banks are as high as houses. By the time I get close to the top, it’s easily 20-30 feet high. In the weather it’s dropping fast, but its still pretty impressive. Glad I managed to get up here before it vanishes. Plus, the views from the top are INCREDIBLE.
Check out this view! It was painful on the eyes because of the bright sun, but totally worth the hike. The sun however, is being an issue for the lifties, who have been stuck out here all day and have been lacking sunscreen. They’ve gotten to the point that they have to ask guests for any spare because they’ve ran out and are currently frying this high up.
Part of me wants to walk down again, but my head is starting to hurt and I’ve done so much walking that taking the very steep Peak Express just seems like a smart idea. It’s the steepest of all the lifts I’ve done so far, and almost sets off my vertigo. But I’m less elated when I get to the bottom and realise that I have to go uphill again to get back to the roundhouse.
At this point I figure I should head back into the village because my headache is getting past the point of irritating and straight to painful, even with the water and glasses. Figure seeing both peaks is more than enough to call the day successful. Plus, I desperately need to do laundry and will probably need some sunlight in order to dry things considering how much needs to be done.
There are laundry rooms in each building at staff accommodation, but in order to use it you need a card rather than coins. We get it when we check in, and need to upload cash via debit cards. It’s a little frustrating because wash and dryer costs $5, but you need to put at least $10 on each time. That said, I’ll be using it a lot, and this time I need to do two washes since I’m doing the duvet I bought at the recycle centre too. Dryer ends up being frustrating because clothes aren’t fully dry, and have them strewn about the apartment for a few hours.
Tomorrow I’m back to work, and if this weather keeps up, it’ll be MUCH busier than my first day. Wish me luck.