Friday 21 June 2013

Not well weathered

On a trip like this, it’s easy to get to expect too much – simply because each day so far has delivered just that, thanks to the good people at Fairmont and the various tourism organisations that have been generously hosting us. So when you have a more low-key day like today, it tends to feel slightly disappointing. It’s called ‘being spoilt’.

It began very well, with two superb Dungeness crabcakes topped with perfect poached eggs and grilled asparagus at the Wildflower with Kerry of Fairmont – we’re staying at their Chateau Whistler which is one of the grand ones, though not so grand it doesn’t welcome dogs, which is lovely to see. Our window faces the mountains, and that was the problem: whiteout, on our day for going to the top for the Peak to Peak. Encouraged by patches of blue, we went up anyway, on the lookout for the bears and deer which we’d been told could be spotted under the gondola, but all we saw were distant Darth Vaders skimming down the mountain on their bikes.

It was a restful and pleasant 25 minute trip up to the peak of Whistler Mountain, all 1850 metres of it; but the top was in the cloud, with snow, and there was nothing to see. Undaunted (or, with no other choice) we transferred anyway to the bigger cablecars for the Peak to Peak, choosing the special silver one with a glass floor panel. Well, it was like being in a bubble of colour, the rest of the world rubbed out: really, quite weird. The swirling mist did clear now and then, and we had an eagle’s eye view of the trees below, odd but striking. The trip from Whistler to Blackcomb takes just 11 minutes. Only 4 towers carry the cables over 4.4km, including the longest unsupported span in the world of over 3km – all pretty impressive engineering, built for the Winter Olympics in 2010, and we did our best to get excited, but it would have been far better if we’d been able to see the alpine scenery. Or even a bear.

Afterwards, we walked to Lost Lake along a couple of the 45km of paved paths through the forest, well-used by the locals, to a muted silver stretch of water surrounded by tree-clad hills – pretty, but today remarkable primarily for the plague of caterpillars that covered the bridge railings, zigzag fences, leaves and path. One of them hitched a lift on me, I discovered later in our hotel room on the 7th floor: I gave it a taste of flight from the window, which on second thoughts may actually have prevented it from becoming a butterfly. Oops.

I hope tomorrow is more rewarding, especially as it begins with a 6am meeting with the local bear expert…

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