Picnics are awesome. Whether you’re trying to impress a new date with your back to nature simplicity or hoping to convince a mother-in-law that you just relocated her favourite child to the most beautiful place in the country, a well-executed picnic can be the difference maker. And if not, it’s a heck of a nice way to get out and enjoy the beauty of the mountains.
With all the incredible lakes and mountainscapes here, Whistler is loaded with picnic potential but the grandmaster Picnic experience of all is a Heli-Picnic. In September, The Insider was lucky enough to hitch a ride with Blackcomb Helicopters as they field-tested their newest, fully-catered heli-picnic spot. It’s picnicking taken to the highest possible level, and here’s why:
The Ride In
The old motivational poster about the journey being just as important as the destination is especially true when you have a helicopter. Lifting off from the Whistler Heliport, the chopper quickly gains elevation as we rise up over the valley and into the stunning ridges, glaciers and peaks of the Coast Mountains. Armchair Glacier, Wedgemont Lake, the back side of the Spearhead Traverse: to suddenly have an up-close look at this legendary terrain is an incredible experience in itself.
Location Location Location
This place would be really difficult to hike to,” explains Blackcomb Helicopters pilot Steve Gray as he circles the most azure blue lake any of us have ever seen. “There’s very little chance we will see anyone else here, ever.” And we don’t. Instead we spend the afternoon surrounded by the beauty and solitude of a sunny autumn day in the mountains in absolute silence.
Forget the baloney sandwiches at home and let the experts handle lunch. Down in the Whistler Valley, Nicklaus North’s Table Nineteen Eatery sits on the shores of Green Lake and is considered one of the most scenic dining spots in town. Who better to cater the most scenic mountain picnic spot you’ll ever find? With fresh gourmet salads, four different charcuterie boards, British Columbia fruit and refreshing beverages this picnic will impress anywhere. Served lakeside on the highest picnic table in the Whistler area, it’s an unforgettable feast. Is there such a thing as six-star dining?
There’s certainly nothing wrong with sitting down to read a book or enjoy the views after lunch but for more adventurous sorts, the lake is beckoning. Blackcomb Helicopters flew in some inflatable stand up paddleboards from Whistler Eco Tours for mellow cruises or splashing fun. The clear, perfect-blue water is brisk, but very swimmable and there’s even a cliff jump for anyone looking to get “extreme” (it’s pretty high and you definitely want to hit the water right though, so jump at your own risk.)
Leaving a picnic is rarely one of the best parts but with Steve Gray and a helicopter the flight out is like the cherry on top of dessert. Lifting deftly off the lakeside ridge Steve delights us with a waterfall flyby before gaining elevation to zoom over one of the many large glaciers tucked in behind Wedge and Whistler Blackcomb. Even with plenty of heli time this summer, it’s the ride of a lifetime for me and so incredible to see this area from a new vantage point. The Coast Mountains seem enormous from the ground, from the air it’s looks like an endless sea of peaks and glaciers.
Food has always been a way to bring people together, to share stories and reflect on experiences. When you’re literally creating those experiences and stories as you picnic it makes for an unforgettable afternoon.
Bonus: Heli-Picnic 360 Video
Cinematographer Brian Hockenstein went along for the ride and captured incredible 360 degree footage of the day so you can experience the picnic for yourself. Fly alongside the heli, sit at the table and spin around to see that incredible blue lake from every angle in this interactive video. Check out the viewing instructions below, load up the video and escape to the lake with us.
Viewing on a Mobile Device? Click here to open the 360 video (requires You Tube App)
360 Video Viewing Tips
Phone or Tablet (Recommended): Load the video on your mobile device and the motion sensors in your handset will let you move the phone and look around like you are actually there. Requires the You Tube App for the full 360 goodness – available to install for free for iOS and Android.
Desktop: Play the video, go to full screen and use the cursor to move around inside. Alternately, use the navigation circle in the top left corner of the film, or the arrow keys on your keyboard.
Virtual Reality Headset: If you so happen to have a viewer handy like Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR then throw your phone inside and marvel at the wonder.
If you’re interested in getting out and seeing the Coast Mountains from a new angle, and maybe creating a meal or perfect proposal moment for that special someone – Whistler.com can help.