Guest Author: Steve Andrews
Fall in Whistler is a time of change. The obvious signs of the leaves changing colour, the nights getting longer, and an ever-falling snow line remind us of the upcoming winter, which by all projections looks like it’ll be one for the books. But another sign of the changing seasons is the weather: until the temperature drops below freezing and the snow reaches the village, the climate trends toward the wetter side of things.
For many, this means staying at home and throwing some logs on the fire and catching up on the latest series on Netflix. While this can of course be a very enjoyable pastime, it would be a shame to miss out on the myriad of activities at your disposal while we wait for the mountains to open. Here are a few such things that are fun in any weather conditions:
Embrace the damp as an integral part of the West Coast weather, along with all the health benefits of being outdoors. All you need is some wet weather gear and a sense of adventure.
ATV and Side-by-Side Adventures: These could also be called “AWV”s, which would stand for All Weather Vehicle. There is something therapeutic about splashing through a giant mud puddle at full speed. Multiple tours run daily that will have you exploring the vast backcountry adjacent to Whistler, ripping though the mud without a care. Try ATVs aka quad bikes or the new Side x Side utility vehicles, which allow you to tour the trails with a partner by your side. These vehicles drive like a car so it’s a quick learning curve and you’ll soon be confident through puddles and varied terrain.
Mushroom Spotting: The coastal BC climate provides near-perfect conditions for mushrooms to grow in the forest. Finding these mushrooms has become a popular fall activity for as you can discover a hidden and complex ecosystem on the forest floor. A word of caution: many mushrooms are poisonous to humans so you should never eat a mushroom that you do not know about; as many varieties look similar to edible ones to the untrained eye. It is far better to know a lot about a few mushrooms than it is to know a little about a lot of them.
Exploring the Forest: Whistler is part of a temperate rain forest, which also translates to plenty of rain coming down. While this may keep many people inside and hoping for sunnier days, the forest comes alive when it is wet. Seeing the rainforest and rivers transform is an invigorating experience and one not to be missed. My favourite walk during these times is the Cheakamus Lake trail, 8 km up a dirt road from the intersection of Highway 99 and Function Junction. The old growth forest here is a sight to be seen, with most trees being hundreds of years old. When it is wet there are less people on the trails, allowing you to have a more personal experience within this amazing slice of biodiversity.
Scandinave Spa: The fall can also be a time of recovery from an active summer. If your muscles and bones need some reprieve before winter, treat your body to some rejuvenation at the Scandinave Spa. Just a few minutes north of the village, this property feels like walking into a secret mountain oasis of relaxation with outdoor pools surrounded by towering trees. With different types of hot therapy including a steam room, Finnish sauna, and hot tubs, your joints and muscles will thank you. Jump in the cold water to get your blood flowing and then relax in one of the warm rooms before doing it all again. There is no time limit here so take your time to truly relax. You can even get a massage (ok, these are indoor) to show your body how much you care, and get it primed before you push it all winter on the mountains.
While we love our mountains, we also have plenty of indoor activities for rainy days, giving you the option of being as active or as relaxed as you wish without the need for gumboots.
Whistler Bounce Acrobatic Academy: If you can’t wait for the mountain to open and need to get your air fix, head on down to Bounce Acrobatic Academy in Function Junction. This state of the art facility is home to a vast array of trampolines that will test your aerial skills. You can even book lessons with one of the instructors to ensure that you’ll be ready to stomp huge tricks once the mountain opens.
Whistler Public Library: Whistler’s library sits right in the heart of the village on Main Street. This impressive building is home to more than books – you can check out DVDs, CDs, or surf the Internet in their computer lab. There are also activities practically every night including a games night on Mondays that feature all the classics, and some that are likely to be your next favourite. Or just sit in the lounge with a hot drink and pass the time with a good book. The kids area has just had a revamp, creating a bright and cozy spot for families to spend a few hours.
Escape! Whistler: One of Whistler’s newest attractions has become quite popular. Escape! Whistler challenges groups to test their minds and teamwork skills to solve their way out of a room within a set amount of time. You can choose from a variety of themed rooms; from a Pirate Ship to the Buried Cabin, or for the true mastermind, the advanced-level Rabbit Hole. If you are stuck, there is an attendant on the loudspeaker who will offer clues so that you don’t hurt one another out of frustration. It’s an activity that will undoubtedly have you coming back for more to either try other rooms or to beat your time on one that you have already tried.
Fitness: There is no better time than right now than to get your body ready for the deep powder days on the mountain. So get a head start before the lifts open to be the one lapping everyone else and claiming the best lines before anyone can get to it. Whistler is spoiled with a number of gyms, fitness clubs and yoga studios conveniently located throughout town. For those north of town, head over to Meadow Park Sports Centre. Tuesdays and Fridays after 6pm offer half price for the budget-minded. The village is home to The Core, a full fitness facility with its own indoor climbing gym. If you are on the south side, you can choose between Whistler Creek Athletic Club (inside Whistler Creek Lodge) or Basecamp Fitness (at Nita Lake Lodge). All facilities hold group classes designed specifically for getting ready for those deep days on the hill, so get your body tuned for what should be a great winter ahead.