Thursday, October 7, 2010

And now for something completely different.

In addition to the unfettered hedonism of riding in the park while we were up there, Skippy and I also took advantage of a rare and generous offer to spend a day in the Whistler alpine.

Lee and Sharon had hired a guide to get them up to the peak, show them around a little up high, then escort them around the back side of the mountain and down into Creekside. They invited Skippy and I to come along as their guests--and just how do you say no to that?! Mike was the lucky guide that got to leave his ho-hum normal environs--teaching in the park--in exchange for a day up high. As Mike explained on the ride up the gondola: "Any day you get to spend in the alpine turns out to be a pretty good day...".

The plan was loose all day long, decisions being made on the fly based on how we were feeling and how far off the next wave of showers appeared to be. We didn't get more than 1 minute of 'banger light' for pics, but the real rain held off until the very last moments of the ride, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the rawness of the glacial landscape.

And as stunning as the views were all day, there was also the minor detail that we did better than a vertical mile of descending, much of it on creamy loam deep in the rainforest. BrrrrrAAAap!

I don't remember the names of all the trails we rode. Khyber Pass and Highway 86 were but two of them. I recall several conversations happening at trail junctions where Lee, Mike, and Sharon weighed options and compared notes on past ski tours and bike trips. I gathered that the trail options were many and fun, and that maybe, just maybe, they chose slightly easier routes to keep us touristas alive a bit longer.

The riding we did up high was quite different than what we'd been doing in the park. Think blue groove off-the-brakes straights transitioning abruptly into steep, chest-on-the-saddle off-cambers with off-axis (and wet!) roots flowing to the outsides of the turns. Which, of course, is where I occasionally ended up. Lee, following closely, was gracious to my many off-trail excursions, offering much more encouragement than ridicule.

Here's Lee's take on the day:

Nice, eh?

Mike noted that Skippy was struggling a bit with the wet roots. Mike gave him a quick tip (manual the front wheel over, then don't worry about the rear) that got Skippy back on his game. Guide? Instructor? Mike did a bang-up job at both.

Here's the way I saw the day:

The day offered a lesson in contrasts when compared to what we'd come to Whistler to *specifically* do. Instead of the expected thrill-a-minute adrenaline ride lower down, we got the bigger picture, at a slower pace, and got to lay our fingers ever so briefly on the pulse of the place.

Unexpectedly precious, that.

In the end it was just as Mike said--a day in the alpine, and a pretty damn good one at that.

Thanks for checkin' in.






  2. Mike, thanks for capturing on film and in words what it is that draws us to this sport. smiling kw

  3. As always...your photography is amazing! If you don't mind my asking, what kind of camera do you generally use?