Get Your Hook In Whistler: Fishing On The Fly

Here’s a little known secret about Whistler: while it’s renowned for being an epic ski and bike mecca, it wasn’t the mountains that brought the first settlers (aka developers) to our incredible resort: it was the fish.

That’s right. Fish. Not snow, fish. Whistler might not even exist if it weren’t for Alex and Myrtle Philip who, with the help of the Tapleys, built the Rainbow Fishing Lodge Resort in 1914.

So while many of us charge hard to bag summits or chase downhill runs, there’s a whole lesser known but equally passionate group of Whistlerites who chase a different type of rush: the tug.

Whistler is surrounded by three lakes brimming with fish and those who confess that the “tug is the drug” will reluctantly share that now that the ice has melted, fishing season is officially on.

Just can't get enough > #steelhead @cortneybrown

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The best part about fishing is it’s something everyone can enjoy, including the munchkins. Locals who grow up in Whistler have many a fond memory of packing a picnic and casting a line with mom and dad while the sun floats high in the sky and the good times roll.

So where should you go and what should you bring? With the heavy runoff creating a veritable thunderstorm in the rivers, you’ll want to stick to the lakes until July. Around here, fly fishing is what we do, mostly because the trout love bugs.

And before you cast anything, make sure you’ve checked the fishing regulations, and have your fishing license.

Green Lake

You can’t miss the bright green lake north of Whistler. Three major creeks feed into the lake and are great spots to catch Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden Char: 19 Mile Creek, Fitzsimmons Creek, and the River of Golden Dreams. Occasionally you can fine Kokanee and some Cutthroat Trout


Alta Lake

An easy lake to access from many of the Whistler neighbourhoods, Alta Lake holds a robust number of Rainbow Trout and Cutthroat Trout that can be found along the shoreline

I found Canadian Dory, or is it Canadian Nemo? I dunno, I don't speak whale…

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Nita Lake

Steps off the Valley Trail and of course, Nita Lake Lodge, is Whistler’s smallest fishing lake, yet it teams with Rainbow Trout thanks to an annual stocking of some five hundred to a thousand fish around Father’s Day. One of the best spots is where Whistler Creek comes into the lake, though success can be found in boats as well.

#rainbows at #sundown #nitalake #whistlerbc #flyfishing #capturethemoment

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Chillin 🐟🌞👌#flyfishing #nitalake #whistlermountain #creeklife

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Of course, if you’re new to it all and a nymph is more of a woodland creature to you than a fly you’ll want to hire a guide. Trout Country Fishing Guides and Whistler Fishing Guides will show you the ropes – or rather, lines – and take you to their secret spots that we couldn’t share here. They’ll also provide the gear so if you don’t want to bring it to Whistler with you – or have forgotten it, hiring a guide is a great way to feel that first tug.

And from there, you’ll be hooked.

The Whistler Challenge

It’s no secret that Whistler is a mecca for outdoor activities, but what many don’t know is that this town is the prime place to do two or three sports in a day. And the best season to do them all? Spring.

Sure, spring brings an end to those epic blower pow days, but it also brings bluebird days and that rush of excitement over all the things you can do now that the skies are lighter longer and the weather isn’t hammering you with frostbite every other day.

If you’re new to Whistler, we’ll let you in on a little secret: we love being outside. We love it so much that we’ll wake up, go for a quick jaunt up the ski hill, come back and go to work for a few hours and then hit the local crag or zip to the lake for an evening paddle. On our days off we’re either cranking it out hard at the bike park or on an intense cross country trail, or going for a legendary hike and then a wind down paddle on the lake.

Heck, we might even combine that evening paddle with some yoga, just to make those well-used muscles ticky happy.

One thing we’re not is boring, so sometimes we flip the whole routing on its head and start the morning out on the lake with a few kilometer swim, or a yoga paddle board session, then warm up the body with a run, and end the day at Nordic with a great cragging session.

The point is, it’s never dull around here in the spring and we invite you to dive into all the outdoor activities you can find – in one day. We’re showing you the most popular 2- or 3-pack days but feel free to make this your own – then take the Whistler Challenge and do all 6 sports in a weekend.

Your lungs, heart, mind, body, and soul will kiss you for it.

1. The Two-Pack Quickie
Sometimes you’ve got to work to pay for rent so when 8 hours of your day are spent doing the thing you don’t particularly love doing, keep your soul alive with a morning paddle on either a SUP, kayak or canoe around Alta or Green Lake, and a run along the Valley Trail when you’re off shift later on.

2. The Classic

Nothing beats the feeling of getting up and knowing you’re going to be at the top of the world in a few hours. The Classic Whistler spring day gets you on your two planks or board for first chair, then down when the lifts close, and on your bike for the rest of the day. Choose from the bike park, Lost Lake trails, or some good old fashioned road riding.

3. The Pre-Ironman
Swim, bike and run is the Ironman formula for pushing your body as far as it can go, but you don’t have to bike to Pemberton and back to say you’ve done a 3-sport day. Make the swim as fun as you want and the rest will just fall into place.

Bye bye summer

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4. The Zen Master
The world of low-impact but high output is akin to meditating while keeping your muscles perfectly poised. As many zen masters have discovered, climbing and yoga go hand-in-hand – almost literally – as one benefits the other. Get your climb on with a great little crag session in Nordic or Cal-Chek, or for a fun après work jaunt hit up Star Chek. Then bust out a few yoga poses right at the crag or start the day with a yoga session on the dock of your favourite lake.

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5. Sea to Summit
Sometimes you’ve got to get to the top to see it all. Hike one of Whistler’s many trails and the cool down with a swim, or kick off the hike with a swim. Better yet, take a dip in one of the alpine lakes – just do it quickly because temperatures don’t get better just because the weather does.

Cover photo: Mike Crane

Back vs. Slack. Or is it all just whacked?

No one forgets their first time. You’re skiing or riding along your favorites run – maybe it’s big and wide and blue with epic views, or maybe it’s steep and bumped out so your knees rattle a bit – and suddenly you look off to the side. What’s that? Some untouched white gold that looks as fluffy as cloud essence?

And then you see it: the endless amount of virgin pow just waiting to be ridden. You cast a backward glance only once at the beautiful run you’re leaving, and then you duck into the darkness of the trees.

At the bottom you’re breathless with exhilaration. You’ve just gone where no one else has gone before, and it was the best ride of your life.

You’ve just tasted the world of off piste. It’s beautiful and glorious and full of risk because in the blink of an eye you could sail off a cliff, fall into Whistler Creek, or end up at Cheakamus and hitching back to the Village.

Off piste is where the groomers don’t go and the maps get vague. It’s where pow exists when there’s nothing great on the runs, and it’s where you get to know every tree, every fallen log, and all the turns of the creek in a way you’ve never thought possible.

It’s everyone’s first taste of a face shot.

@therichardtopp plunging into the deep end . #keepittubes

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So you ski off piste for a while until one day you notice some hard core looking guys and gals hopping on the chair with large packs, and bindings that look much smaller than yours. You follow them and see they’re walking – walking up to the top of Flute.

You don’t have the gear but you strap on your skis or board and start up. There’s enough of them to make you realize they know something you don’t, and it’s got to be good.

Earning my turns #whistlerblackcomb #bluebirdday #hiking

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The long way up • @ioandavies

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You’re sweating up a storm at the top and your heart hasn’t pumped that fast since you’re first date, but you see where everyone is going. And the down is viciously sweet.

 Welcome to slackcountry, where just a short jaunt uphill from the ski lifts gives you access to even more fresh pow – a veritable blank canvas that is waiting for you to float and drift on the most heavenly white gold you’ve ever experienced. It’s so smooth and buttery that you want to bottle it up and take it with you.

Out here, you earn your turns and walk up to get the best rides down.

Perfect day for a walk! #musicalbumps #oboe

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You soon realize you’ve got to get better gear, so you invest in an Avalanche Skills Training (AST) course, buy a beacon, shovel and probe, and find yourself out on Decker, Corona Bowl, or the Musical Bumps every time you’re out.

And then the epic stories start trickling in – ones of people sleeping out overnight on the Spearhead, or shredding Heartstrings up on the Duffey.

So you tag along, and suddenly you’re pack is a lot bigger than it was and you’re not walking for only an hour. You’re walking for a few hours, and you’re almost deadbeat exhausted, but the ride down is the most incredible you’ve ever experienced.

And the views. Nothing beats those views.

Now you’re in the real backcountry, where understatements reign supreme when someone suggests you “go for a walk” and “just pop over that ridge”. The walks are long and the lifts are far away. Cell service is unavailable and if things go sideways, it’s up to you and your buds to get you out.

In other words, you’re in the heart of nature.

Just above Matier Glacier icefall enjoying the fat coastal snowpack.

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And for some, this is the best place to be. Your days are long and you carry your own food, water, and tent, and somehow you are more connected to the land than you’ve ever been.

But when you return home and tell others about what you’ve done, they raise their eyebrows and say “You walked? Up a hill?” and give you the look that says you’re whacked.

And maybe you are.

But there’s a whole lot of you out there, exploring the backcountry.

And for those that don’t ride the backcountry, there is no shame – no shame at all, in playing it safe and riding the lifts. After all, a blue bird day is a blue bird day no matter where you are.

Or how whacked you can be.

Cover photo: Mike Crane

 

The Art of the Après

There are about a thousand reasons to come to Whistler but only one reason to stay once the lifts close: après ski.

Unofficially starting at 3:30 p.m. but officially starting whenever your legs turn to rubber, your hands are so cold you can’t hold onto your poles or crank your bindings, or your stomach is growling so loud that the person next to you on the lift wonders if you’ve got an angry cat stowed in your jacket, après ski (known more commonly to the cool kids as just “après”) is the backbone of mountain culture. It is the essence of every ski town, the raison d’être for not crawling into your bed, hot tub, or couch at 3:50 p.m. with quivering legs because you shredded Peak to Creek one last time (and death before download), and ignoring the world.

Après is where the world comes to you – or rather, the world is around you and you get to choose how you want to see it.

Whistler is no exception to the grand scale of the après life, offering a veritable Choose Your Own Adventure of options, from rowdy boot-stomping, beer-sloshing bar-top dancing venues to wide-open patios that give you unparalleled views of mountains and the hundreds of people walking by, to darker quiet places by firesides that allow you to refuel and gather your zen for your next day of epic pow.

But before you drag your weary body into the first place who’ll seat you and your dozen friends and gnosh on the first item on the menu, there’s a few things you should know.

1.We likes our poutine. And beer. We’ve got many varieties of both.

2. Nachos here are like cowboys: they’re bigger, badder, and more legendary than the ones next door. Everyone will judge you if you don’t share your order. Or your beer.

Nachos anyone? #apres #whistlerblackcomb #nachos

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3. Butt rub mayo. Get some and order extra. Trust us.

Feed your cravings! Burgers + Butt Rub | #SkiEatDrink #Lunch #Creekside #AprerSki

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4. We love our local bands and musicians. Like, really love them.

5. This is the only time you get to dance in ski or snowboard boots. Bonus marks if you can clamber onto a bar top with either still done up.

6. If you leave Whistler without doing a shot ski, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Bragging rights if you get it with a fireball.

7. Patio, people, patio. That’s the best place to soak up the sun, gawk at everyone else walking by, pick tomorrow’s lines, and keep an eye on your gear.

Nothing is better than Apres ski. #longhornsaloon

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8. You can order a peppermint patty once. After that, you will be judged.

9. Don’t forget to tip. We all have to pay rent.

10. Après doesn’t end when the mountains close. You can après after that epic spring hike, that blistering summer bike ride, or that grueling fall run. Whistler is open year round, and so are your choices for après.

Cover photo: Mike Crane

Whistler’s Winter Wildlife

The Wonder of Whistler’s Night Skies

The Wonder of Whistler’s Night Skies: What you need to know to capture them for yourself

Whistler’s known for its incredible views, bolstered by bluebird days and stunning peaks. But once the sun goes down there’s nothing like the quiet of a myriad of twinkling stars peeking through treetops or the shimmering beauty of the Aurora Borealis as it dances in the sky. Throw in a backdrop like the Black Tusk, a glacier, or an ancient Douglas Fir and you may never want to see daylight again.

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Before you strap on a pack and head out for the night with your camera, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Check the weather and moon phases. The last thing you want is to be on top of a mountain in a lightning storm or taking pictures of the Milky Way during a full moon. You’ll want a clear sky with no cloud cover if you’re taking pictures of the stars.
  2. Dress for the cold. It gets cold, very cold in the alpine. Bring warm gloves, a headlamp, and a toque plus an extra layer. A warm thermos of tea or hot chocolate will keep your insides warm while you sit and wait for the ideal picture.
  3. Bring food. You’ll probably be hiking or bushwacking to get that perfect shot. All that work will build up an appetite, especially since you’ll be carrying all that gear.
  4. Speaking of gear, make sure you have it all. You’ll want a tripod to get that crisp image since there is less light and your hands won’t stay still enough for your slow shutter speeds. Bring all your lenses, many empty memory cards, and a shutter release cable so you aren’t touching the camera and making it jiggle.
  5. Scout your area during the day. This is a great time saver since you can look for ways around objects like trees, houses, mountains, boulders or chairlifts – or the best angle to include them.
  6. Download a star app. This will help you know which stars or planets you’re looking at, and help you find the ones you want.
  7. Don’t forget to tell others where you’re going. Even if you’re walking up the hill at the back of your house, let someone know where you are and when you’ll return. The smallest rock or root can be invisible at night and leave you susceptible to tripping – especially if you’re looking up. Plus it’s easy to get lost in the dark. See tip #5 to avoid this.
  8. Memorize where infinity is on each of your lenses. Focusing is one of the greatest frustrations in night photography. While each lens has an infinity mark, it may not be accurate. Take the time to memorize where it is on each of your lenses and you’ll be significantly less frustrated in the dark when it’s cold out.
  9. Be prepared to wait. Night photography is all about slow shutter speeds and long exposures. Don’t expect to snap a shot in five minutes. Commit to the night and you’ll be rewarded with the vibrant, dramatic shot that your imagination envisioned.
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    Cover image: Mike Crane

5 winter hikes in Whistler with stunning views

Respecting Whistler’s Great Outdoors and #GOGreen

Earn your time outside by interacting with planet Earth more mindfully in your daily life. Learn how from Whistler’s environmental experts at the GO Green @ GO Fest Environmental Expo on Saturday, May 21st from Noon-5:00 p.m. in Whistler’s Town Plaza. In the meantime, here are some wise ways to adventure in and interact with our planet:

Be Bear Smart –To avoid a dangerous encounter with black bears and grizzlies always remember to carry bear spray, makes lots of noise, travel together, avoid animal carcasses, keep your distance, never feed a bear (even if unintentionally) and pack in what you pack out. To learn about our furry friends, visit the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative or the RMOW Bear Smart Program at the GO Fest Environmental Expo.

Love This Place, Reduce Your Waste – Recyclables and organics are valuable resources that don’t belong trapped in our landfills. Improve your recycling knowledge at the GO Fest Environmental Expo with the AWARE Zero Waste Station, BC Recycles and ElectroRecycle. Be remembered by the memories you leave behind, not the trash!

Plant Wisely – Green your knowledge as you green your thumb by educating yourself on native, drought resistant species, and the invasive plants to avoid. Invasive species threaten our environment, economy and health. Learn how to identify and control invasive species with the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council at the GO Fest Environmental Expo.

Adopt a Plant Based Diet – While it’s hard for many to swallow, the simple truth is reducing meat consumption is one of the most impactful environmentally conscious acts an individual can take. Learn more about stats and facts with Earthsave Whistler at the GO Fest Environmental Expo. Don’t feel like jumping into the deep end of the veganism pool? Dip your toe in instead by signing up for Meatless Mondays and see what it’s all about.

To find out more about the bountiful work Whistler is doing for the health of our planet talk to the RMOW Environmental Technician or Whistler’s environmental charity since 1989, AWARE. Get outside and play, a little more mindfully today. #GOGreen

 

GO Fest Keeps Long Weekend #FOMO At Bay

While many Canadians celebrate the May Long weekend by opening the cabin, barbequing or heading into the wilderness to camp, in Whistler, GO Fest, Whistler’s Great Outdoors Festival, kicks off the summer season with events and activities offering the best that winter and summer have to offer, all in one weekend.

GO Fest boasts a line-up of events and activities designed to let you get out and play on a whim with no need for weeks or months of training and preparation, or even gear, for that matter!

Solo players or friends, who thrive on spontaneity, will find their paths for adventure at GO Fest’s Base Camp in Mountain Square. Base Camp will house activities information for all of the festival events and activities, as well as the Tiger Ping Pong Tournament where anyone can pick up a paddle and join in the game. Fly fishing clinics, including one just for women, a King of the Beach format beach volleyball tournament at Rainbow Park, yoga, the Whistler Film Festival Adventure Film Series, sailing, golfing, a digital photography clinic and art experiences are some of the many events and activities available in Whistler on May Long weekend.

At 7:30 p.m. each day on the Main Stage in Village Square, free concerts by Dan Mangan (May 20), Alex Cuba (May 21) and The Matinee (May 22) will provide the soundtrack to a memorable May Long Weekend.

Play and stay in Whistler during GO Fest, Whistler’s Great Outdoors Festival. Book by June 30 and save up to 40 per cent by staying longer through Whistler.com www.whistler.com/events/gofest/.

What you need for your next hike in Whistler

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, we’re proud to say that Whistler boasts a variety of options for every ability level. In saying that, the length of your hike will then influence what you bring with you but it can be safe to say that there are a few things you’ll need no matter where you’re at in your hiking ability or the distance you choose. Here are a few things we recommend having on your next hike in Whistler:

Adventures near Whistler make for a good time #rainforest #upnorth #whistler # beautifulbc

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PROPER FOOTWEAR

This is a big one whether you’re going for a short out and back hike or an overnighter, proper footwear will make or break your experience. Sturdy and enclosed shoes are recommended but we don’t necessarily think you need the big and sturdy stereotypical hiking shoe. At the end of the day you need to be comfortable and something as simple as a trail running shoe with good traction and some hardiness will suit just fine for our trails. Also, some good socks won’t go astray either.

WATER & SNACKS

Even if the hike you’re choosing isn’t big, it’ll most likely be warm out and you may not necessarily be particularly close to somewhere food is sold. We recommend carrying some water, whether in a bottle or in a pack and a few snacks. Clif Bars, Vega snack bars, a ziploc with some mixed nuts and dates or mum’s homemade granola bars will do.

YOUR PHONE + GPS + MAP

Tracking your hike might be a nice addition so that you can see where you went and show friends or to get an idea of your distance. A map is a must-have depending on where you’re going and your familarity with the trail. Your phone is always handy to have in the event you get lost or you see someone who is injured and needs assistance. Just pop your phone on airplane mode for when you don’t need it so you can save your battery. Oh and use your phone to take photos of the amazing scenery of course.

A GOOD MOISTURE-WICKING OUTFIT

We’re not kidding and although ‘outfit’ seems like an odd thing to have on a list of things needed, it is incredibly important. You’re going to be hiking and it’s going to get warm and probably dirty. Anything moisture-wicking for outdoor activities gets a huge thumbs up, comfort is also key and it’s a wise idea to bring an additional layer just in case it cools down or you want to protect yourself a bit more from the sun.

HAT AND SUNGLASSES

Protect your face and your eyes! Likely if you’re hike goes into the forest you can put both away, but once you exit the covers of the forest you’re going to want your sunglasses. This is also a good time to mention to remember to slap on some sunscreen.

Lastly, don’t forget a smile. Remember to tell people where you’re going and better yet, hike with a friend! Make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time to do your hike and come back before the sun starts to come down.

Need some hiking trail inspiration? Check these 5 out.