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Alta States

Take a hike - exploring the heights in sunny fall



"Weather happens - whether humans like it or not.'

Old mountain dictum

"You won't believe where I'm standing." The tone in his voice said it all. Excitement. Anticipation. It was the joyful exuberance of a ten-year old on a new adventure. And I could virtually feel his energy flowing across the cell network. Palpable; like talking to a glutton at a smorgasbord. So I decided to play the game.

"Okay. I give. Where are you standing?"

"You won't believe it," he repeated. "As we speak, I'm walking out to the tarmac at the Whistler Heliport." He couldn't suppress the chuckle of happiness that came dancing out of his mouth.

I didn't blame him. In fact, I joined in the laughter - with just a small sigh of envy. For I already knew what he was going to say. "You bad-ass," I sputtered. "You're going out for the whole weekend, aren't you?"

Yep," he said - if only with a hint of smugness. "I've got Buck here and Murray and Stuart... And a whole range of test gear of course... and we're takin' off for the next three nights." A long pause. "We've found this great spot just up from the Stein - a little necklace of alpine lakes and great climbs. And look at the weather!" Another spray of happy laughter. "Clear 'till next week! And with a full moon too. It's going to be mah-va-lous..."

Indeed. And I couldn't help but wish I were along for the heli-ride. After all, September in the alpine in the Coast Mountains is about as good as it gets for hikers and climbers and walkers and runners. Especially this year when the snow took so long to depart from the high country. And the bugs - let's not even go there. I haven't seen this bad a summer in decades.

But now - yeah baby. The insects are slowly dying off (love those cold nights!). The white stuff is down to pockets and north-facing aspects. And the air is oh-so-dang clear! There's no other time of the year when the alpine is so friendly to human interlopers.

Besides, we might as well enjoy ourselves now. Who knows what the weather gods have in store for us later.

I mean, I've seen this kind of weather before. And it scares me. Longtime Whistlerites know what I'm talking about. They've seen it too: miserable early summer - rain and wind and cold - and then suddenly, like a belly dancer shimmying out from under her veil, comes this beautiful sunny patch of good times. Highly-welcomed of course. At least at first. But look out - it can last for weeks. Months even.

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