It takes a lot to get me out of bed at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Despite waking up at this hour every weekday morning for work, it's still a struggle to drag my ass out of bed when the sun is barely up. But the other weekend, I had a good reason to throw back the covers: I was going up to the Crystal Hut for a Belgian waffle breakfast.
Canadian All Terrain Adventures is probably best known around Whistler for their incredible snowmobile, snowshoe and dog sledding trips during the peak winter months. But they also offer up equally amazing ATV and jeep tours in the summer and fall, drawing crowds of locals and tourists up to the heights of Blackcomb Mountain for the stunning views and adrenaline-packed adventure. These guys also have real business sense - they've figured out that to keep people truly content, you need to feed them. Last year, I had a chance to go up on their evening salmon bake tour (which was delicious and also a tonne of fun), so I jumped at the chance to check out their early equivalent, the waffle tour, even though I'm not really much of a breakfast eater. But waffles? Not really breakfast - more like an early dessert.
This tour departs from their offices at the Carleton Lodge at the bright and early (and semi-ungodly) hour of 8 a.m. After signing all the necessary waivers and meeting our friendly, capable guides, Matthew and Shannon, we hopped on the bus and made our way up to the Canadian All Terrain Adventures base camp located right beside the sliding centre to get kitted out with the full face helmets, goggles, gloves and optional rainwear. This was before the heavens decided to open on the Sea to Sky just last week, so the slickers weren't necessary. Then, our guides gave us a full tutorial on all the basics of operating the ATVs safely. As someone who isn't fully comfortable with heavy-duty toys, I must say that this little safety session definitely made me more confident operating these massive machines. Soon, we were on our way up the mountain, following single-file behind our guide.
After careening up switchbacks, shifting our weight around the corners as instructed, we stopped just a few times for photo ops and to admire our beautiful (albeit smoky) surroundings and check out the damage that was done by the wildfire on Blackcomb earlier this summer. Having officially earned our breakfast, we finally arrived at the Crystal Hut, where we quickly dusted off our clothes and hung out on the deck for a moment before heading inside.
We were immediately greeted by the wafting, sweet scent of waffles. Tummies officially rumbling at this point, our crew poured glasses of juice, tea and coffee and we grabbed our plates eagerly, heading up to the beautiful buffet selection prepared by the chef. There, we discovered hot, crisp bacon, a lovely berry coulis, freshly whipped cream, real maple syrup, and a platter of fresh fruit. The waffles themselves, almost two inches thick, were incredibly light and fluffy, absorbing almost all the coulis and syrup like a delicious sponge.
Appetites sated and arms offering the first hints of ache, we headed back out onto the deck to feed Whisky Jacks and relax before descending the trails again.
For the price of $159 for a single rider, or $129 for people sharing a ride, the three and a half hour Sunrise Waffle ATV tour is definitely the priciest breakfast I've had in a long time, but it isn't just about the food (however yummy) or the view (however stunning) - it's a great way to start the day, and is a great Whistler experience for anyone with an adventurous spirit looking to catch a glimpse of the Coast Mountains from 6,000 feet above Whistler - well worth the early wake-up call.
State of the Farm
Anna Helmer will be speaking at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre on Sept. 27 as part of the centre's Sunday Speaker Series.
Helmer, an organic potato farmer and co-founder of Pemberton's Slow Food Cycle, will be speaking on the State of the Farm in Sea to Sky. Consumers and producers are inextricably linked in any healthy food system; consumers are invited to hear about life on the farm.
The SLCC Sunday Speaker Series has also scheduled a bannock bakers workshop for Sunday, Oct. 11. It will be a family-focused afternoon as First Nations demonstrate how to make their traditional bread, bannock. Bring a non-perishable food item as a donation to the Whistler Food Bank.
The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre is hosting a series of Sunday workshops and seminars, from 2 to 4 p.m. through Oct. 18. The SLCC has donated the space to the seven community groups participating in the speaker series. Donations received will go to the community groups.