Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Another winter goes into the books

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By G.D. Maxwwell

There are parts of North America, notably the northeast coast of the U.S., where seasons change with the flip of a calendar. One day you’re driving along congested, narrow, coastal roads punctuated by tacky souvenir shops, hot dog vendors, lobster roll stands, panhandlers, rubberneckers, sightseers and hot frustrated families wringing the last possible experience out of their summer vacations. The next day, it’s as though a movie director has shouted, "That’s a wrap." People have disappeared, cars vanished, food stands are boarded up and hung with signs saying, "See you next summer." Vibrancy has been replaced with the sounds of silence and the few tourists not in on the joke are left to wonder what manner of Twilight Zone they’ve stumbled into, left to search frantically for one last lobster roll in a depopulated vacuum.

The transition in Whistler is more dependent on weather than date. The all-important segue between winter and summer calls the seasonal tune. Perhaps it’s Left Coast Chic or just the historical two-step Canadians have always danced with snow and sun but whatever the rationale, it’s going to take a monster powder dump in May to put a dent in the early arrival of summer.

Last Saturday, being hot, sunny and downright Junelike, the dance changed. The lineup of skiers and boarders heading up the gondola paled next to the lines of gravity bikers waiting impatiently to get their Bike Park passes and load the Fitz. Decked out in reptilian body armour, gladiator helmets, gauntlets and leggings, one might have been forgiven the illusion one had stumbled onto a sci-fi film set, a Mad Max Meets the Evil Empire melange.

The other signs are unmistakable too. Recently deserted cross-country trails are filling rapidly with walkers, bikers, joggers, dogs and tourists. Perplexed visitors peer intently at maps, still stymied by cryptic signage and Valley Trail transitions.

I found one couple straddling stopped bikes, newly uncovered white legs shining like sun-bleached driftwood, who appeared completely discombobulated. Stopped on the bridge over Fitzsimmons Creek at the east end of Nick North, just shy of the railroad track coming out of Mons, they couldn’t decide whether to go forward across the track into what looked like the backdoor to a gated community or turn their bikes around and retrace their steps.

Worried looks creased their faces as they wordlessly peered at the map for a clue. They fidgeted, whispered to each other, and appeared to be truly concerned for their safety. It was clear they were faced with an uncertain reality. They’d come to realize they were either on the wrong side of the tracks or about to cross over to the wrong side of the tracks. Oh, the humanity.

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