Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Goin’ somewhere?

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I’m as fond as the next guy of wandering around and doing nothing. Pressed, I even imagine people drawn to aimless wandering are probably the same people who are drawn to skiing. I’m not sure you could even be a skier if you didn’t have an inclination toward wandering around with no real goal in mind. After all, what is skiing if not aimless wandering on a massive vertical scale.

This town is about as close as you can come to heaven if you’re an aimless wanderer. If the wandering muse beckons you toward solitude and nature, you can heed her call by walking no further than the end of most residential streets. Ever wonder where all those trails through the woods and trails meandering up mountains on both sides of this valley came from? Some, though by no means all or even a majority, were carved by pirate mountain bikers, WORCA work crews, even municipal park staff. Most were tramped down by nearly five decades of aimless wanderers seeking a moment’s seclusion near their home turf or favourite weekend getaway. The variety and sheer mileage — kilometreage? — of trails they pioneered all over this town are an amazing legacy, something you simply won’t find in most places.

If your mindlessness is less inclined toward wild places, you can wander to your heart’s content on the paved pathway of the Valley Trail. From my soon to be ex-home in Alpine, that path moves gently away from the noise of the highway, past the snowfields or baseball diamonds of Meadow Park, through skunk cabbage swamps, along the River of Golden Dreams, into a forest of ancient cedars and skirts the manicured fairways of a golf course before leading me into the village.

An alternative, at least in summer months, is the more aerobic, graveled labyrinth of boulevards that climb up to Lost Lake, from whence narrow paths spiral into the surrounding forest every which direction. It’s all a distracted wanderer can do to remember whether he even had a destination in mind when he started putting one foot in front of the other.

Mindless wandering is quite possibly the explanation for why, as one person put it last Monday evening, Whistler is ruled by dogs. Dogs are a mindless wanderer’s best excuse for doing what comes naturally. I have a dog, therefore I wander. I have a dog, therefore I must wander. Dogs need walks; wanderers need walks. Dogs walk aimlessly, led along by their comic noses, instinct, memory and, well, aimlessness. Wanderers, excusing their aimlessness with the facile excuse of having to walk the dog, are free to just walk and daydream, knowing the dog will, sooner or later, lead them home. It could only be better if wanderers had a better sense of smell to distract them even further from their distracted reality. Then again, maybe not.

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