I need to get something off my chest.
It's a shameful secret that's been eating a hole in my stomach lining for the last six years and it's time I admit it publicly.
Am I afraid of the consequences? Yes.
In fact, half-a-decade ago, my editor told me in no uncertain terms that this particular affliction of mine is something I should keep buried deep down inside and never breathe a word about within the boundaries of the Resort Municipality of Whistler. But I can keep it in no more.
I hate winter.
I hate white-knuckling it down the slush-covered highway. I hate taking the dog out to pee while wet sleet seeps through my jeans. I hate trying to run on snow-encrusted ice. I hate endless months of cloud and gloom.
Do you know when I manage to muster some genuine affection for these dark days? Maximum twice a week on my days off, if conditions are right and I can get up the mountain or head to Whistler Olympic Park for a cross-country ski with my dog in tow. (If he could read this, he would deliver a solid counter-argument because WOP just might be his No. 1 destination on this planet.)
Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but the formula for winter-loving goes something like this: untraditional and/or very low work hours = the opportunity to get outside and actually enjoy snow.
For everyone else, is that white stuff really much more than nuisance 80 per cent of the time?
I can't be alone in this. If you are out there, I beg you, free me from the shackles of silent suffering and show some solidarity.
One reason I feel emboldened to out myself as a Winter Grinch—risking email backlash or, more importantly, not looking like a true local—is that the world has caught on to how great Whistler is in the summer months since I first started working at Pique way back in 2012.
In that time, summer visits have shot up to actually outpace winter visits.
On top of that, I have now heard enough people tell the tale of "coming for a winter then realizing summer is even better" enough times to know there are others out there like me, even if they won't admit it to an entire newspaper circulation.
Before you sentence me to 100 lashings or ship me off to the Lower Mainland to live amongst the umbrella-toting, fair-weather masses, let me give you this: I believe Whistler to be the best place to weather the least enjoyable season.
Take New Year's Day for example. On Jan. 1, I joined a group of friends on the Alpha Lake dog dock, stripped down to my bathing suit, a toque and mittens and dunked into the nearly frozen-solid water.
One by one, we stood on the snow-covered dock in bare feet and methodically climbed down the ladder to hang our bodies in the icy black liquid. For a split second, I felt the spark that accompanies summer adventures into the alpine—the thrill of going somewhere the majority of humans would not.
After brunch and mimosas, we packed up and headed to Whistler Olympic Park. The crowds of the last two days had all but emptied out, leaving us and our dogs to cross-country ski in utter peace on the newly pressed snow.
In case you still want to come at me, know this: I'm trying. After months of prodding, nudging and cajoling from my partner, I'm also signing up for AST 1—a New Year's resolution that dates back to 2016 when I first decided to try to stretch my love of the outdoors past October.
So there it is: my deepest, darkest secret. Despite my best efforts, I might always struggle with winter, but from November to April, there's nowhere better to be than here—that is, unless Pique is open to creating a South American bureau.