Dragging picks through dirt, getting eaten by mosquitos and hiding your lunch from black bears may not be your idea of a vacation, but that's exactly how Australia's Tim Andrews opted to spent the past week and a half.
Andrews has lived in Whistler off and on since 2003, but recently spent a season working at Silver Star Mountain Resort in Vernon. Between that contract and a trip home where another job is waiting managing a ski resort, Andrews returned to Whistler specifically to finish the trail he started last year. It's called Get Over It, and in many ways it's a missing piece of the puzzle for Whistler, connecting Mel's Dilemma to Bob's Rebob. Now, depending on your selection of trails, it's possible to ride from the Nita Lake employee housing to Alpine Meadows without using Alta Lake Road.
WORCA trail director Jerome David started the project with Andrews last summer, picking a route through an area that has a massive rock scree section in the middle that kept trail builders away in the past.
Andrews estimates the trail is roughly one kilometre when all is said and done, and that at least 700 hours of volunteer work have gone into the project. He and David did most of the work, but Bear Back Biking - Andrews' employer last summer - held several volunteer days on the trail, and WORCA used almost 20 volunteers for almost three hours last week. Bear Back also gave Andrews a cash bonus for his efforts, and covered some of his costs when he was an employee.
Recently Tino Kaltofen, a German rider who worked in the bike park last year, joined Andrews to complete the last few bridges to complete the connection.
Some more work will be required to replace a few steep sections with switchbacks, but for all extents and purposes the trail will be complete when Andrews leaves next week.
"I've been in Whistler on and off since 2003, and personally I wanted to put something back into the trails," he said. "I had so much enjoyment riding here, and working for Bear Back, and I was looking for something I could contribute. Jerome and I talked about it, and decided that this was a good project. It's pretty amazing to be able to connect the entire West Side with trails.
"This has been a great effort by a lot of people, it's amazing how many people have been through here and came to help," he said. "It's an amazing community, everyone is so fit and active and friendly."
This was Andrews first bike trail, although he has some experience in Australia building hiking trails. Whenever he had questions or needed advice he would hop on his bike and pedal over to Whistler trail builder Chris Markle, who was working on a section of Lower Sproatt called Piece of Cake.