I have been skiing at Whistler/Blackcomb for years. A phenomenal ski resort, it is covered in snow when I get there sometime between the end of December and the beginning of April. I had heard about the fact that people come to Whistler for the ski season but stay for the summer. I laughed at stories of bears meandering on green mountainside in search of berries. I understand that bears hibernate in the winter but I have never seen a bear on either Whistler or Blackcomb mountains. But, truthfully, it is very hard for me (an original New York City slicker aka The Concrete Queen) to imagine that there are really bears sleeping in dens under the snow while I ski over them. So, last summer, we made our first summer trip to Whistler. First, let me tell you that it was mind-blowing to see bare (no snow) green mountains. And, that the ski runs appear much steeper without snow.
We decided to go for an alpine hike. My daughter and I left to get a head start on my husband when she realized that she didn’t have her lift pass to ride the chairlift down. Off she goes, back to the room to get the pass. Now envision me, a self-affirmed concrete queen, alone in the woods, hiking up a mountain. And did I say that I have a vivid imagination? I start thinking about bears. So what does one do when they are alone in the woods to prevent the bears from eating them? I turn on the Mama Mia channel on my phone, crank up and volume and start singing Abba songs at the top of my lungs. This is particularly funny because I don’t sing–my brother told me that I am tone deaf when I was very young. I think I scared off all the people on the trail (in addition to any bears). My husband and daughter caught up with me about 3/4 of the way up the trail. “We knew it was you–we could hear you almost at the beginning of the trail.”
I survived. Only some bug bites (note to self–bring bug spray next time) but no bears. We decided to take the chair lift back down to the Blackcomb base. What did I spot about 30 yards from the chairlift, just grazing on the open field? A bear. And not just one bear but four. Sunning themselves, grazing on wildflowers and berries, they didn’t seem to notice the chairlift gawkers above them. My trail through the woods was about 50 yards parallel to the bears in the open fields. Were they avoiding me and my racket or just enjoying the sunny alpine day? Regardless, I could not wait to go hiking the next day in the hopes of spotting more bears (in the distance.)