Hello there sunshine! Welcome back to the tales of ski adventuring! This post is brought to you by... Smiling... It's good for you... :)
Being in Whistler was a little surreal for me after having been there for the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics. Little fourteen-year-old Grace was completely caught up in the spirit of the games that had infected Whistler village many years ago. It was as if this spirit had been saturated into the ground, and into the very walls of the buildings, as twemty-year-old Grace walked through the village. I think the best way to describe Whistler is upbeat. There's a constant excitement that just seems to hang in the air and pulsate through every living creature. The feeling is so real it's almost tangible. But I think to truly know the essence that is Whistler, one must go there and experience it in person, which I highly recommend of course.
Our first day was spent getting to know the workings of Whistler Adaptive Snow Program, a massive, hugely successful, and slightly intimidating program. Winter sports are just one of the many recreational outlets for WASP. We spent the morning listening to presentations by the individuals who make this organization a success. The amount of work and effort it takes to run a program with hundreds of members is completely overwhelming... In comparison, my getting stressed over the 40 members involved with my program seems utterly ridiculous. I crammed so much information into my poor head that morning I felt sure my brain was going to explode. In the afternoon there was even more learning to be done, as we participated in an Autism/cognitive delay course offered exclusively by Whistler Adaptive. By the end of the day I think my brain did explode...
The next day I was up bright and early, buzzing with excitement and anticipation over my first day of skiing. After skiing with me in Fernie, Wylie insisted on being the one to introduce me to all the wonders of Whistler Blackcomb. I must say that being on his own turf made Wylie a completely different person. I've been carefully considering how to describe Wylie so my readers can understand him... Dearest reader, I admit to my own defeat in this circumstance. There are no words I could possibly use to describe Wylie... To attempt it would be an injustice. Furthermore, to praise any of his qualities would only fuel his ego, which is something one simply must not do as a rule. To that effect, Wylie is quiet, boring, plays it safe at all costs, and isn't at all pleasant to be around. There, I tried.
The first day out on skis was really just spent trying to get to know my surroundings, Wylie, and the fact that the mountain is HUGE! It takes two gondola rides to get to the very top, and the weather at mid-mountain can be completely different than at the top. We took it easy to begin with, staying at mid-mountain and going slow. That was partly due to Wylie and I trying to adjust to each other, and partly because it was raining and extremely foggy. I skied all morning, took a lunch break, and went back out again in the afternoon, which I will mention is the longest I've ever skied at one time.
The next day was one of my favourite days of the whole week. Why? It was the first time I had ever been on the very top of a mountain. The day before Wylie had promised he'd take me on the Peak chair, and I spent the whole evening wondering what it was going to be like. Well, if I'm honest, I spent most of the night wondering if I really belonged up there. Going to the top of mountains was for real skiers, and in my mind, I wasn't one of them. I tried to push these thoughts away as we rode the chair to the top. I like to think I have a pretty creative imagination, but not even I could dream up what I saw when we cleared the chairlift. Again this is a scene that my words will fail to describe, other than to say that it was the most majestic view I've ever seen. Wylie let me sit there for a while, drinking in the beauty of my surroundings. One could turn in a complete circle and see mountains on all sides. Each peak has a personality and character of its own. As we skied a little farther, we came to look out over a lake, so crystal clear it reflected the mountains surrounding it with perfect accuracy. Everything I saw felt like a dream, and yet, so wonderful it couldn't be a dream. I couldn't be more thankful that Wylie gave me the opportunity to see the world in such a way. I won't ever be able to forget it.
After coming back to reality, even though it WAS reality which is still hard to believe, Wylie took me to ski an area he knew I'd love. The run weaves through the trees, and when the sunlight shines through the open spaces, it casts the most enchanting shadows on the snow. I kind of felt bad for Wylie, because instead of paying attention to our synchronization, I watched the light and the shadows move as we passed them. As we came to the bottom of the run, I found myself saying something I never in my wildest dreams expected to say.
"I feel like a real skier you know," I said. I could literally feel the glow radiating from my cheeks. "I can't believe I just said that! But it's true. For once in my life I'm doing something everyone else gets to do, and I don't feel different. I feel what everyone else feels. I saw what everyone else sees. I don't know... I just... I feel like a real skier. I AM a real skier." I have Wylie to thank for this victory, and I'll keep that day in my heart forever.
The goal was to ski every Alpine lift on both Whistler, the "light side" according to Mr. Wylie the Gandalf Jedi, and Blackcomb, the "dark side". And we did just that! Wylie lost his Gandalf Jedi powers upon arrival on the dark side, and was dismayed when I informed him that I liked the dark slightly better than the light... In my best smart ass manner I reminded him of that the entire week.
By the end of the week, I had skied more than I think I ever have before, learned that Wylie doesn't take to teasing very well (which I used to my advantage of course), and saw myself and my abilities in a whole new light. I was having the time of my life, and didn't believe it could get any better, but little did I know what was waiting for me on our very last day. Be sure to come back for the last installment of my Whistler excursion, and my favourite adventure of all! Coming soon! :)
Click here for Whistler skiing video: