Tag Archives: bc

The Hemloft

The Hemloft is a famous, but secret egg-shaped tree house in the forest somewhere in Whistler.  Basically, the guy who built it did it over a period of a few years, entirely in secret.
A few weeks ago it was reported that he was going to take it down (mainly because it was illegal; he built it on crown land), and so we knew that if we wanted to find it we had to stop putting it off.
Because of the lengths the creator went to to keep it secret, anyone who has since found it has honoured this by not disclosing its location.  Meaning we couldn’t just Google it and set off.   A previous manager of Jay’s was actually one of the first people to find it, so we called her to ask for some help.  We still went the wrong way, but thanks to Elias and Xavier being proper fearless explorers in the wilderness, we found it.





Walking across there was actually kind of scary.  It’s way higher up than it looks; the whole tree house hangs on a precipice.

L-R: Rachel, Elias, Jay, Xavier and me.

The Hemloft was dismantled and relocated two days after we found it.  It was such an impressive structure, especially when you consider that all the materials and  huge pieces of timber were carried in by hand, sometimes at 3am, over some very rough terrain.
It looked so impressive, and was well worth the slippery, icy hike (which resulted in me falling into a snow ditch up to my thighs).

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On learning to ski.

I had hoped that as soon as I put a pair of skis on it would feel like the most natural thing, like I was born to do it, like there was some gene in my body that was finally going to get its chance to shine.
Sadly, that has not happened.  But I have not given up.

That’s me and my wonderful friend Alice who has been helping me to ski while she snowboards (she can do both. I am so envious).


That’s me down there, snowploughing like a champ.

I think part (most?) of the problem is my fear.  Until November 2012 I had never been on a snowy mountain before.  Then suddenly I was on a literal slippery slope, surrounded by all this terminology that quite frankly, frightened me.  Piste, green run/blue run/black run (and let’s not talk about the double black diamond.  The name itself assures me that I will undoubtedly die if I ever find myself on one of those), powder days, bindings…
All these knowledgeable people with their fancy equipment, big words and passion for snow sports intimidated me.  Although I know what those words mean now, and I have all the equipment I need, I am still scared.  I like to stick to the same runs that I know, and to take my time.  I have had three ski lessons, and countless days practising with Jay, Alice and other people.  While I really appreciate all these people helping me, I would love to have someone to ski with who is at the same level as me.  I hate feeling like I am holding everyone else back.
Perhaps if I had a week or two where I could go up every day and just take a few solid lessons, I would improve.  Who am I kidding?  My legs could not take that.
I work five days a week so doing a ‘crash course’ isn’t possible. ( I actually work in the kids program in Whistler, so I watch as children as young as three years old go from total novices to confident mini skiers within a week.  There is definitely a lot to be said for learning skiing or snowboarding as a child.)

For now, I will keep on going, and try to shake off my fear of losing control and racing head-first into a tree before falling off the edge of a cliff.


What about you?  When did you learn to ski or board?  Do you think it’s more difficult to learn as an adult?
I’d love to hear what you think (and any tips are always welcome).

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The past few days.








It snowed for three days straight.
I found myself in a snow bank to my waist.
I slipped on the driveway (more than once).
I skied my first real run.
I promised to make my brie and cranberry filo parcels for my work Christmas party, and then saw the price of brie here.  Not one to back out, I gritted my teeth and bought it. (Now I just have to make them)

Skyping my older sister this morning after weeks of trying to arrange a time that suited both of our schedules and time differences, was definitely worth it.  Opening an early Christmas gift and seeing her Christmas tree made me feel festive for the first time this season.
Thanks for the goodies Suz and Dan :)

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Some photos that Jay took on Whistler mountain.






Jay took these shots the other day when she was out skiing.  I did some minor tweaking, to feel like I had contributed, as I am definitely not ready to go full-on skiing on the mountain, and therefore can’t get shots like these.
However, I have had a Level One skiing lesson, and can now stop and turn.
Impressive, huh?

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Tips on finding accommodation in Whistler.

Finding a place to live in Whistler can be difficult.  Some people get sorted pretty quickly, and others (like us) take a bit longer.  Some of our friends only spent a few nights in a hostel before getting a house, and moved in the day after viewing it.  We viewed a few places (okay, ten) before settling on one and signing for it.  It was exhausting, and I think Jay was getting a bit fed up of me saying “no” to every place we looked at.  But I knew deep down that these places weren’t right for us, and I’m not one to ignore a gut feeling.

This is by no means a complete, detailed or comprehensive guide, but I just wanted to share some tips from our house-hunt, and hope that they can be of help to someone else some day :)

1.  Get in early
Whistler is an extremely popular place for transient/seasonal workers from abroad, most of whom tend to arrive in early November.  This means that November is the hardest month to find accommodation, because the competition is tough.  The prices are also hiked way up over the winter months, usually starting from November.  Because of the competition to get the decent places, you need to be fast.  The Pique Magazine comes out every Thursday, you knew that, right?  Did you know that the new issue goes online on Wednesday evenings?  If you’re using the Pique to find housing, this is your best bet of getting in early, before the owner/landlord gets inundated with phone calls.
Craigslist is the other popular place to find accommodation, and it’s updated daily, if not more frequently throughout the day.  Again, you need to get in early.  Be up and ready for 9am, so that you can sift through the advertisements, pick out the ones that suit you, and call the landlords.  If you see a decent ad on Craigslist from the previous day, or even from that morning, chances are it will be taken already.  This is serious business.

2. Be realistic about your budget
Whistler is expensive.  That makes sense; it is a ski resort.  Rent here is going to cost you probably double what you paid at home.  At the beginning of our search, I held out hope that we would find somewhere cheaper but still decent.  I was wrong; there is no such thing.  Even for the shabbiest, tiniest, most grotty of studio apartments, you will have to fork out a lot of cash.  Most landlords require a deposit upfront, worth a month and a half’s rent, so factor that into your budget too.  Living in Whistler is costly, so expect to sacrifice your usual luxuries in order to pay your rent.  I’m not saying you’ll have to scrounge to survive, but just be realistic about your spending.

3. View, and view again
So, you’ve got lucky and scored a viewing at a really sweet house.  When you go to view it, consider all aspects of the place.  Is anyone else home?  If not, what will it be like when everyone is home?  Is there room for all your stuff; is there cupboard/fridge space, somewhere to put your skis/board, closet space, etc?  If you’re going to be sharing your room with someone you don’t know (which is very common here), and they aren’t home when you view the place, arrange another viewing so you can meet them in person.  Remember, you are going to be sharing a room with this person, and in theory they will have open access to all of your belongings; you should at least meet to say hi before you unpack.
You may want to view the house during the day and in the evening.  Houses/apartments often feel very different depending on the time of day, so while it might seem like a quiet, family residential area when you viewed it at 11am, it could be a very different scene twelve hours later.  Double check and double view.

4. Ask questions and take photos
House or apartment viewings are often over within five minutes or less, so when you’re considering your options once you get home, it can be easy to forget what the place actually looked like, especially if you’ve looked at several places in a short space of time.  Take photos as you go around, just quick ones on your phone will do.
Ask the landlord and current tenants plenty of questions.  Anything you want to know, just ask.  Things that you should enquire about include: bills (are they all included in the rent, if not, how much extra can you expect to pay per month?), washing facilities (we viewed a place quite far from the village which had no washer/dryer, and the owner told us we could just take our laundry on the bus.  No thank you), having friends over, how general household things work (like making sure everyone does their own dishes etc), things like that.  Ask while you are there, because it will be harder to get answers once you’ve left the property.

5.  Dress to impress
Maybe not literally (though that wouldn’t hurt), but when you speak to a landlord, or view a property, you need to impress them.  Don’t walk your muddy boots all through their carpets, and don’t talk about partying non-stop.  Do be polite and courteous, and do be friendly to any existing tenants that are there during your viewing.  Treat a house-viewing like you would a job interview, because that is essentially what this is.  The landlord is assessing you, and they won’t say yes to an overly loud, hard-partier who is going to make a mess in the kitchen and keep everyone else awake all night with their music.  A landlord can say no to you, as easily as you can say no to them.

6. Jump to it
Once you’ve decided that this place is right for you, get on it.  Call the landlord immediately and let them know that you want it.  Make sure you are clear on the deposit, payment schedule, and when you can move in.  Don’t hand over any money without signing a contract.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should rush into anything, but once you’ve made that all important decision, don’t waste any more time, because every minute you delay is a minute someone else could be snapping up your room.

7.  Keep looking
You’ve viewed several places and just aren’t feeling it?  Don’t give up; keep looking.  You will find somewhere.  As I said, we viewed ten places before settling on the one we chose.  As we walked around them, I was taking a serious look at what it would be like to live there.  For example, we viewed one house and the landlord said as we walked in, “Sorry about the mess, we had a party last night and haven’t had time to clean up yet.”  The place stank, it was filthy, there were flies in the kitchen, there were two dogs running around the entire house and climbing over the furniture, you get the picture.  Sure, they might have had a party, but what I was seeing was not the result of a few hours of partying.  Another place we viewed seemed perfect, but when we spoke to the landlord to arrange a viewing, she neglected to mention her cat, dog and two children who also lived with her.  We discovered this as we walked around the apartment.  It was actually the cat that killed it for me; I’m allergic.  So we kept looking.  It was pretty boring, and at one point I thought we were going to end up living in a hostel for the whole season.  Our landlord actually told us that come December, when all the places are snapped up, people end up living in tents.  I thought she was joking, but it turns out she was deadly serious.  While I don’t mean to panic you, I’d hate for you to end up freezing (quite literally) in a tent in several feet of snow, so please realise that this is serious.  One of our friends was sleeping in his car, and I was concerned that he was going to get ill.  Thankfully he has found a room now, though I suspect his organs are still defrosting from those below-zero nights.

8.  Go with your gut
If you get an uneasy feeling about a place while you’re viewing it, don’t go for it.  Simple as.  This goes the other way too; if you really like a place and think it’s right for you, then go for it.

That’s all I have by way of advice.  It’s really annoying me that I have seven points; prime numbers are not my favourite. I added in another point, so we’re at an even number now, phew.
As for my house, I am yet to get decent photographs (interiors of houses are really hard to capture!), so for now I’ll just share this photo I took on my phone of the outside:


I hope this was helpful.  If you have any other things you think I should add to this, leave it in a comment and I will add them on.

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A bunch of nothing.

I don’t have much to offer today, except a few photos that never made it this far.  It snowed for a day or two, but stopped, and it’s pretty much all gone now, except at the top of the mountains.  The photo above is of Jay and the Inuksuk, with the little bit of snow that remained.

Fall continues to be beautiful.

Jay at Lost Lake; we went back again after our first trip.

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So maybe you’re wondering about our housing and employment situation?  I did promise an update, so I suppose I should stick to that.
Jay has managed to get three part time jobs (yes, three!), but I haven’t secured a single one yet.  I could tell you in great detail about one horrific interview experience I had, but it would only cause my anger and humiliation to rise up again, and I’m managing to keep that quelled.  There are some job fairs coming up this weekend so I will put on my brave face and hope to get something there.  We did arrive a bit too early; October and November are known as ‘shoulder season’ here because it’s the dead period between seasons.  It seems to be picking up slowly now as regards jobs, so hopefully I will get something soon.

In better news, we have a place to live!  We will be living with seven other people that we met while living at the hostel in Whistler.  The house is amazing, and I can’t wait to finally unpack.  I’m pretty sure I will find items of clothing at the bottom of my suitcase that I’d forgotten I even owned.  We move in on October 31st; until then we are staying in an apartment owned by a lovely girl who happened to have a spare room for a couple of weeks.  Once we are settled into the big house I will share photos of it and share my house-hunting experience for anyone yet to embark on that adventure.

I’m off to make my CV (I mean, resume) shine:

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Oh, the suspense(ion bridge)

That was a bad title.  Forgive me.
We went on another little adventure, this time to Whistler Interpretive Forest.

How many ways can you interpret a forest?

I heard that there was a suspension bridge somewhere in this forest, and knew I wanted to go, so we gathered the troops and set off in our new boots that pinch, and backpacks full of snacks.

The hike through the forest was exhilarating.  Yep, I just described a hike using a positive word.  Perhaps I am speaking prematurely, and as a total novice, but I’m kind of loving hiking.  We haven’t done anything very challenging; just forests, trails and off the official walking paths, but I love it.  Since we got here (almost a month ago, seriously, how is that possible?), we have done a lot more walking than usual, and after the first week of doing the valley trail twice a day, forty-five minutes each way to the village and back, I have noticed my fitness levels increasing.  At one point during our hike through the Interpretive Forest, I was powering up a steep hill and thought to myself “I’m not out of breath, I’m not struggling, I’m not even tempted to stop for a rest,” and it was the best feeling.  I was running on a total buzz.
The last stretch before the bridge was all uphill though, and I was glad to sit on a rock and catch my breath.  Still a novice, remember.

The bridge was smaller than I expected (perhaps because my only other experience of a suspension bridge is Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge), but as soon as I stepped on it and it started swaying and jumping under me, it felt long enough.

Cheakamus Canyon River was roaring below us.  As I crossed, holding on to the sides felt redundant, ’cause lets face it, if the whole thing snaps, holding on to the wire mesh isn’t going to make much difference.

This girl loves to frighten me by getting as close to the edge of any precipice she can find.  It may not look it in this shot, but there is quite a drop there.

We walked back on the other side of the river, which was an entirely different walk.

There I am, standing on a big rock, holding an apple core.  There were (obviously) no rubbish bins in the forest, and you can’t leave any food traces here because it attracts bears.  (Not that I’m a litterer anyway, but I’m used to leaving biodegradable products as gifts to small animals)

Yarn bombing on a bridge.  I’ve seen a few things yarn-bombed around here, like this bike rack at Function Junction:

I’m loving all our wee days out.  Next stop: the ghost town (if we can find it).

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Whistler train wreck.

We heard from our friend Larissa that there was an abandoned train wreck not far from Whistler village.  Wanting to make the most of these days before we start working, we gathered a group of friends and headed out to Function Junction (yes, that is an actual place), to check it out.
We asked for directions in a pub and then set off.

We walked along the rail tracks, thinking that the wreckage must be near the tracks from when it derailed in the 1950s.  Well, we walked too far, and had to decide at one point that we must have missed it, and so we turned back.

Keeping a closer eye on the way back, we managed to find it, nestled in the forest, between the tracks and the river.

I could find out next to nothing about this on the Internet, so I think a trip to the library is in order.  All I could find out is that in the 1950s (some say the 60s, but most sources think it was around 58), a freight train derailed and several box cars landed in the wooded area left of the track.  Clearing them away was deemed too expensive and laborious at the time, so they were simply left where they landed.  Apparently there are eight cars, but we only saw five.  Seeing how far apart they are shows the speed the train must have been travelling at, for them to disconnect from each other and land in such varying positions.  Some are upright, some are on their sides, others are completely upside down.  Some suffered little damage (aside from rotting and rusting in the fifty years since), while others are crushed and concertinaed.  All of them have been reclaimed by locals, however; graffiti artists have decorated every last inch of the box cars, and bikers have transformed the area into a riding park.

We walked through this one; the wooden floor has almost completely disintegrated, and the front of the car sits close to the edge, where the river rages down below.

You do have to hike a bit to get from car to car.  It felt like a giant had just scattered them, and then left them to be overtaken by nature and artists.

It was somewhat eerie, and I think my lack of knowledge about it made it more uncanny for me.
I need to know the facts, so I can build a story around it.
Where was the train going?  Where was it coming from?  What was it carrying?  How did it derail?  Was it day or night?
What happened to the driver?
Did locals freeze when they heard the screeching and crashing; did they run through the trees to find goods spilled across the forest floor?
What, what, what?
How can no one know?

Despite the lack of information (which I intend to look for), it was a beautiful walk.  We walked back along the train tracks (which are live, so if you go there, be careful) to Function Junction and headed to the warmth of a local brewery.
It was great to do something different, and something free.  I’d recommend checking this place out if you can, make sure to wear good shoes and take your camera.

Edit: the photos are appearing blurry on my screen.  If I click to enlarge then they seem fine; is this happening to anyone else?  Feedback appreciated :)

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Lost Lake.

We’ve spent pretty much every day over the past three weeks looking for a place to live and applying for jobs.  More on that soon, but yesterday we happened to find ourselves with an afternoon free, and I really needed to clear my head, plus it wasn’t raining, so we decided to walk to Lost Lake.
Note: I know the rain is needed if we want snow, but I don’t have suitable footwear yet, so it’s a bit of a pain to constantly have wet feetI was very happy that the rain held off yesterday; I needed the break.

The walk was beautiful.  From Whistler village, it took us about twenty minutes to get there.  Well, maybe thirty if you factor in our inevitable walking in the wrong direction at the start.

The walk to get there was as good as the actual lake.

I’m not sure why it is called Lost Lake, but I found out (thanks to the ever-reliable Wikipedia) that before the hotel developments sprung up, Lost Lake beach was once a popular nude sunbathing spot.

There was no flesh on show yesterday; it was pretty chilly.

“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”
I love quotes on benches, I always stop to look at every single one.  I always think “oh I’ll remember that one, it’s my favourite”, and then ten minutes later I can’t recall it at all.  I like this one, even though at first it seems somewhat cynical.  I like to think it means we should look for happiness within ourselves; only then can we begin to find happiness in anyone or anything else.I’ve had a rough couple of days, and my most natural instinct is to be disheartened and feel sorry for myself.  But really, I know that isn’t going to help me, or make me feel any better.  I’ve got to look at the bigger picture: I’m here, I’m in Canada after a year of planning and saving.  It was my choice to give up my job and move to a different continent.  I had the means to do that, I had the opportunity and I had the desire.  Why should I be miserable?
I’ve got to find happiness in what I’ve got, instead of dwelling upon what I haven’t got.
Because the truth is, I have so much.

So, so much.

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Today I am officially in my mid-twenties.
No more hiding in my earlies :(

– – – – –

Here are some photos of Jay and our crazy friends swimming in the ice-cold lake.

This was only a few days ago, but it feels like a month ago; the weather has changed rather dramatically.  It hasn’t stopped raining in 48 hours.  But rain is good, because rain means snow, and snow is what we’re here for!

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