But what do the "insiders" say about all that Pemberton has to offer? Read on to find out where local Pemberton residents like to eat, play, shop and stay... perhaps even a few secrets will be revealed.
Best daytrip destination — Joffre Lakes
Joffre Lakes is the provincial park with the mostest for 2012. This 1,460-hectare beauty is surrounded by glaciered mountain peaks that are visible all around, and especially from the viewpoint that is 500 metres from the parking lot. It's all about the glaciers and icefields, with deep valleys cut by long-gone ice, leaving behind deep blue waters of Lower, Middle and Upper Joffre lakes. The dreamy colour is caused by "rock flour" AKA glacial silt, which becomes suspended in the water, reflecting green and blues in sunlight. Joffre has hiking, camping, mountaineering, wildlife viewing and fishing.
Also on the shortlist were beautiful Birkenhead and Anderson Lakes.
Best neighbourhood — The Glen
Originally known as Vinyl Village, it is Pemby's suburb that is within walking distance of all the Village hotspots. A good 'hood for kids, a mix of old and new houses that is especially the go-to place for Hallowe'en. Zurcher Park, named after the former landowner, has a playground and toddler toboggan hill that you can use until you're big enough to backcountry ski on Mount Currie. The Glen pulled away from the other contenders Pioneer Junction and Pemberton Meadows.
Best party — Two Acre Shaker
Epic. Party. This intimate, one-day, mind blowing bash was started by Kirk Becker, who envisioned it in 2008 as a way to get music lovers from all over the Sea to Sky to come to his place to rock their rumps off. This year, christened the Llamapocolypse, the party took place at the Mount Currie Rodeo Ground on Aug. 18. Its new location simply grew the party, which becomes ever-more popular each year, but still keeps that friendly flavour that everyone wants. This year's lineup included DJ Woody from England, Bobby C Sound TV from Denver, and Minxy Jones from Los Angeles.
Other respondents still lament the loss of the Pemberton Festival, voting it in second. Canada Day also tied for second — good, since we're guaranteed one of those at least once a year!
Best Pemberton trend — Biking
Mountains, hills, flats — there are trails around Pemberton that go over every type of terrain imaginable. According to Tourism Pemberton, there are 63 bike trails, from the tame ones along the floor of the valley (think slow ride!) and also epic mountain bike classics. Competitions like the killer-edged NimbyFifty give riders something to shoot for in athletic toughness, and prize money to boot!
Best place for people watching — Pony Patio
The Pony Patio is a consistent leader in this category. With that fenced-off look it has the aesthetics of a corral with pints and pizza —and you can leave your horses tied up outside. Everybody, but everybody, gets seen there eventually and with the main route into town passing by, most of the cars that come to Pemby do, too! Other finalists were the patio at Mile One and Mount Currie Coffee Co.
Best reason to own a 4x4 — Hurley Forest Service Road
Hurley Forest Service Road is the gateway to Bridge Valley, Bralorne and more. Starting along the Lillooet River, it's still the gateway to everything backcountry. The drive, once you get to the top of the road, is beautiful with unbelievable views of the Pemberton Meadows. It's so cool that it has its own micro-news website named after it, hurleydust.com — wonder why they called it that?
Best use of money — Skate Park
Where else can a kid or teen go that's close to the centre of the village, cool to hang out at, where parents are not going to be encouraged to stick around and watch because there are no, like, bleachers. And it's new and free to use! A great addition to the village, that was years in the making. Other best uses of money are the lunch specials at Mile One Eatery, and – hallelujah for drivers – the fixed rail crossing (Blessings upon thee, CN).
Best view of Mount Currie — My house, patio, window
Just think, some people live in big urban centres and the views outside their windows are of traffic and garbage. According to a Lil'wat Nation legend, the distinctive triangles that make up the long-walled peak of Mount Currie (or Tszil) were etched by a large, two-headed serpent that traversed along the top of the mountain. And the standing rocks are hunters turned to stone. Visually, Pemberton and the region are defined by this stunning mountain, the place where the valley sees winter first.
Example of Wild West attitude — Horses everywhere
Horses, hitching posts, and Cowboy Bob (Menzel) in that order. The Village is surrounded by the riding trails and outfitters that allow locals and visitors alike to ease into the saddle and leave the combustion engine far, far behind. And do not forget the annual rodeo, where the cowboy in us all has the chance to chase down some very scary-looking bulls and win prize money – or at least watch others doing that. Yeehaw!
Favourite agricultural product — Potatoes
Any way you slice it, the humble spud is one of the little things at the centre of Pemberton's success. The Valley has a host of far more colourful fruits and veg that make it to the tables of homes and restaurants from here to the U.S., but none of them will be served as fries at the table while you're pounding back a local vodka made from the same source (Thank you, Schramm's). And don't forget, Spud Valley is subject to biosecurity measures to keep the purity of the potatoes intact. Beef, a nod to steaks and ranchers, came second, and then it was blueberries.
Least like Pemberton — McDonald's
Ah, the drive-thru fast food establishment we love to say we don't love, although we're at the counter for every kids event and hangover. McDs came in for a pasting from voters who say it is least like the Village, yet it is one of the first things seen by those arriving in town. Whistler is also least like Pemberton, which makes sense, since there are different reasons for the existence of each, at the very least.
Most desired big city amenity — Swimming pool
This is obviously stuck in the village's collective psyche. This place needs a pool like yesterday, like last year... which is why it was the number one wanna-have in 2011 as well. With the council clear on its desire to talk about the future of rec services in Pemberton in the short term, perhaps they will take the plunge and splash around with the idea a bit. Also desired – a skating rink.
Most dubious decision made by council — No ice rink
This community of outdoor activity types would like some ice to skate on, please. This year, the need for an ice rink squeaked past the ongoing annoyance of the village's community centre which seems to consistently bug some residents even though it opened in 2008 and was the responsibility of a long-gone council. The other grouses by respondents included the recent challenges related to the Gates Lake rec centre, which is actually an issue for the Squamish Lillooet Regional District but will be maintained with Pemberton money.
Best new business — Mynt Salon
This is tricky folks! The ladies at Mynt Salon, are technically the winners though they have worked together for almost three years across the street from their current location under a different name. Mynt opened this February and by all accounts everyone loves the cuts. Second goes to One Mile Paddle Boards, really a brand new business for Best of Pemberton results. The results this year go to show that Pembertonians are still discovering their own town as One Mile and Blackbird Bakery also got lots of votes in this category though both are not new businesses!
Number one reason Pemberton is not like Whistler — Sense of community
Let's face it, unlike the big resort 30 minutes south, Pemberton does not have two million visitors a year to impact community spirit, replacing a sense of belonging with the turnover that must go some way to making Whistler sometimes feel a bit impersonal. Pembertonians know each other, do business together and play together – and they love that fact. The other two in contention for this category are the laid back friendly attitude of people in the Village, and the fact that those who make this happen are the farmers and cowboys who give the community its colour. And potatoes.
Favourite potato recipe
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but, darn it, the potato is such an important, versatile vegetable that every person suggested a different thing. However you take your earth apple — boiled, baked, fried, au gratin, or in our local vodka — just enjoy those carbs.
Way to keep cool — Swimming at one of the lakes or in the river
Pemberton felt the heat, not to mention the mosquitoes, this summer, and had to make a move to the many watering holes around the region with no swimming pool to retreat to. In fact, in this whole Quintessential Pemberton section swimming at the lakes and rivers got more votes than any other winner. The waterpark came second. There was no mention of beer.
Worst Pemberton trend — Dog poop
Everyone thinks it's crappy, the bane of Pemberton is a shout out to every parent who has ever had to scrape it from a four-year-old's shoe. Ugh, just ugh. Take a plastic bag out with you and Rover and keep Pemby beautiful!
Worst use of money — Community Centre
It may have opened in 2008 and won awards for its builders, but Pemberton's lovely looking community centre persists in being a bone of contention for residents. Tied for second is the sculpture in the Pemberton roundabout near the CN tracks, and McDonald's.
Food & Drink
Best Restaurant — Mile One Eating House
There's a new number one in Pemberton this year. In its second year of operation, the Mile One has thrown it down and the people of Pemberton have indicated their new favourite eatery is at the corner of Highway 99 and Portage Road.
Randy Jones and Cindy Yu's use of top-quality ingredients from just up the road has pushed the "modern burger joint" into the coveted top spot amongst Pique readers. The eatery features bold menu items like Bacon, Chicken and Goat Cheese Salad and the "Outlandish" Oyster Burger.
This restaurant opened in March of 2011 and within months of opening it was voted Pemberton's best new restaurant. Just 18 months later it is voted the best in Pemberton. Not bad for a sophmore.
Best Value — Mile One Eating House
According to the dictionary, the word value means relative worth, merit or importance.
Mile One Eating House has clearly shown its importance to the community. The community has shown Mile One has merit by giving the restaurant a total of six Best of Pemberton awards.
Mile One's worth is proven through the collection of half the votes cast in this category. From breakfast burgers and wraps to gourmet Mac'n'Cheese and steak dinners, the prices range to a high of $23 for a rib eye.
Best Latte — Mount Currie Coffee Company
For the fifth year running the best latte is found at the Mount Currie Coffee Company.
There was no doubt with this award. Pemberton latte drinkers are clear: the place to get a caffeine hit is at the corner of Portage Road and Arbutus Street. The original art by talented residents that adorns the walls doesn't hurt the taste of the latte either. While enjoying the latte one can surf over to the coffee company's blog to read about the artists whose work decorates the walls.
Best Breakfast — The Wood Restaurant and Lounge
Wake up and get over to The Wood in the Portage Station building for the first meal of the day. The day's first meal sets the tone and nutritionists like to preach that it is the most important meal you'll eat all day. Starting at 8 a.m. on weekends, the eggs are on and there's also pancakes and French toast. And The Wood breakfast is on until 3 p.m. for the evening workers who start the day well into it.
The Majestic Mount Currie Frittata is a must with three eggs, fresh herbs, Chorizo, cherry tomatoes, onions and pepper jack Cheese. Served with Pemberton potatoes, of course.
Best Burger — Mile One Eating House
Are you seeing a trend here? Mile One picked up two nods last year in just six months of operations. That figure of two awards was tripled in this year's survey.
The phrase "strategic partnerships" is big in the corporate world and we clearly have a case here of a small dining outlet taking a page from the big business playbook.
Burgers are central to the menu and feature strategic partnerships with Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef and Blackbird Bakery. The meat is from Pemberton Meadows and Blackbird provides the buns. The ingredients, which also include lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, mushrooms and bacon, are assembled at Mile One. The combination of local expertise is a winner.
Best Pizza — The Pony
Asked what it is about the Pony pizza that netted the eatery the best pizza nod, owner Alex Stoll says he doesn't really know. But the formula is clearly working as witnessed by the fact that The Pony keeps winning this category year after year.
"Two or three times a week we have a special," says Stoll on a busy Saturday afternoon at The Pony.
A new pizza variety with various toppings is whipped up every few days to keep pizza lovers engaged and entertained.
Pemberton's pizza from The Pony is the clear winner as no other pizza maker even came close this year to dethroning The Pony.
Best Steak — The Wood Restaurant and Lounge
Your friends at The Wood serve up New York Striploin and AAA Sirloin with your choice of peppercorn or BBQ sauce.
The New York option has two sizes to choose from at 10 and 14 ounces.
The Black Squirrel and Mile One tied for second in a close steak race.
Best Wine List — TIE — The Wood Restaurant and The Black Squirrel
Last year the Squirrel topped the list but the folks at The Wood have won a few more people over in 2012.
This award took an interesting twist this year after the provincial government announced that we're free to bring our own bottles of wine to restaurants if we choose and if the restaurant chooses to open the bottle for us then provide glasses to drink from.
According to Gord Bell at The Black Squirrel, nobody has brought their own bottle of wine to the Squirrel since the change in rules. He says the Squirrel team will soon have a policy on corkage but, really, what's the sense? The Squirrel and The Wood both have great wine lists. They'll do the heavy lifting and all the thinking for you when it comes to wine.
Best Beer Selection — The Pony
Saddle up and have a few at Pemberton's new lager leader.
The secret here seems to be the selection of local craft brews, including an organic option. Owner Alex Stoll says you can pony up for brews on tap from the Whistler Brewery, Howe Sound Brewing, Phillips, Lighthouse, Stanley Park Brewery and Russell Brewing.
On the patio or inside, the selection is wide and Stoll says he's always looking to add good beer to the mix to keep things fresh for pilsner appreciators.
Best Bartender — Kevin McCleod at the Black Squirrel
Through this survey last year, we learned that McCleod does it all at Black Squirrel. McCleod won the most votes this year and took a few shots in the paper from his boss for getting those votes.
One year later and very little has changed.
"Bizarre – I know he's the thirstiest bartender in town," says the Squirrel master, with a chuckle.
Honourable mentions this year to Chris Hedges and Shakey for giving McCleod a run for his gin and tonic.
Best Server — TIE — Katie Betchel & Chris Hedges — the Black Squirrel
Working as a server is an interactive experience and those who do it well tend to really stand out. This dynamic duo at the Black Squirrel apparently has perfected the art.
"They both have big personalities in different ways," says owner Gord Bell of his two superstar servers. "They are very different people. They are both great people and great with the customers."
Note that while Bell publicly roughs up poor Kevin McCleod, the boss has high praise for his two popular servers.
Best Service — Mile One Eating House
It is interesting to note that The Black Squirrel produced the two most popular servers in Pemberton but the top vote was decisive with Mile One collecting about half the votes for best overall service. The Squirrel placed third in this category and number two was The Wood.
The Pony should also get a mention as it placed fourth in a very tight race for second through fourth.
Best Takeout — Mile One Eating House
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the restaurant voted to have the best service also has the best takeout.
Good takeout is a component of good service and the theory is proven at Mile one. If you haven't yet tried the take out, call 604-384-3842 from Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
How about this plan? Call ahead from Whistler at the end of your shift. Pick up your takeout at the northern terminus of the commute and enjoy a stress free meal after work.
Best Dessert — Blackbird Bakery
For the final course, we offer up the sweat treats at the Blackbird Bakery.
Co-owner Richard Stewart says the bakery he owns with Raven Burns is French-inspired. Like many other European countries there's one key ingredient that brings out the flavour which make desserts irresistible.
"Lots of butter – we use copious amounts of butter," says Stewart in between serving customers. Getting a few minutes to chat with him at the Blackbird is a daylong affair involving multiple phone calls. With each call it is apparent by the din in the background that the Blackbird is a busy place on Saturdays.
Best Patio — The Pony
The ingredients for a great patio include scenery, sunshine and people.
All three come together at The Pony. With majestic Mount Currie and Signal Hill both looking down on The Pony. One can't help but get lost in a world of mountain adventure while enjoying a beer (or pizza or any other menu items) on the Pony patio, also voted best place for people watching.
Best Chef — Randy Jones
The food section of the survey closes out with a final nod to The Mile One Eating House.
Randy has found inspiration from the Haida and other First Nations across the province while tapping into Pemberton's pioneer roots and acknowledging those who discovered the wonders enjoyed by the First Nations residents.
Randy says he is committed to dishing up good quality relatable food and he strives to find the ingredients as close to home as he possibly can. Those ingredients are then mixed with care from scratch to produce the food that has netted Mile One an impressive six Pique reader awards.
Favourite Dentist — Dr. Anne Crowley
A woman who puts a lot of shine into Pemberton, especially in residents' teeth, Dr. Ann Crowley at Pemberton Valley Dental wins Favourite Dentist again. Last year we said she takes the cake, this year it is clear she takes that and the biscuit and several other sweet awards as well. She describes herself as "blessed" on her website with her clients and home, and it sounds like patients feel the same way.
Favourite Doctor — Dr. Danielle Patterson
Dr. Danielle Patterson of Pemberton Medical Clinic has been in practice in the village since 2008, and runs away with the prize of Favourite Doctor in 2012, beating out stiff competition from Dr. Luke Hayes and Dr. Hugh Fisher.
Favourite Farmer — The Helmers
The Helmers are consistent favourites as Pemby Valley farmers. Helmers' Organic Farm produces 16 varieties of potatoes, more than you'll see in most groceries stories, and advertize where their products are available in the Lower Mainland and up the Sea to Sky on their website. That is also the place to go if you need the odd spud recipe. Other favourite farmers include Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef, and North Arm Farm, owned by Pemberton's mayor, Jordan Sturdy.
Favourite Politician — Jordan Sturdy
Hey, Mr. Mayor, those popsicles are working! Keep 'em coming. Frozen yoghurts would be nice, too. The mayor has spearheaded an award-winning program of open government that is getting cities the size of North Vancouver or Waterloo, Ont., taking notice. You don't always have to like what is said, but the fact that you know about it is to the credit of the whole council and staff.
Favourite Realtor — Danielle Menzel
Danielle Menzel of Pemberton Real Estate is a long-time resident and was the hands down winner in this category. She sells homes and holiday properties from the village to all points rural and wildernessy.
Favourite Tour Guide — Bob Menzel
Bob and his family run Adventures on Horseback, which they describe as not the usual "nose-to-tail" trail ride, with two-hour trips in the forests and alpine meadows for everyone from wee ones to seniors. When you've got such an amazing region to show off to locals and visitors alike, the job must be a fun one.
Favourite Veterinarian — Christine Kirby
Unfortunately for the village, Kirby just moved her work south, to take over as owner of Coast Mountain Veterinary Services. No doubt her great abilities have kept her in demand. Luckily, Dr. Edward Quinn and Owl Creek were also selected as favourite vets in the village.
Favourite Therapist — Dr. Shannon Paul
This chiropractor was given a good break and chosen as Pemberton's favourite therapist. Owner and part of the team at the Pemberton Valley Wellness Clinic, she has been practicing her art in the valley for the last decade.
Most recognizable local — Bob Menzel
Chances are that from a distance folks see Bob's cowboy hat first — and unlike a Torontonian at the Calgary Stampede, he's the real deal. It's a romanticized look in an unromantic age, definitely more about style than fashion.
Favourite hair stylist — Tara Kandulski
Tara Kandulski is one of the co-owners at the Mynt Salon, which opened earlier this year. A long-time Pemberton stylist, she offers cuts, colouring, pretty much the whole shebang.
Favourite Cowboy — Bob Menzel
Yup, three out of three for Menzel, who also breeds horses and runs a trapline, and lives with one eye on the land. This young fella has an undeniable connection with Pemberton's wilderness past, and can connect his family to the region's past; they arrived here in the 1930s even before the draining of the marshes turned this region into agricultural heaven.
Shops & Wares
Best Financial Institution — Scotiabank
For the second year in a row Scotiabank has taken the title of best financial institution. But it was close with the North Shore Credit Union just a few votes behind. Maybe it's time to up the ante when it comes to membership privileges — we do love our turkeys at Christmas!
Best Grocery Store — The Pemberton Valley Supermarket
The Pemberton Valley Supermarket takes the crown this year – again. While other food providers do a great job the supermarket is like shopping in your own kitchen. You always run into someone you know, you know you can always count on their support at community events and the staff always has smile for you.
Best Hotel — The Pemberton Valley Lodge
The Pemberton Valley Lodge came out tops this year in this new category. This year the hotel, which offers accommodations of all types, was also awarded a Best Green Business Award by Small Business BC Successful You Awards. Though recognizing a multitude of green endeavours the award highlighted the way the PVL recycles used soap bars through the Clean the World program. Based in Orlando, Florida the program accepts partially used hotel soap, disinfects and processes it and then distributes it to those in need. Lack of soap contributes to millions of deaths every year from diseases that could be prevented by simple hand washing. PVL was the first hotel in the region and the fifth hotel in Canada to sign up for Clean the World. Runner-up in this category was the Pemberton Gateway Village Suites.
"Pemberton Valley Lodge is thrilled be named Best Hotel. We have worked very hard to become a beautiful resort that the community can be proud and recommend with confidence," said the lodge's Laura Arnold. "The management and staff are proud of all our accolades and awards and this is wonderful news to embrace following Best Green Business and TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence."
Best Bed and Breakfast — The Log House Inn B&B
Our first winner in this new category is The Log House Inn B&B, a four-star B&B offering seven beautifully appointed rooms in a log house. Relax and unwind in an exquisite yellow cedar log home nestled in the peaceful Pemberton valley. Runner-up in this category was the Pemberton Valley Vineyard and Inn B&B. Log House owner Donna Hasan says the Inn, which has been in operation about 17 years, is a popular choice for tourists as the log structure has a quintessentially Canadian feel. The logs were even milled locally. "It is quite a landmark and I know we do have people staying with us who have family and friends living here too. "I'm super happy the category is in this year and I am super happy we have been nominated."
Best place to shop for men's clothing — The General Store
The General Store takes top spot again in this category – and no wonder really it's an institution in the valley — their doors have been open to shoppers for over 50 years. From long-underwear for the winter to just the right shirt you can find it all here. Spud Valley sporting Goods took second place and third goes to Lilypad Second Hand Shop.
Best place to shop for women's clothing — The General Store
Looks like its double-dip for the General Store, as they take first in this category as well. It's a repeat of last year! Second place this year goes to Lilypad Second Hand Shop, third to One Earth Collection.
Media & Culture
Top Local News Story — Bears
Dozens, literally dozens, of news stories affected Pemberton this year, but there was one in particular that held the collective attention like a baby screaming in an airplane: Bears! Yes, the good people of Pemberton (three people, to be exact) voted "bears" as the top local news story. Black bears, grizzly bears, teddy bears — Pemberton's got them.
Favourite photographer — David Steers
Hey, does anybody know who won last year? Anybody? Can anybody guess? What's that? You're right! David Steers won last year and the year before that? We're starting to think he's either the only photographer in town, or the only photographer who's actually hitting the town and documenting the community week after tireless week. Keep up the good work, Dave!
Favourite local writer — Lisa Richardson
Lisa Richardson had this one in the bag three years ago. She keeps winning this thing! It's like there's no point in even opening this category up for voting because Richardson has this sewn up. So here's the lesson to Pemberton writers: step up your game or Richardson could rule the valley's literary landscape forever and ever. But, then again, maybe that won't be a bad thing.
Favourite artist — Karen Love
Ah, jeez, we might as well have just published last year's "Best Of" list because all the winners are the same. Let's give it up for Karen Love, whose gorgeous landscapes rival the real Pemberton landscape for pretty things to look at when you're hoping to be inspired. Her landscapes are so vivid you'll be dreaming shimmering canvas for the next three weeks. You'll wish you could live inside her paintings rather than endure the minutiae of common existence. Or, what, maybe that's just us..."
Event of the Season — Slow Food Cycle
One person voted "We should have more events," which we have to agree with because, yet again, the Slow Food Cycle is taking home the glory. But, you know, the Slow Food Cycle is actually really awesome because you get to ride around and eat cheese and berries and see other people on bikes with berry juice stains on their shirts and bits of rhubarb stuck in their teeth. It's fun riding around in the blistering heat and losing weight because you're sweating a lot, and then ending the day with a dip in a cold lake with a belly full of all those berries and all that cheese. Can't wait for next year.
Best Quote — "Get Well Fed!"
The community's favourite quote is "Get Well Fed!" the official slogan of the Mile One Eating House. So Pemberton's favourite quote is a hearty slab of marketing from a local eating-house. We're not judging. We're just saying. We're also saying that Mile One has awfully tasty burgers that make your belly nice and round. Maybe we should go get "well fed" more often...
Best musician — Papa Josh
It's very fitting that, in a year when all the previous years winners have retaken their titles, that Papa Josh would be named "best musician." Pemberton's sexy-boogie-funk maestro has just released an album, River of Dreams, and he's been working hard to ensure that you, the fine people of Pemberton (and Whistler) are getting your weekly-recommended dosage of sonic funky lovin'. We'll assume, by crowning him yet again, that you've been meeting these requirements.
Sports & Recreation
Best Golf Course — The meadows at pemberton
How many golf courses are there in Pemberton? It's sort of a trick question — most will answer two, but that's not exactly accurate. Big Sky Golf and Country Club, one of the top courses in all of Sea to Sky, has an amazing 18 holes to play before the backdrop of Mt. Currie, but also a separate Par 27, 1,200 yard, nine-hole Academy Course built to the same high standards as the full course, which is 7,001 yards and Par 72 from the long tees. So is that one course or two?
Then there's The Meadows at Pemberton course, of course, which has some great (read: difficult) holes on the Par 72, 6,407-yard course and the views of Mt. Currie are just as spectacular.
There's disk golf, wiffle golf and even helicopter golf where paying clients smack biodegradable balls from the top of Mt. Currie.
So which golf course was voted Best of Pemberton?
Big Sky may be ranked the top public course in B.C. and have four-and-a-half stars from Golf Digest, but for a locals' competition you can't beat the local course. The Meadows won this category this year.
"We're like to thank everybody from the heart for voting for us, it's sort of a labour of love this little golf course of ours, and to be acknowledged like that is fantastic," said owner Gord Bell, adding that the course is a work in progress with plans to continue to find ways to make it better.
"We did some clearing in the back nine in the last year which is helping, and we're going to get going "We're always putting away, looking at ways to make it better every year."
Best Golf Hole — Hole 8 at The Meadows
As mentioned, there are a lot of different choices here above and beyond the 36 holes most people recognize. When all was said and done, golfers gave the most votes to Hole 8 at The Meadows, followed closely by Hole 9 at Big Sky and the ubiquitous "19th hole" — the real reason so many people play.
Hole 8 at The Meadows is a 276-yard (white tees) par 4 with an island green at the end of it, protected by bunkers at the end of the wide fairway.
Best Bike Trail — Happy Trail
Getting there is half the fun, and Happy Trail is all about getting there. A lot of people don't consider Happy Trail a bike trail, just a way to get to all of the other trails in the Mackenzie area. But Happy Trail is extremely good at what it does, and that makes climbing enjoyable. The switchbacks are perfectly rounded, it's never too steep, and if you're feeling the flow it doesn't feel much like climbing at all.
There was a three-way tie for second this year with votes being split between the rock-rolling Cream Puff, mellow Bathtub Trail and very mellow One Mile Lake loop. Overnight Sensation, which was a separately timed, Red Bull-sponsored event-within-an-event during this year's NimbyFifty Race, was third.
Best Outdoor Sport — Mountain biking
Mountain biking is Pemberton's thing. Riders have a long season — probably 10 months — and make use of all of it. For a town with only a few thousand residents there are a huge number of trails — 63 at last count — and an inventory that is growing all the time. There are high alpine cruisers, low valley beginner rides, dozens of rocky descents, gut-busting climbs, long forested loops and more. As a result this category wasn't even close!
Keeping that network of trails growing and accessible, and supporting things like bridges that will make it easier to get to the trailheads, is the job of the Pemberton Valley Trails Association. Get involved, give generously. The second thing that Pemberton is increasingly famous for is the snowmobile/sledding opportunities that exist, including access to the Pemberton Ice Cap and dozens of alpine areas where you can use your sled to backcountry ski and snowboard. Third on the list for outdoor activities is golf, which it seems everybody does from the local farmers to the local snowboard pros waiting for the snow to start falling again. There aren't many towns Pemberton's size that can support two golf courses, and while they do get tourists and golfers from Whistler and Squamish, it's a fact that neither course would succeed without local support.
Best Indoor Sport — sex
When it comes to indoor sports, it's been a tough battle recently with the old community centre closing in the Meadows and displacing a few of the more popular programs. The local school gyms are kept busy and the community centre is hosting as many programs as it can with limited space, but the town is still looking for amenities like an indoor rink and indoor pool.
Maybe that's why, once again, Pembervillians have picked sex as the top indoor sport for the community in this year's Best of Pemberton. Judging by the number of strollers on local roads and the general baby boom in Pemberton, they're really not joking.
And they're also not far off. Sex, like exercise, lowers your blood pressure, boosts your immunity levels, burns calories (at least 85 for every half hour, which is about 2,550 calories per month or almost a full pound of weight loss!), reduces your risk of heart disease, improves sleep, etc.
Second on the list is spin class, third was yoga, which can help keep mountain bikers limber and strong, and also improves sex — take Sting's word for it.
Best Park — One Mile Lake
In a summer like this one, it's nice to have something like One Mile Lake to retreat to, a warm, swimmable lake in walking/riding distance to most houses.
There are swings for the kids, there's a nature walk for the curious, and a walkway around the lake for exercise. Second on the list is the new skatepark, which has been an instant success in Pemberton. The new Pemberton Water Park and splash pad is third on the list.
Best Hiking Trail — Joffre Lakes
While bikes are Pemberton's preferred mode of travel, the hiking in the area is nothing to sneeze at and you can get to a lot of places you could never take your bike.
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, and it's dog-friendly hike up to the three pristine lakes of the area is the number one hike in the Pemberton area by a huge margin, followed by the walk around the One Mile Lake Loop and the hike out to the awesome Nairn Falls.
Favourite Lake for Swimming — Mosquito Lake
Mosquito Lake takes some getting to, but it's always worth the drive/hike/ride with a couple of great docks to swim from, great views and wonderfully warm water.
Gates Lake is number two on the list, along the route from Pemberton to D'Arcy on Portage Road. The fact that you can drive to the lake on a paved road is a big reason for this lake's appeal, as well as its warm water and laid back atmosphere.
One Mile Lake is arguably the busiest of the three lakes, but ranked third. The fact that it's getting some new docks and weed control should make a big difference to the rankings next year.
Best Lake for Motor Sports — Anderson Lake
Anderson Lake at D'Arcy is one of the warmest glacier-fed lakes in the region and is insanely popular for water sports. Second on the list for motor sports is Gates Lake, which is smaller than Anderson — about 1.5km long vs. 21km — but has an easy boat launch and more than enough space for wakeboarding.
Third went to Lillooet Lake, another massive, glacier fed lake in the area that's significantly colder than Anderson.
Best Fishing Spot — Birkenhead Lake
Mornings at Birkenhead Lake are a bustle of activity; boats getting backed down the launch ramp or carried to the beach, bags and coolers being handed into waiting hands, belly boats being inflated, rods and reels being assembled, and then, suddenly, all goes quiet. The last outboard disappears and the lake is calm again. Even for the people in the boats it never feels like there's anyone out there but you. It's a big lake with lots of little coves and bays, and it's well stocked with trout and kokanee — hatchery fish supplement the native species.
Mosquito Lake was second on the list, with Anderson Lake — and its awesome salmon — finishing third.
Best Place to Ride your ATV — Hurley FSR
While the rest of the motoring public inches its way up the Hurley FSR, looking out for razor-sharp rocks, ATVs rip up and down the road at speeds the average SUV can only dream of.
Best Place to Ride your Dirtbike — The Green River Motocross Track
The Green River Motocross Track has come a long way in the past decade, from a sandy pit scratched into the silt to one of the leading training and competition facilities in the province. The Hurley FSR was second on the list. If any vehicle is better suited than ATVs for this road it's the dirtbike.
Best Place to Ride your Horse — anywhere and everywhere.
Before there even was a Pemberton there were horses in the valley, carrying prospectors north to mine and pan for gold. The community remains friendly to horses, which have right of way pretty much everywhere. That's why the top answer this year was "anywhere and everywhere."
Best Snowmobile Trail — The Rutherford Creek drainage
The Rutherford Creek drainage won the day in this category, with some of the best access to one of the area's top natural wonders — the Pemberton Ice Cap, which was number two on the list. The cap covers roughly 300 square kilometres and feeds the Squamish River, Soo River, Rutherford Creek, Ryan River and tributary streams to the Elaho River.
The Hurley, which is buried under snow through the winter, is number three with lots of great ways to access the alpine, Bralorne, Gold Bridge and other communities to the north — as well as some great backcountry skiing spots.
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