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Dirt Designations: Part 2

MORE stories behind the names of Whistler's mountain bike trails

In this space last week, you read Jeff Slack's 2015 story detailing the stories behind the naming of many of the mountain biking trails in the resort.

Of course, five years is an eternity in the mountain biking world, and in that time, builders created and christened new trails, while others that flew under the radar were brought into the officially sanctioned fold.

It's not feasible to delve into all 971 of the Whistler trail listings found on Trailforks, and some trails are still on the "DL," as it were, so these stories aren't a fully comprehensive list.

"There are quite a few other good names that aren't on the map, and I might get crucified if I even share the names," laughs Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) lead trail builder Dan Raymond.

That said, without further ado, please enjoy the origin stories of a whole new set of Whistler's mountain biking monikers.

Whistler Valley

Jumping right in, let's start with the crown jewel of the Sproatt Alpine Trail Network and WORCA's raison d'être, Lord of the Squirrels .

While completing the three-year project, Raymond knew he needed to hit on a name that connected with how "chasey and turny and fast the trail" was, which reminded him of the way squirrels would scurry up and down a tree. Considering its construction as a three-instalment epic, Raymond invoked the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

"The official story, which went to the squirrel, was at the end of Year 1, we ran out of money and I was working by myself building a big bridge," he says. "A squirrel would come down every day and just bark at me. Cheep, cheep, those noises. It wasn't afraid of me at all.

"This was just as the trail going up reaches the old growth, so this squirrel had probably never seen a human before. He was not afraid of the chainsaw noises in any way, and I was awed at the courage of this squirrel. That's what really solidified the name."

The original working name for the trail was First Rule of Bike Club, invoking Fight Club, though in a reverse of the cult book and movie, WORCA actually wanted people to talk about the trail once it was approved and the club had finally won alpine access.

Chipmunk Rebellion Sticking with the varmint theme, Raymond recalls how when beginning a new project after Lord of the Squirrels, the squirrels in his backyard had been displaced by a family of chipmunks.

"Chipmunk Uprising was the first idea, but I didn't want people to think it was a climb trail," he says, noting current WORCA president Dale Mikkelsen suggested "rebellion" instead.

Trash , Garbage , Rubbish Trash is a local staple right next to the old dump, and when other builders created new lines in the area, they stuck with the theme.

"Wherever you dig in that zone, I'm guessing that either ravens or bears dragged a lot of the garbage out of the old dump into the woods," Raymond says. "It could look like pristine moss and when you start to build a trail, there's a garbage bag or a plastic container."

As well, as hikers utilized Trash to access the Train Wreck site no matter the weather—effectively destroying the trail—the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) allowed WORCA to build another trail nearby.

"It's really bad terrain, which normally I would never have wanted to build another trail onto," Raymond says. "Rubbish kind of matched that."

Cherry on Top , Whipped Cream , and Green Jello Sticking with the dessert theme established by Piece of Cake and A La Mode, Raymond said builders opted to build a sundae, with Cherry on Top marking the trail's high point. Green Jello, meanwhile, is one of his childhood favourites.

Muffin Man and Robin Yer Eggs . These trails were built with help from a Grade 9 class of Whistler Waldorf School's students as part of an annual weeklong project. Muffin Man continues the Lost Lake Trails' Frank Zappa theme, while Robin Yer Eggs is in the Cut Yer Bars zone. Raymond recalls the students asking to name the trail at the outset, but he stressed the name would likely reveal itself during the work.

"Sure enough, around the third day, we were hiking out with the kids," he says. "There was a robin very close to the trail, just chirping and chirping.

"Sure enough, there was a raven in the robin's nest eating the eggs, so I just blurted out 'She's robbing your eggs!' and one of the kids corrected me and said, 'Duh, robin yer eggs.'"

Hot Dog Alley This west side trail, also built with significant Waldorf help, is another name with a couple different meanings, says builder Tim Haggerty. On one hand, it refers to his trail dog, Buddy, experiencing some shocks while the crews worked under the nearby power lines in the rain. His first thought, Zapped Dog, didn't seem quite right, but he recalled that the fun fair in his Ontario hometown, the Crystal Beach Amusement Park, boasted a row of concession stands called Hot Dog Alley.

Raymond recalls another explanation, however, likening working between the power lines to 7-Eleven hot dogs cooking on the convenience store's heated rollers.

Hind Sight Haggerty credited longtime WORCA heavy hitter Todd Hellinga for this one, which runs as an alternative to the middle section of Tunnel Vision.

"'This is what Tunnel Vision should have been,'" Haggerty recalls Hellinga saying at a trail night.

Scotia Nova This trail near Stonebridge's Scotia Creek also drew inspiration from builder and former WORCA president Jerome David, whose first Canadian home after moving across the pond from France was in Nova Scotia.

Butterflies and Flowers , meanwhile, is a name that Haggerty had locked and loaded until he found the perfect trail for it.

It was inspired by his wife's approach to riding, which he says differs drastically from his own.

"The joke about that is, every time, I'd be like, 'What's taking you so long?' and she'd say, 'Didn't you see the butterflies? Didn't you see the flowers?'" he says. "'No, I was riding my bike! Focus on the trail.'

"We always joked that one day, I was going to build a trail and call it Butterflies and Flowers ... She always said 'You should [build] a trail that has a couple spicy moves, but name it Butterflies and Flowers.' This one has a couple spicy moves."

Haggerty notes that it's also B 'n' F for short, referencing his 10-year stint living in Banff.

North of Town , Middle of Nowhere , Out There The origins of these three trails come from Haggerty's text messages with friends.

"Basically, people would be asking me, 'Where are you? What are you doing?' and at first, I was 'I'm north of town. I'll be home in a little bit,'" he recalls. "When I was working on Out There, I was saying, 'Oh, I'm just out there.'"

Middle of Nowhere, meanwhile, came when he and building partner Dave Iles were having lunch, enjoying the "dead silence" when inspiration struck.

Haggerty adds that Out There also kept with the theme of Pink Floyd's The Wall established by Comfortably Numb builder Chris Markle, referencing "Is There Anybody Out There?," while another trail of his, Happiest Days hearkens to "The Happiest Days of Our Lives."

Admittedly not the world's biggest Pink Floyd fan, some of Haggerty's under-the-radar trails are named for his true musical love: country.

Working Class Located near High Society, Patrick Plante built this Stonebridge-area trail in the evenings on his schlep down from labouring on Lord of the Squirrels during the day.

"He wanted the trail to be difficult—not just down difficult but also the climbs in it [to be] difficult as a statement to the working-class hero," Raymond says.

Three Birds While constructing this trail with three significant rock moves, High Society builder Craig Kozman also saw three feathered friends: a raven, an owl and an eagle.

AC/DC Another Kozman construction, this references the high-voltage towers riders pass under near the end. This trail also inspired Raymond to pick up his sign game, as the signage for this trail boasts the iconic Aussie rock band's logo.

Bluey Epic An easier alternative to Billy Epic, built at a time when there was pushback against "dumbing down trails," according to Raymond.

Green Monster So named for the largest feature on the trail, which happens to be covered in moss. It came to prominence about a decade ago when a photo of Hellinga appeared in print when the trail was still a secret. The trail sign is made from a ski that once belonged to one of the builders, Maxim Arsenault, who died in an avalanche in 2016.

Howler This Zander Strathern project is a fast ride and stays on theme with nearby Screaming Cat Lake.

Cheap Thrills Built by Eric Barry, the lead on the Frank Zappa trails near Lost Lake, this references a Zappa album. The trail sign initially featured a broken copy of the CD, but that has since been removed.

Dark Crystal This former rogue Blackcomb Mountain trail by Scott Veach and Ben Haggar was officially incorporated into Whistler Blackcomb's system in 2017. The builders loved both the Fraggle Rock snowboarding zone as well as the Jim Henson movie.

"The movie Dark Crystal seemed to fit perfectly with the mood of the forest below Crystal Chair," Raymond says.

Micro Climate Dave Anderson convinced co-builder Paul Stevens of this name in reference to the small climb it features, Raymond recalls. As well, with cool weather, the moniker seemed appropriate. Anderson originally conceived the name as a pun—Micro Climb-It—but a miscommunication led Stevens to coining it with its current meteorological moniker.

Whistler Mountain Bike Park

The crews in the world's foremost gravity park have been busy with new trails and, therefore, new names as well. Here are some updates, courtesy of the Whistler Blackcomb communications department.

Southpark It's the south side of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

Elixir This trail was built as the upper section of Insomnia, so it seemed like a creative connection: Elixr to Insomnia.

Delayed Fuse This trail references the patrol team's use of bombs for avalanche control. 

Miss Fire Connected to Delayed Fuse, this trail carries on the patrol terminology.

Blueberry Bathtub During the build, the crew came out of the woods at the end of the day and the supervisor found them covered in blue stain from the wildberry bushes—as if they had been bathing in a blueberry bathtub.

Earth Circus A fairly apt description of the bike park, no?

CIRQUE DU SOIL This trail was built as an extension of Earth Circus, so the French Canadian translation was recommended by an avid park rider.

Midgard Located in the Upper Creekside, this trail seemed so far out in the middle of Earth. Stemming from Norse mythology, Midgard is the middle land that sits between the lands of ice and fire.

Playground Whistler Blackcomb wanted to build medium features at the bottom of Creekside, where the DFX Kids programs meet. It seemed like a suitable name for the features to ride on as they wrapped up their day.

Trail Patrol put up a sign up on this one when it opened. It didn't have a name at that point so they marked it as "Trail." It stuck.

Shomer Shabbos The trail crew built this as an alternate connection to Ride Don't Slide to exit the trail early. It was part of a big push to get Southpark finished, so the mountain could open the Creekside Zone. As the trail crew are big fans of The Big Lebowski, as they completed the mission and were able to take the weekend off as planned, they dubbed it with an iconic quote from the film: "I don't roll on Shabbos" (Hebrew for 'Sabbath').

Rippin' Rutabaga An old trail from the early days of the bike park, brought back again with a bit of a refresh.

BC's Trail Short for Boyd Chalmers' Trail, as it was built by Olympic skiers Rob Boyd and Darren Chalmers for off-season training.

The Pines of Mar Gables Like Del Boca Vista, it's a retirement condominium complex from Seinfeld.

Sabertooth Horse The trail crew saw claw marks on a tree near where they were building and imagined them to be markings of the mythical Sabertooth Horse.

Weasel Juice This trail begins behind the Weasel Pumphouse.




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