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Opinion: An ode to the best month in Whistler

'Just in case you needed more proof this corridor is a trap.'
What's not to love about May in Whistler?

May 29 marked seven whole years since I rolled past the “Welcome to Whistler” sign for the first time, with a snowboard, a hockey bag and a couple of suitcases in the trunk of my Jeep and an employment contract from the Whistler Question (R.I.P.) in my inbox.

“Probably a year and a half, maybe two years, max,” was my response that summer to anyone who asked how long I planned on staying. Joke’s on me—I’ve officially become a stereotype.

There are more than a few routine aspects of Whistler life I’ve gotten used to in those seven years, like navigating the bends on the Sea to Sky highway, the ebb and flow of the seasons, or the now-familiar feeling of saying goodbye to friends, only to welcome them back to town a few years later. Just in case you needed more proof this corridor is a trap.

In building a life anywhere, you’ll eventually start recognizing the recurring bright spots that highlight your days, weeks, and months. Here, those might look like Sunday morning lattes from your go-to coffee shop; the first run you head towards on a powder day; your favourite dock to spend summer afternoons lounging on; or that one event, festival or race you look forward to year after year.

After seven turns around the sun as a full-time Whistler resident, I’ve conclusively determined that, for me, the entire month of May is one of those bright spots.

In other words, May is the best month of the year in Whistler, and I will not be convinced otherwise. Why would a month that falls under the entirely unappealing label of “dead season” be my favourite time of year, you ask? OK, no one asked, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

May is when the days start feeling noticeably longer. It’s when temperatures start sliding past the 20-degree mark more regularly—aside from last year’s never-ending winter—but might as well feel like 30 C after months of snow. It’s when you can confidently trade Blundstones for Birkenstocks and pull camping gear out of storage for the first time. You can always count on at least a few days of sunshine before the Juneuary clouds roll in.

But that’s just the standard stuff any Canadian can relate to.

If not completely unique to Whistler, some spring experiences considered “normal” in the Sea to Sky are so exceptionally rare in other parts of the world. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the novelty of snowboarding in a T-shirt and sunglasses in double-digit temperatures.

In May, Whistler’s true strength is the multisport days that remind me why we're so lucky to live here. It’s pretty much the only time of year where you can hop on a lift and head to higher elevations for a few slushy laps, swap helmets and head out for a bike ride, then end your afternoon with an admittedly chilly dip in the lake. Go even wilder and throw in a round of golf or a trip to the driving range, if that’s your thing.

You can also refuel your energy tank after all those spring activities with my favourite kind of dining experience: the dead-season deal. Would I typically treat myself to three whole courses at one of Whistler’s  Canada’s best restaurants, for no other occasion than the fact that it's Wednesday? Neither my bank account nor my health can accommodate that kind of a hit on a regular basis, unfortunately. But when those three courses are offered for the price of a single entrée? Sign me up.

Even better, if your friends are like mine, fewer visitors in town to serve means more time to dedicate to these endeavours. After a few months of hustling, spring in Whistler always feels like a collective deep breath, a chance to reconnect. It feels like the celebration of one season coming to an end and a fresh start as another begins.

Or maybe my obsession with May stems more from my first impressions of a town that has become so important to me since. This time of year reminds me of walking through the village on my first day in Whistler, as awe-struck by the rushing, icy-blue creek and never-ending snow-capped peaks as I was confused by crews coming off the mountain in full Gaper Day regalia—think party shirts, unicorn onesies and Pit Vipers. It reminds me of brief moments of “what the heck did I just get myself into?” combined with giddy excitement and a sense of limitless possibilities, not knowing what this place had in store for me.

Turns out, it was a lot of good. Even if it is a trap.