December 03, 2004 Features & Images » Feature Story

Mirrors in the mountains 

Seeking a retreat from the pressures of everyday life a Whistlerite finds new perspective in Blue River

By K-L Grant

The arrival of rain in mid-August this year stunted what had been a spectacular summer and brought with it an early start to the claustrophobic feeling that descends on Whistler in October and November. When a heavy ceiling of constant cloud obliterates Whistler’s soaring mountain peaks, it’s easy to sink into a depressed state of being. Energy and optimism, which are usually abundant in the mountains, are sapped by the grey skies and dampness that envelops everything.

Which is why when the chance to get out of town in early September presented itself I leapt at the opportunity. It was my turn to do what thousands of Whistler visitors do all the time, retreat from the chaos of everyday life. People come to Whistler seeking solitude in the silence of the mountains, away from the demands of children, spouses and work. Ironically, Whistler residents, most of whom juggle two or three jobs and two or three outdoor passions, must find their own place to retreat to, their own piece of wilderness in which to seek solitude.

Most Whistlerites escaping the valley in the fall seek out things rare in Whistler – sun, sand, surf. But I was seeking the inner silence of yoga, and didn’t have the finances to attend a retreat located in the sun, sand, and surf regions. To get away from the pressures and energy-sapping grey skies of Whistler I sought out the Mike Wiegele Heli Skiing Summer Yoga Retreat, held in Blue River. It’s about a seven-hour drive from Whistler and sounded perfect for my needs. It was inexpensive, included a road trip and gave me an opportunity to relieve the increasing stress of my personal life.

Dreary drizzle draped Whistler’s skyline on the afternoon of my departure, and it was weather that was to dog us all the way to Blue River. The forecast there was identical to Whistler – rain, rain and more rain. But, I consoled myself; I hadn’t come for the weather, I’d come for the yoga, and the escape.

It’s easy for us foreigners who come to Whistler to presume all of B.C. looks the same. In order to experience the diversity of B.C.’s landscape, road trips are a vital part of the Whistler experience. Nearer the end of the drive, as we led a rainstorm that kept perfect pace with us, two vibrant rainbows, visible from end to end, guided us for 45 minutes. It was a spectacular sight, and portended of good things to come.

After seven hours in a car, and on arrival at a yoga retreat, the natural thing to do was to leap out of the car and inhale deep mountain fresh breaths of air while doing some forward bends to loosen up tight hamstrings and lower backs. There is a quality in mountain air that distinguishes it from all other air, and with my eyes closed, breathing deep, I could have sworn the air tasted much like Whistler’s, only more so.

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