Walking the talk 

Whistler hikers publish first local hiking guide

While scoping out the idea of publishing a hiker’s trail guide for the Whistler area, Tanya McLaughlin and Lynn Altieri-Need talked to people in the tourism industry to find out if there was a demand for it.

"Put it this way," said McLaughlin, "At the Whistler Activity Centre they said that after ‘where are the bathrooms?’ the second-most common question is ‘do you have a hiking guide?’"

At the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, they asked about hiking guides and were given a brief flyer that McLaughlin herself had put together almost eight years ago. She couldn’t believe that nothing more recent was available.

And then they were off.

Starting last winter, they put together a list of 28 popular hiking and snowshoeing trails, drew maps, collected pictures and other trail data, and then rated the trails from easy to difficult.

They included advice on what to bring on various hikes, and bear awareness information compiled by local black bear researcher Michael Allen.

They also came up with symbols to go with each trail, identifying trails that can be used by trail runners, snowshoers, cyclists and families. They also indicate multi-use trails that have vehicles on them, as well as the trails where dogs are not allowed. At the front there is a full-colour map of the area by Terrapro.

The final product is more than 70 pages long, and includes up to three pictures for every trail. Most of the pictures are theirs, although they borrowed some from friends, contributors and the Whistler Museum and Archives. Altieri-Need’s husband needed eight stitches for his head when he crashed his bike while getting pictures for one of the trails.

"It’s basic, but it has everything a tourist needs to know to get on the trail and get back again," says Alteri-Need. "We’re hikers, too, and we like guides to be simple and basically idiot-proof."

The most challenging part of putting the guide together, she added, was trying to come up with different descriptive words without sounding repetitive. Learning how to use graphic and publishing software was also a learning experience. "It was a real home-grown effort for us," says McLaughlin.

"It was fun to put together," says Alteiri-Need. "We’ve been saying for years now that Whistler needs a guide like this, and now we’re the ones to finally put one together. Judging by the encouragement we’ve gotten from around town, it’s something that we’ve needed for a while. Tourists are buying these huge hiking books with Whistler trails in them, but there’s nothing specific to here."

McLaughlin has lived in Whistler for 12 years, and Altieri-Need for three.

They are already planning future editions in the next few years with more trails and special features for guide users.

You can pick up copies of Hike & Snowshoe Whistler from Armchair Books, Behind the Grind, and Katmandu. They also expect to have it in outdoor and sports stores around town in the coming weeks.

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