Letting go of Winter

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Saying goodbye is never easy.

We winter-lovers know from the get-go that our relationship with the season is, well, seasonal. We know that winter can’t last forever. But it’s still hard to say goodbye.

This winter has been a weird one. The build-up was huge, the bulk of which was spent attending ski movie premieres and film festivals, like iF3 and Coldsmoke. I had lofty goals: a split board had been purchased, as had most of the corresponding gear. All that was left was to secure some skins and sign up for my avy course.

But guess what. Winter didn’t deliver—at least, not right away.

We had a slow start to the season, here in Whistler. Very slow. As in, even in mid-February, the snow levels were still embarrassingly low. The conditions were not primo for backcountry adventures, so my split board spent the season gathering dust.

Not that it mattered much: instead of being knee deep in powder, I was knee deep in work. A lack of fresh snow made it easier to skip a day on the mountain for a day in the office, but I couldn’t help but feel cheated. Didn’t I move to Whistler to spend my days on my snowboard? Where was my winter?

Eventually, winter came. In fact, gauging by recent snowfall, it’s still coming. The timing couldn’t be better, as I’ve left my old job to embrace life as a freelancer, allowing ample time to play.

But I know it won’t last forever. It never does. Some resorts have already shut their doors for the season. Whistler Blackcomb will stay open until at least May 19, but operating hours will shorten towards the end of April. Whistler Mountain will switch over early from a ski hill to a mountain bike park. Bluebird days on the mountain will face some competition with bluebird days spent lounging by the lake.

So how do we let go of winter? I see it as a three-step program.

Step One: Make the most of what’s left. We might have had a late start to the season, but it’s not over yet (for Whistler, at least).

Patches of powder might become a rarer sight, but spring skiing means that ski posses can get larger, shirt sleeves can get shorter, and après on a patio will last a little longer, thanks to more daylight hours.

Step Two: Embrace the summer. If you’re lucky enough to live in or near a ski resort town, chances are that your backyard is pretty enticing in the summer, too.

It turns out that mountains are pretty fun to hike around (I mean in hiking boots, not on skis) and bike around. Summer in Whistler means floating down lazy rivers, board game parties on a picnic table, free open-air concerts and endless rounds of Frisbee golf. Once you get over the fact that summer isn’t winter, you might come to realize that it’s actually quite awesome.

Step Three: Plan for next winter. As sure as it is that every winter must come to an end, it’s just as certain that it’ll be back next year (hopefully before mid-February—you hear me, Ullr?). There’s no harm in dreaming about next season.

Set goals for yourself. I will dust off that split board next year. I’ll also keep tackling my lifelong goal of visiting a new resort every year—no harm in doing a little research now.

It’s entirely possible that I will spend at least one day this summer wearing sweatpants with friends and watching back to back to back ski movies. I suppose I could chase winter to New Zealand if I got really desperate.

But more likely, I’ll graciously bid adieu to Winter 2013/2014, storing the highlights into the depths of my brain next to the top moments of Winter 2012/2013 and making sure there is plenty of room for next year’s inevitable adventures.

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