I have always maintained that I live in the most beautiful region of Canada, if not the entire world. In truth though, I really can't make a global statement like that because after all, I've only been to 3 different continents and 8 different countries in my lifetime. I can however, make that statement about Canada, since I've traversed most of the provinces and territories within it. Beauty of course, is found in the eye of the beholder. The expansive space of an unending sky blue horizon that meets the flat golden prairie fields in Saskatchewan, is the best that it gets for some. For others who live in the Maritimes or on the Pacific west coast, the smell of ocean air that accompanies the changing of the tides stir up a taste of heaven.
But for me, it's the mountains. Strong, majestic, protective, awe-inspiring . . . . beautiful mountains. They contain peaks that tower over me and summits waiting to be challenged. They provide a stark rugged contrast to colourful sunsets that they silhouette, as well as to brilliant blue skies that they taper into.
Prior to this summer, I thought that I would never find a more beautiful and incredible Canadian town to live in than my own home town. Smithers is a small rural valley town in northern British Columbia that is surrounded by seven different mountain ranges. It is a hiker's and a snowboarder's paradise.
I thought I would never find a more beautiful town than Smithers, until my husband, daughter and I spent 4 days camping, biking, and hiking in Whistler . . .
Whistler is a playground for the young at heart, be they young toddlers, daring teenagers, middle-aged fitness buffs or elderly folk. There is something for everyone; from extreme death-defying mountain biking, to easy biking throughout the entire town on paved bike trails; from shopping at hundreds of quaint shops in Whistler village, to swimming in one of the local lakes; from slogging it up mountains to reach tree line, to taking the gondola for easy strolls up at the mountain top. There is something for everyone.
Riding the peak to peak gondola is definitely a must do while vacationing or living in Whistler.
Not taking the peak to peak gondola to both mountain peaks and the chair lift up to Whistler mountain summit, is like going to Agra and not seeing the Taj Mahal, or going to Athens and not seeing the Acropolis, or going to Niagra Falls and not seeing the falls.
There are just some things you do not miss when you travel to certain places, and hiking in the mountains of Whistler is one of those not-to-be-missed experiences. By riding the gondolas and chair lifts, people of all ages, sizes, shapes, and fitness levels are able to see the majesty of the mountains up close and personal. Once up in the mountains, there are a plethora of trails to hike - easy, moderate and difficult. Or for those that do not care for fitness, there are beautiful ski lodges overlooking spectacular scenery to grab a bite to eat.
Of all the places we have travelled to in Canada, this year was the first year ever, that my husband and I looked at each other and both agreed: "This is just as beautiful as Smithers. Maybe even more so. We could easily live here". Well, almost. Smithers is a "micro-mini Whistler" in terms of mountainous beauty, great skiing, and great hiking with a small town atmosphere. However, the cost of living and cost of real estate is astronomical in Whistler, so I don't think we're going to be moving any time soon. At least a seed has been planted within us for a possible retirement location.
For now we'll have to settle on the gorgeous beauty of Hudson Bay mountain in Smithers, complete with no line-ups for the chair lift on clear sunny days when the mountain has been kissed with fresh champagne powder the night before.
When we came back home, we took a quick 2 hour hike up to Crater Lake on Hudson Bay mountain. We found that the grass was not greener on the other side of the fence; it was just as green as where we had been standing in Whistler, and just as beautiful.
What a blessing it is to live here in the Bulkley valley, completely surrounded by the majesty of the mountains, and friends that we can share it with.
Traveling to spectacular Whistler has helped me appreciate where I live even more. I am grateful.