Whistler’s “Zappa” Trails, in the valley’s Lost Lake area, are usually the first trails we ride after the Airstream is unhitched in Whistler. Next to the Riverside RV Park, these trails are amongst the easiest of the intermediate bike routes in the valley. At the end of our stay, we will have covered the Lost Lake trails, backwards and forwards, many times and the Zappa Trails will have the familiarity of a favorite local trail system. Later we always remember these trails as being a little too easy.
Returning to Whistler, we always expect a comfortable start on Lost Lake’s Zappa Trails. It never works out that way.
“These trails are harder than I remember.” It’s a generic thought. Either of us could say it.
There are a couple of things at work here. First, there’s the adjustment to the North Shore style of trails, not just the wooden build-ups, but also the roots, rocks and everything. It takes time to get our “BC legs.” Add in that the Riverside RV Park to the Whistler Village direction on the Zappa Trails is a deceptively more difficult route. The climbs in this direction are steep sneaky tricky. Plus, climbing on raised wooden structures, particularly when you are not used to it, is intimidating. (Maybe we’re getting too good at creating excuses.)
And so it was this year. Becky and I worked our way up and over Lost Lake’s rise to Whistler’s ski village. Gradually we became more comfortable with the trails. On the other side of Lost Lake, near the resort’s parking lots, we practiced skinnies, small drops, and teeter-totters at the skill area. When it was time to head back home, the Zappa Trails flowed. The twenty-inch wide wooden ladder structures a foot or four off the ground went by easily. We were getting back into the BC groove.
The next day we decided to explore a new-to-us trail. Taking the paved bike trails, we crossed the Whistler valley and then climbed the roads to the top of Beaver Pass Trail. Beaver Pass starts right near the beginning of “Danimal North,” a trail that Knobs and I had done a few years back. (We had liked Danimal just enough so it always came up in ride discussions but not enough for a return visit.)
“Whistler Mountain Biking” by Finestone and Hodder (a good guidebook for the Whistler Valley) gives Beaver Pass its top rank, three stars. Finestone and Hodder go on to say that the trail “offers a technical rock ride on a fantastic and exposed whaleback ridge.”
“Ooh, an exposed whaleback ridge,” we cooed when we read the trail description.
For us, there’s nothing like bike trail porn. We were eager for action.
After padding up, we entered Beaver Pass. The trail wound through the trees and then started to climb as described by Finestone and Hodder. There was a sign up ahead. We moved closer.
It was written on the sign in big red letters. They had to be joking. Is there anything that makes you want to ride a trail more than a “trail closed” sign? A closed trail sign and an exposed whaleback ridge, this was getting serious. I began to wonder whether my heavy breathing was only a result of the effort to climb the hill.
I read more on the sign. There was something about the construction of a pipeline.
“OK, we can work around that,” I figured, still breathing heavy.
Next I saw that “Blasting” was written in bold letters on the sign.
“That’s not good,” I thought. It did seem pretty unlikely that they would actually blow up the trail when we were on it. And maybe they were just trying to scare us away from using an exotic “closed” trail with an exposed whaleback ridge.
“Use Danimal,” the sign finished.
“We will use Danimal,” my mind repeated.
So much for free will. But, after all, I always liked Danimal.
The Danimal North trailhead is just down the road from Beaver Pass. Soon our tire tread patterns were imprinted on Danimals loamy tread.
Danimal briefly winds through the tall trees and then descends on a rooty and rocky singletrack. The trail drops several steeper sections and over a few build-ups. Since our last visit, the trail has seen significant attention. The flow has been improved and several of the structures have been added or modified to the give the trail a better high-speed, new school character. (We were nowhere close to fast enough to take full advantage of several of the turbo-charged features.)
In the end, Danimal is a good drop. It is a short sweet pleasure and worth trying if you get the chance. Now if I can just get the visions of sweet “exposed whaleback ridge” out of my skull, I might have been well satisfied.
At the end of Danimal we headed over to the Whistler classic, River Runs Through It (RRTI). We rode RRTI as an out and return starting in the “wrong” direction at the Rainbow Park trailhead. About this route choice, let’s just say it was a little reminder of why there is a preferred direction for RRTI. Once we turned around and headed in the usual direction, RRTI was as fun as ever. Imagine morphing a bike skills park into a winding riverside trail and you’d get an idea of what RRTI is about.
At the end of our RRTI escapade, we rolled back to the Airstream. By now the juices were flowing. The trails were calling. We were back in BC.