When you have friends who work at a major ski resort, you add it to your travel itinerary. Lucky for me, it just so happens that a host of people I know work at Big Sky! Time to head south.
Originally, I had planned on making Big Sky a quick stop on my trip. Although it may seem like I am simply wandering from place to place willy nilly, I actually do have a rough schedule. Well, that is kind of a lie. I have one obligation on my calendar: my Wilderness First Responder Recertification course in Portland, OR at the end of January. That means that I had to fit Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington into one month. With January already slipping through my fingers, I wasn’t sure how much time I could spare in Big Sky.
All of that went out the window as soon as I saw one of my closest friends, Shawn. He instantly convinced me to stay an extra day… and then another day after that. We both had work to do on day one, so I plopped down by the fireplace and finished up my posts about the drive across Montana and crossed a few other tasky items off my to-do list. All in all, a productive day that ended with long deliberations about gear (something Shawn and I are infamous for) and a nighttime soak in the hot tub with Mike, a fellow midwesterner and ski instructor.
The next day, Shawn and I hit the slopes. I must confess that I have not skied consistently for half a decade. I’m not proud of that, but it is just the way the cookie crumbles. Knowing that I would be rusty, I gave Shawn full permission to treat me like one of his students. On the way up the chairlift, we talked body mechanics, momentum, angles, etc. On the way down, he would stop sporadically to give me pointers. Soon, I was trying to think about flexing my ankles, pole planting, and keeping my weight forward. Some of the alterations came more easily than others (I never figured out a few of them). We spent the morning working our way up the mountain, getting more and more technical with each run. Yes, I totally ate it on one run.
After lunch, we decided to head for the peak. Heavy flakes had started falling around 11:00 and we knew the powder would be best up top. We ran into Tim, a former Frisbee teammate at Bates, and all three of us rode chairlift after chairlift until we hopped in the tram, which carried us to the summit. There, we stepped out into a whitewashed world of fresh powder and swirling snowflakes. After navigating a few sections of exposed rocks, we dropped into a sea of fresh powder. It was glorious. Even though the powder made things easier, this was still my most challenging run of the day. I was exhausted by the time we hit the bottom. Shawn, on the other hand, effortlessly carved down the mountain, hooting and hollering as he went. Stoke factor was high.
We skied a few more runs through the blinding snow before calling it quits. At that point, I wasn’t the only one who was exhausted. The night, however, was just getting started. After showers and food, Shawn, Mike, and I headed back to the mountain for the Snow Ball: an outdoor EDM festival in a snow fort. With massive snowflakes falling from above and the bass shaking the snow beneath us, we danced for hours in the flashing strobes and swirling visualizers that illuminated the bizarre wintery scene. Not a bad way to end an already spectacular day.
When I had envisioned my visit to Big Sky, I wasn’t exactly sure what it would be like, but I hoped it would involve skiing. I ended up spending time with totally awesome people, skiing in some of the best conditions of my life, hot tubbing in the mountains (again), and mindlessly dancing to EDM music… Wow. Way to go Big Sky.
South I went