In preparation for the beginning of a new ski season I am participating in what I like to call the 25 Days of Winter leading up to Nov. 27. With just about 2 weeks until Opening Day, stay tuned for more tips and anticipation of the coming winter season. Here are days 11-15:
Penitence. Expression of humility toward Mother Nature makes for safer and more exciting winter adventures. Approach this winter with humility.
Have something to do in the dark hours. Sunset is exactly at 5:00pm this time of year. This means there are 5+ hours of darkness to fill with non-outdoor activities. My tips: Après-ski at Whiskey Jack's or Andiamo (once they are open); take up knitting (so much yarn at CReations Yarn Shop); go to the movies at Lone Peak Cinema or for free in the Big Sky Resort Amphitheater; or plan the next day's adventure with friends. These activities should help curb that 5-hour boredom during these dark months.
Find joy. A major element to advent is seeking joy during the holiday season. For the 25 Days of Winter, joy should be sought by simply waking up to 5 inches of fresh snow on the ground and smiling, coffee in hand, at the day ahead. Never lose touch with the magic that snow brings.
Expectation. Similar to joy, having delightful expectation at what this winter will bring is important to practice during the 25 Days of Winter. I try to have positive and realistic expectations for the ski season. I expect to ski nearly every day and take on new adventures (like skiing the Big Couloir), but I know not to be disappointed if neither of those happen.
Read. Study up on NOAA's weather predictions, stay up to date on unofficialnetworks.com latest resort recaps, and look at blogs (such as this one) for the latest local perspective on Big Sky happenings.
Check back in five days for days 6-10.
Photo © Ryan Day Thompson, 2014 | www.ryandaythompson.com
As we count down to Opening Day at Big Sky Resort, join in on the chance to win swag and other sweet prizes with #bigskyresort on Instagram all winter long. The last five winners during the last five weeks of the 2013-14 winter season captured Lone Peak, Pond Skim, the Big Couloir, and more. We can't wait to see what winter 2014-15 #bigskyresort brings.
Regular readers of Living Big blog know I regularly write about my favorite tree runs at Big Sky Resort. My heart longs for the trees where five to seven turns are carved out like a racecar driver on a canyon road with perfect line of sight. And today it's like Christmas in October.
Big Sky Resort's Mountain Operations spent summer 2014 carving out even more perfect turns in some of my favorite trees: Southern Comfort, Soul Hole, Tango Trees, and Mr. K. Specifically: Two new runs between Sacajawea and El Dorado named Lizette and Pomp after Sacajawea's children; one new run between Mr. K and Lower Morning Star named Lois Lane; better line-of-sight in Soul Hole (one of the most wonderful tree runs at the resort); and more glading in Tango Trees below the triple chair for a total of 54 more acres bringing Big Sky Resort to an epic 5,804 acres.
The perks of glading go beyond my own ski self-indulgence. Forest health, improved wildlife habitat, line-of-sight for riding, and forest fire prevention are just a few of the advantages to glading, but the first thing that comes to mind for me is: more tree skiing.
Not only is glading key to forest health because dead and downed trees are removed, but it's also beneficial for skiers and snowboarders because runs are improved. This is something I will always love about the ski industry, and something I respect about my home mountain, Big Sky.
When it comes down to it I just can't wait to explore fresh glades this winter.
When I graduated college a year ago, I never thought I would move back to Montana much less still be living in Montana, but I wouldn't have it any other way. All through college I was determined to end up in a big city with a fast-pace and a high-profile job, but that wasn't the calling for me.
I grew up outside of Bozeman where I was always hiking, skiing or camping with my parents. I enjoyed that lifestyle, but I also enjoyed traveling to those fast-paced cities I wanted to live in some day. When I graduated, like most people my age, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree. I came home and got a job at the closest faraway place I could think of: The Huntley Front Desk. Now that I am wrapping up my third season in Big Sky I couldn't ask for a better place to be than in this beautiful mountain community.
There is something great about living in a resort town like Big Sky. You get the hustle and bustle of a city from time to time with peak seasons of guests, but you can also get away from it all within 10 minutes and find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no one in sight. Having that balance in life is something that not many people can say they have. The locals here all say that "we live where others vacation" but it is so much more than that. The people here all have things in common, but the best and most important thing we have in common is that we all really want to be here.
When socializing with these great people, I love to enjoy the activities and things that motivated me to move here in the first place. Such as walking to Ousel Falls, hiking up Yellow Mule or just sitting on my back deck enjoying an evening, there's always something to enjoy or discover outside. I also love trying out new restaurants and revisiting old favorites, and going to Music in the Mountains on Thursdays in the summer. For such a small town, we sure do have some great food and music to share.
In my new position as the Owner Communication Manager, I work with the owners of our hotel rooms and condos. Basically, I get to work with people who love this place as much as I do. I can go on a new hike in the area and tell someone about it and they are just as excited to discover it as I am. But overall, it is the people who live here and vacation here, people who legitimately love what they do and where they get to do it, that are the reason this place is so great. While I had other big city plans for my life, I would not change where I am at right now for anything.
Ellie (left) on the Ousel Falls hike in Big Sky.
Walking into the Jack Creek Grille at Big Sky Resort, the first thing you'll probably notice is the amazing views. Like dining in the company of Lone Peak, the towering north side of Big Sky's signature mountain lays before you almost within reach. And if you're lucky enough to be there around the sunset hour, the alpenglow will most likely be as entertaining as the friends or family that you're dining with.
But views aside, dining is really why you're there, right? Located in the Moonlight Lodge, Jack Creek Grille has a comfortable lodgey atmosphere with a touch of elegance thrown into the mix, and the cuisine follows suit. The well-thought out menu features classic go-to items-burgers, steaks, chicken and fish-with Montana flair.
"We aim for farm to table type fare," says Executive Chef Bryan Devlin. "We use heirloom grains like hominy and faro, local cheeses and meats, even trout from the nearby Paradise Valley."
For lunch you'll find a bison or Wagyu beef burger made with Montana-raised meats, salads using as much local produce as possible, and fish tacos for a blend of healthy spice. For dinner there's a dryaged bison bone-in ribeye (that tends to fly off the shelves), local trout served with kale, elk served with hearty grits, and duck with caramelized beets, just to name a few. * And the wine list to accompany the meal is equally as intriguing.
The Jack Creek Grille, views and all, are the complete Montana package.
*The menus change with the seasons and available produce.
Quail at Jack Creek Grille.
Jack Creek Bar & Grille
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