Around mountain ski towns we talk a lot about the Norse god of winter, Ullr, not just because it's everyone's favorite icy cool drink, but because we live and breathe snow. But this time of year it's important to know who the summer god is, and maybe ask ourselves why we don't talk about him.
Odur, also known as Od, is the Norse god of summer and sun. Very little is known about Odur. In fact, more stalk is taken with his wife, Freya, and her love, beauty, and exploration. However, one of the reasons little is known about Odur is because he too would take long journeys, which were not chronicled. Traveling and exploration is one of the most important aspects to Norse culture. While we may never value Odur as much as we value Ullr in our little mountain town of Big Sky, perhaps it's time we give a little more attention to the god of summer travels as we make our way in and out of Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and up and across Lone Peak on a Lone Peak Expedition.
Summer exploration be nigh for all those who hear the call of Odur; wherever he may be.
Lone Peak in July.Photo: Anna Husted
How long have you been riding downhill?
I've been riding downhill in Montana for 9 years now. I started mountain biking in the Midwest but it is a completely different game out here. I love the Midwest, but for me Montana brings more of a technical side of riding and of course being bigger, it has something for everyone.
What's the best tip you could give someone just starting out?
Overall get comfortable with the bike and try not to get in over your head. Understanding the bike and what it is and isn't capable of doing is key.
If you could describe mountain biking in three words what would they be?
Freedom through adventure.
What's the coolest thing you've seen while riding?
The weather can produce some really cool shows, but really the overall trail can lead you into some cool places you might not have a chance to get to or at least not have as easy access to if you weren't on a bike.
What's your favorite trail at Big Sky Resort?
The recently built flow trail Otter Slide. Otter Slide brings more of a new approach to Big Sky trails, it has a flow with a series of jumps that makes it exciting and it makes you want to keep coming back.
New ladder work at Big Sky Resort.
Small, yet significant quotes introduce each section in Cheryl Strayed's Wild, reminding us of the value of nature and impact of it on human life. At first these quotes seemed almost kitschy to me. Strayed is not the first author to use other author's decontextualized quotes to pack a punch, but after nearly completing the book (and the movie) it became clearer that these are snippets of someone's mind perceiving nature. I too cannot stay away from the mountains, and it is more often than not that I cannot explain how the mountains make me feel. So I'll let some authors do it for me. Imitation may not be as successful as originality, but it still leaves an impression.
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep. Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways. -Walt Whitman
I clearly remember my first view of that outcrop, rising dramatically from deep spring snow, high above the surrounding forest-its features, distinct and striking, with premium climbing lines obvious from miles away. I was smitten.-Pete Tapley from Outside Magazine on Beehive Basin
We are now in the mountains, and they are in us. -John Muir
Photo: Nathan Gawor
Summers to me mean about only one thing: Grill season. Most nights I like to start up my own backyard grill and mix in some wild onion to my Montana-raised Angus beef, but on occasion I like to treat myself to some of our delicious burgers in and around Big Sky. Here's my top 5 must-try burgers for summer 2015 in Big Sky:
By Word of Mouth
A swanky little bistro in Town Center, By Word of Mouth boasts one of the best burgers in Big Sky: The BYWOM Burger. This burger tops most basic burgers with caramelized onions, a local Wheat Montana bun, and a touch of slightly sweet ingredients in its secret sauce. A basic burger with a twist of creativity makes for one delicious dinner.
The Montana Smokehouse in the heart of the Mountain Village is a great lunch burger because of its fresh and light ingredients without the richer sweeter ingredients in say the Lone Peak Brewery or By Word of Mouth's burgers. Grilled fresh, this local Montana beef is juicy with a slight hint of a special spice and comes with a choice of homemade BBQ sauces.
The Bunker Bar & Grill
Not only is The Bunker Bar & Grill a great burger because of its great price and great view to accompany it, this burger tastes like a backyard BBQ. Check it out with a Montana Microbrew and fries on Monday night's Burger Night (only $12).
Lone Peak Brewery
The best thing about the Lone Peak Brewery's burger is not what you would think. It's not the fantastic local brew on Nitro tap that balances a great burger, it's the special Mack Attack Sauce that's not necessarily on the menu. The menu boasts a fantastic choice of burgers, but my favorite order is one that only goes on special now and again: The Mack Attack. Double patties, special sauce, and the works make up one of the best burgers in Big Sky. I love this burger.
Smokejumper Café (West Yellowstone)
When in West do as the locals do and check out Smokejumper Café for a great breakfast or an even better burger. The friendly staff is just one element that goes into making a fantastic burger, the reasonable pricing, regional beef, and choice of Bison burger are also reasons this burger makes my list. I like the quaint vibe and the high quality ingredients can't be beat.
The Bunker Burger
TRAIL RUNNING... This sport can be enjoyed easily in Big Sky, Montana. All you need is yourself, maybe a friend or two and a dog is good too. Bear Spray, you want that, just in case and it makes you feel safer as you soar through the forest. You will need a pair of running shoes and comfortable clothing. Depending on your distance maybe some energy gels or a bar and water. Most importantly you need a trail to run. There are many trails to choose from, pick up a map in Big Sky Sports. Here are a few of my top picks:
THE NORTH FORK TRAIL 16 to BEAR BASIN
This rolling up hill out-and-back is 10 miles. You can keep going to the saddle and make it 12 miles or further to Summit Lake 15 miles out-and-back. Want more? Keep going to Hellroaring (24 miles) or Spanish Creek (19 miles) Trailheads but you will need to set up a shuttle for your return. Start at the North Fork Trailhead located off of Lone Mountain Trail.
THE GRIZZLY LOOP
This true cross country lollipop loop is 5.9 miles- Start at Porcupine Trailhead. At almost 1 mile in right before the second bridge take the trail to the left follow signs to first creek where this lollipop loop starts. If you choose to go left then follow all junctions' right that should bring you back around and if you choose right- follow junctions to the left until you get back to the lollipop stick. If you are running toward Lone Mountain you are headed back to the trailhead. Porcupine Trailhead is located on highway 191 just north of the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill which is a great post run refreshment stop.
This up and around and down loop is 4.5 miles. Start in Big Sky Resort's Mountain Village, grab a trail map from Basecamp (they are free) then start trotting. This loop is part of the Rut 11k and 50k races in September. Grab a bite to eat at MT Smokehouse in the plaza when you finish.
Another trail running tip: It's good to let the wildlife know you are there. I like to give a good loud "Hey Bear" when I am entering or exiting wooded areas, descending into or ascending out of drainages or if I can't really see what is around the bend. Give it a try.
Upper Beehive Basin Trailhead
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