Father's Day is that special time of year devoted to dads. The one thing I know about my dad is he loves Big Sky. As a Great Falls, Montana, resident, my dad finds his fair share of fishing on the Missouri, golfing at various courses in town, and biking the hills of the high plains, but he is beckoned by the rushing fishable waters of the Gallatin River, the views of the Big Sky area golf courses, and the cross-country mountain biking. Thus, I've created this list of Father's Day gifts my dad will love. Now how will I decide which one to give him?
Flies & Fishes- Nymphs for now, Salmon flies for July, and grasshoppers for August, I'm thinking about setting my dad up with a fly-fishing variety pack. With the world-class blue ribbon fly-fishing found on the Gallatin, I know he'll need extra flies all summer long.
Hike, Bike, BBQ- This is a gift my dad would love because it also means quality time together. Hike, Bike, BBQ at Big Sky Resort begins July 1 and goes through August 26. Eating delicious BBQ after hiking and biking around Lone Mountain is right up my dad's alley, and also appeals to me.
Firecracker Open or Big Sky Open- Golf is a passion, an obsession, and a little bit frustrating from time to time. However, golf is one of my dad's obsessions and he's already asked me about the summer tournaments at Big Sky Resort Golf Course. All the tournaments are listed online, but with a dad like mine I still had to send him a list via email ("The IT Department," as he calls me, has at least helped him move beyond snail mail). Since he is eager to participate I thought I would pay his entry fee in a tournament or buy him golf balls that include a free entry into a tournament.
The great thing about having two other siblings is that, when in doubt, we can all go in together for the best gift possible. Father's Day is June 15 so I still have a couple days to decide, but either way I hope to share some fun days on the river, in the mountains, and on the golf course with my dad this summer.
-Anna and Erik
Big Sky Resort is home to some of the most extreme downhill mountain biking in the area, yet I have never been downhill mountain biking. That doesn't mean I don't recognize impressive riding when I see it. Check out some epic mountain biking in the following video to get pumped for opening day of downhill riding June 21. Newly added at Big Sky Resort this year are intermediate trails off Explorer Lift. Maybe I'll find inspiration to get out there after all...
Just south of Big Sky near Taylor's Fork camp ground is one of my favorite spots on the Gallatin River. Last Thursday I spent the evening on the riverbank where white cliffs line the banks of the east side of the Gallatin and soft green grass balks in the sun.
Even though I have a variety of favorite Gallatin River spots, this is one not far from the road yet peacefully projected by wild grasses and ants. Highway 191 can be seen from my spot, but when sitting on the banks I'm hidden from the road and therefore distraction of the steady stream of passersby.
As the days grow longer and the sun shines brighter I long to spend more time on the Gallatin, whether fishing, reading, meditating, or rafting; the summer waters call. This particular Thursday it was just me, a friend, and the stillness of the water rushing past. Above the rushing waters Cliff Swallows, who find their homes in the shaly crags of the white cliffs nearby, feasted 100 feet overhead on hatches the fish would never find beneath the chocolaty Gallatin surface. My thoughts turned to those birds and the importance of their survival. Spurred by discussion on bear hunting with my friend, nature permeates Big Sky life beyond my daily interaction and understanding of it. I can debate on end whether or not bears should be hunted or whether or not cliff-nesting swallows (who also find resting places in our homes, at times attacking the home-owner) should be extinguished for my own peace-seeking desires, but I do not disagree that this canyon and surrounding mountains belonged to the bears and swallows first. I also do not disagree that I have a duty to protect their home. Thus on that beautiful sunny Thursday my thoughts turned to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, an American literary work I had not read in years, but that stuck with me. Carson asks the reader to consider a spring where no birds chirped, no ants pestered picnickers, and certainly no bears roamed the Gallatin Canyon, a silent spring.
Spring digs its rays of sunshine into the soil of the green grass and calls out each morning these days in Big Sky. It is alive and well at all my favorite spots along the Gallatin, and requires my attention more and more with each passing season. As Carson said, "the physical form and the habits of the earth's vegetation and its animal life have been molded by the environment ... Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species-man-acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world."
Unbeknownst to me upon writing this blog, May 27 would have been Rachel Carson's 107th birthday. Life in Big Sky is full of these connections and coincidences that, perhaps, are not coincidences at all, but reminders of the wonderful natural life that surrounds me in Big Sky. Reminders to take time to sit by the Gallatin River (or on it or fishing it) and contemplate all that this Big Sky life has to offer. It's going to be an amazing spring and one that is not silent at all.
Photos: Anna Husted
Yellowstone National Park hosts more than 3 million visitors a year. As much of a people person as I am, visiting a national park should not be like going to Disneyland. Even though Disneyland hosts an average of 15 million visitors a year, 3 million people in Southwest Montana's prized treasure feels like 15 million. Therefore, I've researched the quietest days to visit Yellowstone National Park and if I'm lucky I won't see you there!
1) Before June 15 or after Labor Day. The great thing about these dates is Big Sky Resort is open June 8 and well after Labor Day, which gives me the chance to do fun activities here one day and go to Yellowstone the next.
2) Not July or August. However, when this is my only option for days to go to Yellowstone then it's best to go on a hike through some of the 2 million acres of backcountry wilderness because 95% of visitors are "windshield visitors" and never venture into the wilderness. Suggested hikes: Purple Mountain Trail is near the Madison Campground and is a moderate 6-mile hike with a fantastic view at the top. Mystic Falls Loop is a scenic overlook 2.5-mile loop hike near Biscuit Basin.
3) Sundays. Yellowstone National Parks Trip Advisor page recommends visiting on a Sunday as that is the biggest travel transition day. The traffic in and out of the park might still be a bit less than desirable, but the park itself remains quieter on Sundays.
The beauty of living so close to one of the greatest national parks is I can pick up and drive whenever I want. But I definitely keep these tidbits in mind to have a full experience of the natural wonders in Yellowstone National Park.
"We're nowhere that I'm familiar with, in country that I've never seen before, yet I don't feel a stranger in it."-Robert M. Pirsig on Montana in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Montana summers are sentimental for me, especially Big Sky summers. From the crisp smell of mornings in the mountains to the smell of a charcoal grill firing up in the evenings, Montana summers encapsulate the human spirit in two words: Beauty and Adventure. I cannot wait to see my first bear, visit Fairy and Upper Waterfalls at Yellowstone National Park, camp near the Gallatin River, and ride the Tram to the top of Lone Peak. This summer will be full of excitement and sentiment as I make new memories with old and new friends, and discover for myself something new about living in the mountains during the summer season. The following video not only shows all the activities I'm excited to experience this summer, but also spurs that summer sentiment so much of Montana reveals. Join me out here.
Video shot and edited by Chris Kamman
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