In most cities there's a wide range of special events and activities, which often lead to debilitating decision-making. But in small towns like Big Sky the entire community comes out for almost every event.
One of the first events of the summer was the Big Sky Wide Open on Saturday, June 8. The third annual putt-putt tournament Ophir School fundraiser took place from shop to shop around Big Sky's Town Center the second Saturday in June. Raising funds for our public schools couldn't be more fun. With holes designed around snowboards, slack lines, movie theater cut-outs, taxidermy Grizzly Bears, and old skee ball machines each par was more unique than the next. If only we could raise school funds more than once a summer...
Another great summer event I'm excited for is Brewfest on July 12. Big Sky Resort's Brewfest is in its 9th year and promises to be the largest beer festival in Montana. My favorite part is being outside, enjoying great beers with friends, and the live music. Roadkill Ghost Choir, who played The Late Show with David Letterman earlier this year, will perform at Brewfest alongside Hollow Wood.
Although I spend my fair share of time fly fishing in solitude, I love the annual Big Sky Fly Fishing Festival on July 26-27 because it combines one of my favorite hobbies with my love of socializing. I'll spend two days tackling the difficulties of fly fishing while sharing in the camaraderie. This festival makes for a fantastic way to enjoy food from the Gallatin Riverhouse, watch fly fishing films at Lone Peak Cinema, and, of course, catch some fish.
New this summer is Vine and Dine Festival. If there's one thing I like it's food and wine and someone telling me how to pair that food and wine. In particular I'm looking forward to the Big Sky Mountain Village Stroll because I'll have the chance to try a wide variety of wines from dozens of vineyards (including Green and Red Vineyards in Chiles Valley) as well as socialize with friends and wine reps. I intend to ask a lot of questions to learn everything I can about the ins and outs of wine tasting. With only a handful of other tastings under my belt, I'm looking forward to increasing my knowledge of wine and finding new appreciation for the art of wine tasting. Vine and Dine Festival is August 14-17 at Big Sky Resort.
Big Moon Rising Music Festival replaces Spruce Moose this year with its debut over Labor Day Weekend (August 29-30). I have not had a chance to see any of this year's bands live before and I cannot wait for the funk of New Orleans' Dumpstaphunk. Check out "Gas Man" performed by Dumpstaphunk in San Francisco.
Lastly, The Rut. In only its second year, it is now the International Skyrunner Federation's World Series Final, The Rut Vertical K, 12K and 50K promises to be even more impressive than the last. National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Kilian Jornet will make an appearance, and is sure to set a fast pace, in this ultramarathon of ultramarathons. Running is not my sport of choice, but I plan to cheer each runner on, cowbell in hand, and enjoy the Saturday afternoon BBQ, beer in hand. The Rut is one of those events unlike anything I have ever seen. It's too simplistic to say that it is impressive, it's a feat of physical fortitude, but more than that it is a feat of human spirit.
These are just a few of my favorite summer events around Big Sky. More info on these and other events can be found at bigskyresort.com/events
Yes. This scene:
I do not fish like that scene, but I fish with fishermen (and women) who fish like that: Head-hunting fish when they surface and riding the rapids to hang on to that fish. I aspire to fish like Brad Pitt's Paul Maclean does in that scene for a number of reasons. Not least of which is for bragging rights to catch a fish that size on the Gallatin, but also for deeper reasons. When I was in middle school and high school I thought A River Runs Through It was boring, but I loved that scene. It was larger than life and filmed basically in my backyard. Robert Redford captures the beauty and integrity of the Gallatin River in his oneiric scene from Norman Maclean's memoir. In Big Sky, when I cannot possibly comprehend a curveball life has thrown me, I go to the Gallatin. I go fishing.
Growing up in Montana is an experience few Montanans can say they've had. Even though A River Runs Through It is set in the early 20th century it reflects how I feel about my childhood and how I experience adulthood. It's the feel and the look and the torment of nature's grasp on my life whether I'm living in the mountains or in the city. Nature can be wild and unpredictable, but it is also a place of serenity, keeping Montanans in constant paradox of all nature has to offer.
A River Runs Through It captures the elegance and peace found in nature, particularly in fishing, through benevolent romanticism. It's also just plain cool that I can go down to the Gallatin River any day and fish near House Rock, exactly where Redford staged his aha moment for his protagonist.
"The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters."-Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
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
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