I haven't been fishing since I was twelve years old and let's just say I'm close to quadrupling that age now. Living in the mecca for fly fishing, I jumped at the chance when I was invited to go. I really didn't have any gear, only the tackle box my Dad bought me for my twelfth birthday (yes, the same trip that made it my last until now), of course it's now full of art supplies so I decided not to take it. My boyfriend set me up with all the gear I needed and the terminology: indicator (aka bobber), nymph (I remember these being worms), split shot (aka weight), and dry fly (mimic the bugs on top of the water - hate those bugs when swimming). After being quizzed on my new fly fishing vocabulary we arrived at the river, put in the boat, and started some fishing... um, I mean, fly fishing.
Once we were on the water I learned time: 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, don't break the wrist, and drop the fly in the right spot. Easy enough until you're trying to get the weight, I mean split shot, to float through the air. After some tangles and a lot of "I got it, I got it" toward my boyfriend, I truly did get. I had the fishing line and tippit (yes, another new term I learned, but I like to say, "the clear line tied to the yellow line") moving like a pendulum through the air before I cast to the perfect spot. Now, the perfect spot would actually be where my boyfriend told me to place the fly, but I came to soon realize that maybe the perfect spot was where the fly actually landed. Hitting the perfect spot is not easy, believe me, when I got remotely close to where he told me to place the fly he was rather shocked and congratulatory.
Hooking my first fish was, let's say, a miscommunication as I wasn't equipped with the new terminology my boyfriend was excitedly expressing to me. Down. He excitedly said "down", I took my rod (never call it a pole) and pointed it down and lost the fish. I now know in the fly fishing world, "down" actually means "up." Yes, I was supposed to pull up on the rod when the indicator goes down. As the day went on I received some good bites, but I wasn't able to hook the fish. Tired of standing I asked if I could try rowing for a bit. Happily my boyfriend relinquished the oars and took to the front of the boat. Five minutes later he was pulling in a beautiful Rainbow Trout out of the water. Man, I'm a good rower. Put him right where he needed to be.
After a short bit, he gave the fly rod back to me, determined I would catch my first fish in (cough, cough) number of years. I cast out with good 10 and 2 pendulum form trying my best to place the fly in the right spot and mending perfectly (another term for making sure the yellow line is ahead of the clear line. I got pretty good at this). I hear "down" and pull up fast. Fish on! I start pulling line in and reeling in excess fly line. I'm completely out of my head excited. It's not just a fish, but a good-sized fish. I'm all of the sudden a professional fisherwoman calling for the net.
As it gets closer to the boat I ask what kind of fish it is and he says with a sigh, "a Whitefish". How cool is that, my first Whitefish and I moved to Big Sky from Whitefish. I'm just beaming until I look over at the disgust on my boyfriend's face. Each person I've told this story to give the same disgusted look, like Whitefish are rats in the water. No good. I insist he takes a picture.
"But it's a Whitefish, you don't want a picture with a Whitefish," he says.
"Oh, no, brother, I don't care. I caught this fish and I want a picture," I retort back.
He took the picture. A beautiful picture of me and my first fish I've caught since I was twelve and fly fishing to boot. I held it proudly for the camera with the biggest smile on my face and a death grip on this poor Whitefish. As he releases my fish into the water it starts to go belly up. I'm in a panic. I've killed it. This is supposed to be catch and release and I killed the first fish I've caught. I'm devastated. My boyfriend kept chuckling and saying "don't worry, it's just stunned from your death grip." Within a couple of more minutes it begins to wiggle and finally swims away. All smiles again, I crack a beer.
When all was said and done, and the kegs had been drank, Brewfest was a successful event by event manager and attendee standards, and it was a ton of fun. Here is a quick list (and a lot of photos) about the things I loved at Big Sky Resort's 9th annual Brewfest:
New Belgium Brewing's Peach Porch Lounger (which I never would have sought out without an event like Brewfest)
Bottom of the Barrel.
Roadkill Ghost Choir (what a cool band).
An impromptu dance troupe dancing on moving tables and teaching us a move or two.
Lone Peak Brewery won the People's Choice Award for Best Brewery.
The sleekness of New Belgium Brewing's brand campaign. Oh the colors! (See below).
The people (I saw so many people I hadn't seen in a long time, and met a great couple from North Carolina).
The scenery. A Brewfest at the base of Lone Mountain just doesn't get much better.
Join us at Brewfest next year on July 10-11. See you there!
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
"Grab the orange rope." These are the words that were said over and over again by Big Sky Resort Zipline Guides Molly, Ross and Max on our Marketing Team Adventure Zipline outing on June 17. "The orange rope used to be black, but orange stands out better."
What exactly does the orange rope do? It's essentially the break. And it exists to make less work for the guides. Instead of having to grab us and pull us into the platform at the end of every line, the orange rope is connected to a black rope that pulls us in. Welcome to the world of ziplining. All four Adventure Ziplines go 35-45 mph and traverse treetops, valleys, and part of the Mountain Village Base Area, and a lot of time would be taken if the guides had to go out on the line and grab us every time.
On Tuesday morning, we left the base area around 10 and walked to Explorer Chairlift, which took us about a football field's distance from the first zipline, Swifty 3.0. Swifty 3.0 is the second longest line at 1,200 feet, and takes each zipliner over the run Crazy Horse. As well as the Marketing Team knows Lone Mountain in winter-quickly orienting ourselves via runs and chairlifts-I had no idea we were looking over Crazy Horse when I zipped across it. How strange and marvelous this mountain looks coated in green.
After establishing our bearings we zipped over to line two, Jerry's Terror. Eight hundred feet long, Jerry's Terror feels faster than Swifty 3.0 because it is shorter, but also because it is the highest of all four lines. I push off of Jerry's Terror Platform backwards and wave to the team as they become smaller and smaller. I feel at peace when I'm ziplining. Each Adventure Zipline takes only about 16-20 seconds to cross, but each time I zip that 16 seconds lasts long enough to clear my brain and think of nothing but the ecosystem surrounding me. Sixteen seconds is long enough to marvel at the beauty of the mountains, the trees, and possibly a moose. Ziplining is unique because it unionizes technology and nature to create adrenaline and then peace.
We repel 15 feet down off the landing platform for Jerry's Terror and walk to the third zipline, The Kessel Run. Named for the route Han Solo boasts he can take the Millennium Falcon in less than 12 parsecs in A New Hope, The Kessel Run zipline swoops low between the trees, simulating how riding a speeder through the Endor woods must feel in The Return of the Jedi or how Han must feel taking on The Kessel Run.
The final zipline on the Adventure tour is the Twin Zip where I raced (and defeated) my friend and coworker Michael Tallichet by a mere half a second. Ziplining next to someone is the most fun as the experience becomes shared.
We step off the final platform and walk back to the base area. We deposit our gear in the same pile where we picked it up two hours earlier and linger near our guides. There's a feeling of satisfaction from a great ziplining trip and we linger there because we want to hold on to that feeling as long as possible. It's a fairly simple activity, ziplining, but it's uniquely bonding, creating memories that will last a lot longer than 16 seconds.
The view from Jerry's Terror.
End platform on Twin Zip.
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
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