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!
Ziplining is a unique experience in and of itself, but ziplining with friends at Big Sky Resort is more special than just your average zipline. I had the chance to go out with my coworkers (and friends) for an Adventure Zipline Outing in early June. It was a blast. Here's a look at our trip:
Big Sky Resort Marketing team pre-zipline.
Erik takes it easy as he waits for the go ahead to zip.
Graphic Designer Michel Tallichet tackles Jerry's Terror.
A light snow falls as the Marketing Team also soaks up some sun from an early summer Adventure Ziplining Trip
Brand Manager Glenniss Indreland prepares to rappel off the platform.
The fourth zipline on the Adventure Zipline Tour is a Twin Zip. Race your friends.
In high school I went to a lot of soccer games because all my friends played soccer. After high school I joined my college newspaper as a sports photographer and shot soccer matches and, once again, became friends with a lot of soccer players. Needless to say, I'm terrible at soccer, but always found myself surrounded by soccer lovers.
In 2010, The World Cup was in South Africa and I spent a lot of time at The Nomad Pub in Minneapolis eating breakfast burritos and drinking Bloody Marys. Four years later the World Cup is in Brazil and I found myself looking for The Nomad Pub equivalent in Big Sky. Ustream has also taken the world by storm and allows me to catch the games without needing cable, but watching World Cup matches on my own is not as fun as the camaraderie of watching with a group.
The first few days of the World Cup I went to Milkie's Pizza & Pub. Milkie's is inexpensive and has great pizza, but just wasn't quite the World Cup vibe I was used to. The key to finding a good World Cup place is finding the soccer lovers.
The second week a Big Sky Resort guest asked me via Twitter where the best location was to watch the World Cup. I immediately thought of Carabiner Lounge. So I decided to check it out for World Cup action. The food and beverages were fantastic (as always), and the vibe was fun, however, I still hadn't found my Nomad Pub.
On Saturday, June 14 I decided to go to Lone Peak Cinema for the Cote d'Ivoire vs. Japan match. I had no real plan to ever hang out at the theater when not seeing a movie, but it's within walking distance of my house and seemed like a fun choice. When I tell people I watched the World Cup at the movie theater they automatically assume I'm watching it projected on the big screen. However, I'm sitting at the bar (yes, our theater has a full bar) and watching it on their 50-inch LCD flatscreen. Sure, it's not the big screen, but it's bigger than my screen at home.
I picked up a pizza from Ousel & Spur, ordered a Yellowstone Lager and watched one of the most exciting games of the World Cup thus far. (Cote d'Ivoire pulled ahead with just 20 minutes left). I like hanging out at the movie theater because it's a place where the love of soccer abounds and I didn't even know it until the World Cup. I've missed a lot of World Cup action in the past couple weeks due to travel, but I know I'll be watching the final match at the cinema with fellow soccer lovers. Lone Peak Cinema is my Nomad Pub for the 2014 World Cup.
Lone Peak Cinema
"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.
Lift-access mountain biking opens this week at Big Sky Resort. Summer in Big Sky means getting on the trail, in some fashion: on a bike, foot or by horse. There is some exciting new trail to talk about so I sat down with head of Terraflow Trails, Pete Costain, to chat about the latest work being done on trails at Big Sky Resort and in the community at large.
The new beginner trail off of Explorer recently opened. It's called Easy Rider.
That new beginner trail serves its purpose because it stands in antithesis to everything else that is here. It is easy, but it is a little rough because it had some weather damage over the winter. A beginner trail touches on the aspects of a freeride trail: You have subtle little rollers; you can feel your bike going up and down, really low angle, so it's a great start. Trail crew will continue maintenance throughout the summer.
What other trail work will be done in Big Sky?
We are working with BSCC to have them help complete a meadow to mountain trail. Essentially it's Middle Fork up to Flat Iron. We've rearranged its course it a little bit and it is a beautiful route. It'll still be about two miles of road and two miles of trail, but in the most scenic part of Andesite Mountain. You'll have panoramic views out over the valley, ride across Elk Park Ridge, and so many awesome views in both directions including views of the Spanish Peaks Golf Course. By the end of the summer we should have a trail from the meadow to the mountain. The new connector trail will be about 400 vertical feet of and about six miles round trip.
What are you working on right now?
The Big Sky Resort/Moonlight connector Otter Way. It will be an intermediate connector because we haven't engineered any airs into it, we've banked all the corners, everything bermed in a friendly way, and it's a 100 percent single-track-in-the-woods experience. You cross one ski run and one dirt road, but the rest puts you in the woods.
What is the vertical?
The vertical between the two is about 280. It's cross-country in a fun way. It's two miles with ups and downs in both directions, though mostly down when coming to the Big Sky side from Moonlight Lodge, and up on the way to the Moonlight side from Mountain Village.
So if you're going both directions and its single track how will bikers or hikers deal with that?
We also have approval or a bikes-only trail from Moonlight to Big Sky. Essentially you have an up-route, which is fun to ride, and then you'll also have a down-route, which is for bikes only. But we have not started that trail yet. It will also spit you out at the far end of Freeskier Parking lot and we'll build a corridor from there to bring you back to the base area. Both trails will be incredibly fun to ride down and up.
Fill me in on a few more details for the connector trail.
We do a lot of line-of-sight forestry. Even though the connector is a somewhat narrow trail, you've got line-of-sight. I'm really excited about eventually creating a European-style riding experience. You have places to eat in distinct geographical areas, and we just need to tie those together in a fun and functional way.
What are the most important factors you have to keep in mind when trail building?
Water drainage. Integrating fun and flow with drainage, and done right they are one and the same, is the most important. You even engineer constant drainage just by rolling your bike up and over the trails.
Dealing with rocks has been an eye-opener, but they're manageable. It takes that much more attentiveness on excavating, and a learning of technique to navigate the rocks when building trail. At first it seems overwhelming, but then it's manageable.
Other challenges include route selection. We don't want to put things in that are going to be torn out so we're looking for geographic and technical longevity. Brian Wheeler with Big Sky Resort and Civil Engineer Eric Butts have been awesome in helping us with that.
Tell us about the crew you're working with up here.
We started with me just building trail and having the local crew watch. I've also been laying the flags out accurately and then letting them build and then coming back and critiquing, but sometimes when something really doesn't go right we just go back and rebuild it. The cool thing is this crew is super receptive.
Are there plans for more downhill trails?
In my mind, yes. My pipe dream for Big Sky would be mountain biking off Southern Comfort. Southern Comfort is off the hook for mountain biking. It's not steep, it's got perfect rolling pitches and gullies. Ohhh, it's inspiring. I could see Swift Current as remaining great gnarly expert terrain, and Southern Comfort and Ramcharger becoming the everyman big flow trail. Of course we're talking in my dream world, but it could be three-tiered lift-access mountain biking with complete connectivity.
What are some of the tools you use to build trails?
A Mini Excavator. That is what Terraflow builds with. In this terrain with rocks and trying to save as many trees as we can, a trail dozer is too much. Mini Excavators allow us to be subtle. If you've been on the Moonlight trails they're fairly wide. We're building a section from the bottom of Pony Express up to Moonlight Lodge right now with a bigger machine so it will be a six-foot wide trail, but we usually don't want more than four feet.
How did you start Terraflow Trails?
We're about seven years old. We built Whitefish Mountain Resort's original trail, Runaway Train. When Whitefish Legacy Partners was talking about building a trail system around Whitefish no one was stepping up to the plate to build it.
As a mountain biker I had built trails my whole life, but often not sanctioned and I just did it for fun. So I saw this huge opportunity and rolled with it. On top of Whitefish trails I've done a lot of forest service work and I got a little mention in Bob Allen's Bike Magazine story on the Butte biking community. So that was really cool.
Inadvertently, Whitefish is the template for what I'm doing at Big Sky because I want athletic beginners to be able to do this connector trail, but experts to also enjoy it.
Any other thoughts on the future of mountain biking at Big Sky Resort?
We're in talks to build a Pump Track down in the Meadow.
What's a Pump Track?
A Pump Track is a little bit of a complement to a skate park. It's a fairly easy BMX track for Mountain bikes or BMX bikes. You should never have to pedal, but it's an incredible workout. It's also a complement to the modern flow trail because if you're a beginner, a berm or up and over things is a little weird, but the minute you get the rhythm it's incredibly fun. So a Pump Track is a 50x80 microcosm of a flow trail. Overall, I want to work with the whole community and make Big Sky a great trail destination.
A mini-excavator working on Otter Way.
New bike carriers on Swift Current.
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