The Bear Vault Bear Canister
March 10 - 14
Keep reading to find out what Big Sky and The Bear Vault Bear Canister have in common. Pretty cool connection!
We finally made it onto the slopes of Big Sky, and there was nothing to disappoint. This mountain is HUGE.
It's massive and really spread out, which means lots of variable terrain and, for the most part while we were here, minimal crowds / no lift lines. This is the beauty of skiing only during the week. We are sooo lucky...
We parked each day at the Big Sky Mountain Village area. There are no lots at the base; instead only a 15-minute or so loading zone parking area. All lots are located down the road or much further away, and depending on how lucky you get, you can either walk from your car to the slopes, or take their open-air people mover.
We always took the people mover. Even parking in the furthest lots is convenient, fast and easy with this great system. But what struck me most was how utterly miserable it would be to take this during the dead of winter when it is bitter cold. It's cold now, and we're just about to officially enter Spring.
BTW, when you want to get the driver's attention to stop at your lot / location, just wave your arms high or to the side so you can be seen. Yelling is definitely not the preferred method of signalling to the driver.
Unfortunately I didn't take a lot of images because my focus was on skiing and exploring this really fun mountain. Getting to know this mountain is no small feat as there are so many places to discover.
But I did manage to take two images; here is the first:
Another "unfortunately," and this is a biggie: we never took the tram 😫. On the one day it was clear and the tram open, it was the free boarding day for those who registered for the "A Day for Jake" event to honor John Burton. Translation: the line for the tram was huge, and I didn't want to spend a chunk of snow time waiting in line. Luckily we have another day left on the pass, so we'll catch it next week on Monday or Tuesday, depending on the crowds and weather. Hopefully all the stars will line up for us on that day.
The mountain didn't have full coverage everywhere, so it took awhile to discover my favorite chair and runs: the Big Rock Tongue side of the Challenger chair. It's a super fun bump run, and we loved hitting the trees in the Magic Meadows at the bottom of the run. Just as it is at any ski mountain, I am always so sad when it's 4:30 and our day has to end.
After skiing four straight days here, we're going to sit out the weekend as the forecast is calling for a major, multi-day dump / storm. We're heading to Bozeman tomorrow (did someone say Costco???) to restock and provision, and we'll be back for our fifth and final day when the storm clears. The snow should be epic!
One of the coolest things that happened here occurred off the slopes:
On Tuesday, March 10, we did something we rarely do: we ate out. 1der was craving a margarita, so we went to Alberto’s Mexican Cuisine in the town's main shopping area.
Eating out is a break from our preferred norm of eating in Beastie, which we LOVE to do. It's so quaint and fun, and with some nice music and a great meal, who could ask for more?
We'd been waiting for a table for about 20 minutes when a group of guys came in and asked if we wanted to join them at the community table for 16. They were told they couldn't be seated at the community table unless all 16 seats were taken. This made no sense whatsoever, and the hostess, who communicated this very strange message, wasn't being very nice about all this. So yes, let's do this! All of us, plus one other party of four, were simultaneously seated at the community table.
1der was seated closest to Jamie, the gentleman who asked us to join them. Everyone at the table was really nice, and since Jamie and his friends were from San Diego, it was easy to talk with our fellow Californians. These five guys have known each other for years. They met decades ago through the San Diego Hiking Club and have done many adventures together.
When they found out we were living / ski bumming in Beastie for a 2.5-month trip, they were quite taken with the idea. It's always so fun to talk about what it's like being vagabonds, and we really enjoy the conversations and connections made as a result of living such an unconventional lifestyle. We always have so much gratitude for the opportunity to meet cool people and receive their expressions of awe that we are living the dream.
We were blown away when Jamie, as he and his friends were getting up to leave, told us they paid for our meals because they found us to be so inspiring. What??? Such an unexpected gift and incredible gesture of kindness and generosity. No one has ever done this for me or us. We were and are full of thanks and appreciation for their kindness and thoughtfulness.
After the meal, 1der told me Jamie and his wife are the inventors of the Bear Vault bear canister. I was amazed by this new development in an already remarkable evening. Wow! That is sooooo cool. As a backpacker, I am very familiar with this very appealing product (a light-weight, see-through bear canister), and to have just shared a meal with / be treated by half of the invention team was incredible.
According to the Bear Vault website, the story of how the product was invented goes like this:
The concept for the BearVault® was born during a 2002 Sierra backpacking trip with friends from the San Diego Hiking Club. Camped around a mountain lake, the group was lamenting the problems they had with bear canisters. Everybody agreed the available canisters were too heavy, held too little and had too small an opening. Several hikers had external frame packs, and attaching the slippery, tapered canisters of the time to those packs was a problem. Why didn’t someone make a better canister? Thus began the story of Jamie Hogan’s invention…
We look forward to meeting Jamie's wife and seeing him and his friends again, whether it be on the slopes or on the trail. I will certainly ask him then if any of the guys at our table were on that fateful trip.
What an end to another awesome day, and that encounter was a perfect example of a "Life's Magic Dance" moment. Thank you, Daddy, for making this happen. ❤️
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