Catching Up with Buddies at Big Sky Montana

27 01 2023

Big Sky Montana was my third ski resort on this road trip! I met up with Chris Kittredge from Portland, Maine, at the Bozeman airport. We’d be there five days and ski four. Another buddy, Bob Rhea, lives on the mountain and we’d meet up with him, too. We all went to college together.

Big Sky is my favorite ski resort. It’s the largest single mountain ski area in the US. It offers plenty of terrain, including glades, for any skier ability level. We had terrific conditions! No ice, It was soft packed powder and it snowed 2-3″ dry powder every night.

Bob gave us directions to his place, which was at Moonlight Basin. We had no idea what to expect. We drove up, and valets took care of our car and our skis! They delivered the skis to the other side of the building where the trail was. On our side, we were greeted to a fire pit. Inside, welcoming staff, a grand fireplace, bar, restaurant, and comfortable chairs to put our ski boots on. Later, Bob treated us to lunch and drinks! This went on for three days, right on through the NFL playoffs! Wow!

Whilst enjoying the bar, and talking with other skiers and some instructors, I was introduced to a skiing legend!

I met Mr. Lonnie Ball. Lonnie is the first person to jump (or huck) into Corbett’s Couloir at Jackson Hole! What a nice guy. We had a spirited conversation for maybe 10 minutes.

Today, he is a brand ambassador for a ski manufacturer and does photography for the World Cup. Wow!

I have to say, on this segment of my big ski road trip, my cup runneth over!





Skiing at Schweitzer Idaho was Cushy!

18 01 2023
Schweitzer Base Area

Schweitzer is one of my favorite Pacific Northwest ski resorts. It has plenty of long, gladed ski runs. It is close to town. In fact, it was only 24 minutes from my hotel! The town of Sandpoint has a lot of interesting early 20th century architecture, and plenty of unique small businesses including art galleries, eateries, bars, and sporting goods stores. It sits along enormous Lake Pend Oreille, which boasts summer activities. I’ve been there five times, but not in the past 10 years. The summit is 6,400 feet and the base is 4,000 feet, so there is plenty of vertical. I love the gladed tree skiing. Schweitzer is a very family friendly ski resort. I always see lots of kids learning how to ski.

My hotel even had its own ski tuning bench! I took full advantage!

The resort makes an effort to give guests a true outdoor experience. They have fire pits at the base, and at the Outback Lodge by the Stella high speed six-pack lift.

All in all, I like to return to Sandpoint / Schweitzer. I find the area more relaxed and a lot more economical than other large ski areas! It’s about one hour’s drive from Spokane. Check it out.





MLK Weekend at Anthony Lakes OR – Dry Snow and Family Fun

18 01 2023

I just spent a few days at Oregon’s best dry powder ski area – Anthony Lakes, right outside La Grande. It’s a low-key family oriented ski resort with prices from yesteryear. On Thursday January 12th, it was their 60th anniversary and lift passes were $2! On other days, however, the regular price for a day pass is $50. Which is still a bargain by today’s standards. I stayed in La Grande with my friend Lisa and her husband Mike. They even put fresh flowers in my room!

Thursday was a few inches fresh snow.

Anthony Lakes has a base elevation of 7,100 ft, so it gets snow when many other resorts in the region get rain. Families set up elaborate tail gate parties in the parking lot. Friday was some kind of Kid’s Learning Day. I really enjoyed watching the kids learning.

My friend Lisa is such a super host and great to ski with! I’m looking forward to visiting again sometime this season.





Isle of Skye: Glorious Weather for Hiking Amongst the Quirang!

9 01 2023

Today the sun rose unveiling a day our local guides would call a true gem! Just a few days ago we started in a maelstrom with no break in the forecast. But lucky for us the weather forecast turned out to be 100% wrong. We had a series of sunny and very calm days. Perfect for a lifetime memory – a hike out on the Trotternish Peninsula amongst the Quirang.

We parked close to the sea and headed inland, up past sheep and small lakes up to the famous rock formations. Opening the images in this gallery will reveal an unlimited sea view – all calm!

This trail was a moderate challenge with some sections where careful footing was required. And a couple of over-the-fence scrambles. Our guides Tania and Susie kept saying typically there is brooding mist coming and going amongst the crags, and the view never ever this clear. Cathy Ann said last time she was here it was typically Scottish Coast moist and windy.

If this area seems recognizable, it might be you’ve seen it in films! This scene was used for Stardust, Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin, MacBeth, The BFG, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Transformers: Last Night, The Land that Time Forgot, Year of the Comet, and more!

It certainly was, on a day like ours, a memorable spot for a lunch break!

Once done with the hike, we were taken to a spot on the beach, where we all took a little dip into the North Atlantic. Some more than others! Most simply went in up to their ankles. This area is also known for a few dinosaur fossils. One very big footprint comes into view as you walk a stony surface near the shore. I was definitely taken aback by its size and shape! It really sticks out once you realize what it is! Those creatures were HUGE!





Hiking Isle of Skye: Hiking the Black Cuillens

29 12 2022

Another great weather day dawns! Looking out my cathedral window at the Uig Hotel, the sea is flat and calm. The sun is peeking through the clouds. I dress knowing we’re undertaking a mostly up-up-uphill hike to a lunch spot overlooking the sea. Which means shorts and a long-sleeved UV protecting shirt. After another sumptuous breakfast, highlighted by smoked salmon and cream cheese, I pick up my lunch and join the group for our drive to the trailhead.

We’re parked at Culnamean right on the beach, at the head of Loch Brittle. There are many other cars here parked for a hike, plus lots of caravans camping overnight at its Glen Brittle campsite. This seems to be a destination campground. I can see license plates from many EU countries. Our goal this day is a ledge just underneath 3,234ft Sgurr Dearg. Just behind us is a lagan, pretty well known, called Coire Lagan. From up there, on a day like this, the views are unlimited!

We were so lucky with the weather! Many others said to us that it’s truly rare to have this calm, sunny day! I was feeling pretty taxed after a while and decided I’d take my lunch below the final spot. I was perfectly happy there, with the view. The others scrambled up some rocks to the top where they had their lunch. I was joined by a German couple equally happy to lunch where I was.

Not too long after, my group came scrambling back down.

The rugged landscapes of mountains, dramatic rock formations, and of course the views of the Hebrides made for a truly memorable and satisfying experience. We were due for another hike on Northern Skye the following day.





Isle of Sky Basecamp: The Uig Hotel!

10 12 2022

The hotel has a magical view of the Outer Hebrides – and the ferry swings in from there.

We took a half day’s drive from Glencoe, over the Isle of Skye Bridge, and then up to Uig. It’s a spectacularly picturesque village clustered on a postcard perfect harbor. Our fabulous weather just kept on coming! To die for views. And the hotel? It is superbly over the top cute, cozy, everything one could hope for on a stay on Isle of Skye! There is even a Fairy Glen not far away. And then we arrived at the Uig Hotel.

My room is on the upper right! Perfect!

If anything can match, or even enhance the scene, it would have to be the Uig Hotel! Inside and out, the view, the location, the proximity to real movie scene hikes, its delectable restaurant, and its cozy single-malt whiskey stocked bar, it all just oozes authentic Scottish experience! The original building was a coaching inn built in 1831. There are newer rooms in a building out back. I totally lucked out that I got a seaside view room with a cathedral window!

Settled in, I chose to grab a pint of stout from the bar and wander the grounds. The lighting, the view of the harbor and bay beyond, are pretty much over the top intoxicating beyond the brew I had in my grasp.

On this evening, it was the wedding anniversary of two of my fellow trekkers, Cassie and Taylor Graham! FYI Cassie is the niece of Don Martin, of my Annapurna Sanctuary Trek in Nepal trip! Halfway through happy hour, we met up outside their room for a toast! I brought along my Scotland flag from home, which I proudly fly from my home. I have a LOT of Scottish heritage!

And then? It’s time for supper! Over there, a “dinner” would be mid-day. Supper is the evening meal. Once again, we were at liberty to order anything on the menu. No restrictions! I LOVE seafood, and on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, that is plentiful. So, I ordered baked salmon for the main course. But WHOA wait a minute. The starters! One cannot allow oneself to neglect an opportunity indulge! I noticed one of my absolute rarely indulged favorites, steamed mussels in white wine sauce with lemon! And I was not disappointed. What came to my place set was huge! So delish it was, that I ordered it again the next night.

Cathy Ann and our local guides Tonia and Susie announced our hiking plans for tomorrow. We’d head south, to the Black Cuillens, to a place named Culnamean, which is at sea level. We’d hike straight up to a spectacular lunch spot Coire Lagan, under Sgurr Dearg, the highest point on Isle of Skye. If we were lucky, we’d have completely unlimited views from there!

With that, in my typical fashion, I bid everyone good night! Each night I needed ‘me time’ to write up the experiences of the day!