Improving Your Cross Country Skiing Experience

Dave Pecunies Photography

The town of Big Sky, and Big Sky country in general, is a mecca for Nordic skiing. Between Lone Mountain Ranch and the miles of groomed ski trails around the greater Gallatin County region, nordic skiing, and specifically skate skiing, is one of the best activities for getting into the woods and away from the crowds, fast. But unlike downhill skis, skate skis require more frequent waxing and at-home care. This may sounds overwhelming, but don’t worry; waxing is one of the sublime pleasures of being a nordic skier. Here’s a quick primer on the basics of waxing skate skis:

Lone Mountain Ranch

Lone Mountain Ranch

What you’ll need:

  • Ski vice or clamps, homemade or store bought
  • Glide wax
  • Scraper
  • Waxing iron
  • Cork block

Tuning supplies available at local shops like Grizzly Outfitters, East Slope Outdoors and Lone Mountain Sports. They also offer tuning services if you don’t want to do it yourself.

The Process:

Before being stowed away every spring, skate skis should receive a coat of “storage wax”, which needs to be removed every fall. After affixing your skis to your chose work surface, set your wax iron to medium heat and begin slowly heating the base of your ski. As the iron and the ski get hotter, the existing wax with turn ghostly white and stand out. Scrap off all the old wax to give yourself a new start.

After the ski is stripped and ready for wax, it’s time to give your skis their first coat of glide wax for the winter. Begin the waxing process by holding your wax block at a steep downward angle to the face of the iron, allowing hot wax to drip onto the ski.

Cover the ski with little blotches of wax from tip to tail. After the ski is fairly covered, begin spreading the wax around the ski’s base by running your iron in circular motions across the ski’s base. You will see the wax melt and spread. Continue this waxing motion until the ghostly white wax covers the ski base entirely. Because nordic skis have relatively soft bases, be careful to not melt the ski’s base.

Now it’s time to scrape. Hold your wax scraper at 45-degree angle to the ski as you pull the scraper towards yourself. You’ll see satisfying curls of excess wax pull from the ski. Once the excess is pulled from the ski, the bases should appear shiny and smooth. If you want to put some additional elbow grease into the work, buff the skis bases with a cork block to work the wax into the base.

Now get your skiing clothes on and get out the door!

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Photos © Dave Pecunies Photography

 

Winter In Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone National Park is one of the most spectacular wonders of the world, and we are fortunate to have it essentially in our back yard. But, did you know that in addition to millions of visitors passing through there in the summer, it is also open to the public in the winter? Except for a few weeks in the spring and fall when the park is closed to public traffic, you can experience the wonder during all seasons.

While you are making your plans to be in Big Sky this winter to enjoy skiing at Big Sky Resort or cross country and sleigh-riding adventures at Lone Mountain Ranch, consider a visit to Yellowstone to round out your trip.

xmasbook-1845You can explore the park on your own by cross country skiing into the park, and within it from one of their year-round lodging facilities; you can take a guided snowmobile tour; or you can view it from the warmth and comfort of a Snowcoach. The tours are available to various places in the park including the Old Faithful area and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. You can make it a day trip, or enjoy several days staying in the Snow Lodge or other hotel within the park. If you prefer to drive yourself, the section of road between Mammoth Hot Springs (North entrance) and Cooke City (East Entrance) is open on a year round basis.

Below is a collection of information to help you make your plans. Don’t wait, reservations for the tours and lodging within the park book early!

West Yellowstone Snowcoach and Snowmobile Tours:

Buffalo Bus Snowcoach Tour

Backcountry Adventures

SeeYellowstone.com

Yellowstone Adventures

Teton Valley Adventures

Yellowstone National Park Lodging

This winter, the National Park Service is renovating the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins, so they will be closed. However, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins are open and currently taking reservations for the winter season. If you are looking to stay in the park for a few days, consider booking a Snowcoach to transport you to Old Faithful where you can cross country ski or snowshoe, stay in the Lodge or a Cabin, and travel back out again on a Snowcoach.

Cross Country Skiing/Snowshoeing

There are a number of companies that offer guided ski and snowshoe tours into the park, including and Yellowstone Expeditions and Yellowstone Ski Tours. If you’d like to explore on your own, check out the National Park Service information found here.

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Hunting Under the Big Sky

blog_huntingBig game season is upon us in Montana, and with it comes the anticipation of trailing that trophy deer or elk in the pristine Montana wilderness. The area surrounding Big Sky offers amazing opportunities for hunters to practice their sport in some of Montana’s most stunning terrain, including the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area and the Gallatin National Forest.

Hunting Season Dates
This year, archery season begins September 5, 2015 – October 18, 2015 , depending on the animal, followed closely by rifle season, which opens September 15 for big game animals in most regions. If you were lucky enough to draw a moose or Bighorn sheep tag, those seasons begin mid-September as well. Check Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website for exact dates and current hunting information.


Tips for Safe Hunting in Big Sky Country
Follow these tips to ensure a safe and successful hunting season:

• Never hunt alone: Stick with a group or a partner, or if you must go alone, make sure somebody knows your plan and when they should expect you to return.

• Always carry bear spray and a first aid kit.

• Use firearms responsibly: Don’t point firearms unless you plan to shoot, avoid difficult terrain while carrying a loaded rifle, and always look beyond your target to see what else might be in the line of fire. Keep all firearms unloaded when not in use, and store guns and ammo separately. For more firearm safety tips, visit this link: http://www.ihea.com/news-and-events/news/ihea-news-releases/141-firearm-safety-rules

• Stay sober: For your sake and others’ avoid alcohol and drugs while you are out in the field. Stay alert and in control, and save the cold beer for when your sitting around the campfire.

• Shape up: Get regular exercise in the off season so that when fall comes around you will be up for hiking long distances. Consider physical training that will help you to prepare for shooting in a variety of positions.

• Check the weather: Make sure your gear and clothing is appropriate to the time of year and your destination. Weather conditions in Montana change quickly, so be sure to bring warmer or weather resistant options as necessary.

• Check your equipment: Keep rifles and equipment maintained and in good condition, and check out everything before you go — same goes for camping and hiking gear.

• Protect man’s best friend: Dogs traveling with your hunting party should wear a hunter orange vest or bandanna for visibility.

• Take it easy: To make for a safer trip, travel at a comfortable pace and stop when necessary. Mistakes and accidents will be less likely if you and your companions maintain a slow and steady approach.

These combined with preparation and common sense will ensure you have a safe and successful hunting season. For guided hunting trips in the Big Sky area, check out these experienced outfitters, who provide anything from shorter, lodge-based trips to more intensive excursions into the backcountry:

http://www.montanahuntingcompany.com

http://www.huntbigsky.com

http://www.sagepeakhunting.com

 

Top 10 Ways to Warm up in Big Sky

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It’s rare that sub-zero temperatures will persuade any hardcore Big Sky skier to stay inside on a prime powder day; but it sure is nice to get rid of the winter chill when the day is done. Check out these ideas on how to get the warm blood flowing again after a cool day on the slopes.

1 – Get into hot water: Nothing remedies that chilled-to-the-bone cold like a long, hot soak in one of the nearby Big Sky hot springs. Visit Norris Hot Springs for a laid back evening in a funky atmosphere to enjoy good food, microbrews and live music (on the weekends). Visit Bozeman Hot Springs for a more extensive choice of hot pools, sauna and fitness equipment, and a family-friendly vibe.

2 – Rock your body: For a warm up that will also work out any lingering muscle aches, try a hot stone massage at one of Big Sky’s local spas. Smooth, warm stones are placed at specific locations on the body for a relaxing and warming effect.

3 – Drink up: Warm up from the inside-out with a hot toddy or a great après ski drink. We hear the toddies at Headwaters Grille and Andiamo Italian Grille are first rate; or try the Kuhns Cocoa or a Tram Shot at Scissorbills Saloon.

4 – Feel the fire: There are plenty of establishments in Big Sky that offer the chance to lounge or dine by firelight. Buck’s T-4 and The Ranch Saloon at Lone Mountain Ranch are two popular spots to get cozy and relax fireside for a while.

5 – Break a sweat: Stretch, dance, or pump it up by checking out local fitness, yoga, and Zumba classes. Try Big Sky Fitness Fusion & Pilates or the Big Sky Resort Wellness Studio for a variety of drop-in options.

6 – Get in the groove: Get out on the dance floor and shake the chills away – Big Sky establishments like Choppers, the Broken Spoke, and Scissorbills Saloon offer DJ nights or live music several nights a week. Follow the link below for a complete listing of live music events for January 2015.

http://visitbigskymt.com/winter-weekly-live-music-january

7 – Have a latte: Beat the brrr with a hot beverage from one of Big Sky’s favorite coffee shops. Enjoy some good conversation with friends over a hot cup of joe, a steamy latte, or luxurious hot chocolate – with plenty of whipped cream, of course. Blue Moon Bakery and the Hungry Moose Market & Deli offer a variety of espresso and other hot drinks. If you’ve got time, you might as well stay for breakfast, too.

8 – Go play: Whether you’re looking for family-friendly fun or some heated competition, Big Sky offers plenty of options for indoor recreation, from the game room at Bucks T-4 to weekly live poker games at the Gallatin Riverhouse Grille.

9 – Humor yourself: Laugh until you cry or at least until you get warm by getting out to see some comedy in Big Sky. Choose from the family-friendly “Buscrat’s Porch” (offered every Tuesday through March at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center).

10 – Catch a flick: Stay under the covers or venture out to the Lone Peak Cinema for some hot indoor entertainment. Don’t forget the popcorn.

Follow these suggestions and you won’t have any trouble staying warm this winter in Big Sky!