Junior recalls mid-winter break skiing experience (with video at end of post)

Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky, Montana

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By William Muawad ’17 | Staff Writer

Monday, Feb. 15

Whew, what a day. I had been waiting for this day for an entire year, the day that I’d leave to go to Montana to ski at Big Sky Ski Resort. The day started off with me waking up at 5 a.m. eastern standard time. I finished packing for an hour and then my cousins, Erica Chown ’17 and Melinda Chown ’18, sister, Mom and I left for the airport at 6 a.m. for an 8:30 a.m. flight to Minneapolis, Minn. After we stopped in the Minneapolis airport for an hour, we took another plane to Bozeman, Montana. This was by far my favorite airport. It’s small with only 10 gates and one restaurant. I love the quaint, western vibes it gives off.

In order to get to the resort, we had to take a bus through and up the mountains until we got to Big Sky.  The bus driver we had was awesome! He was modern western cowboy.  He had an amazing western cowboy accent as well as a luscious full white beard.  He was a great tour guide, giving us all kinds of history and random little tidbits about the area. We finally made it to the resort after 13 hours of traveling. We then checked into our hotel, rented our skis that we’d use the next four days, got something to eat, and then hit the hay. This was probably one of the longest travel days of my life. From when woke up to when I went to bed, I had been awake for 19 hours.  From now on I have total appreciation for people who have to travel all around the world for work. I can’t image how their bodies react to staying up for countless hours on end. If I felt as tired as I did when I flew to Montana, I’m sure regular travelers feel way more tired. I have a newfound respect for people who fly often and far. That lifestyle is hard and I only flew for a total of 4 hours!

Tuesday, Feb. 16

Man, do I love Big Sky breakfasts. Today we woke up around 8 a.m. and went down to breakfast. Besides the skiing at Big Sky, the breakfasts are by far the next best thing. There are so many choices, from waffles and cereal to yogurt and custom omelettes. This place has every breakfast food one could ever want.

After breakfast, we went back to the room, got our ski clothes on, and were out on the hill by 10 a.m. This was later than I wanted, but the first days of vacations always seem to start off at a lethargic pace. I wanted to take this first day of skiing as a warm-up day, get back into the groove of skiing out west. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great time. As well as getting my feet back under me, I went tree skiing, hit the terrain park and explored, even finding a few big rock jumps in the trees. We got off the slopes by 4 p.m., and we were so tired that we all just rested for a good couple of hours.

After our rest, we explored the Big Sky ski village and found a sports pub to eat in.  Our full stomachs and tired bodies then led us right back to our hotel room and into the relaxing hot tub. After a shower, I crashed in my bed and went right to sleep, with the lights still on I might add.  My first day back skiing reminded me just how much I missed it and reassured myself that I would one day move out west, get a job, and ski as much as I possibly could.  Skiing back home in Michigan is no comparison to skiing out here. All of the snow is real and the air is fresh. Today I remembered why I love to put on my ski boots, click into my bindings, and hit the slopes. The thrill of speeding down the mountain and the creativeness between how and where I ski is why I love to ski.  Skiing puts me into my zone. It’s just me, my skis, and the mountain–nothing else matters.  

Wednesday, Feb. 17

Another day, another awesome ski adventure. I woke up quite sore from skiing the day before, but that didn’t stop me one bit. We were there to ski, and I wasn’t going to let some soreness get in the way.

After another delicious breakfast, we headed back to the room to get our ski gear on. By the time we got on the hill around 10 a.m., I was feeling much better and was stoked to get on the slopes again. Erica, Melinda and I decided to head out to the easternmost side of the mountain to explore. In my three years of coming to Big Sky, I had never been there, so I was excited to see what was out there. It took three chairlifts and about 45 minutes, but we finally got to the easternmost runs of the entire resort. There were maybe 100 people on that side of the mountain, which made for very peaceful skiing

The best part of the skiing there was the views. It was absolutely gorgeous. We could see snow-capped mountains for miles all around. The tree skiing was also amazing, probably my favorite area in the resort to do just that. A few hours later we headed back to the base to eat and relax.  We spent the afternoon skiing in and out of trees, in the park and on the groomers, just enjoying Rocky Mountain skiing. The night consisted of eating pizza, relaxing in the hotel tub and chilling until it was time for bed. Bedtime came, and I was exhausted. Once the lights were out, I was out.  Today I learned what I truly I love about skiing; exploring and adventuring all around, finding new places to ski. Big Sky is so big that it would take me the whole winter ski season out there to explore it all, which is what I love about it.  The boundless terrain is awesome because it lets me explore and never get bored of skiing the same runs all of the time.  Exploring the mountains makes skiing exhilarating for me, a feeling I can only get out here.

Thursday, Feb. 18

Whew, what a day. It started out like all the other days at Big Sky, breakfast around 8am and get on the hill at about 9:30 a.m. The skiing was great, and we were shredding until about 11:30. Erica and I were looking for places to tree ski so I took the lead and found one. She was a couple of feet behind me, so when I abruptly turned into a patch of skis, she tried to follow. On her way to catch up with me, she collided with a man, slapping her head into his chest and then hard into the ground. Erica ended up knocking the wind out of the man. She found me, and we skied back down. On the next chairlift up, she started complaining about how much her head hurt more and more as we went. So I took her to a ski patrol hut near the top of the lift. They checked her out and decided that it was most likely a mild concussion.  Because she had a concussion, they decided to take her down on a toboggan. Once we reached the bottom, the ski patroller advised Erica not to ski in the afternoon and rest instead, which she ended up doing. While all of this was going on, snow was dumping on the mountain, giving us 2-3 inches in less than 2 hours. After we left Erica in the room to rest, Melinda and I went out for two hours until the lifts closed. The fresh snow was needed and made the skiing amazing. I thought that we wouldn’t get any new snow when we are here, but we did. After the lifts closed, we did the usual: chilled in our room, got something to eat and then went to bed.  Erica’s concussion today showed me just how a simple bang of the head can cause a person so much pain and confusion.  It reminded me how dangerous skiing can be and put it all in perspective for me.  Even though I love to ski, I need to be conscious of its dangers and every once and awhile take it slower than I would like.  Nothing is more important than a healthy, functioning brain, because without it, I would never be able to ski.

Friday, Feb. 19

Today was a sad one. It was our fourth and final day of skiing at Big Sky. Since, it was our last day of skiing, I wanted to take the tram to the very top of Lone Peak, the highest point at Big Sky. So, we got out on the hill earlier than usual to try and catch some of the fresh snow that had fallen yesterday. When we got up to the Tram around 10 a.m., it was only open for scenic viewing, meaning people could take the Tram to the top to look at the view, but not ski down.  We decided to ski around for a couple of hours, and when we checked again around noon, the top was open to ski. After waiting in line for about 30 minutes, we took the five-minute tram, and we reached the peak. The winds were gusting right in our faces and had been blowing all night, between 50 and 70 m.p.h. These winds had blown off all of the fresh snow from the day before, so all that was left to ski on was rocks and icy snow. Lets just say it wasn’t a fun or easy trip down from the peak. After the treacherous journey down, we ventured over to the Dakota chair, the farthest right one could go on the mountain. It is so peaceful over there and the tree skiing is amazing. There had been so few people there that the fresh snow from yesterday was still there. The powder plus the trees made it my favorite ski spot of the entire trip. We shredded the powder and the trees for a good couple of runs and then headed back to the base for some lunch and well-needed rest. After our last homemade lunch at Big Sky, my mom, sister, two cousins and I all headed out for our last couple of runs. We took our annual picture with the mountains as our background and headed in for the last time. Since our flight tomorrow is at 6 a.m., we took a bus back down to Bozeman after we finished skiing and are staying in a hotel for the night. Can’t wait to get up at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow.  Today reminded me why I love the outdoors so much.   Standing on top of the mountain at 11,000 ft and being able to see mountains for miles all around is what I love about the Rocky Mountains.  Everything I see out here is like a postcard image.  The beauty is insane.  I realized that I love Montana because it is one of the last truly untouched places in the whole United States.

Saturday, February 20
This could possibly be the longest travel day ever. Our flight this morning out of Bozeman was at 6 a.m., so we had to leave our hotel room by 4:30 a.m. That is by far the earliest I have ever had to wake up for a flight. On the flight out, I basically slept the entire time, which kinda helped my need for sleep. This first flight landed in Seattle, where we had a two-hour layover till our final flight to Detroit. Luckily, there was a nice McDonald’s near our gate in the Seattle airport, which made the layover a bit more bearable. The boarding of the plane took way longer than usual because the plane was booked full. It wasn’t a small plane. It was huge.  It was the most people I have ever seen in line to board a plane. The entire sitting area was full and many people were standing in the hallway of the terminal waiting too. Besides the long boarding process, the rest of the flight experience was relatively smooth and easy. We got off the plane with all of our ski jackets on and our ski boots over our shoulders, to find out that it is 62 degrees outside. We gathered our backs and headed back to Grosse Pointe to our cousins’ house to eat a pizza dinner and share the fun stories and videos that we shot with my aunt and uncle.  A few pieces of pizza and laughs later,  I was back at my house with my head on a pillow. I layed there thinking about the trip and getting excited for next year when we would do it all again.  This whole ski trip and going out west into the huge Rocky Mountains, really humbled me.  It reminded me just how vast and unique the world is.  I met all different types of people and saw some pretty cool things.  They call Montana the Big Sky State, and this trip with its amazing scenery and grandness showed me why.  I have learned throughout this trip what my calling is: to ski in the Rocky Mountains for the rest of my life.  The ever expanding vastness of the mountains are the perfect place to satisfy my passion for skiing and thrill of adventure.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3VJyCmptCY&w=560&h=315]