On Saturday, 800 hikers will find an easier trail for their annual trek. Instead of a grunt nearly 2,400 feet up to the summit of Big Mountain, the annual fundraiser for Flathead Industries swaps to a different route this year with a lot less uphill tromping.
“We’ll start at the village and end at the village,” says Dick Ramos, coordinator of the event for Flathead Industries. “The trail gains only 600 – 700 feet in elevation and is flatter.” Usually, the annual Climb Big Mountain event ends at the summit, where the line stacks up deep to catch the lift back down. But not with the new chair lift under construction. Instead, using the karma of what goes around comes around, hikers will loop a 4.5-mile route around Big Mountain Village.
Participants receive an avocado-green T-shirt with a bear logo by local artist Jeff Fleming. “They’ll be collector’s items,” jokes Ramos, referring to the Whitefish Mountain Resort name change from Big Mountain.
For hikers and bikers, sign-ups and raffle ticket sales begin on July 14th at 6:30 a.m. on the Bierstube deck. Although the climb kicks off officially at 7:00 a.m., many hikers start earlier toward the first of four water stops. By the time Saturday’s predicted temperatures soar into triple digits, hikers should be off the trail.
Following the hike, participants celebrate with a lunch at the Bierstube, where raffle prizes will be awarded–nights in Flathead hotels, dinners for two, and golf packages.
Climb Big Mountain is an annual event–a fundraiser for Flathead Industries for people with special needs. “For us, it’s very important,” says Ramos. “This is our major project fundraiser where we usually bring in a needed $50,000-plus as result of the sponsorship.”
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