Cheers to the Mountain

By Beacon Staff

The mystery and romance of a snowy day, cozied up by a flickering fire will always draw one’s heart and soul to the mountains. Big Mountain and Whitefish Mountain Resort are magical places, which embody a warm and friendly atmosphere that folks just can’t resist. Perched atop Big Mountain at the Summit Lodge, you’ll witness Glacier National Park views glowing in the east and the Flathead Valley stretching to the west below. From the ski-in, ski-out homes and condos on the hill, viewers watch children’s bright eyes dot the mountainside, and hear the air filled with laughter and silly antics that the snowflakes seem to cultivate. In a nutshell, the mountain brings unfettered happiness to all who experience it.

In today’s world of hustle and bustle, there is a movement to seek peace and relaxation. Although activity is bred on Big Mountain, it is recreational in nature, and you’ll rarely see stress on any face on the hill. Skiers wind through the glades, snowboarders test their mettle on the terrain park, and retirees enjoy their adult beverages on their decks on a spring ski day. These are all part of the reason people live on the mountain. It is largely a family affair, with generations settling into everything from slope side condos, to showplaces that house the whole kit and caboodle. Even those who venture to Big Mountain for vacations often have a few extra bodies in tow, be it their best buddies, kids, or grammy and gramps. You’ll often hear that these groups yearn to be on the mountain, and wouldn’t trade their time here for anything else.

There is plenty to keep one’s self busy. In addition to the obvious winter sports of skiing and snowboarding, there are top-notch restaurants, raucous local drinking establishments, live music venues and snowmobiling to partake in. In summer months, the mountain is transformed to a hiking and biking mecca, along with zip line excursions and the ever-popular alpine sled for the kids. It’s just a few minutes to Whitefish Lake, so even the water aficionados are content. With downtown shopping and Glacier National Park rounding out the long list of activities, residents feel like this is truly their own little utopia.

What an outsider will quickly notice is how close this mountain community is. Friendships between children and adults are fast to form, and this bonding creates a camaraderie that is unparalleled in other settings. Big Mountain, Whitefish Mountain Resort and Whitefish have been able to maintain a semblance of warmth and family. Yes, there are boys’ nights out consisting of beer-slinging and hearty laughter, bachelorette parties full of pink and white, a few broken bones as the most fearless of mountain bikers charge down the summer slopes, and lost little youngsters trying to find their ski group. There are trials and tribulations, wherever you live, but in this place, here is what is easily discernable: The boys make sure everyone gets home safely, even if they just became your best friend two hours ago. The girls will invite you to have a beverage with them if you’re sitting alone, even if you’re a perfect stranger. Bikers and hikers will carry you out on piggy back if necessary, and make sure you arrive safely in the emergency room for proper care. That lost little soul on the slopes? He’ll have a personal escort in the form of a friendly skier or boarder, who will make certain he is reunited with his loved ones and continue to have a fabulous day.

It’s commonplace to see youngsters under the age of 10 regularly riding the chairlifts unsupervised. To see elderly couples strolling up the mountain to pick huckleberries. To hear friends cajoling one another about who lost the Scrabble game last night, or who out skied who in the North Bowl. This is because those who reside on the mountain do so for the atmosphere created by those who gather here. There is an attitude at altitude to be neighborly, helpful and harmonious, and that is exactly why these owners and visitors respect and appreciate their mountain homes. These fortunate residents savor all the mountain has to offer them, and their fondness spills over to the rest of us. Let’s all be grateful that they’re generous at sharing, and join them in their delight of mountain living.

Carmen Hobson is a broker at Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty.

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