Montana, Day 8 – Trip to the Top of Big Mountain

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Yesterday, I decided to take Sloane up to the top of Big Mountain. In the summers, you can obviously hike up the mountain, but you can also take the ski lift to the top. We usually hike up there once or twice per trip, but since this was a father/daughter outing, I thought the lift was the only way to go. I just wasn't sure how Sloane would react. But as you can see, heights don't seem to bother her. JLP_0370

The ride up to the top took about 15 minutes, and she really had a blast as we traveled above the trees to the top of the mountain. There were tons of people out and about, some hiking, some biking, etc. Sloane got a kick out of seeing them from up above, as well as talking and waving to the people taking the lift back down.

When we got to the top, we walked over to the edge of one of the ski slopes where I had hoped to get a good picture of us. But as I was trying to get my tripod situated, I realized how bad the bugs were....small, biting black flies were swarming everywhere and biting the heck out of me, so we darted inside and decided to have lunch. Sloane fixated on their mac and cheese, so that's what I got her...with curly fries and a Sprite. Yum!!

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After lunch, I decided the view was too spectacular to not get a picture with Sloane, so as she watched from the deck of the lodge, I ran out to the edge of the slope and set-up my camera and tripod while getting totally eaten alive by the black flies. People that had hiked up the mountain that day said they weren't bad as long as they kept moving -- the minute they stopped or took a break from the hike, the bugs went to town on them. Fortunately, they weren't biting Sloane, so I must have been attracting all of them. Oh well...the price you pay for a pretty darn good photo of you and your daughter on top of Whitefish Mountain!

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There wasn't much else to do up on top due to the bug situation, so we decided to head back down the mountain to do some more exploring. Sloane treated herself to some M&M's for the incredible ride down.

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The views from the lift were amazing, especially when you consider the fact that we normally see everything covered in snow. The number of hiking and biking trails on the mountain is astounding.

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As we approached the bottom of the mountain, however, my Zi8 slid out of my pocket and fell about 20 feet to the ground. When we jumped off the lift, I told one of the guys working the lift and he ran out and found it. Fortunately, it survived the fall! Then, as I was thanking him, a lady that was a few seats behind us on the way down came up and said she saw something else drop from our chair about halfway down the mountain. Turns out it was the cover to my 14-24mm lens! Given how important that cover is to the lens, Sloane and I decided to make another trip up the mountain and back to see if we could locate where it fell. On the way back up, Sloane pointed out the fact that one of the trees snagged some lady's underwear. I didn't exactly know how to explain to her that the lady probably threw her underwear into the tree on purpose...

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The ride up seemed to go rather quickly, and we had no luck finding the lens cover. It was nice to be able to just cycle through the lift at the top without getting off.

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As we crossed over one of the wider hiking trails, I spotted the elusive lens cover! Fortunately it was in a pretty open area and easily recognized. The perfect excuse for a hike up the mountain!

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Now that we'd spotted the lens cover, we could enjoy the views (again) the rest of the way down. I was still amazed that Sloane wasn't at all afraid of how high-up we were on the lift.

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At the bottom, we walked over to the Alpine Slide that was set-up on the bunny slope section of the mountain. Sloane was confused at first and didn't really understand what the kids were doing on the odd-looking yellow seats.

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But after watching those boys take-off down the slide, I think it was abundantly clear to her that this Alpine Slide was serious business. It doesn't look very steep, but you'd be surprised at how fast those yellow sleds actually go!

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So before I knew it, Sloane tugged my hand and we ran over to the ticket booth and bought two tickets to go down the slide. We squeezed into the seat, pushed the lever forward, and took-off down the slide. Sloane helped me steer and control the sled down the slide, through the tunnel and to the very end.

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What a great time we had! I don't think she really knew what to expect as we headed out for the day, but by the end of it all, she had quite a few stories to tell everyone over dinner. And as you might expect, she had no problems going to bed last night either! She was pooped!