Moonlighting at Moonlight Basin

Author’s note: This is my last post on our recent family vacation to Big Sky, Montana. To see other posts on Montana, click here

Mid-week during our ski trip to Montana we opted to try out neighboring Moonlight Basin ski resort. Known as Big Sky’s little sister, Moonlight Basin is smaller, cheaper and humbler yet in my opinion equally if not more beautiful and pristine. We spent a wonderful day skiing there with our dear friends who joined us on the trip. Two families, with two kids each, the same exact age. It was a wonderful day like all the rest.

The day started out iffy. Weather was moving in and it was expected to rain. But we couldn’t complain as the last five days of our trip in Montana had been absolutely spectacular with perhaps the bluest sky I’d ever seen. If all else fails, perhaps we’d have to get a day pass and hang out in Moonlight Basin’s magical, misty pool, slope – side.



Adventure Travel Montana TRAVEL BY REGION United States

Walk. Run. Bike. for Social Good

As an avid runner, I was thrilled when I first heard of a new app called Charity Miles.  Charity Miles has partnered with a lot of fantastic non-profit organizations and allows you to donate your miles after a run, walk or bike ride to one of their partner charities. All you have to do is download the free app, hit start, and you are on your way to doing good while you work out. Brilliant isn’t it?

Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 7.51.09 AM

This month, Charity Miles has partnered with the UN Foundation who I am honored to work with as an advocate and volunteer. Together the UN Foundation and Charity Miles is running a #VDay10k Campaign where people can exercise for a good cause using the Charity Miles app. How does it work? Simple.

Global Health SOCIAL GOOD

A pair of worn out shoes and a sensational view of Mount Blanc

When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body.  I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

After a strenuous morning of hiking, we finally made it to the highest point of our week-long trek, the Col de Chaviere at 9,173 feet/2, 796 m. It was indeed a long hike up to the top but once we arrived, it was like no place on earth. A place that was so utterly fantastic, that it took my breath away and reminded me why I love to be up in the mountains on top of the world…

The zigzag trail heading up the mountain to the top.

Adventure Travel France TRAVEL BY REGION Trekking/Hiking

The long, slippery descent down Santa Maria

View from the Top: Xela lies thousands of feet below.

“Getting to the top is optional.   Getting down is mandatory.” -Ed Viesturs climber and author of “No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks”

After my surreal experience on top of Santa Maria volcano, witnessing my first live volcanic eruption just a few thousand feet below my perch on a jagged rock, it was time to say goodbye.  Heading back is always the anti-climax of a hike, especially a good one in which you reach your peak and for that moment in time you are on top of the world.  But as I always say, all good things must come to an end.  It was time to head back.

The start of our descent….you can see terraced farmland first, followed by the town of Xela far below. 

Adventure Travel Guatemala TRAVEL BY REGION Trekking/Hiking

My 5 am climb up the Santa Maria Volcano

“The Beauty of the Mountain is hidden for all those who try to discover it from the top, supposing that, one way or an other, one can reach this place directly.   The Beauty of the Mountain reveals only to those who climbed it…” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

View of the grand Santa Maria volcano off in the distance as I was leaving Xela via shuttle on my way to Antigua. 

There are things you’ll experience in Guatemala that will stay with you forever: the smell of a freshly grilled tortilla; the assault-on-all-senses of a jungle trek; the people you bump into on the road and become lifelong friends…..In the west, a volcano looms on almost every horizon, almost begging to be climbed.  (Opening lines in the introduction to Guatemala, Lonely Planet 2010).

It was with these words, “almost begging to be climbed” that I joyously opted to skip my already-paid for Spanish class on Wednesday and wake up at the break of dawn to climb Guatemala’s fourth highest volcano, Santa Maria (elevation 3772 m/12,375 feet).  It didn’t matter that I was utterly exhausted nor that I didn’t have the right gear.  All that mattered was there was an enormously, inviting volcano begging to be climbed.  There was no way I wasn’t going to climb it.

Adventure Travel Guatemala TRAVEL BY REGION Trekking/Hiking

Skiing the Ridge

It’s something of a paradox. The more untamed, untrampled a place, the more it seems to soothe the soul. Even as it races the heart. – Advertisement of skiing the Ridge in the Taos Visitor Guide.

Taos Ski Valley view from Kachina Peak at the Ridge. A ski purist heaven that only recently opened its doors to snowboarding two years back.

Today I became an official “Ridgehead”. I climbed and skied the Ridge, a no man’s land of off piste skiing located at the top of Kachina Peak at 12,481 feet. It was an exhausting endeavor which quite frankly I had no business doing. Yet, did I enjoy it and was it worth the effort and the pain? Yes! It was an adventure that I had not yet accomplished in skiing and even if I was breathing heavy and my legs burned each and every step of the way, it was so incredibly worth the view and the accomplishment.

To access the ridge is half the battle. You take the last chair lift up to the top at 11,819 feet, take off your skies and carry them on your shoulder in heavy snow for an hour and fifteen minutes up to 12,481 feet. The walk up is arduous and exhausting. You gain over 600 feet in elevation and are doing it wearing uncomfortable ski boats and lugging your skies and poles up each breathless step of the way.

Adventure Travel