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Green Mountains


Ski areas have always played a big part in my life although I'm reticent to admit that after the age of 7, I haven't spent all that much time actually skiing.

It's easy to blame the cost of equipment and lift tickets compared to the average salary of a working journalist (which, as an aside, was once ranked the No. 1 coolest job with the lowest salary).

But it also probably has something to do with a sense of my own mortality. When I was a kid bombing down a hill fear didn't come into play. Granted, I was a lot closer to the ground and tended to bounce more readily, which may have been a factor in my early love of skiing.

As I grew older, though, something else began creeping into my decision-making process when it came to alpine sports. It's a little thing I like to call self-preservation. I do enough dumb stuff that causes me pain without hurling down a snow-covered hillside; that's just tempting fate. Instead, I prefer my mountains green.

Economic realities and changing tastes in sports have forced ski resorts to become year-round resorts. Case in point: Bogus Basin Ski Area's evolution into Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. Not to be constrained by the word "ski," the resort has branched out to include all sorts of summer sports options.

Gretchen Anderson, Bogus spokesperson, said the switch to year-round resort is a move that actually goes back to the resort's original, 61-year-old charter.

"We're trying to forge ahead and do more summer events," she said.

And for all of us who consider ourselves the working poor, most of the activities are either free or nominally priced. Among the free is the plethora of hiking and biking trails that crisscross the mountain. The extensive Shafer Butte Trail System was added last year and now allows riders and hikers to traverse all points from the top of the mountain to the Foothills, where trails link into the Ridge to River trail system.

The trailhead is near the Nordic Center, and from there adventurers can explore the hills to their hearts' content. Be warned, it's going to be an uphill hike at least part of the way. The resort does not typically run its chairlifts in summer—like some other resort areas—so bikers and hikers have to get themselves to the top of the hill.

Also falling squarely in the "free" category is the resort's disc golf course. Its affectionately referred to as a "cross-country" course, which means it's actually hiking, just with brightly colored plastic discs. Take your own Frisbees and go dressed for the outdoors, including sturdy shoes, and you're off. The course is open from sunrise to sunset through mid-October and it starts near the Nordic Center.

Bogus has already hosted several large events this summer, including a star-gazing party that drew roughly 2,000 people to the hill. But this weekend is a chance for outdoor recreationists to check out the best of Bogus in summer.

After the planned Trailpalooza fell through a couple of weeks ago, resort staff broke land-speed records to plan a replacement. The result is Summit Fest, or what Anderson said staff is calling Bikhiknburger—which sounds way better if you pretend you're Swedish when you pronounce it.

The day-long event on Saturday, Aug. 9, will give bikers and hikers the chance to explore the top of the mountain via the Deer Point chairlift. Lift tickets will cost $10 for the day, and allow a quality downhill run on intermediate and expert trails without the work of riding up.

Anyone taking advantage of the lift service must sign a waiver, and riders under age 18 must have a parent or guardian's signature. The lift will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Don't have a bike? Bike shops will be on site to rent bikes and equipment. Don't want all the hard work? The lift will also be available for sightseeing trips. Tickets cost $5 and riders can take the lift to the summit and then ride it back down after taking in the views.

There will be food and drink concessions at the base of the mountain, as well as live music. DJ OneOne with Brad Rowen will kick things off at 10 a.m., followed by low-fi at 1 p.m. and Riff Raff at 3 p.m. Better yet, there is no admission charge and the public is welcome to bring picnics.

I stand by my assertion: You've got to love those green mountains.

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