1. Big Sky to Moonlight: The catwalk past Lower Morningstar (off ol the Swift Currant lift) is nice at first. It goes through trees, is easy to navigate. There is one pitch of a hill that's a big deep breather, then you drop out onto Blue Moon, above the Iron Horse lift. This was freak out #1 for me because I don't like steep, high slopes with the bottom way down. Thankfully, a bit of it was groomed on one side, so I worked my way down, I wish I had followed my instinct that I could cross Blue Moon and ski a road down. The road access is not marked across the slope that I could see. Marking the cross trail road to help skiers who don't love the pitch of Blue Moon would be helpful to less advanced skiers. So, look into that option if you are a worrywart like me.
2. Skiing at Moonlight: Lazy Jack, which connects to Cinnibar, is confusing. My family tried to get me to ski down a black hill until a guide skied by and said "follow me!" Lazy Jack winds around, crossing harder slopes, cutting back left and right, but there are few signs! Once on Cinnibar it's hard to tell which way to go. Moonlight has to work on this! Once I found my way, I enjoyed Cinnibar all morning. My family even talked me into Meriwearher which was even more enjoyable than Cinnibar as it was groomed. The top of Meriwearher seems a little scary at first because there is a bowl, but follow the catwalk past the bowl and the slope is gentle and easy. My 10 yr old even talked me into a little black tree cutoff called Silver Fox!
3. Moonlight to Big Sky (Fast Lane): What the heck?!! There are 2 steep parts to this trip. From Six Shooter you go over a hill to a gentle little catwalk. Then there is cliff #1. It's not too long, and you can see the bottom, but it felt steep to me. When I reached the bottom I realized (1) I was at a familiar part of Lazy Jack, the lead in to Cinnibar. If I had known this route, I would have taken it! (2) There is a 2nd cliff. Some of my panic in this cliff was mostly that I wasn't sure we were going the right way! My son was insistent, so I followed him and it turned out to be the only steep part of Fast Lane. The cliff turns at the bottom, so it's helpful to know that you need the speed around the corner for the long catwalk cutting across another slope. The rest of Fast Lane is catwalk (not too high or cliff like, really just fine) across this slope, then another (hello Blue Moon again!), then you are suddenly on home base again - Lower Morningstar. I wish I had known to stop panicking after cliff 2, because the rest was easy!
So, my suggestion for anyone of similar ski panic ability is this:
- If you drive to Moonlight, it's easy parking at the Base Area (not Lodge) and you can get used to the lack of signs for Cinnibar and green confusion, see if you like it. This might be a good choice before skiing over. The greens are so fun, but they take some getting to know them time. Try Meriweather if you like Cinnibar a lot! Just go around the bowl. I thought it was easier than Cinnibar today.
- If you know that you like Moonlight and want to try skiing over, maybe schedule a Mountain Host to guide you.
- Look for the road/slope across Blue Moon (it says BRT Road and SA Road on the map and looks like it goes under the Iron Horse quad to the bottom of that lift). I could be wrong, but this seems like it would have been easier for me since I hated Blue Moon.
- Remember that if you want to bypass cliff #1 on Fast Lane - that Lazy Jack meets Fast Lane at the bottom of cliff #1! You will then go down cliff #2 from Lazy Jack, which is steep, but keep your speed at the bottom to cut right and begin the catwalk across (no more downhill from here, really!) That's the only bad part of Fast Lane.
- Eat a cookie and try hot chocolate at Uncle Dans, bottom of 6 Shooter.
Thank you guys for all of your comments. I was not going to go until I saw your encouraging words and advice that was calming. I am glad that I tried it, and will again one day ... With a few minor tweaks! I do hope that Boyne considers making the cross trails a little more beginner friendly and a lot better marked!
Now time for a hot tub and cold beer!