Merging Trails of the Past, Present and Future
The cabin was love at first site for me. Not because of it’s spectacular views or the locally sourced wood. It was due to frozen toes. My fiancé and I were exploring the new area of Bridger Bowl and were thrilled that we didn’t have to ski back to the base for relief from the cold morning chill. This was one of the main reasons for building the cabin. There was a need to provide ski lesson students with a place of refuge. The tiles in the main entryway caught my attention and curiosity instantly. I knew there must be more to this place than initially met my eye.
The stories behind the tiles
Wanting to be a part of something bigger than yourself is human nature. Many employees and locals donated money to have a tile on the Alpine Cabin wall. Some of them for loved ones lost and others for families or friends who share memories on the mountain. People from Massachusetts, Idaho, California and many other states contributed to the wall. Even people who visit Bridger Bowl for vacation wanted to be included in the legacy. As with any good story, there are also a few tiles that hold their own special secrets…
It was a thrill to meet with The Bridger Bowl Foundation (BBF) board members and learn more about the various tiles. North Ridge Ranch purchased a tile simply because it seemed like “the right thing to do”. The Ski Bum tile is surrounded by the names of a group of friends who have a potluck after each rendezvous on the mountain. Some other friends purchased a tile to remember a newborn that passed away. People want to be a part of Bridger forever, they enjoy seeing their tile on the wall when they come and visit.
BBF is currently thinking of ideas to create another wall like the one in the Alpine Cabin. They have 50 tiles waiting to be hung and anticipate more requests coming in, as the news spreads near and far. From the start, people were eager to support building the cabin. Little advertising was done and people naturally wanted to be a part of it. I enjoy the tiles with quotes. What about you? Do you have a favorite?
“The mountains are calling and I must go”
“We’re burning daylight.” - J. Gaab
Just like the trails on a ski mountain, peoples paths in life cross unexpectedly. I first met Jane Jonas (major donor for the project) in November 2014. When she told me about the Alpine Cabin, I didn’t know I’d be writing this article many months later. It seems that Jane is surrounded by events that were meant to be. The Bridger Bowl Foundation was discussing the growing need for the Alpine Cabin at the same time she was looking to donate the remaining money from the Ric Jonas Foundation.
We could all learn from Jane. She took the devastation of losing her husband Ric, transformed it into a foundation and then later on, a book. She wrote a series of letters to the spirit of her husband and put them in Upside Down, which can be described as a love story. Jane’s readers are looking forward to her second book, which is currently in progress. Writing is a very powerful tool for both sharing and healing.
Finding the right words to express ones feelings can be tricky, but is rewarding. Some people contributing a tile to the wall called BBF three or four times to change their mind about the wording! Kids were the decision makers for some of the families. The BBF members working on this project were tickled by their “writers”. Speaking of “tough decisions”, this one made me smile… To orient the cabin for better views or for more solar heat?
A diamond in the rough
Just like Bozeman itself, the Alpine Cabin is unique. It’s large open windows have succeeded in radiating an abundance of passive solar energy AND it has great views! Mission accomplished. The Tulikivi Soapstone Fireplace in the center of the cabin produces so much warmth, that the staff have to be cautious of when they choose to fire it up. It’s fueled by trees that have fallen in storms, so not to cause any destruction to the forest. The cabin is on Bridger Bowl Property for that same reason. A lot of thought was put into building this meeting place.
Pass it on
Bozeman and Bridger Bowl both spread the feeling of community and family. As Chris Bulger (BBF Board President) said at the opening of the cabin, “This makes a special place just a little more special.” I couldn’t agree more. Being invited to hear the stories behind the cabin was the same hospitality Bozeman extended to me and my fiancé when we first came looking for a new place to live. Firestone Tires fixed a flat from our California road trip as a friendly gesture last spring. That’s when I knew this was where we wanted to make our home. Since moving here, this city and its people continues to amaze me.
Aside from the donations that came from people who have fallen in love with Bridger Bowl, there were other contributions. Numerous contractors, builders and leaders in the community came together and donated their time. You can view the list in the entryway to the cabin. The Tulikivi Soapstone Fireplace was chosen to help provide an affordable heat source. Keeping it simple and affordable was a common goal everyone could agree on. It’s a great point for us all to remember as we journey through life.
If you haven’t had a chance to admire the skis hanging on the walls, enjoy the views from the windows or get lost reading the tiles, it’s time for a visit! Keep your eye on the Alpine Cabin, more exciting plans are under way that will allow ski students to have an enhanced learning experience. Remember to keep it simple, have fun and stay involved!
Understanding the Various Organizations
Keeping Bozeman a sacred place requires all of us to stay active in the decisions being made.
The Bridger Bowl Foundation
This 501(c)(3) has been supporting activities related to Bridger Bowl since 2004. They are the group responsible for the creation of the Alpine Cabin. Money donated to the foundation makes avalanche awareness classes affordable, funds youth ski opportunities and supports the Raptor Fest. This is a sub-group of The Bridger Bowl Association.
The Bridger Bowl Association
Since 1971, this has been the corporation that runs the mountain we all love. It has 501(c)(4) Nonprofit Status with membership open to Montana residents age 18 and older. It’s who you buy your downhill ski pass from. For just $25 and $10/year, you can join The Bridger Bowl Association and surround yourself with the other 500 like-minded members. Their meetings are twice a year in November and May. If you’re a natural born leader, this is the path to earning your place on the board some day. This is one of a few non-profit ski corporations that is still in existence and also debt-free.
Bridger Ski Foundation
This group provides educational and competitive programs for both youth and masters. Remember to buy a nordic trails ski pass from them if you’re taking advantage of the groomed cross-country ski trails in Bozeman. Membership is currently $25 annually.
Fun Facts To Share About The Alpine Cabin
*The tiles were inspired by The Historic Davenport Hotel in Spokane, WA.
*$132,586 was provided by the Tourism
Infrastructure Investment Program
(Montana Office of Tourism).
*$70,000 was donated by the Ric Jonas
*Other donations came from as far as
*Nate Heller’s Studio H Design in Bozeman utilized native rock and beetle-killed pine logs for the construction materials.